Category Archives: Daniel Kerr

Inspiration

I’ve been incredibly inspired lately by a number of different things, and it has opened up my eyes yet again to one of life’s undeniable truths……..which is that inspiration is all around us, in every moment of every day, just waiting to be found. The truly challenging thing however, is to have your eyes, heart, and mind open to all of life’s beauty, and to the inspiring moments that continually present themselves to us. More often than not, we get so busy as educators with our report writing, our lesson planning, our weekly meetings, and all the rest that these special and simple moments can quite easily sneak by sadly without notice……and that’s a shame. So with that in mind I’d like to talk this week about inspiration.

Since I began thinking about this a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by how easy it is to gain strength, energy, enthusiasm, and hope just by stopping for a moment and taking a look around. I’ve been inspired by so many things over the past few weeks that I don’t really know where to begin honestly. First off, there’s the inspiration that can be found in the moments of adversity that so many people struggle with on a personal level. My brother for example, who has been recovering from a stroke with an incredible amount of determination and optimism, and our dear friend and colleague who’s struggling with cancer but doing so with such unbelievable strength, poise, and courage.  It’s not hard to be inspired when you see this kind of fight in people….it makes you want to do all the things that you’ve been putting off, and it makes you want to say all the things that you’ve been meaning to say…….inspiring.

I also recently came back from an EARCOS leadership conference, which literally made my head spin with excitement, and inspired the hell out of me. Living in this day and age of education is amazing, as we’re in the midst of some long overdue transformational change. What schools are doing right now with technology, project based and experiential learning, authentic assessment, and non-traditional timetabling is astounding in my opinion. Schools around the globe are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in education, and it has inspired me to think hard about how we can do better for our students and community here at SCIS. The opportunity to hear a few of the world’s visionary leaders in education talk about how they’re bringing educational change to their schools has made me want to work harder, and think bigger for the future of our kids……inspiring.

I want you all to think about what has happened in our own environment over the past several weeks. The UN Day and International Food Fair, the Zombie Love performances, and this past weekend’s Dynamix music festival have all been ridiculously inspiring for our students and our community. Think about the experiences that our kids are receiving that are not only transforming who they are as performers, but who they are as young adults. It’s not hard to be inspired by all that our students have access to, and by all the wonderful, future shaping work that you (their teachers) are contributing to their young lives. If you take it down to more of a micro-level, look at what’s happening in your own individual classrooms on a daily basis, or down the hall in a colleague’s classroom, or out on the soccer field or up in the gym……..inspiration is happening everywhere, all the time, and it’s there for all of us to feed off of…….take a moment and take a look around.

I’ve been inspired lately and I wanted to share this with you…….I also want to encourage you all to slow down and open your eyes. It’s as easy as meeting the kids first thing in the morning and being inspired by the energy, innocence, eagerness, and joy that they bring to school each and every day. I meet them every morning coming off the buses, and it’s rare that I don’t have a belly laugh due to the pure beauty of who they are and what they say as they high five me on their way to first block. Inspiration is all around us….everywhere….in everything that we do……..don’t get caught with your head down and your eyes closed everyone. You’ll miss out on what’s really important in life and education, which is us……the kids, your colleagues, and the natural world around us. Take it all in and be inspired!

Have a great week everyone and remember to be great for your students and inspired by each other.

Quotes of Week……..
Remember that life’s most treasured and inspired moments often come unannounced
– Anonymous

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working
-Pablo Picasso

Inspiring TED Talk – Chip Conley
http://www.ted.com/talks/chip_conley_measuring_what_makes_life_worthwhile.html

Thought Provoking TED Talk- Matt Killingsworth
http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_killingsworth_want_to_be_happier_stay_in_the_moment.html

A few inspiring Websites and Projects…..there are so many!
http://www.ligercambodia.org/liger-learning-center/

www.edibleschoolyard.org

 

www.achievement.org


 

 

