Just sharing the Friday Focus post from my Staff Memo blog this week:
At our Professional Learning Meeting this week I asked you to open up to the front of your Reflection Journals and take 5 minutes to reflect on the goals (2 professional and 1 personal) that you wrote at the beginning of the school year. For this week's Friday Focus, I'm going to put myself "out there" and share my personal reflections on the goals I wrote in my journal for this year (Wondering why I'm sharing this with you? See #1 below...feel free to skip reading this if you're not really interested in my goals).
Professional Goal #1: To model reflection of my professional growth and encourage staff to reflect as well.
One of the most important things any educator can do is reflect on their practice. Great teachers know that you can't just teach the same lessons every year, because your students change. Great teachers often don't follow their lesson plans as written throughout the week, because they are constantly reflecting on how their students responded to the instruction and adapting their plans to their students' needs. Unfortunately, our daily schedules leave us with very little time to reflect...many of us are happy if we can get in 1 personal bathroom break and get our lunch down in just 5 minutes. Despite the challenge of time (that is a challenge for almost anything we want to accomplish), reflection is the key to progress.
"Reflection is the beginning of reform." ~Mark Twain
Reflecting on my goal of reflecting...I have been using my Friday Focus as a means to share my reflections with you each week and also shared the link to my personal/professional blog where I also share my reflections. While blogging sounds quite scary (and I must admit I was hesitant to even share that link with you all), it has become one of my best tools for reflection. If you know me, I cannot write much by hand and prefer to type. In addition, I have quite a high following of other educators on my professional blog that I have gained a great deal of feedback on to help challenge my thinking and gain new ideas.
I had planned on giving staff time to write in reflection journals at the end of each of our professional learning meetings, however, I know that this is something I have forgotten a few times (I will also tell you that closure was one of my weakest areas in the classroom). I loved the idea that someone added in response to this blog of adding a reflection question for you all in my Friday Focus posts and am trying to remember to do that to encourage your reflection as well.
Professional Goal #2: To act more like an instructional coach than a "supervisor"
Before I made the crazy "leap" into administration I worked for one year as an Instructional Coach and absolutely loved it. I loved the time I spent observing teachers, helping them to reflect, planning with them, co-teaching a lesson, etc. During my years here as principal, I have focused on improving my practice of getting into classrooms as much as possible to provide teachers with feedback. Over the past year, I have come to realize how important it is not only to just give you my feedback, but to have conversations with you as an Instructional Coach does.
An Instructional Coach's role is to improve instruction and I don't see my role any differently (I just also happen to have many other duties to fulfill as well). I reflected in a previous post about my classroom visits here and am continuing to find that it is very difficult to find time to talk with teachers after visits and I have to resort to emailing quite often. I am happy to see from my data that I have increased my rate of feedback from 48% to 77% (meaning that for all of my classroom visits since the start of the year I have either given verbal or email feedback 77% of the time):
Feedback rates at the start of October
Feedback rates up until now
Another challenge I have found in my goal of acting more like a coach than a supervisor is that it is hard for some to separate the “evaluator” hat that I do ultimately “wear” as a principal. In a recent chat on twitter on the roles/similarities of coaches and principals, someone asked “How can a principal act as a coach?”
My tweeted response was:
Personal Goal: To make time for myself (reading for pleasure and to exercise 3 times a week)
Well, I already shared with you my reflections on exercise in our staff meeting (I really need to start joining those after school Zumba and pickleball sessions)! I made reading for pleasure a goal, because I often just read professional books and forget that I really enjoy reading for pleasure. I definitely have been doing better with this, however, when I recently told a group of 5th graders that I read 26 books in 2011 they told me “that’s nothing, we read WAY more than that!”
Now, since I just got quite personal with you all, I'm going to resort to one of my coping mechanisms of humor (in the form of an image):
My reflection prompt for you:
If you didn't get the chance to reflect on all of your goals this week, do it NOW!!!