We are off to an action packed start at North Andover High School. We have only had eight days with students and nine days with staff and we have already accomplished a great deal. I sensed as we approached last Friday that our teachers were fatigued with all of the information that we had given them in such a short time. Our PAC did a great job with breakfast following our Open House on Thursday and thanks to some timely collaboration with one of our department chairs we postponed our Friday morning collaboration time so that everyone could enjoy breakfast.

Our teachers have been sensational to start the school year. They have come into this year with an open mind and have taken all of our technology difficulties and change in printing options in stride. They have supported students with our rotation of periods and adjusted to some changes in teaching time. As an administrative team, we have implemented time for teachers to collaborate with each other every morning from 7:20 – 7:50 before block-A starts at 7:55. We are collaborating school-wide every Monday and as departments two additional days (Tuesday/Thursday or Wednesday/Friday). This year we have changed our supervision model to concentrate on all teachers within certain departments instead of fewer teachers within all departments.

I am using this opportunity with our newly ratified Supervision and Evaluation document to build a closer professional relationship with the History and Science departments. We want to support our department chairs with the proper resources and ongoing collaboration so that our teachers are getting a clear message of what is expected of them. We also want to remove the top down leadership and encourage a “we” atmosphere to our work. I have met twice with the department leaders and we have planned out some of the morning collaboration time and shared successes. The conversations have allowed us to identify needs for our teachers and to learn from each other. I hope to continue learning from them.

In preparation for this year I wanted to setup meetings with all teachers in the History and Science departments. I developed some Guiding Questions that I am using to keep us focused. My hope was to listen and learn more about the teachers that drive our students to learn. It was also to start to build the foundation of trust between the administration and the teachers. We are coming off of a difficult year that was clouded in several grievances against our directives. It was very difficult for the teachers and for me. We need to have more shared leadership and improved communication so that we can work better together. The individual meetings with the teachers will also allow me to clarify the message that is coming from our Strategic District Improvement Plan and School Improvement Plan. These two plans along with a 30+ page Educator Professional Growth and Evaluation Program (S&E document) can make even the most attentive teacher’s head spin. We ultimately want teachers to work together in teams to develop common assessments that are mapped directly to what students should know and be able to do. We want them to work together to look at student work from the assessments to improve practice and increase student learning. Another goal is for teams to model their work from this cycle of continuous improvement in their other courses.

I hope to be able to observe my teachers working on areas of their professional practice that they would like to improve in. It is important to me that they feel supported if they are going to attempt something new in the classroom for the benefit of our students. No matter what area of professional practice (Mass DESE Teacher Rubric for ideas) that they choose to focus on it will support their student achievement goal.

At the two-week mark, we have some successes to celebrate.

  • The departments that I work with have successfully created norms (ground rules) that they will use to guide their collaborative practice for this year.
  • We have given a presentation to the staff about SMART Goals (Nice work AP Mike Grant) and are focusing time next week to work on a team SMART goal. Despite the small font on the printed out PowerPoint (didn’t want to waste too much paper) the teachers should have a resource for when they want to complete their SMART goals for the year.
  • Teachers have embraced the morning collaboration time and showed up ready to make good use of the time.
  • Facilitator leaders have been identified by department chairs.
  • The Advisory facilitator leaders have done a fantastic job leading conversations with teachers and planning for students. I had the pleasure to sit in on the Freshman team and they hit a home run.
  • I have met with 6 of 26 teachers and have several others scheduled for the next two weeks. I have learned a great deal from them and I can’t wait to learn more from others.
  • I have shared CJ_SMART_Goals for the 2012-2013 school-year with all the teachers at the end of our meeting (except one, I forgot). I am making an effort to prioritize my work for the year as well.

As an administrative team, we need to slow down the amount of emails we are giving teachers. I want them to open their email and feel as though what I send is important. Our other AP Mike Grant had a great idea. We should compile our information and coordinate a weekly email to the teachers with all relevant administrative information. I hope our IT department has made some ground on the printers and the syncing errors on computers. We need teachers to be able to do their jobs with the support of technology not with the tool getting in the way.

I guess I had a lot to reflect on….. I hope everyone has a great week!