When you get a group of talented, enthusiastic, and passionate educators together to talk about school-wide positive behavior support in the summer, great and exciting things are bound to happen. And that is exactly what occurred the other day, a few weeks before the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
I am fortunate enough to work along side these talented, enthusiastic, and passionate educators as principal, and when we sat down to discuss our goals for the year and how we would accomplish those goals, #bekindbeincredible was born.
Family Feud to Double Dare
As our school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) team began to plan our theme and what our kickoff assembly would be, we focused on the five pillars we have always focused on (being safe, here, accountable, responsible, and prepared), plus being kind. We discussed some ideas but wanted to ensure that we kept our ideas relevant for our learners. So we first came up with The Incredibles against another "family" in a Family Feud kickoff assembly. However as we thought about keeping our ideas relevant for our learners, we discussed the idea of Double Dare, since it made it a comeback this summer; long overdue I might add. This immediately clicked and we were quickly able to brainstorm the kickoff assembly. Now we had, The Incredibles, Double Dare, slime, and me, the principal, getting slimmed at the end. But we also had something far bigger.
Mention the word, “leader,” and many people conjure up an image of a larger-than-life character who seemingly single-handedly transforms their organization for the better. A leader, as many also erroneously believe, is determined by having a title or position of importance. John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.” Teachers all over the world, regularly lead positive changes in their classrooms, schools, districts, and beyond without fanfare, recognition and often without a formal title or position. They lead because their colleagues respect and trust them. Their leadership begins from the heart. Their passion for reaching and teaching young people and love for what they do is evident. Extraordinary teachers are leaders because they inspire and motivate others to be and do their best. How they lead is multifaceted and is only limited by their creativity.
Unfortunately, too many teachers fail to identify themselves as leaders. Many educators share the mindset that leadership is for a “talented” few. This limiting belief stifles the potential of teachers that could otherwise make a larger impact on student learning and achievement. The inclination to think about “my class, my students” or even “my team” prevents teachers from developing a greater vision. Instead of viewing themselves as leaders that accept not only the responsibility of their class but also the responsibility of all students; they see themselves as “just teachers” and limit their potential impact. Their talents and abilities largely remain an untapped resource that could enrich the lives of many more people.
The paradigm shift from “my” to “our” is subtle but powerful. When this shift happens, when teachers start to view themselves as leaders who are empowered to inspire positive changes not only in the lives of “their students” but in “all students,” they are motivated by an even higher purpose. “Every child, every day” takes on a whole new significance.
Every teacher can and must lead if they care about kids. Not all will become outstanding leaders, but everyone can improve. Leadership skills can be learned. What teachers will soon realize is that they are already leading! They need only to expand their circle of influence beyond their classroom walls.
There are as many ways that teachers can lead as there are teachers. Here are eight ways that teachers can make an even more significant impact on student learning and success....
As you read this you probably have a lot of ideas floating through your head about the amazing learning activities you’re going to experience with your students. Whether it is an idea you read about in an article, something a colleague of yours has tried, or an awesome PD session you’ve attended, it’s time to put those concepts into action! Regardless of how far into, or away from, the start of the year you are, I’d like to share 7 simple ways that you can start increasing student success in your classroom today!
1. Set Systems and Routines:
I don’t want to beat a dead horse here ,or echo the wisdom of Wong and Wong, but the key to any successful instructional environment is systems and routines. Students will do better in an environment that is safe, predictable, and positive in nature. I would also argue, based on experience and observations, that it is a foundation of systems and routines that can allow for greater student freedom in the classroom. By providing this type of environment you will allow your students to thrive!
2. Let Students Set The Pace:
If you did an evaluation of the most common reasons why management issues occur, or what causes student frustration to increase, or if you reviewed the most common interventions for special needs students, pace would be at the core of it all.
Most of us have seen or experienced the traditional archaic model of education where a lesson is taught, notes are taken, quizzes or worksheets are handed out and grades are given. While this model works for some students, there are many students that completely shut down in this process. This process of judgement and single chances creates an immense amount of FEAR in students.
We have all had the difficult student that responds: "I'm not doing this!", as you hand out an activity. This response is not bred out of defiance, but rather out of fear. Fear that they wont be able to perform the task, can't read at the appropriate level, or simply a fear of failure. These fears drive a lot of management issues that occur in classrooms. If students can't access content, they "fight back" due to the fear of failure. Some students have failed so many times that the fear is perpetual and constant throughout the school day.
This needs to change. Assessments and assignments need to transform from end games to learning opportunities. Students need to see the work that they do as progressive to their learning not terminal and definitive judgments on their abilities and intelligence. The culture of constant judgement (grades) and finite decisions based on performance defines an environment that produces fear. In any environment where fear is prominent, other negative emotional and social responses will arise.
In my classroom I created a system to remove the fear from learning. Here are a few things that have worked for me:...