Friday, August 4, 2017

Learning, Leadership, and Lists




Ask any educator to share a memory of working with a student, a family, or a colleague, and you’ll likely be inspired. These become learning and leadership milestones, cornerstones to how we define ourselves as educators, and marks of our legacy and the reputation of our profession.


But when was the last time you made time to notice when you evolved as a professional learner?


For me, becoming a Connected Educator has been a personal-professional tipping point. But it wasn't Twitter, Edcamps, or experimenting with instructional technology that has had the greatest impact. It’s been my renewed approach why I lead, how I learn best, and what I can do to maximize my impact as a school leader.  


One such practical meeting place, quite simply, lies in my use of lists.


Who among us, hasn't (or doesn't) use lists? To-do lists. Grocery lists. "Honeydew" lists.


Lists have withstood the test of time, in getting us on-track, and keeping us on-track with personal and professional productivity. And lists are precisely where we can keep learning forward.


Here's how.


"To-Learn" lists


We should all be keeping a list of "professional to-do's". You likely have developed this on your own, with your school or district team, and as part of any external professional organizations to which you belong. When you attend a traditional professional development workshop, an Edcamp, or a national conference, you will encounter new ideas, new concepts, and others, willing to share their success, so it becomes your success. Here’s one way to avoid what’s commonly known as "drinking from the fire hose":
 
  • TOMORROW: What is one new practice, tool, or protocol that I will try in my classroom/school/district?
  • THIS WEEK: What is one learning conversation I will initiate with a professional colleague?
  • THIS MONTH: What is one resource I will share with someone in a different professional position than the one I hold?
  • THIS YEAR: What is one project or initiative I will explore, for gradual future implementation with my colleagues?


Use your tool of choice and organize and maintain this list in the way that works best for your learning style. Revisit it and monitor it often. Keep it updated. And invite others to help you stay accountable to what you've set out to do.


Twitter lists


As someone who has been using Twitter as a professional learning tool for the last four years, it just isn't humanly possible to keep up with all the learning, the people, and the resources that are available 24/7/365. To remain productive, purposeful, and focused, consider establishing and using Twitter lists that will support your goals. For example, I keep Twitter lists to curate resources for my weekly Monday Memo for Faculty. I refer often to a list personal-professional mentors who I can count on for modeling, support, and feedback. And I use lists to keep up with what my friends with whom I collaborate on all things educational leadership. And for fun and in an attempt to be part of something else larger than myself, I maintain a Twitter list of over 2,000 NY Connected Educators. While each of these can be used for professional enrichment, using lists in this way accomplish something else vitally important in our field and in our schools. They make the world a smaller place. They help us to realize, we're all more alike than different. And they encourage learning in and across communities.
     
To-Be-Read lists


This idea of lists is not a new one. In fact, this very idea was re-framed for me at my first Edcamp by one of my leading personal-professional mentors who has since become a dear friend. The session I had attended was about...a book, The Checklist Manifesto by Dr. Atul Gawande. To this day, I continue to recommend this title, since it offers such low-input, high-output strategy work for being more efficient and effective, in work and in life.


As an avid reader of content both in and out of the education field, I keep a running list of books, authors, and series that I refer to often and update regularly. A To-Be-Read list can keep us in touch with what our students are excited to be reading, it can fuel us professionally, and it can allow us to cross-pollinate our ideas, our dialogue, and our perspective. But maybe most importantly, to-be-read lists remind us that in order to be high-impact leaders, we must first commit to being readers and learners.


Ready to evolve?

What’s on your professional learning list?



26 Days of Learning Leadership
Day 1:   Accountability
Day 2:   BRAVO
Day 3:   Collective Wisdom
Day 5:   Evolve

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Knowledge. There's more to it than that.

