C.O.A.R Initiative

Daniel Kerr – Middle School Principal

So I‘ve never been more excited about a school year than I am about this one…2012-13. We’ve spent the last couple of years collecting the necessary puzzle pieces to bring our vision to life, and I honestly feel as though this year, we finally have the right collection of master puzzle makers (educators) to put it all together. The initiatives that we’re rolling out are exciting to say the least, and have been over 18 months in the making. Hopefully, the effect that these will collectively have on student learning, as well as on the culture and climate of our school will be tremendous, and will help get us a lot closer to becoming the educational institution that we’re striving to become. Initiatives such as our new student academic electronic portfolios (S.N.A.P Network), our new report card which separates out academic achievement from the habits and attitudes of a learner, our new and daily sustained silent reading program in the Middle School, and our enhanced focus on service learning throughout the Upper School, are all poised to become part of the fabric of who we are. The most exciting initiative however, in my opinion, and the one that I believe will have the greatest impact on teachers and students alike is our commitment to C.O.A.R. (Community. Opportunity. Accountability. Respect.)……..let me explain.

Over the last several years, SCIS Hongqiao has experienced many wonderful changes, and a period of tremendous growth. Finally, at almost full capacity with regards to student enrolment, we can completely focus on our educational programs, and look to develop something that is lasting, sustainable, and truly focused on student learning. We have the facilities, we have the resources, we have a curricular framework and vision, and we’ve hired exceptional educators who can deliver and engage…….the opportunity is right here in our hands. All of this, as you all know, means nothing however if we cannot come together as a faculty, and rally around who we currently are through a shared vision. The C.O.A.R initiative is a deliberate attempt to celebrate and share what we do individually in our own classrooms, as well as what we accomplish in our respective departments. It’s a commitment to learning from one another, to growing professionally together as a teaching community, to supporting each other in a positive and collegial way, and to becoming part of a tribe that even Seth Godin would be proud of, which has “student learning” as its rallying cry.

The C.O.A.R initiative is, at its core, a chance to find a common purpose within our community. A chance to build relationships with each other that revolve around mutual respect and trust, and a chance to model personal and professional behavior that our students can emulate, look up to, and admire. It’s a chance to find balance in our lives so that we all feel fulfilled at work, as well as in our personal lives, and finally it’s a chance to recommit to why we all became educators in the first place……..the kids! C.O.A.R is also about celebrating our brand, and being proud of who we are and what we do. The new faculty shirts and fleeces, the monthly meeting in your C.O.A.R groups to pick each other up and keep each other on track, the commitment to having the difficult but trust building conversations with your colleagues while presuming positive intent, and the monthly celebration stand up meetings which will showcase everyone’s important contributions to what we’re accomplishing……….it’s about our attitude, our collective morale, and the frame of mind that we come to school with every morning……(think about what kind of energy you’re bringing to work everyday for our students, and for each other)

We’re in the enviable position of arriving at this point in the same year as our WASC accreditation self study, but as the quote below so clearly states, it’s not about anyone else but ourselves. This year is about coming together as a group, and getting it right for the benefit our our kids. Let me finish with a quick analogy……..it’s like we’ve spent the last two years building a beautiful house. We’ve worked hard to pour the foundation, put up the frame, complete all of the landscaping, and we’ve finally been given the keys. Now, this year is all about turning this beautiful looking house into a home…….a home that is safe, and happy, and inviting, and where student learning is the flame in the fireplace that warms our hearts and inspires the young minds of our students. Take a look through the last two years of posts at www.mondaymusings.org, and see how far we’ve come…..it certainly makes me proud to be on this journey with all of you.

Have a wonderful first full week everyone, and remember to be great for our students and GREAT for each other.

Quote of the Week……….
Ultimately, school improvement comes from within, and cannot be externally mandated – Roland Barth

Article #1 – Faculty Collegiality by Thomas R. Hoerr Faculty Collegiality
Article #2 – Promoting Collegiality in Schools by Roland Barth Roland Barth on Promoting Collegiality in Schools
Inspirational TED Talk ……….
(Replace the idea of being a great parent with that of being a great educator)
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ric_elias.htm

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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