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Posted by on in General

The kids had only been gone for three days but, now that the Memorial Day long weekend was over, my work as an assistant principal was ready to begin again.  It was time to clear out the old year and prepare for the next one, which would begin in two months whether we were ready or not. 

Fortunately, this first day back, there were no district meetings planned, no professional development “opportunities” scheduled, and no parent conferences expected.  I began my day sitting with the principal and developing my “to-do” list from his requests and then adding a few of my own chores as well.

A few teachers had returned as they had not completely checked out for the summer break the Friday before.  I visited each in their classrooms, inspected the walls and floors for some sense of cleanliness and signed their check-out forms for the secretary.  I helped them move desks and boxes and bookcases out of the way so that the custodians could easily clean the carpet before fall. 

There were also many teachers who had been told that they would be teaching in different classrooms during the new school year.  All of their personal belongings had been boxed and labeled and placed with the furniture they owned near their classroom entrances.  For most of these individuals, long-time veterans in the field, the collection at the door was massive.  You amass a great deal over the years and, in true teacher fashion, you never throw anything away.  (Personally, I still have ditto masters and overhead transparencies in my files despite the fact that the “technology” to use both is no longer existent). 

As I moved in and out of classrooms, I ran into our day custodian, Maria, who had her own list of things to do for the day.  I had worked with this wonderful lady for several years and knew her to be an extremely hardworking individual dedicated to the staff and kids on campus.  If I even hinted that something needed done, she was on it in seconds with nary a complaint. 

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Posted by on in General

After another 11-hour day at school which "ended" with me dragging a box full of four more hours of work to do at home, let me say two things. First, I still love my job. Heck, when I was a young teacher, I worked 15-hour days and 5-hour nights!

More importantly, I want to say, "I'm sorry" to all the teachers who allowed me to be their assistant principal and principal and who still talk to me today.

I am sorry for all of the new initiatives I placed before you, expecting them to be instantly incorporated into your classroom procedures the following day and fully integrated with the new initiatives from the previous week(s).

All this I expected as you complied with ILLPs and IEPs and 504s and behavior contracts and breakfast counts and lunch counts and lesson plans and assessments.

All this while you were learning how to use the new computerized student information system, the new assessment technology and the new scope and sequence technology.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

In the last several months we tackled the topic of relationships over rules in the world of students. You can read that post here. This time around, we’re diving into the world of relationships over rules with teachers.

 

As a second year administrator, I (Brent) have a lot still to learn about how to best serve, support, and care for teachers. In my 15 months that I’ve served in this capacity, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Some small, some not so much. I’ve had staff in the building tell me how much they appreciate my support and encouragement while at the same time unintentionally doing a terrible job of supporting someone the next hallway over. I heard it said recently that students want a supportive, engaging, encouraging environment where they feel known and cared for. I would venture to say adults merely want the same.

 

As an administrator, I (Jeff) get a unique and humbling vantage point into the blood, sweat, and tears that teachers invest everyday into the lives of kids. I try to make it my goal to ensure that I am not making the life of a teacher any harder. Sadly, I am certain that there are times I have probably placed an additional burden or expectation on the back of the teacher that caused stress. Our role as campus leaders is not positional, but rather to support teachers to be successful as they are on the front lines for kids and families.

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Posted by on in General

race car

Valerie stood in my doorway and quietly tapped. "Here's the file you asked for, Mr. Ramsey," she said. "New boy, Gonzalo Pomelo, eighth grade, Mrs. Duarte's homeroom."

I took the file and thanked my secretary. As I opened to the first page, she added, "By the way, he's here in the lobby waiting to see you."

"Really?" I sighed, slapping my forehead. "He just started this morning!"   Valerie quietly waited for me to tell her what to do with the child waiting for discipline. I exhaled. "Give me a sec," I uttered finally. "I just want to take a look at Mr. Pomelo's file. I'll come get him in a minute."

Quickly, I scanned the first few pages before me. Eighth grade. Last attended school in New Mexico. Parents divorced. Dad given full custody. Son sent to Arizona to live with grandparents temporarily until Dad could sell the Albuquerque home.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

disciplining kids

Then…

I (Brent) am a former student pastor turned public educator. Upon leaving vocational ministry, I moved into a position as a teacher and coach in southeast Texas. I taught science at the seventh and eighth grade levels for seven years and loved it. However fun my science classes were to teach, science was never my passion. My passion is in helping students learn from their choices (good and bad) and grow from one day to the next. During my time that I was in the classroom, I told my students on a regular basis, “My goal is for you to be a better person on the last day you walk out of my class than on the first day that you walked in. If you learn some science along the way, that’s awesome too!” Obviously, I wanted them to learn science and I wanted to do a great job of teaching it to them. After all, that’s what I was getting paid to do and I want to be great at my job. That doesn’t mean that science was my main goal for my students.

Like Brent, I (Jeff) spent 11 years as a student pastor before I transitioned into public education. I knew the call into the classroom was about relationships and helping kids to be better today than they were yesterday. Having taught both elementary and middle school students you come to find out that meeting the basic needs of students is universal. I can remember my first year teaching 4th grade, I had a parent of one young man indicate to me that it was the first year in his young school career that he had not been sent to the office. During that year we had several one on one conversations, where being 6’ 4’’ I would crouch down to eye level, and remind him what he could do. I always shared that  I expected more because he was capable. The power of high expectations seemed to resonate equally somewhere deep inside this little guy’s mind and heart. We developed a strong relationship by the time the school year finished. Though I was teaching english language arts we were all learning what it meant to live out the art of doing life together - what it means to become better with the help of another.

Now…

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