Recently, I couldn't help but laugh when a group of friends and I were in a non-school discussion and I linked it back to learning, to school, and to leadership. Someone in the conversation remarked that no matter what, I seem to be able to bring most conversations back to education. I have yet to decide if that's a good quality of a bad quality (it's also gotten me in trouble at times). Regardless, it's forced me to acknowledge one thing: nearly all the time, teaching, learning, and leading is at the forefront of my mind.

In recent months, I've invested some time learning about where Bloom's Taxonomy intersects with the SAMR Model. And what I've come to be reminded of is that school is meant to be so much more than basic recall and recitation of facts, and more than the teacher imparting knowledge on his or her students.

Knowledge. There's more to it than that.  


So this summer, I've been deliberate about learning and in some cases, re-learning, something with which I'm already familiar, but making the time to see it through a different lens. These activities have provided a fresh look at something I've done before.

For example, bicycle riding. There's nothing quite like the feeling of engaging in strenuous physical activity. It can have a significant positive impact on our mental and emotional states as well. I alluded to this in a post I wrote entitled Stretch. Since the writing of that post, it's been a physical (and in turn a mental) struggle to maintain a steady running habit, as a result of a series of nagging injuries.  So I've moved on to something new. Who among us hasn't ridden a bike, for pleasure, right? 

In recent times, I've come to miss the sensation, the benefits of distance running, that have long served as an outlet for creative problem solving, stress relief, and physical fitness. So this year (at the urging of my teenage daughter), I began attending spin classes, which happens to have been part of my physical fitness regiment years ago.

This same daughter, who I taught to ride a two-wheeler some years back, was now inviting me - encouraging me - to join her in this new "everything old is new again" challenge. And what have I learned as a result?



My visceral reaction is that we spend far too much time, in education, allowing ourselves to treat teaching and learning like riding a bike. Are you the kind of teacher or school leader who prepares for parts of the school year, as you always have done?

Don't get me wrong. Classroom and school routines and expectations are important. Efficiency and consistency are important. And high impact protocols and practices are important. But now consider the last time you tried a completely new approach to start or to end the school year. When was the last time you took an "old reliable idea", and reworked it with enhancements to both the teaching and the learning side of the equation? 


This new school year, why not challenge ourselves to re-imagine something familiar? 

Enter...the spin class.




Culture

The very first thing I noticed as I entered my first spin class in nearly 15 years was how the instructor welcomed each of us with a smile, a greeting, and some small talk that made each participant feel welcomed and valued. It's such a simple and important gesture to build community. This theme ran consistently throughout the class. 

Do we capitalize on building a culture of trust in our schools? 

Personalization

We each sit in neat rows, facing the instructor, who is also seated on her bike. While she makes several announcements that pertain to maximizing the overall experience for us all, there is also space for differentiation. When she squawks, "When you're ready, a quarter turn to the right!" followed by, "A full turn...now two full turns." At this point, I realize my starting point and turns will differ from my neighboring bike rider. And to start each transition with, "When you're ready," I come to appreciate that, as a new rider, I am going to be ready at a different time than anyone else.

How might we personalize our approaches to new learning?  

Modeling

The instructor is positioned at the front of the classroom. If this were a school setting, this may be a red flag for a teacher-driven classroom. However, there's a distinct difference here: the teacher is doing the same thing that the students are doing, and at the same time. We can pattern our form after seeing what the teacher is doing. We can appreciate the joy of the experience and the thrill of overcoming incremental challenges. And maybe best of all, we can celebrate a shared accomplishment. 

Where do our opportunities lie to learn alongside of our students?

Scaffolding

Each series builds on the previous series, as the workout intensifies. To experience this as a learner, this is distinctly different when riding a spin bike. The instructor sets the scaffold for a given series, and it is my job, as the learner to regulate and to monitor my own progress, making adjustments where they are needed. The teacher encourages us in to add resistance, she is transparent in the struggle herself, and she adds feedback, in the form of praise and encouragement, each member of the class seems to respond to the challenge to scaffold his or her own experience.

When might we scaffold of our own learning, with or without the support of others? 

