Since January 23, 2017 up until now, I have been busier than I ever have before. New job beginning on January 23, 2017 (interim elementary principal), my wife and I celebrating the birth of our third child on January 24, 2017, back to my old job on March 13, 2017 (6th grade teacher), back to my old-new job on June 2, 2017 (being an interim elementary principal), becoming a Google for Education Certified Trainer in July 2017, starting my new-new job on January 22, 2018 (instructional technology coach), and becoming an Instant Pot believer after many failed attempts in February 2018.
Along the way I did try to keep up on my blogging, as I had several different drafts going, but I never made time to finish a lot of them. So below are my unfinished drafts, starting with the oldest to the most recent, that I feel I just need to "post" so I can start fresh and keep moving forward. At the end of each, I have added what I was trying to get across in the post.
"You're not the teacher you were before."
"You are not the same teacher you were before." How would you feel if you were told that? Would you feel upset, or would feel proud? Would you consider it disrepctful or a compliment?
A few weeks ago, my principal told me that statement, and that statement has been ringing in my head ever since. The more I have thought about that statement, the more and more a consider it one of the highest compliments a teacher can receive. Why? Because that means one is a teacher that is actively seeking out change to improve one's practice and learning experience for one's students. It means one is not opening up last year's lesson planner, erasing, and changing the dates. If a teacher is not willing to change to from year to year, then how can a teacher expect their students to be engaged in their learning if there is little thought to lesson design with the students' personalities in mind?
Now, becoming a different teacher than teacher you were a year ago is difficult. Why? Because it means change. But what better to demonstrate learning to our students than by going through that process in front of them?
So how can one change? How can one become a different teacher than the one they were last year?
First, actively seek out new information. Don't wait for information to come to you. Go find it yourself. Take control of your learning, and see what's out there.
Second, don't be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, know ahead of time, that you will make mistakes. That is expected and needed in order to grow.
Third, reflect at least once a week in a journal or on a blog. You will find that is the most meaningful way to your change.
Fourth, know your purpose. Know why you want to change.
Finally, there is no doubt you can get lost when you start searching for change with all the ideas that are out there. So keep it simple. Start small, but start. Get to be very comfortable with a new idea before trying to bring in another.
Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep moving forward. Become a different teacher than you were last year. So when you get hear that statemennt, "You're not the teacher you were before," you will take it as one of the greatest professional comments of your career.
Finding Out Firsthand:
The big chair. The big desk. The office. The responsibility. What's the difference between a prinicpal's day and a teacher's day? This is something I have alway wondered about, and recently I have been able to find out the difference first hand.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to fill in for an elementary school prinicpal in my district. It was a very difficult decision to leave my sixth-grade students but it was an opportunity I could not pass up. So far, the experience has been fantastic and eye-opening.
Only way to really find out what things are like, are to try it out yourself. You can read all about it and ask all the questions you want, but until you try it out, you'll never really know.
My class size grew this year compared to last year. It grew from about 26 students to about 700 students. Quite the jump. The reason for the jump? Moving from my usual sixth-grade teaching position into an interim elementary principal position.
No matter the class size, it is still necessary to appreciate and value each individual for who they are and what they bring.
The Phone Call Home:
Cold and flu season. If you have children of your own, you will probably and unfortantely have to deal with colds, coughs, fevers, and flus during this time of year. As a parent of three, I cross my fingers each year around this time that none of my children get sick, but it never works and we always seem to end up in the doctor's office...just like this year, except for one difference. The doctor called home a few days later to check on my daughter.
That quick, two-minute phone call made all the difference. My daughter was feeling better but it showed me that her doctor truly cared. The doctor did not have to make that call, as I am sure his schedule was booked with other patients. Yet he took two minutes out of his day and called. As a parent, I could not ask for more. And as an educator, it made me think about one of the most powerful tools in the toolbox, the telephone.
At the beginning of this school year, I took at an idea from Principal Mark French (@PrincipalFrench) called #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay. This is simply a way to recognize good things that students are doing and calling home about it.
With all the different ways to communicate in today's world, don't forget the most powerful one, the phone, and use it often for good.
Yet Another New Position:
This school year has been different. Instead of going back to my sixth grade classroom for the 16th year, I went back to school but as an interim elementary principal. I filled the role of elementary principal until recently, as the principal I was filling in for came back from medical leave (he successfully beat cancer!). Now I find myself as my district's instructional technology coach, which is another new role for me. As I begin my work as an instructional echnology coach, my focus will be what I took away from my time as principal...relationships.
Relationships are vital in any position.
Change. It can be uncomfortable. It can be difficult. But if embraced, it can be a tremendous force that helps propel one forward in the best of ways.
You don't know, unless you try.
Now it's time for me to get to work on my next post, "Instant Pot; Instant Failiure."