Teachers teaching Teachers

Less than two weeks ago we rolled out our new “SIPS” initiative in the Middle School, as part of our attempt to take advantage of the incredible amount of educational expertise that we currently have on staff. We set up a situation where monthly, we carve out some time to allow teachers to teach other teachers, and to infuse some internal professional development into our working lives. I’ve heard it many times before (and I tend to agree) that the most powerful form of professional development is the utilization of the amazing talents and skills that a faculty brings to an organization, coupled with a format that sets it up in a way that is relevant, regular, and sustainable. I had a chance to sit in on and videotape two of the first four sessions, and to be honest, they were outstanding. The feedback that we received from teachers was extremely positive with the only real criticism being that they were too short!  I’m very excited to showcase the next four sessions in a few weeks time, and I believe that this initiative could quickly become part of the fabric of our Middle School…….

If you’re looking for an acronym for SIPS, it’s “School Improvement Program”, although we’ve been using the following analogy to get the idea across to our community. Essentially, if you view all of the Professional Development opportunities that are open to us as educators each school year as a big jug of PD water, we are looking to drink from this jug one “sip” at a time. A once a month showcase during our sacrosanct Wednesday Faculty meeting schedule, where we set up either half hour or hour long mini PD sessions that are led by faculty members with something to share. Like I said, the first four were fantastic with Joel presenting Garage Band as a assessment tool, Ross presenting on the effective use of Smart Boards, Bret presenting on Power School, Grade book, and our new engagement rubric, and finally, Jason and Dominic presenting on the educational value of SAS Curriculum pathways.

We’re also in the process of setting up a collaboration blog of sorts, which can house many of these videos and podcasts (with teacher permission of course) so that we all have access to each session, because unfortunately you can only view one or two of your choices on the actual day. The call is out already for the next set of presenters, and I’m excited to lead a session myself during the next round on November 14th. I’m encouraging you all to think about a possible “sip” that you could deliver at some point throughout the year. I’ve been into each one of your classrooms and I see the wonderful things that are taking place…….please try to find the courage to share one part of your teaching talents for the betterment of us all! It’s a powerful and empowering thing to sit and watch a colleague present, but another thing altogether to get up there and present yourself. Talk about professional development! Here’s a brief list off the top of my head as suggestions and examples of potential upcoming “SIPS”…….

6 traits writing and rubrics
Reading comprehension strategies
Intervention strategies
ESOL in the mainstream
Differentiation
Anything Technology focused (prezi, word press, podcasting, iMovie, ect)
Classroom management techniques
Collaboration techniques
How to have hard conversations
Inquiry based learning
Proper Research and citation procedures
Experimental learning
Literature circles
Interactive read alouds
Setting up a professional blog/portfolio
Assessment strategies
Using Drama/Dance to aid in student understanding
Service learning
Curriculum development
Rubicon Atlas
Teaching non fiction writing/different genre writing
Balancing your school life and personal life

As you can see, the possibilities are immense, and after looking at this quick list it’s not hard to recognize how much we could potentially learn from one another. Thank you to those of you who have already presented, and thank you in advance to those of you who are about to step up….I cannot wait. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the week…
Ultimately, we hope teachers will not only retain what they learn in professional development encounters, but also transfer that new knowledge into action.
– David Sousa

The following articles are taken from Kim Marshall’s weekly roundup, which can be found at www.marshallmemo.com
Article #1 – Seven Keys to Effective Professional Development Seven Keys to Effective Professional Development
Article #2 – How to Make Professional Development Stick  How to Make Professional Development Stick

Teachers Teaching Teachers Article
http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin459.shtml
Professional Development Website
http://www.teachervision.fen.com/pro-dev/resource/5778.html
Professional Development Conversation
http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2007/10/25/01chat.h01.html

 

 

