As I’ve been writing on this blog since 2006 (wow!), I’ve used the space for several purposes. Originally, it was primarily a space for me to get my thinking about all of the issues in my principalship out of my head. I could process my ideas and best of all, solicit the thinking of others. Since that time, I’ve used the blog to share my thinking, listen to others, disseminate information, celebrate success, think out loud about family and life situations, and communicate with our school community.
This week, I’m in Connecticut at Communities for Learning, where I’ve taken on a fellowship. My goals are ambitious and in service to our school district. I’m hoping to study my own leadership, our team leadership and our school improvement efforts. I’m planning to do precisely what we’re asking our teachers to do: to create an intentional plan for school improvement in the same way that they have to intentionally plan their curricular units and instruction around the common core curriculum. We saw significant improvement and success in some areas this past year—I want to know how to help teachers identify why. I also have a publishing requirement with the fellowship. Why does that matter? Because when we get to where we’re going, from #202 as an elementary school to #102, it will be helpful to the field of education if we’ve documented how we got there. Too often we can’t pinpoint what programs or changes made the difference–I’m setting out to write about and document our efforts.
Why do I need to come to Connecticut to do this work? Because within this Communities for Learning fellowship, I am working with colleagues from across the State who come with a variety of expertise—teachers, principals and other administrators, along with Giselle Martin-Kniep, Joanne Picone-Zocchia and Jennifer Borgioli from LCI. Also, I’m here with other fellows who will share their own ideas about school improvement, who will listen to our RCS plans and initiatives, and who will then give guidance and feedback about our development of an intentional and cohesive plan for school improvement.
What do I most hope to learn over this week and then continued work with the Community throughout my fellowship this school year? How do I have meaningful conversations with our administrators and teachers in which we can examine our past practices, determine what’s made a significant difference in our student learning and achievement, and replicate those efforts throughout our system? How do I help teachers continue and improve their work in data inquiry and sharing best practices? How do I help them to do so without judgment and without jumping to conclusions about why they or others saw greater success this past year? How do I make connections so that every member of our school community sees their inter connectedness and how valuable is their role in the bigger system? And how do I best lead so that everyone feels valued and understands the importance of aligning curriculum and instruction so that OUR STUDENTS have a consistent, rigorous path through our system in which all students maximize their learning and therefore, their academic success?
And Communities for Learning—Giselle and Joanne who I mentioned earlier? That’s also the organization who developed the MPPR, our rubric for evaluating our principals—so another goal of my fellowship is to learn how to use the MPPR to increase the capacity of our entire administrative team. If we improve our leadership, everyone benefits.
So you may or may not be interested in my writing this week. . . but I’ll be back to using this space to get my thinking out of my head, to solicit your feedback, and to learn how to be a better leader for our school district. Please chime in if you read something here that gets you thinking about something you want me to think about too!