I am so fortunate, I have the privilege of working as a teacher, principal, director of teaching and learning, consultant, coach, coordinator, professor and author. My parents worked hard to provide for their children. They married young and had five children. Both of my parents wanted to be teachers, but with five little ones, the dream of teaching never came to fruition for either. My dad worked so hard in skilled trades and my mom was an office manager, she was amazing regarding finances and helped her children build a solid financial foundation without debt. Sometime, I will share her financial knowledge, it was truly impressive for her time, she is now 83.
My parents instilled the importance of education in all their children and all five attended college, two have doctorate degrees, one a master’s and one a bachelor’s. The one that opted a different path his junior year of college is very successful in his chosen field. We grew up modestly and lived under our means. I now appreciate the discipline my parents had regarding raising our family. When I was in college, a sorority sister said something about “factory rats” I was taken aback for a bit, I had never heard that term and once I processed what it meant, I was upset. My dad had eleven siblings, yes, my grandmother had a dozen children! Many of the males in the family fought in wars and served our country, their jobs varied, one was even an engineer at NASA. But, they were all amazing and I could not believe the narrowness of some people. As educators, we need to remember that current family income/situation does not determine success for children and all students can learn and be successful. I know we say this, but we really need to believe it – all students can succeed! All students have gifts!
Yesterday, I was fortunate to work with a school leadership team and I was so excited leaving the school. This school has created consistency with staff, they are on same page and thrusting forward. The team allocated an hour and a half to meet, they had a system in place to make the most out of the time.
This meeting designated:
- A facilitator – she led the meeting and moved through the agenda with ease
- A live working agenda – the agenda was in a google document and anyone could add to the document if needed
- A note taker – this person updated the live agenda and clarified any questions
The facilitator is a role that is designated and sends out the agenda, but the note taker was determined that day and two people volunteered.
The goals that have been accomplished with this team is truly amazing. Through Instructional Rounds, a recommendation for this school was to enhance the number of books at the elementary level. It is critical to ensure that students have access to high-quality, culturally relevant reading material. They have inventoried books in the school library, classroom libraries and added to these libraries. They have common goals in reading and are now adding writing. They involve the entire staff, not just a small group. Through the efficiency of their meetings and collaboration as a staff they have created a summer reading program for families, staff will be available at these events that can speak English and Spanish.
After the meeting which was engaging and fun, yes fun – we laughed and enjoyed the time together, there was a celebration of literacy! A local foundation had given the district $30,000 for new books. The donor representative was there, superintendents, administration, and some other staff. But, what was exciting for me was, students were there. We visited with students that had benefited from the donation of books and they read to us. I was thrilled to sit down with my second grade student and have her read to me. This was a perfect ending to my day at the school. As I drove home, I reflected on how we need to collaborate as educators and reach out to the community, many foundations want to assist schools. I also, thought, “working agendas are great – personal agendas are not!”, school staff need to be on the same page to support students effectively.