“Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones are able to find.” -Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last
Currently, I am reading, "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. Something in the first few pages have got me stirred about our instructional assistants. At the beginning of each school year, we work so hard to make sure that teachers and students are ready for learning, but what do we do for our instructional support personnel? It reminded me of a video we watched once at a conference about how aware we are when we are focused so hard on something else.
I have been so focused on "counting passes" by one part of our system, that I have failed to see something that has great value right in the mix. Due to this reflection and realization, we have put together a draft of meeting schedules to formally place instructional support staff as key players in our school improvement plan. As we embark to reduce chronic absenteeism and work on full co-teaching inclusion, our instructional support staff will need support, access to administration, and additional learning. We need to make sure that the feel "inspired, safe, fulfilled, and grateful" as they spend so much time directly working with students and parents.
Our first step is to develop our understanding of their needs. It is our goal that they will be able to use our time together to address their support needs - do they feel safe and comfortable in their current (which is slightly new to them) roles. Our overall goals will be to train them in our PBIS model, Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), and Literacy. If they know what we expect of the certified staff, they will have a better vision of where they should be focusing their time.
Category: Shared Vision, Management
This past week, I spent time at my parents. There, I helped my dad in his garden. It was time to cultivate. I asked him what the purpose was in tilling the dirt and he said that it kills the weeds and it allows nutrients and other good things to get to the roots of the plants.
As I took over the machine, I realized that I had to slowly begin to give the tiller gas to get it going. If I went too hard, too fast, it would kill the engine. In essence, when I started slow, it would save time. I also discovered that where the earth had been previously tended to, it was easy to cultivate. My work was easy and it took very little energy or thought. Where it had been missed and neglected required me to use more of my energy to slow the machine down, stand firm, and let it dig in while I crept forward. Then, with each pass, it became very workable - it just took a little more focus and work.
Throughout that process, I correlated the work my father has done his whole life to my own. I also had insight into what I had been missing to really get greater gains in my "crop". It is easy in schools to continually cultivate the same path that we know and have found success with in the past. It is harder to stand firm and dig in where the hardened exterior pushes back on our work. The key is to always cultivate the easy areas to ensure they stay effective. However, you also have to expand your garden and dig into that area where nutrients need to hit the roots.
Category: Shared Vision
"The heart of this book is to reposition the role of the principal as overall instructional leader so that it maximizes the learning of all teachers and in turn all students." (p. 6 )
My first read of the summer has been a book that has graced my shelf for a few years. The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact by Fullan finally called to me and got me reflecting on my role. The timing of Fullan's vision (or me pulling it from the shelf) and my need to refocus my leadership attention was key to a relevant read.
The three main take always from this reading were as follows:
Category: Culture of Learning
Ryan Dumkrieger is the principal of Sioux City North High School.