Formative Assessment

One area in which I invest significant time with our teachers is in effective use of formative assessment, as a means of informing both teaching and learning. Sitting on (or leaning over) a spin bike, I can't help but notice the role formative assessment plays in how the class runs. A favorite aspect of this particular class is the strong playlist that drives our motivation throughout. But having attended this class on multiple occasions, I've come to appreciate, not all of the songs are the same, or are played in the same sequence from one day to the next. The instructor reads the room and is responsive to our feedback, which could be based on the energy we bring, both individually and collectively, to the class. Based on non-verbal feedback the class offers the teacher, she alters the instruction accordingly.

What role does formative assessment play in your instructional decisions, that will lead to greater levels of meaningful learning?

Each one of us is surrounded by opportunities to push our schools, our teaching, and our leading beyond our comfort zones, and past dispensing knowledge to others in our learning communities. And when we have the courage and the tenacity to do this, we often realize, we're not the only ones who are thinking this way; case in point, the tweet below, from Cornelius Minor. The tweet was attached to a short video clip...about how we can push the outer limits of riding a bike. 





One has to wonder, if we can push limits with a bicycle, what's stopping us from doing more of this in the education field?


26 Days of Learning Leadership
Day 1:   Accountability
Day 2:   BRAVO
Day 3:   Collective Wisdom
Day 5:   Evolve

Monday, July 17, 2017

Journeys & Meetings




Each year, my mom ventures to Ireland, to visit with her cousins. While this has been a lifelong dream, she only started the tradition two years ago. This particular year, she returned from her adventure with a gift that sits on my desk: a paperweight.



The cast etched into the paperweight appears to be two people, facing one another. Either between them or behind them (depending on how you see it) appears to be an an obstacle, maybe a road or a river. While there is story unto itself regarding the meaning of the etching, I couldn't help but relate the symbolism to the journeys we take on the road to Learning Leadership.


The title of the image is Journeys & Meetings.


Maybe you look at this and see two different people, facing one another. Or, maybe you see this as one person, looking at a mirror image of himself or herself. Regardless, recent weeks have taken me on new personal-professional pathways. This time has also given me pause, to look back on what I've learned in the last school year.


In the days that followed the end of the 2016-17 school year, the 3rd Annual Edcamp Leadership: Long Island was hosted at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, New York. And then last week, I was fortunate to be invited to serve as a facilitator at the AMLE Leadership Institute in San Diego, California. But this post is not specifically about either of these two events, or the hundreds of passionate educators with whom I've learned. Rather, it's a first attempt to fuse what those who I met in recent times have helped me discover, about who I am and may become, as a school leader.


One of my very real fears headed into this past school year was that I wouldn't be as familiar with our middle school students as I once had been. I mentioned to my Faculty at our final meeting the year prior that I was concerned I wouldn't know our students, their names, and their stories.


Because I've been on a fortunate journey my entire career, which has now spanned two full decades.


As a teacher for the first half of my career, I'd gotten to know families of students quite well, in ways only a teacher can. Each experience resonated: the successes, the struggles, the failures, and the progress.


As I transitioned out of the classroom and into administration, the students who I taught were the students who I supported as an assistant principal. Then, when the middle school where I work as principal opened, my first students were my first seventh and eighth graders. It was rewarding to see these students (and their families) again, as "our kids" shifted from childhood into adolescence. As a new middle school principal, to enter into a new unfamiliar role, it was uniquely comforting to know that some of the same students who learned to love reading, writing, and math in my classroom, were among the students who would help me learn how to lead as a school principal. In recent years, as members of the last class I taught graduated high school and embarked on the their own life journeys, I've been confronted with some complex emotions. The school I had devoted myself to for two decades left me feeling isolated and alone.


Then this year happened.


This year, I opened myself up to the idea my professional journey could take me places I couldn't anticipate or imagine. Like my mother, following her lifelong dream to travel the countryside and meet her family, I too, could commit to new meetings, and new journeys.


