Cameroon 2009

Cameroon 2009

Monday, September 30, 2013

Trusting teachers

As a principal, I really think that teachers don't get enough respect.

The story goes...  The new principal is in the school a couple of weeks before the start of the new year.  As she is moving around the school, meeting the teachers who are starting to come in and prepare, she notices that the supply room is being left open.  The teachers are walking into the room, and coming back out, sometimes with armloads of supplies - paper, pens, rulers, markers, staplers and so on.  When no one is around, she goes into the room and sees that, sure enough, there is no sign-out sheet for these supplies.  Well, this is troubling, but she knows enough not to try to change the situation without learning more.
Wondering who she can talk with, she sees the old janitor down the hall.  She goes over to him, points to the open supply room, and asks, "Are the teachers really just allowed to go into the supply room and help themselves without anyone checking?"  The janitor smiles and replies, "Well, we do trust them with the children, ma'am."

Are teachers trusted to work within the realistic constraints of our school budgets and their own budget areas?

Are teachers trusted to access all of the information we have about the students they work and learn with every day?

Are teachers trusted to try out new ways of engaging students, even if it moves outside the boundaries of any of the traditional models of teaching and learning we're familiar with?

Are teachers trusted with access to the best technology we have, including the social media sites that we might be afraid will distract them from the rest of their work?

If not, how do we reconcile this with the fact that, "we do trust them with the children"?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Overcoming Humility

It's been an interesting past week.

On Monday, a group from Lakeshore S.D. attended a George Couros presentation.  There's a lot to say about that, but one thing that resonated was the assertion that we have a responsibility to share what we know/have/can do, and not just to consume.

This applies online as well as "in the world".  George used the example of posting on Twitter, and not just lurking.

I've thought a lot about this, and have committed to blogging as a part of my personal learning plan for this year.  In the same way as we want our students to write as well as to read, to learn actively and not just passively, we as educators need to incorporate action into our own learning.

I participated in my first Twitter chat last week, #sbgchat.  Not sure that I'm in love with the fast flow of info, encouraging superficiality, but it was nice to make connections with some others, and to be able to offer to share what we've learned at Ashern Central School about standards based grading (or outcome based assessment, as we refer to it).  Tonight, I emailed a few of those contacts with some information and attachments to help spread the word about this practice.

There was also a happenstance professional growth meeting with one of the teachers in the school today.  She happened to be in the building when I was, so we discussed her plan for the year.  She too (as many do) has a lot to offer others, and I encouraged her to "put it out there" through Twitter, and/or blogging or by other means.  She's considering making this the focus of her plan for the year.

It's not easy to accept that one has much to offer others.  Pride may be the root sin of the seven deadly ones, but a false humility is no great virtue.  I owe a lot to all of the others that have contributed to my own learning, and perhaps a way to pay that back is to pass it along as opportunities present themselves.