A new look NAHS leadership team welcomed back our staff for three full days of professional development before an extended Labor Day weekend with students arriving on Tuesday.  A shortened summer packed with several overlapping vacations challenged our District Admin team as well as our NAHS Admin and Leadership teams to connect initiatives and to provide meaningful professional development for our teachers while allowing them to transition into the school year.

It was an extremely important three days for me to be present emotionally and physically while establishing relationships with teachers.  I wanted to be able to provide clarity, structure, resources, and support where needed.  These past three days sets the stage for all of our professional development going forward.  I have to be accountable if I expect the teachers under my care to be accountable.  I need to be able to bring back my observations to our leadership team and provide feedback to my principal.  We need to share our observations and be reflective in our practice to move forward with only the best ways to do things.  We are asking a lot of our teachers we need to ask a lot of ourselves as leaders.

In the spirit of sharing practice I would like to share some observations from the first week of school with staff.

Despite a smaller leadership team, it looks like we have quality teacher leaders working with us.  A crash course year of standards based education leadership has done our group well.  The department heads were full of energy and ideas.  We were able to come up with ideas for protocols and products from sessions that we can use going forward.  I have the pleasure of working with Mary Gregoire and Kara Larcome this year.  Mary and Kara are two great people with outstanding leadership skills that will do whatever it takes to lead their departments.

Every teacher that I encountered working in smaller groups (mixed or by department) was positive and engaged in collaborative work.  We always seemed to finish sessions ahead of schedule with everyone sharing responsibility and contributing.  Special thanks to Mike Ellison for giving me a copy of his presentation rubric that he tuned last year and letting me share it with the Business department.

Assistant Principal, Mike Grant’s work around the supervision and evaluation tool should be commended.  He gave a great presentation that was clear and delivered it with a calm and confident tone.  As I worked with the Business department on goals and observed the Science and English departments work on their goals there were very few questions about the expectation.  Most of my comments to people were yes you are doing it correct.

Principal, Carla Scuzzarella’s decision to celebrate the success of our staff and include examples from several different areas and departments.  It is something we did last year and as Math department chair Scott Young says “something we should do more of.”  We have great data.

Teachers are becoming more confident in google docs.  I can envision us with an environment where we are collaborating throughout the year and sharing practice.  Common Assessments, Lessons, Rubrics…etc

On Thursday, I was lucky to have the opportunity to observe teachers in the Business, English and Science departments.  Below are a few things that I observed:

  • Sharing SMART Goals and collaborating to create action items and benchmarks in large groups
  • Department chairs working with smaller groups and individuals on professional practice goals
  • Strategies to use Powerteacher for the Habits of Learning rubric and for “not counting” formative assessments towards a grade.
  • Several great ways to implement our Habits of Learning rubric to benefit our students.

I look forward to continuing to be reflective in my practice throughout the year and using my blog as a tool to make that happen.  I will probably have an action item in my SMART Goals to help make myself accountable to do it.

I am very excited to start the 2013-2014 season with our students on Tuesday.