Thanks to the inspiration of Ian McCoog and others, I have three Administrator/Educator New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Know thy student. My colleague Steve Chamberlin, Principal of Hopkinton, NH high school, used this phrase as a theme for his teachers a number of years ago. How hard do I work to at least know the names of each of my students? To what extent do I look for ways to truly know my students as an administrator? Recently I began to include students in my Podcasts which goes beyond simple name recall to true collaboration. In the past, coaching, substituting, and teaching electives have been great techniques as well.
2. Explore and advance a link between Professional Learning Communities and Web 2.0. The work of the Dufours and others is perhaps the most influential movement among P-12 schools in America today. The basic tenet of PLCs is simple but powerful: to be effective learning institutions, each school’s educators must engage in collaborative discussions centered on student learning. The focus has changed from the Danielson perspective of measuring instructional prowess as the main standard of success to prioritizing on student results, a subtle but important change. While I am blessed to be working in school with naturally collaborative teachers, time is certainly a at a premium in order to strengthen PLCs and the culture that surrounds this initiative. After receiving a full dose of Web 2.0 from Kathy Schrock and others at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in Nashua, NH, I have been contemplating how to use the world of blogs, wikis, and podcasts to further collaboration and professional development.
3. Observe more classroom instruction. Ask nearly any Principal, and he/she will bemoan the lack of instructional face time available to the average administrator. I have tried many different techniques from reserving one day a week just for observations to having my administrative assistant mark off time on my iCal to conduct specific walk-throughs. Meetings and paperwork (otherwise known as: keeping the trains running on time) have to be balanced with “the vision thing”.