Outside of school, I've fortified my professional priorities to become a highly effective principal, so our school community (and all it's members) can thrive. While there are, no doubt, parameters outlined in rubrics and offered through isolated snapshots of feedback, being "highly effective", I've also come to realize there are many, countless in fact, educators among us who engage in highly effective practices. And maybe best of all, they are also willing to open their doors, their minds, and their hearts, to willingly engage in dialogue that supports and promotes the improvement of other leaders.


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Here are three things I've learned so far...


We Can:
Love what we learn, working with teachers.


The void I feared heading into this year was filled by my effort to connect, personally and professionally, with each of my teachers. What this has taught me is that we should assume that teachers want nothing but the best for our students and our profession. I've also learned that teachers are always willing to help, but that it will look different, teacher-by-teacher, and I need to be aware that I'll have to ask at different times and in different ways. While I'm not there yet will every teacher, every day we are that much closer to understanding one another. We share common priorities: learning, caring, professionalism, collaboration, and a value for clear two-way communication (to name a few). My teachers this year have taught me to do what I've often told them, when they'd ask what I expected: Enter new situations with an open mind. And know that we all enter our school building with the best intentions for our students and for one another.


What have you learned this year,
from approaching new learning with an open mind?

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We Can:
Embrace learning the stories of others.


Simply put, some of my best days this school year have been talking to students one-on-one, but really, REALLY listening to their stories. Thematically, the most meaningful stories I've heard this year have involved adolescents overcoming obstacles. A ten-year-old, who overcame an illness and a prolonged hospital stay. A 13-year-old, who challenged himself to ride his his bike for 40 miles, to challenge himself physically and mentally. A teacher who is navigating family illness and personal loss. And a father who is advocating for his daughter, because even though it may not come across this way, he only wants the very best for his daughter's academic future. These are among the dozens of stories I've heard, and the hundreds of stories that are out there yet to be learned.


This year, I've moved from a stance in which I am primed to react or respond, to one of active listening, in hopes that I can better understand the root of their concern for a child. I've come to appreciate and value the time spent with my staff, especially one-on-one; it's helped me realize, there is so much more to those who come to school and teach kids. Personal stories, shifting family dynamics, struggles and successes, all shape who we are and they impact what we bring to our interactions with students.


What student's, parent's, or staff member's story has helped you understand how others see the world?

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We Can:
Resist isolation. (Remember, we are not alone.)


This year, I've had my share of unexpected family health struggles and a few unanticipated professional challenges. Being willing to embrace wearing my heart on my sleeve, remaining tenacious and true to myself, listening to the stories others have shared, and striving to surround myself with people who inspire me to be better has focused me and continues to drive me. Best of all, as long as we make time to nourish our relationships, the connections we've made will only flourish. They've provided a frame of reference, a standard to which we can apply to new relationships. Tuning into what's important, cross-pollinating professional learning, and honing in on what works will nourish us. It's good to know I'm not alone in thinking about this. To paraphrase a tweet I read recently (about hiking and mountain climbing):


"...remember...the best views are not only at the top. Enjoy the journey."




What is a view you've enjoyed, along your journey?


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My Journeys & Meetings from this year continue to have a profound impact, on how I treat others and how I see the world. They've provided context and vision for the next opportunity to learn; to learn about serving others, fueling our profession, and driving myself on the road to Learning Leadership.


What Journeys & Meetings lie ahead in your future?
______
This post is dedicated to those who are part of my journey: my School Family, my Edcamp Long Island Family, and my AMLE Leadership Institute Family.

And of course...my own Family.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I...


Several months ago, in an effort to become a more dedicated and more skilled writer, I issued a challenge to several friends. These friends graciously accepted, and in turn, extended the challenge to several of their friends, and so forth. The challenge, in my ambitious mind, was to blog twice a month, sharing posts with one another. Each post was to correlate with a letter of the alphabet, I thought, as a way for me to stay focused...on Learning Leadership. I started strong, and went strong. For 8 posts. Then, I abruptly stopped. 

