Sunday, February 9, 2014

I want to be an instructional leader

Principal ponderings...

Dear Staff,
As we just passed the 100th day of school and are finishing up the 2nd trimester, I felt it was important to write a letter to all of you and tell you about one of my goals for the school year.  While I have been working on many different projects and plans during my first year as a principal, my number one goal has been and continues to an instructional leader.  Being an instructional leader is the most important aspect of my job.  I want to be helping all of you continue to grow professionally.  And the only way that happens is when I am in your classrooms on a regular basis.  I came home after a long day last week, and shared with my husband how frustrated I was from the day.  As I was talking to him, I realized something: the reason that I felt so lousy was because I had not stepped into a single classroom all day.  The next morning I blocked off the entire morning and walked through several classrooms.  It was a much better day.

To be an instructional leader, yes, I need to be in the classrooms, but it goes beyond just simply walking through.  I like to see both what you are teaching and how you are teaching it.  I also like to observe the students and observe the learning that is taking place.  I like to ask students what they are doing and if they know why they are doing it.  To be an instructional leader, besides walking through and observing, I also need to be providing feedback; feedback which will help everyone grow, staff and students.

Just like all of you, I want to keep growing and improving through professional development.  I recently signed up for a 21 day instructional leadership challenge.  Every day I get a short video clip sent to me with some advice and usually a task to try out.  I am also connected with principals and other administrators from across the country who signed up for the same challenge.  Together, we discuss how to make walk throughs and observations more beneficial for students and staff.  I have also been participating in a High Performance Instructional Leadership Network since the summer.  Dianna and I both participate in this network where we engage in monthly webinars about being effective leaders.

Even with everything that is going on with the budget, my goal is to visit each classroom at least once every other week.  I know many of you are used to seeing me in classrooms, but I want to remind you that I don't want to disrupt learning by stepping into your class.  Please don't feel like you have to stop what you are doing or have the students stop what they are doing to talk to me.  I like to be able to slip in and not stop the flow of learning.  And after I have popped into your class, hopefully you will get feedback in some format, whether it's a quick note, an email, something in Evernote or a face to face conversation.  And sometimes, if I have not given you feedback after a classroom visit, it's ok for you to come find me.  I always love to talk about teaching and learning!

Looking forward to seeing you in action!  Thank you for making this school a learning environment where all students can learn and where we can learn from each other.

Liz, your fearless instructional leader! ;)

Currently reading:
I started reading Rules by Cynthia Lord, the author who is coming to talk to our 3rd and 4th graders in March.  It is reminding me of Out of My Mind, the difference being it is told from the perspective of a sibling of a child who has autism.  I'm enjoying it so far.  I also started reading a new book called Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.  It's written by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, who is ranked on Fortune's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.

Events this week:
One more week before another vacation week.  Can't believe how fast the school year is flying by!
Monday - Have a Heart Campaign will be taking place all this week.
Tuesday - Grade 2 and Multi-age rehearsal @1:00
Wednesday - TLA consultant working with lab teachers, Grade 2 and Multi-age School Show in the PAC @ 1:30, Staff Meeting @3:30 (Dr. Bent will be attending), School Committee Meeting and Budget Hearing at the PAC @7:00
Thursday - Elementary curriculum half day (Grade level teams will have PLC time), Grade 2 & Multi-age Chorus Concert @ 7:00
Friday - Happy Valentine's Day and enjoy the vacation week!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I caught some of Mr. Rider's students doing some partner reading.
  • Mrs. Margolius's first graders were doing 'turn and talk' after listening to a read aloud.  
  • Mrs. Taylor's kindergartners were talking about what good readers look like.  She was sharing some photographs where she had caught students sitting quietly and reading.
Check it out:
Some ways to stay connected to the Olympics in class:
Top 10 Practices for Principals to Promote Literacy:  I'd like to think that I am doing many of these! And there are some that I need to add to my to do list!
Kid President gives advice to someone on their first day here in the world...
Mrs. Kineen played this song for me the other day and I want to pass it along to all of you.  You can't help but dance along to this tune.  And if you watch the see all sorts of people dancing!   Hopefully this song can put a smile on your face and some pep in your step as we start this week... 

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