Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back on 2016. The Journey to Elite.

This past year has been quite the journey in teaching and learning. There have been ultimate highs and forgettable (yet teachable) lows. The most euphoric moments have been affirming to the great things happening with the teachers, students and community in which I serve. The dips I have faced, some more recent than others, have been a reminder of the amazing growth that awaits me. One of the qualities I strive to maintain is that I am teachable. You each coach me up. We serve each other on a journey to elite.

And with another year coming to an end, part of the process is to take a look back at where we have been. Reflection is essential. The method and platform in which we do is personal. Some engage in conversation while others take to the keyboard and write.

Personally and professionally this year has provided me with once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will not be soon forgotten. With great excitement, some moments and experiences in 2016 will be welcomed back in 2017 via the "red carpet". These moments are the ones that define us and help us grow in our depth of our leadership as teachers and administrators. The moments that will not return, the good and the bad, are what refine us. Those moments are equally as important in our growth.

Here is a look back at 2016 via the posts that I have shared. Not every high is reflected nor is each of the lows. What I have shared are the moments in which I was inspired to write. Here is looking forward to another year of growth in 2017. I hope you join me, and the #CompelledTribe, on the journey we are all on.

  • Let's Finish where it started in 2016. I am ecstatic to report that the goals that were established in this post one year ago have been met with fierce intentional passion. Our culture defines us. It is what makes us relentless in our pursuit of excellence.
  • One of the most read posts of the from 2016 came from a post written in March. The title, So You Want to be a Principal speaks for itself. There was great feedback from what was shared. And, as a principal myself, so much yet to learn.
  • An essential element of being a driver of the culture of your school community is the power of being connected. I have written more than one post about my belief in this professional growth but this post in particular this year, Rules of Engagement - Being a Connected Educator, resinated with many of you. This post is worth coming back to time and time again. 
  • The most shared post in 2016 was one I least expected. There in lies the lesson itself. When writing A Back-to-School Checklist for Educators (And another post for those aspiring to be an Administrator) there was one thought that kept racing through my mind and that is, "How would I want to remember my year as a learner?" My focus for 2016 was relationships. This post, like so many others over time, continue to come back to the theme of "purpose". Do you know your purpose? I continue to learn mine.
  • My most powerful moment of 2016 was months in the making. The staff at Hilliard Weaver Middle School provided a back-to-school experience like never before. Our #1st3Days for students focused on these core essentials in teaching: relationships, passions and identifying who we are as learners and where we were going as  to head on this journey. Not Your Ordinary Start to School gives an overview of this experience we are excited to bring back in 2017!
An just like that 2016 comes to an end. A simple post, What I Have Learned So Far This Year, brings it all together. Relationships, environment, best practices and drive all resonate with each of us as leaders in our classrooms and in our buildings. Continued growth is essential.

Remember, the journey to elite is not done alone. You need the power of a team, you need trust and you need a desire to grow. Passion must be present and the peaks and valleys of your year will only make you better at what you do and how you do it. 2016 is in the past and I am excited for what awaits in 2017 and the learning that will occur.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Pushing Boundaries

I have always considered myself a rule-follower. Whether as a teenager under my parent’s roof, a young adult on my own starting a career or to this day in my 23rd year in education, I understand the importance of rules. Rules, as we know, are essential. 

While some rules are needed by society, others have been created by the changes over time. When it comes to education and instructional best practices, how do rules come into play in our profession? The reality is that in the world of teaching and learning, educators are not only consumed by "rules" but they often fall into the trap of "that is how it has always been done". 

Times are changing. Rules, and the way we do business in education, is transforming. We are working our way out of that mindset. We are growing. Innovation is taking hold. The mold is being broken, the lines are being blurred, the rules in education are changing. 

As we reflect on our journey in leading and learning, many of us have found ourselves on both sides of the equation of how rules impact our roles. More and more each day we as teachers and building leaders are acknowledging the importance (and need) of having certain rules but also embracing the importance of blurring the lines of those rules for the sake of student experience, student engagement and teacher growth. In each of those there needs to be creativity, risk-taking and a passion for growth. We must be the change. We must break the conformity in education. Being innovative is essential.

In the leadership role in which I serve, I have been fortunate to work alongside educators that want to push the boundaries of the comfort in their work. Many times it is others, myself included, that do the pushing. We challenge each other, we support each other and in the end, we trust each other in each step along the way. In teaching and learning we need to be thinking about what it is in education that has not evolved and ask tough questions and get uncomfortable. We are here to re-define education for today's student.

We know we don't get better by staying the same. Pushing boundaries brings change and change is welcomed. It is inevitable that change is going to happen. Let us control the direction in which it goes.

And when we are pushing boundaries, let's again make sure that we push with purpose. We need to be intentional. We need to be mindful.

Education is anything but a constant. Our best educators are asking the tough questions, challenging the norms and offering instruction that is anything but traditional. As you think of your leadership in the classroom, in your building or have the amazing opportunity to be in front of an entire community, promise yourself that you will push the boundaries of education. We all will benefit from this.