After 8 posts. 

8. Posts.




See, what I was reminded of from January to June, is that for as much as we sometimes want things to go exactly as planned, they rarely (if ever) do. We can design the perfect schedule, hire and mentor the best teachers, adopt the best, most rigorous curriculum. We can have wonderful students, supportive families, and a trusting community. But much like what happens after the opening break shot, school (and life) doesn't remain packed tight into a billiards rack. 




What I was also reminded of, however, after 20 years in education, is that every day we get a fresh start. Every day is a day to start over, to get it right.




So today, I wipe my slate clean and start over. But first, I'd like to attempt to close out my end-of-the-school-year thoughts...from A...to Z.

  

I...


  • Accept...my shortcomings, my weaknesses, and my imperfections.
  • Believe...ALL students can achieve, and we must commit ourselves to entering our school with the best intentions for our school community.
  • Choose...to see the glass as always half-full. Education needs this now, more than ever.
  • Dedicate...myself as a learner, first. Several years ago, I gave up on the idea that any one of us knows everything. But I will not stop trying to be better, or to be great for kids.
  • Extend...the invitation to learn, to collaborate, and to understand others' point-of-view.

  • Forgive...myself for mistakes I've most made in the last two decades as an educator (and while I'm at it, my last four decades on the planet).
  • Go. For It....with every new opportunity, to learn something new, to do something that scares me, to risk failure, to be better.
  • Honor...our profession as educators, every day.  
  • I. See. You. Remembering that every student, every family, and every staff member has a story gives me the vision to be responsive to people's basic human needs, before all else.
  • Juggle...the responsibilities of being an educator, be a husband and a dad, and being someone who struggles to keep work-life balance...or is it integration?

  • Know...I am good at certain things...that I haven't always been good at...which makes me comfortable going into a new situation knowing I may not "get it" the first time around.
  • Listen...to our students...to our parents and caregivers...to those who are willing to share wisdom and can teach me something new.
  • Marinate...in what I learn. I don't always expect to walk away from a new experience with an exact, precise outcome, but rather one that I can integrate into my practice, a task, or a project.
  • Need...feedback. From teachers. From colleagues. From parents. From students. From people who understand, who want to understand,  and who  disagree with me.
  • Offer...100%. If I am going to expect others to do the same, I need to be willing to show my passion - for hard work, and always striving to be more, to do more, for others, and for something much larger than any one of us. And my willingness to be vulnerable, to criticism and skepticism.

  • Persevere...through times that challenge us, that test our beliefs, that present seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 
  • Question...why we do, what we do. Ask this essential question: Is this what's best for our students? Will this decision yield an outcome or product that best serves our students and our school community?
  • Respect...the perspective of others. Change is not easy. Shifting beliefs requires patience and a willingness to move incrementally.
  • Stay the course. No matter what, don't quit. Don't ever quit, especially when it will result in improving learning conditions for our students.
  • Thank...a teacher, a parent, or a mentor, whenever possible. Success is not possible without their support.

  • Understand...that everyone is fighting a battle of some sort. Taking a step back to realize there are reasons for people's actions or reactions will only help us serve them better in overcoming their challenges.
  • Value...the meaning of being responsive, progress and achievement.
  • Wish...nothing more than to have opportunities to guarantee that conditions exist so students can be all they want to be, do all they can dream and aspire to do.
  • eXtend...my hand, my ear, myself to help others as a servant leader.
  • Yearn...to witness progress, to celebrate success, to understand why we do what we do.

  • Zero in... on what matters. Being developmentally responsive and focused on academic achievement for each and every student. Being a supportive force for our parents and our marginalized populations. Being someone who is unafraid to give credit, remove obstacles, and to take blame. Bringing people together to learn, to celebrate, and to be celebrated. Being a small part of something much larger, something that cannot be tucked neatly and compactly into a rack.




