I used to think, and now I know...

At the end of the school year in May, I asked our teaching staff to answer the question in the title of this post.  There were a number of eyebrows raised and foreheads crinkled; however, they completed the highly reflective task with great effort on the last day of school.  It is several months later, but it is only fair that I answer the question that I posed to them.

This is my twelfth year in education and fourth as a building administrator.  Many of my views have changed as I have experienced new thoughts, fallen flat on my face, and grown with each passing day.

I used to think it was all about results, and I now I have discovered that the process is much more important.

We live in a data driven society, particularly in the educational field within the last 15 years especially.  Results are extremely important, and we are all aiming for increased levels of student achievement by developing strategic plans, SMART goals, and learning targets.  The real work is in the process.  The excellent daily instruction, relationship building, and engagement in learning lead to the results we desire.

When I think about the process, I think about a high school football team and their weekly preparation for a Friday night game.  Contrary to popular belief, games are not won on Friday night, rather, they are won on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  During these days opponents are studied, tendencies are recognized, and game plans are developed to give teams the best chance to win.  Once the game plan is established, drills and situations are practiced repeatedly to prepare athletes for a successful Friday night.  The weekly drills, repetitions, and situations are part of the process, and when that process is strong, wins follow. Just ask Nick Saban.

We can focus on getting all students to high levels of proficiency, but that will not matter much if the process is weak.  There must be excellent instruction taking place in all classrooms, intervention plans must be in place for students who struggle AND excel, high impact planning with optimal use of time must exist, and there must be checks along the way to ensure that learning sticks.  When the process is strong, results will take care of themselves.  To read more about the process, click here.

I used to think as principal I needed to have all of the answers, and now I know school leadership is a collaborative effort where everyone matters.

It is necessary for me to have an understanding of many things as a principal of Epworth and Farley Elementary Schools, including, but not limited to: curriculum, instruction, assessment, budget, relationships, family dynamics, extra-curricular activities, etc.  I have come to understand that I do not need to have all of the answers for every situation.  There are so many talented people that surround me each day, whether it is a building secretary, paraprofessional, teacher, custodian, guidance counselor, food service worker, or volunteer.  Everyone has something great to contribute to the school environment, and it is my responsibility as the lead learner of @EpworthElem and @FESBobcats to find the genius of these people and place them in situations where they can be successful and positively impact students.  My knowledge base is growing each day, but I would be nowhere without our wonderful staff members who contribute so much to our daily success.  Everyone has a passion that they can bring to the table and together we are better.

I used to think, and now I know...

How have your thoughts changed as you continue to grow?

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