Friday, October 7, 2016

Reflecting on Week 3 of #IMMOOC - Trust, Passion, Vision

My brain has been working overtime this week. There was so much to think about in Episode 3 and Part II of the book. I loved hearing Kaleb Rashad's perspective on trust, relationships, and innovation. Thanks to Katie and George for planning and facilitating this episode. 

I am in an interesting position because I am a retired elementary principal. I enjoy being retired and have so much more time for reading, writing and connecting. But I miss being in a school. I miss the brilliance of teachers and children. I need to be part of the conversations that happen in classrooms. So I am hoping to broaden my experiences. Retirement is great but learning alongside students and teachers is even better.

I listened to episode #3 twice (OK, I admit. Maybe it was three times). My work in schools over the years was affirmed by the conversation but I was reminded how much I miss the face-to-face connections with educators and students. I have visited a friend's third grade classroom a few times since school started. I was there to share my writing notebook with them and talk to them about blogging. I value the time I can spend with young readers and writers. It was such a pleasure to talk with them about their own writing. Without that face-to-face interactions with learners my thoughts are missing the credibility of experiences in classrooms and schools.

I believe strongly in trustful relationships and understand the energy it can bring to a learning community. I was fortunate during my career as a principal to open a new elementary school. It was a dream of a lifetime. 

We began by bringing together a staff and exploring what we wanted for our new school. I shared my hopes and dreams for our school with honesty and passion. We needed to begin our journey with the power of honesty and conversations. As we approached the opening of our new school, we had many opportunities to be together and talk about our hopes and dreams. We wanted to bring together colleagues who believed in the unlimited potential of every child. We were beginning our journey together and were committed to creating new paths that would help our students explore the world with curiosity and wonder. I never insisted that our classrooms and our teaching were the same but I did insist on us coming together with a shared wisdom and a rigorous commitment to doing what was right for kids. There were lots of conversations that first year about learning, teaching, and building relationships. Our mission began to form within the conversations we had about what mattered.

The summer after our first year, we were ready to create a vision statement for our school. We planned a retreat for the staff so we could reflect on our first year together and breathe life into a vision for our school. Since we believed strongly that the voices of children must be heard in everything we did, we invited some 4th and 5th graders to join us for part of the retreat. We asked them to tell us what they liked best about our school and what they would want for our learning community. The conversation was inspiring.

As we captured our thoughts we began to co-create our vision. Some of the important considerations seemed to take shape:

     inspiring students to find a passion for learning

      honoring the unlimited potential of the whole child

     promoting leadership

     creating a safe and kind environment

     giving staff and students a voice

We crafted our vision that truly came together from our shared beliefs about schools, learning, teaching and leading. I am proud that I was able to be part of such an amazing experience.