Monday, January 9, 2017

Call Me Coach

Jay Posick, Principal of Merton Intermediate School in Wisconsin, and Dennis Schug, Principal of Hampton Bays Middle School in New York are fortunate to receive daily inspiration from our Twitter and Voxer groups. During a recent Voxer conversation among a group of middle school principals, the topic of coaching sports took center-stage. The following post was written in collaboration, between Jay and Dennis, two Principal-Coaches. This piece is dedicated to the Impatient Optimists, the #MiddleLeaders.

On a personal note, thank you Coach Posick, for your friendship and for being a role model in middle level leadership. - DS

How did each of us come to be coaches?


Jay:  I was a high school and college athlete and always a student of whatever game I was participating in at the time.  I had great coaches who always took the time for me.  There were coaching openings for volleyball at my former high school and I was selected as an assistant coach.  That was the start.  I wound up coaching high school volleyball, basketball, soccer, and track and field.  When I hung up my high school coaching whistle I started coaching at the middle school where I taught. I added cross country and wrestling, two sports I had never participated in, to my coaching resume.  In recent years, I have had the privilege of coaching 8th grade boys and girls basketball.  Coaching is something I consider a privilege.

Dennis: Waiting on line to sign my daughter up for basketball, parents were told, regrettably, that the league was a coach short of running an eighth team. Kids would be waitlisted and likely turned away without one more parent volunteer willing to coach. When I arrived at the registration table, I mentioned my willingness to help out in any way necessary. By the time I returned home from sign-ups, a voicemail message awaited me: “Dennis, we’d like for you to coach a team for us.” As a former teacher, I was game. This decision, not exactly made by me, turned out to be one of the best things that could’ve happened. I was a new Principal. And I was a new basketball coach. It didn’t take long before I realized, this was not something I HAD to do. Coaching kids was something I GOT to do.


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Why is coaching important to us?

Jay: As a principal, I don’t often have the opportunity to be a teacher in the classroom.  When I’m a coach, the gym is my classroom.  I can teach the basketball fundamentals and I can teach the joy and love of the game, too.  The practices are the daily lessons I’m able to teach and the games are the assessments.  But the score isn’t as important to me as it used to be when I was coaching in high school.  Don’t get me wrong- winning is important.  But what’s more important is seeing the progress of the individuals and the team.




Dennis: One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher has been seeing a kid succeed, beyond his or her wildest dreams. I am proud to say that on occasions, I’ve been a member of a teaching team that’s created conditions for kids to love learning. I’m also privileged to have been afforded opportunities to teach students how to read. In the classroom, I felt surrounded by these moments, surging pockets of success that I could witness exploding at different times for different students. As a Principal, one of my greatest misgivings about leaving the classroom was the concern that I’d no longer be there to see, first-hand, when a student exceeded his or her own expectations of what’s possible. Coaching basketball would change all of that for me.

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What lessons have we each learned through the Principal/Coach experience?


Jay:  There are a few lessons I have learned being a principal and coach.


  • It’s an honor to be the kids’ principal and coach.
    • It’s nice to be called Mr. Posick, but it’s even better to be called coach.  I don’t even think twice when the need arises for me to be a coach.  It’s a privilege to coach these young men and women.
  • It’s about the journey, not the destination.
    • It’s awesome watching the players progress and improve.  Ultimately we would go undefeated and win the year end tournament.  But we’re not the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers, we’re the 2017 Merton Mustangs and we will strive to get better every day in every way. If that means we win all of our games, great.  But if not, we’ll sure get better every day.
  • It’s about making sure the kids are better people than they are basketball players.
    • We must all show good sportsmanship, teamwork, and effort, and not just on the court.  It makes me feel great when our players and team are recognized for being good sports, working together, and giving it our all.
  • You make an impact on the players so make sure it’s a good one.
    • The players are always watching and listening. How I behave as a coach toward our players, our competition, and our officials has a lasting impact. I do my best to stay positive, even when things aren’t going our way, and hope that this positivity can turn the tide in the game.