Meaning and Purpose

So recently I had the wonderful opportunity to re-read one of of my favorite books, as well as the chance to have my eyes and heart opened by some unexpected people, in some unexpected places. Collectively, these experiences got me thinking a lot about the importance of meaning and purpose in our lives, and the responsibility we have as educators to instill this life focus in our students and children. Hopefully as teachers, we have eagerly and specifically chosen this profession because of the unmatched and unlimited purpose and meaning that comes with the territory. In my opinion, educating children and young adults is not only fulfilling, rewarding, and extraordinarily meaningful but hugely daunting as well. It’s not enough to simply teach our students the course content, or all we know about reading, writing, and arithmetic…….we NEED to teach them about courage, love, service, empathy, and all that goes into leading a life of meaning. We have a deep and urgent responsibility to prepare our kids for life outside of the school walls, and we need to be held accountable for ensuring that each student has opportunities to see, and find, purpose in their lives.

In Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive”, he talks about the power of intrinsic motivation, and how leading a life of purpose and meaning is a fundamental need and want of every individual. He goes on to say that a person’s happiness is directly related to how much meaning they find in their work, and how there is an increasingly significant shift in what young people are looking for out of their lives. It is no longer about how much money they can make, or how successful they can be, it’s about the positive difference that they can make in the world and in other people’s lives. Pink often talks about how “meaning” is the new money, and I wonder how much we are doing to emphasize this in the contact days that we have with our students. Are we really looking to connect and relate what we are teaching in a way that allows our kids to see the purpose in it…..or the meaning? Are students leaving our classrooms with a better understanding of who they are, and a better sense of who they can be? I know that they are becoming better readers, and scientists, and mathematicians but are they becoming better people? If it’s not a confident and resounding yes!, then I think we should re-evaluate our own purpose and meaning as educators.

I was in Cambodia again over the holiday, and we decided as a family to go on a tour of a local floating village. I was talking with our guide about the abject poverty of the
people, and how sad it must be for them to live like this when he told me that I had it all wrong. He just happened to be a retired teacher and what he said brought me back to what is truly important in life. He said that even though they have no money and live in make shift shacks with none of the amenities that we take for granted, these people are happy! They are fishermen and farmers and each one of them has meaning and purpose in their lives. They provide food for their family, the teach their children how to farm and fish, they come together as families and a community at night, and each one of them is thankful for what they have. They all value each others contributions and worth in the village and they  understand their place in the world. The kids see a purpose in their lives/future and are intrinsically and intensely motivated to contribute back their surrounding community……..these children want for nothing and are truly happy he said! I wondered about how many of our students are this genuinely happy with their lives, and how many have the same level of confidence in who they are, and where they are going in life?

I also had the opportunity recently to go recruiting at the Queen’s University job fair, and the overall experience made me ridiculously excited about the future of our profession. I interviewed a dozen or so young teachers and to be honest, I was blown away by the questions that they were asking of me. It wasn’t all about the salary, or the housing allowance, or the opportunities for travel during the school holidays……….it was all about the vision of our school, the commitment to service learning, the opportunities to coach or provide after school clubs for kids, and whether or not our faculty had a common purpose. They were acutely aware of what they wanted out of their careers and it inspired the hell out of me. I think that this week we should measure the amount of meaning and purpose that we each currently have in our lives, and ask ourselves if we’re getting what we need out of our current situations……..are our students getting what they need and deserve out of their school days, and are they aware of it? Are we really helping them find their meaning and purpose in life, and are we truly taking advantage ours?

Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week……..
“No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness, and the generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.” ~Emma Goldman

Article #1 – Purpose Driven School Work Purpose
Article #2 – Helping Young People Find Purpose Helping Young People Find Purpose

Meaningful Website………..
http://www.teachersmind.com/Education.html

TED TALK……….
Victor Frankl on Meaning and Purpose
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/viktor_frankl_youth_in_search_of_meaning.html

Accountability

So this week I’d like to start off with a quick little story to help illustrate the importance of teacher/administrator accountability in schools. I first came across it when reading Peter Senge’s, The Fifth Discipline several years ago, and if you stop to think about it, the sentiment quickly becomes crystal clear. It goes like this……. One Sunday, during a Little League Baseball Game, a young right fielder dropped three or four fly balls in a row which cost his team the win. After the final run scored, he came running into the dugout and yelled, “Man, NOBODY can catch a ball out there!”.Obviously, the point of this story is to showcase how easy and common it is to look to (or blame) other people, or factors, or the circumstances outside of your control, for the issues that are prohibiting an organization from reaching their goal or vision.

In my opinion, accountability is a difficult thing to talk about for many people and schools because if it’s not going well, then it needs to result in hard, awkward, and confrontational conversations that most people like to avoid. One of the best lessons that I’ve learned over the past couple of years however, is that there is nothing more detrimental to a worthy cause than a serious problem that goes unaddressed (thanks Greg). So, with all that said……I’d like to talk about accountability.
As I see it, accountability in schools can be broken down into four parts (kind of like our C.O.A.R. Initiative, which accountability is such a huge part of)……..
  • Accountability to our students – This in my mind is the most important one and has many, many layers. Things like modeling professional and appropriate behavior, preparing educationally sound and engaging lessons that align with our vision, challenging each student intellectually, using our laptop program effectively and responsibly, setting high expectations for all students, using formative and summative assessment strategies to authentically assess a student’s learning, monitoring classroom behavior, doing your supervision duties with an eye on student safety and well being, celebrating our school’s diversity, being thoughtful and honest when writing report comments, and being passionate about education each and every day……and that’s just a start.

 

  • Accountability to our colleagues – Being responsible and accountable to each other is huge, and is an essential component to building a great school. Things like sharing your expertise through peer evaluations, presenting mini Professional Development workshops, posting videotaped lessons, attending and actively engaging in department and grade level meetings, doing your partnered supervision duties, helping to write and align curriculum both horizontally and vertically, living up to your contractual obligations, being an effective communicator and active listener, developing strong relationships, building trust, and supporting each other both personally or professionally….all the time.

 

  • Accountability to our parent community – As a community school, the parent piece is paramount as I see it. We need to be responsible for keeping parents well informed about their child’s progress/struggles, being willing to discuss issues with behavior, asking for support on the home front, keeping your web presence updated and inviting, being communicative and proactive with any and all learning issues or celebrations, taking your job as an advisor seriously and being that child’s mentor teacher in its truest sense, welcoming parent feedback, looking for ways to bring their professional expertise into your classrooms if possible, and asking them to help promote the sparks that you see in their child.

 

  • Accountability to ourselves as individuals – This is where it all starts….We need to be true to who we are as educators by being passionate about our work, and coming to school everyday with a positive attitude that inspires. We need to look into Professional Development opportunities so we are continuously learning and growing, as well as seeking out our colleagues with an eye on collaboration and peer sharing. We need to have educational courage and have the necessary difficult conversations with positive intent, and we need to go out of our way to develop professional and collegial relationships which will positively impact the learning of our students. We need to question our current practice, and challenge our current thinking, and share our expertise, and be the best educators that we can for our kids…you owe it to yourself!
I recently joined a wonderful on-line Professional Learning Community through the site, CONNECTED PRINCIPALS. It was created by a Canadian Principal named George Couros, and it is a wonderful resource for educators. There are fantastic articles and discussion points and topical conversation threads that keep you thinking and growing, and it’s interesting to see how we are all going through the same issues regardless of where we are around the globe. One particularly interesting post about being an effective Principal (by George Couros incidentally), lists six ways that you can truly make a positive difference in students’ lives. After reading and reflecting on it, it is easy to see that it doesn’t just apply to Principals, but to every faculty member that is engaged with students. The six ways are…….
  1. Welcome the kids when they arrive, say goodbye to them when they leave
  2. Your first interaction with a student should always be a positive one
  3. Talk as little as possible!
  4. Use humor to deal with situations any chance you can
  5. Do the Walk (be present throughout the day outside of your classroom)
  6. Kids will love you if they know that you love them
Anyway, as we look to showcase our Open House Night for parents on Tuesday, think about how you’re doing with regards to accountability, and look for ways that you can step up your game, so to speak. We all have room to grow personally and professionally (heaven knows that I do), and this is a good week to recommit to ourselves, our school, and each other. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…….
Don’t spend your precious time asking “Why isn’t my school a better place?” It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is “How can I make my school better?” To that there is an answer.

