This week was amazing. Our staff returned last week and this week heralded in the Rocket class of 2022. 2022. What?! When did that happen. I mean I graduated in 1997….how did we get HERE!? It was awesome to cheer them in :). I was sidelining and my principal coach, Dr. Brass, goes to me “Jackie, they need your energy”…. and that was my call to action. It was HOT out and I sweat at least a pound off that day but it was totally WORTH IT! Check out a post by my fantastic Associate Principal, LaTanza Boarden.
On to my takeaways this week…
1.) First Division Meeting…Teaching Skills Totally Came In Useful
The original agenda allowed me an hour and 40 minutes with the division teachers. Due to some great data conversation, and I am totally serious about the quality of the conversation here, coupled with some previous day agenda items moved to this day due to some fantastic collaboration and networking among our staff my time shrunk to about just 35 minutes. However, as a teacher who ALWAYS over plans for any given day I was able to cut down to the nuts and bolts of the meeting and it went well. It’s amazing how applicable teacher skills such as flexibility, pedagogical understanding, and communication skills are to other arenas. Additionally, the activities that I cut (a fun little getting to know you Quizlet and a nice little data activity powered by Desmos activity builder) will be readily accessible for the next meeting.
2.) Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
This theme will probably be a regular occurrence for me. Some situations I learn from along the way are not appropriate for discussion on a public blog, and this is one of those situations. However, I can say that this idea of listening and really trying to be in the other person’s frame of mind really helps in almost ANY situation. I totally saw it come into play in a hostile situation that I dealt with as well as a benign situation at a party. I just wish that I had learned this lesson way before this point in my life. I did not realize how powerful it is to understand the other person’s point of view when it comes to making your own point of view. Additionally, when you understand the other side, sometimes your opinion will change and that is ok.
3.) You Can Do Notice and Wonder EVERYDAY
Finding balance between the administrator life and the teacher life has been a challenge. Shoooooo balance in general has been a huge struggle for me. But I digress. As I began teaching Geometry this week I thought “hmmmm, maybe we can do Notice and Wonder today”, so we did. Then I read this article for probably the 10th time, Never Say Anything a Kid Can Say, and realized that Notice and Wonder TOTALLY allows students to say what I want to say. So I am kinda on a mission to do Notice and Wonder EVERYDAY 🙂 well at least the first week of school. The students have responded sooooo well and I love seeing their insights. I’m excited to use Notice and Wonder this week as we introduce real curriculum. I am hoping that I can start to create the headache that math is the only aspirin for (not my idea, but totally stealworthy from Dan Meyer).
4.) CTE is the BOMB
I love the CTE part of my job. Most of the teachers come out of industry and have awesome stories to share from the real world. Their passion for their craft is palpable and I am psyched to see what students will be able to learn from these amazing people. I love our new robotics teacher. He has some amazing experiences in engineering and has a verve for electronics. In addition to being exposed to amazing people, the students have the opportunity to get dual credit and sometimes certifications that will allow them to get jobs immediately. I always talk about how my brother uses the CAD skills he learned in high school to do his everyday job now. I always used to think that college was the answer however working with CTE has opened my eyes to a whole new set of possibilities in which college is an answer but that other options are just as viable if not more so. It is all a matter of finding out about students’ why and then getting them exposed to opportunities that let them live into that why.
5.) Everyone Needs Feedback
I love doing name tents with feedback and I did it again this year with my students and it has really made me think about feedback in general. Last year one of my biggest complaints was that administrators would come into my classroom (sometimes a group of up to six at a time) and not give me any feedback (heck, they wouldn’t even say goodbye on their way out). We are looking to change that narrative. This year we (administrators) will pop into a teacher’s classroom two times a week each month. Then on Friday that teacher is invited to a VOLUNTARY meeting with us to receive feedback or ask questions about the feedback they received regarding the pop in visits. I personally am coupling this with an initiative I was interested in doing last year called #ObserveMe. I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone last year but I felt like with this year that if I am going to be going out of my way to provide feedback for my teachers, they might appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback in return to me. If you would like to give me feedback on my form, I would love a comment below. Here is the form. Check out the poster for my classroom and my office.