Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Fly on the Wall

I've mentioned before that I have the opportunity to teach online education classes for the University of Phoenix.  Specifically, I teach "Coaching and Mentoring" and "Building Professional Learning Communities", two topics that really resonate with me.  My students come from all across the country (and sometimes beyond) and are primarily teachers that are planning on going into administration.  It's a unique opportunity to discuss topics with teacher leaders and also to hear things from them that they might not tell their own principal.

Some of the core topics that we discuss in class include building trust, effective communication, productive feedback, team building, and goal setting.  The two main texts that we often refer to are from Michael Fullan and Rick DuFour.  As part of these six week courses, there is a blend of individual assignments and learning team projects.  It's fascinating to watch the groups progress and learn about one another even when they never meet in person.  It's even more fascinating for me to learn about their own schools and districts and how things operate according to the state requirements and the dynamics of the various schools.  Interestingly though, the topics we discuss are universal and deal with those core topics I described earlier.  Those processes don't change, but the extent to which leaders use them (or not) varies greatly according to the school leadership.

Some of the common themes I hear from students is their wish for strong leadership in their school.  When asked to describe what that looks like, I often hear trust as the number one desired trait.  People want to know that their school leader "has their back".  Interestingly, this doesn't mean they don't want corrective feedback or don't want to receive guidance, it means they want to know that when doing an observation or giving feedback, school leaders are there to help them grow and to support them (even when they make a mistake or are having difficulties with classroom situations).  The second thing I hear most often is the need and desire for true mentors.  Teachers want to learn from one another and have the support of their team.  Too much isolation and not enough collaboration and sharing is what I often hear.  They want to visit rooms and talk with teacher leaders and ask "How did you make that lesson work?".  Leadership doesn't depend on titles, but on respect, trust, and a view that someone is trying to help.

Even though I facilitate the courses and grade the assignments, I really am the biggest learner in each class.  I try to take the feedback I hear and the examples that are shared and apply it to my own practice and help my own staff and building.  In a sense, I get to be the fly on the wall when teachers are talking about what they really want to see in building leaders and hopefully that will help me become a better principal and more importantly foster leadership in my team of teachers and classroom champions.


"Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction." - John C. Crosby

"Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are." - Theodore Roosevelt

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." - Mark Twain


Monday, February 16: No School
Tuesday, February 17: No Students Building PD in morning / District PD by grade level in afternoon
Wednesday, February 18: Parent Meeting/Possible REED (Nadon) 8:15 am
                                          Benson Parent Meeting 2:30 pm
Thursday, February 19: Staff Meeting 8:00 am
                                     Elementary Principals Meeting 11:00 am - 4:30 pm
Friday, February 20: 100th Day of School (100 Ties will be on display in my office:)

Tuesday, February 24: PBS Committee 8:05 am
Thursday, February 26: SOTM Assembly (First Things First) & MIRM Kick-Off 3:00 pm
Friday, February 27: Jon to Title 1 Meeting 8:00-11:00 am
                                  Information goes home about MIRM events (Camping Theme)

No comments:

Post a Comment