– Adapted from a quote by Leo Buscaglia
Article #1 – Six Critical School Success factors (Douglas Reeves) Douglas Reeves on Six Critical School
Article #2 – What Makes Superstar Teachers Effective? (Neil Bright) What Makes Superstar Teachers Effective
Article #3 – Passion Pays (F. John Reh) Passion Pays
George Couros Blog
Connected Principals Collaborative Resource

http://connectedprincipals.com/

Opportunity 2.012

So this week I’m going to write about the second facet of this year’s C.O.A.R. Initiative…..OPPORTUNITY. It was almost exactly one year ago today that I first wrote about this very topic, and as we begin the third full week of school in 2012-13, I feel as though we’re finally starting to seize the opportunity that is right here in our hands. Looking around at the smiles and laughter during last Friday’s fantastic faculty boat cruise, it is not hard to recognize the truly palpable positive energy that we’re carrying with us to start the year. The feeling on campus is upbeat, exciting, and wonderfully collegial, which puts us in the perfect position to consolidate what we began a couple of years ago. I’ve been calling 2012-13 “the year of consolidation”, because the initiatives that we’ve been working so hard to introduce to our students over the past two years are starting to take hold. From my perspective, it feels as though the momentum is growing rapidly with each passing day, and I have to say………. it’s keeping a perpetual smile on my face.

In my opinion, this “opportunity” that we have to turn our school from good to great (to steal a catch phrase from Jim Collins) begins and ends with the relationships that we form with each other. The educational/pedagogical thinking behind what we’ve rolled out is true and sound, but in order to successfully weave these initiatives into the fabric of our school, we need to have some ownership of the vision as individuals, as well as finding a way to join the fight collectively as a team. It makes me think of a great line from a Dr. Seuss book called The Lorax, which says……… “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”. Well, as I see it, things are definitely getting a whole lot better at SCIS, and it’s because of what each of you is contributing to the cause…..so on behalf of all our fortunate students, thank you for such wonderful start to the year.
I saw a kid the other day wearing a great t-shirt that read, “today is the perfect day to have a perfect day”, and it made me think of our school, our opportunity, and how each of us has the power to make or break a students daily experience. We have the power and opportunity to deliver creative, thoughtful, and engaging lessons for our kids…..we have the power and opportunity to have collaborative and effective grade level curriculum meetings……..we have the power and opportunity to build open and trusting relationships with each other………and, we have the power and opportunity to have the necessary hard conversations with each other in a respectful way while presuming positive intent. When thinking about our opportunity this year, I keep thinking about a favorite poem of mine by James Russell Lowell. Think about these words as you continue to be the best that you can be for yourself, our students, and our school. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and great for each other.
It’s not what we give, but what we share-
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three-
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me.