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Dennis: Being a coach and principal present numerous lessons that have nourished each role.

  • Both sports and learning are about having fun and finding joy in personal fulfillment.   
    • When we answer the call to serve children, we commit ourselves to this fundamental value. Designing conditions that promote meaningful and joyful individual success serves a basic need that resonates long after our time together in a classroom, a school, or on a court. The impact of such an experience, done right, is mutually beneficial, for both adult and child.
  • Athletics, like learning, is about making progress.
    • Each of us begins at our own starting point and moves forward at our own pace. We focus on our goals, we analyze our technique, we practice, and we improve. And together, we celebrate our successes. Today I view “success” much differently than when I first started (winning doesn’t always necessarily equal success). Who taught me this? It was the young ball player who began, unable to reach the basket, who within a season, was making layups. That’s winning.
  • Athletics provide opportunities to model integrity.
    • As a coach, there have been games we’ve won and games we’ve lost. But the outcome - the score - has never mattered. What matters most is each player being able to ask and answer honestly, the questions: Was a good teammate? Was I a good sport? Did I do my personal best? Modeling these qualities for our players has reminded me when I’ve needed it, that each player on our team depends on me to uphold the honor of being in a position to positively impact kids.
  • Being a coach gives us practice...with balance.
    • Anyone who is a school leader knows, being an educator can be challenging. Our time, our energy, and our focus is required both on and off “the job”. But sometimes, when we can easily log a 12-hour workday, it’s also important to make the time to step back to recharge our own batteries. Only then can we restore perspective so we’re our best when we’re back in the role as Principal.
Being a coach and an educator provides so many valuable life lessons...for us, as Principals.


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Three Lessons Learned as a Basketball Coach:
  1. Kids: Each player reminds us he or she comes to every practice and every game with a story. Players arrive excited, confident, and in some cases, nervous and even on occasion, reluctant. Some have played organized sports, while others are new to the experience. Each player has a personal context and an expectation for what being a member of our team will bring to their lives. Before we can practice skills, it's always important to build a team culture that embraced meeting each player where he/she is and designing experiences that promote personal success.    
  2. Families: Parents are busy people. Parents also, no matter what, have it in their hearts that they want what’s best for their kids. So when a mom or a dad (or another primary caretaker) reaches out, by phone, email, or in person, there’s an obligation to listen closely and to demonstrate that we both share a common goal centering on their child’s best interests, and that we will work together to maximize this mutual commitment. And when we are together, whether sitting courtside on one side of the gym or the other, when we cheer and we celebrate, we are doing it TOGETHER.
  3. Teamwork: “Knicks on three! Knicks on three! One. Two. Three. KNICKS!” This was the chant that we’d engage one another in before and after each game and practice. It reminded us that, as a team, we relied on one another to bring out the best in each other and to support one another as teammates. Being a basketball coach has served as a reminder that in order for us to thrive together, each member of our team had to feel valued as a contributor and integral to our success. It’s also proven that each of us defines terms like “success” or “progress” differently. While for some, it’s about becoming a more selfless teammate, for others, it may be about having the strength to take shots that not only reach the rim, but that eventually go in, on a consistent basis. It’s about setting goals and accomplishing them, but in the best interest of the collective team.

In conclusion…

Undoubtedly, the life of an Principal is a busy one. And the demands of being a parent today stretch us, sometimes to frustration and other times, exhaustion. However, one thing’s for certain: Our decision to leave work a little bit earlier than usual or arrive earlier than normal, a couple of days a week, has been a gift. And while after so many seasons, the players and the years start to blend together, there’s one gift that will always remain.



They called us coach.

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26 Days of Learning Leadership
Day 1: Accountability
Day 2: BRAVO
Day 5: Evolve