Sunday, July 29, 2012


Alright, so the blogging hasn't been as frequent as I first had imagined.  But I still think it's important.  For me, it helps process the day, the week, the month, what have you.  So, I'm going to effort to continue, but I'm making no promises, especially since I have committed to blogging weekly on the school's webpage.  There will be a difference, more reflective here; more philosophical there.

In any event, last week was busy.  Monday thru Wednesday were meetings, Thursday included a few meetings at school, and Friday was a pure work day.  Monday and Tuesday I was able to pick up a lot from Randy Allison in regards to the Supervision of Special Education.  Wednesday I took part in the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) New Administrators Institute.  Wow what a great training.  Phenomenal presenters covering topics concerning "Entry Plan", Legal Issues, How to Conduct Productive Meetings, Being Proactive Towards Discipline, Observation & Evaluation Recommendations, & How to Avoid Rookie Mistakes.  I can not express enough how helpful these sessions were, all common sense - good reminders - easy to implement sessions!

Thursday was productive.  Included a few meetings, the Sup. and I were able to sit down and chat.  Likewise, the AD and I talked too.  But perhaps more "stress-relieving" was getting authorized to become a "Google School."  I had left the previous week with a terrible feeling in my stomach because I had to "delete" the Google Apps account I had established.  Yet by Thursday I was able to "re-activate" it and get the 88 members of our staff registered.  This means, our staff will all have a common email account.  Something I was shocked that was/is not the case currently.  For example, many are simply using their "personal" gmail accounts.  Which means the district is potentially "exposed" if a records request is made.  In any event, by establishing the district as a Google School we open ourselves to a wide variety of options for staff and students.  Something that I think can help us improve communication, instruction, and hopefully engage more students in what's occurring in the classroom.

Friday started early and I had the office to myself.  As the Sup. and Bus. Manager were both out of the office.  The big accomplishment was interviewing two individuals interested in our cheer coach position.  Hope to review the process with the Sup. tomorrow and let the ladies know the direction by the end of the day Monday.  I was able to do a document review, went file by file and cleaned a few things up and hand off a few more to the AD.

I spent the afternoon working on formalizing my "Entry Plan."  One of the suggestions from Wednesday's SAI institute was that it's important to write it down.  I've been asked by a few different people in preparation for my first day on the job, "How do you know what to do?"  I never really knew how to respond, I guess I just figured I would do the job.  To me that meant getting to know the people (teachers, staff, students, parents, community members), familiarize myself with what had been going on (academically and culturally), and then plan for "pre-service"/back-to-school meetings.  But, I hadn't written any of it down.  So Friday, I wrote it down.  I think it's a good plan, but I'm sure I'm missing something.  Regardless, here are my three goals:
  1. Build Relationships
  2. Open Lines of Communication
  3. Focus on Instruction
As I began to write this down, it surprised me how much had been accomplished already.  I've met many of the teachers and support staff members I will be working with already.  Likewise, I was able to "tentatively-schedule" a host of meetings I would like to hold with key stakeholders - students, teachers, staff, parents, and community members.  And by focusing on instructions, I have been able to clarify my own philosophy and beliefs that I hope to community during our back-to-school pre-service meetings, and reiterate throughout the school year.

Another aspect of Wednesday's meeting that became abundantly clear to me, was the reminder that I need to be a "leader" not just a "manager."  As a leader, it is my job to be visionary, focus on the "big ideas," and always take the "systems" approach to issues.  It was clear to me that during my first week and a half, I was managing rather than leading.  As the leader, I need to stay above the daily grind, and focus more on the how and why we will be doing things.  I need to provide that vision so that there is purpose.  And, to an extent, I have started to do that.  With focusing on the district's mission statement, to inspire and develop responsible, life-long learners, I hope to "ignite passions and develop strengths" in both the staff and students of the district.  So my "theme" for the year will be to ignite passions, something that I have to thank John C. Carver for doing.  He consistently spoke about discovering students' passions.  As for strengths, I have to thank my wife.  A few years ago, her team at work read and discussed the book "Strengths Finder 2.0" by Tom Rath.  She suggested I purchase the book and take the self-assessment.  I loved how the book's author suggests we should spend more time focusing on our "strengths" than our "weaknesses."  In the world of education, I think it is often far too easy to focus on our student's deficits and plan, develop, and implement programs to fixing those deficiencies; instead of celebrating, and building on the strengths our students and employees already have.  So, during the "pre-service" I will be providing the 7-12 staff with the book and request that they take the online self assessment.  Then as the year progresses, we will revisit each others strengths, the strengths we see in our students, the district, and community.  I hope this serves as a good vision for the school year!

So, that's what last week was all about.  This week, "fingers-crossed," should be less hectic.  I'm in the office the entire week, and don't have much "scheduled."  So I hope to begin to focus on our "pre-service" agenda for new teachers and the entire staff.  Likewise, this will force me to review and revise the "staff handbook," and continue my document search.  I know already, I need to focus on bullying and harrassment procedures, the acceptable use policy (staff & students), along with a host of other items.  I'm happy to have my first "intern" coming on Monday.  She's going to be a big help.  We'll walk the building in an attempt to number each room so that the "intercom" guys can correctly route the wiring, we'll also check out the safety procedures - another suggestion from SAI - since we're both "new to the building."  After that, I've got a couple other items on my list I hope she'll be able to assist me with.  But on Wednesday, August 1, the secretaries report.  This means it's go time.  These ladies will have lots to prepare for registration on the 9th, but they'll also be able to provide guidance for me as things come up.  But, as I have quickly learned, they'll also be able to take a lot of the management items off my desk, so to speak, so that I can focus on the leadership items.

So, this got a little longer that I had anticipated.  But it was good . . . to process.

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