Sunday, September 8, 2013

A good start . . .

I jokingly tell people when asked about the start of the school year that it was a good opening, I received no transportation complaints and had only one parent issue.  All of that is true, but there is much more that made this a good opening and that started with the observations of principals sharing their message for the new year.

Unfortunately, most buildings start on the same day so I wasn't able to  see all of them, but I was pleased with those that I was able to observe.  Though they may not have followed all the recommendations of Presentation Zen there were no death by power point presentations.  More importantly, they shared a message that included their beliefs, what is important to them, and what they want for the young people and adults in their building.

When preparing the message, it places the principal in a position of being reflective, an important capacity for those in leadership positions.  When delivering the message, it provides their colleagues with insights that make the leader's behavior more transparent and also places them in a position to be reflective about their own beliefs and how aligned they are with those of the principal.  I encourage all in positions of leadership, that would be all of us, to reflect on our beliefs, to identify what influences our behavior and the choices we make, and to share these with others on our leadership teams(s).  

Early in my career I went from issue-to-issue and didn't understand the need for reflection.  Over time, I have come to understand and value the insights that I gain from reflection on my practice and the learning journey that we are on.  I believe that the capacity to reflect individually and collectively is a contributor to our success and will continue to practice it and build it into our work.

Another insight from my reflections of the opening is that what we are asking is for all of us to reflect on our current practice and move towards an aspiration that is a better place.  In some cases like instructional practice we have our Classroom 10 vision and documents to bring clarity to the work.  In other places like leadership, we have our skills, tools and other documents, but there is still the need for greater clarity.  In other places like those with a focus on culture, we have documents, but creating clarity is proving more difficult.

In essence, we are asking all of us to consider CHANGES to close the gap between our current reality and a vision of what is possible when the CHANGES are in place.  It is the responsibility of those in leadership positions to move this aspiration to a shared vision and to create the culture where the change is desired and sustains over time.  I'll share more about this important work in the next post as this one is probably longer than most of the readers will persevere through.

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