I would like to remind new readers that this blog contains my personal reflections and opinions.  I often share my reflections and opinions with colleagues but they are not necessarily the thoughts and opinions of NAHS.  I’m very appreciative that you took time out of your busy day to read my thoughts.

 I wanted to take some time in this entry to reflect on my journey to our recent early release professional day.  This professional day provided me with an opportunity to design two of the sessions with a very good friend and fellow leadership team member Scott Young.  He volunteered at a recent meeting to share a couple of ideas that he believed would build the capacity of the staff in Standards-based system.  Our leadership team, spent our last couple of meetings working together to provide input on how to accomplish this.  I see a great value in learning from other professionals in a controlled setting.  When we are dealing with understanding new terms and definitions like benchmarks and performance indicators it is very helpful to learn from each other how we will best create and understand these things.  We were aware going in that a lot of our staff wanted an answer to what certain definitions were.  We didn’t feel we were in a position as a leadership team to do that.  We settled on a plan that would create some additional questions and allow us to learn from each other.  The staff is going to get answers later this afternoon to their questions as part of our PD survey. 

 It was more important to Scott and I that all of us, including our leadership team continue to learn about the standards-based system and be prepared to be confident in our work within the system going forward.  We will sit in our departments on the 1/22 professional day with a sample of content specific, high school curriculum documents.  Our leadership team will explain the document.  We will move forward and focus on the areas that our staff has identified as wanting to know more about.

 The idea that Scott came up with that we would draft a framework for a statement that all of our leadership team members would read before we facilitated our protocols.  It was a great exercise for our leadership team.  We all participated in editing and agreeing on the language.  We were excited to share our journey as a team in this shift to being a standards-based school.  I don’t know how the staff received the statement, but the exercise was a thoughtful attempt in sharing our thoughts and an important step for our continued development as a team. 

 Scott and I sat down last Friday and worked through developing and timing out a modified think, pair, share activity and a save the last word for me protocol for our entire school to participate in.  He added in the idea of teachers selecting playing cards as they entered to keep the groups random.  A nice twist to some of the not so random groups that I may have developed last year.  The goal for the sessions was to clarify and deepen our understanding of standards-based education and what it looks like.  I was excited to learn from others and to create a reflection sheet that would allow us to identify future professional day topics.  After reviewing the chart paper that had the ten groups identify one thing they felt they accomplished, one thing they hope we can, and one thing they would like to know more about I was satisfied that we had met our goal.  Scott did a great job seeing the big picture and showing some leadership in helping to design a worthwhile activity for our staff.  I hope he takes time to reflect on the experience.  I would love to read or hear about it.  He deserves a lot of credit for bringing our leadership team to a better place.

 As a leadership team, we have also been given useful professional development this year and are working to use it.  We have been starting to use our google documents professional development from October to share practice during our meetings.  Members are bringing their computers to work on live documents.  Our other Assistant Principal, Mike Grant has designed some surveys that we have used for professional days.  On 12/12, we successfully filled in a spreadsheet with the reflection results and were able to create another google document at our meeting yesterday to develop a question and answer guide for the staff.  As a leadership team, members have been adding feedback and editing the one live document while not sitting at a meeting together.  It has been rewarding to see us use technology to collaborate more often and more efficiently.  Our product of a Q & A for staff to answer questions will be of much higher quality thanks to our use of google documents.

 Our teachers and members of our leadership team have been craving direction for long time.  I’m excited to work with the leadership team to help create that direction together or to work with our principal and administration team to provide that direction.  We took a step in the right direction on our 12/12/12 professional day.  The 1/22 professional day will be an important day for our leadership team to provide the confidence and clarity for the continued work in a standards-based system.  I’m excited to work with them to tune our curriculum documents as a leadership team.  I’m hopeful that this will allow them to feel confident and assertive in front of their members in talking about our shift towards standards-based education.

 I will leave everyone with a story that Scott shared with me that I thought showed progress.  He was having a conversation with a member of his department about benchmarks and performance indicators.  The person was sharing that they are starting to understand the meaning and application of the terms.  The person also shared that they had heard the same explanation from Mike Grant who is another member of our leadership team.  They commented that it was the first time that he had heard the same consistent message from two of us.  I hope we are having more of those moments as we strive to send a consistent and worthwhile message.