Quote of the Week……..
To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.
John Dewey
Article #1 – Building a Coherent Curriculum (Mike Schmoker) Mike Schmoker on Building a Coherent Curriculum
Article #2 – Building Trust (James O’Toole & Warren Bennis) Building Trust
TED Talk – Dare to Disagree (Amazing Talk… Ask yourself….How are you collaborating? How is your moral courage?)
Looking for Learning Website

http://www.greatlearning.com/lfl/

Community with a Capital “C”

So this week I will begin to break down, and go deeper into the four facets of our new C.O.A.R. Initiative. Last week I introduced and outlined the overall sentiment and philosophy behind it, and over the next four weeks I will talk specifically about each aspect so we all have a collective and shared understanding of what it’s trying to accomplish……let me begin with COMMUNITY . One of the challenges facing a school like ours, (which has gone through a period of tremendous growth over the past four or five years) is the daunting task of trying to overcome the loss of, or to put it another way, trying to keep a firm grasp on that “small school” feel, where community is at the center and heart of everything that we do. As we explode into a school of over 1500 students ranging from Toddler through to 12th Grade, and into a faculty of almost 200 educators, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay connected and in tune with the needs of our shared school community. It’s even more important for us here at Shanghai Community International School because Community is in our name, and very much part of our mission. The C.O.A.R initiative has its sights set on restoring this small school feeling at SCIS, and energizing our school by putting a capital ‘C’ back into community.

At the end of last year, when the relatively small group of us began to discuss this initiative, we identified a few specific and targeted areas where we thought improvement was needed. We came up with a charter of sorts, which outlined what we wanted to focus on regarding the recommitment to our community, and some of the ideas that might bring it all to life………..this is what we thought of and put down on paper……

Community: We will………
·       Celebrate each other’s contributions to our school (our personal and professional accomplishments)
·       Support one another (commit to making everyone feel valued through nurturing and caring relationships)
·       Communicate effectively (presuming positive intent with all we do, critical friends protocol workshops, hard conversation role play workshops, book studies)
·       Learn from each other (share our collective expertise through faculty Professional Development workshops, peer classroom observations, shared videotaped lessons)
·       Celebrate our “brand” (faculty shirt and fleeces, faculty shirt days, once a month spirit day stand up meetings used for faculty celebrations)
·       Be transparent about who we are as a school and where we’re going (our story and fairytale)

Obviously, community is not just about us as a faculty, as there are other stakeholder groups who contribute immeasurably to the success of our institution. Groups like our wonderful and supportive parent community, our beautiful students (who I believe will be the most positively impacted by this initiative), our support and facilities staff, and the surrounding local neighborhood community who we hope to have support us at every turn. All of these groups need to be embraced, celebrated, and infused into this endeavor if our goal is to be accomplished. We need to look at ways of getting these groups on board and involved, and here are a few ideas for you to wrestle with……

  • Using the expertise of our parent community (How about inviting our poets and authors into a Language Arts class? Maybe our computer programmers into a digital technology class ? What about our engineers, our mathematicians, our business owners, our musicians, our historians, our meteorologists, our professional athletes, or any other professionals that would connect the classroom to the world outside our walls? These connections will not only foster wonderful relationships within our community, it will give our students a chance to learn in a more authentic way)
  • Having appreciation days for our facilities and support staff. These incredibly hard working men and women are often underappreciated and undervalued, which is crazy considering all that they do to allow us to focus on the learning of our students.
  • Inviting the local neighborhood community leaders to our student performances, our graduations, and getting them involved in a much bigger way through our service learning initiatives. We are guests in their country and we should show our appreciation by building a mutually strong partnership.
  • Celebrating our students and all they accomplish in every possible way…….assemblies, honor societies, award nights, social functions, and all the rest…….truly make them the focus of everything we do!

Anyway, I think you get the idea. My challenge to you all this week is to look at your specific programs, your role in after school activity and sport, and to look at what you are willing to share of yourself at an upcoming PD day……With a specific and concerted effort by everyone, we can enhance our community in a profound way……like the quote below states……we all have to be ready to take the helm. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and great for each other.

Quote of the Week……..
A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.
– Henrik Ibsen

Attached Article – Creating a School Community Creating a School Community

Coalition for Community Schools Website
http://www.communityschools.org/ScalingUp/

Where the Hell is Matt? (Need a VPN in China….great video about our Global Community)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwe-pA6TaZk

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