Happy New Year!!!

No its not the first of January, but a new school year is upon us! The start of the school year is a crazy time to say the least as we transition from summer vacation to the school year ahead. I would like to start by wishing everyone the best in the upcoming year.

In our division, we are lucky enough to kick off the school under the same roof. All employees of the division attend an opening day celebration; an amazing opportunity to get together as a collective group and start the school year together. This year we were fortunate to have Robb Nash present at opening day. Robb has an incredible story that not only entertains and engages, but also empowers his audience. If you have the chance to book Robb at your school this year, I strongly recommend it. He is easily one of the best presenters you can bring in for your students.

At the school level, getting up to speed for the upcoming school year is always an interesting adventure. Also known as “Let’s try to accomplish absolutely everything that could possibly need to be accomplished for an entire year in a single week…“, startup brings excitement, anticipation, and unfortunately, at times can be overwhelming. The bureaucratic machine sometimes rears its ugly head and we get caught up in a windstorm of staff meetings, department meetings, collaborative planning sessions, time tables, class lists, course outlines, booking forms, protocols & procedures, and a mirad of paperwork and other tasks.

We have a number of new staff members at our school this year which caused me to reflect on the enormous learning curve to get up to speed on the pulse and culture of a school. The previously mentioned “bureaucratic machine” is very important to effective school operation and management, but sometimes we loose sight of the reality that we are in a “people” profession. The cornerstone of education is the development of effective relationships and developing a culture of learning through clear expectations. Taking the time to develop the culture of the classroom before the learning of formal curriculum is so important. Learning is something that we do with students and not to them, and effective relationships build the foundation for effective learning.

I am very lucky to have a staff that is willing to put relationships first. As we start a new semester his week, the focus is going to be on building effective relationships and developing clear expectations for learning. During a staff meeting last week we spent time developing expectations for our staff by developing commitment statements. One statement in particular jumped out at me:

As a staff member, I will be the staff member that students will remember fondly and tell their kids how I was fair, honest and always had time for them.

Pretty powerful words that make me pretty proud to have the staff I have!

Have a great school year!

Some readings from the week…

The First Week of School – and Ten Tips for Transitioning Into It – Some timely Back to School Advice from ASCD

Where Does Students’ Fear of Failure Come From – An interesting perspective to think about as we start another school year.

Seven Keys to Effective Feedback – Grant Wiggins provides details about providing effective feedback vs. providing advice, praise, and/or evaluation.

The Global Search for Education: More Arts Please – Ken Robinson talks about the value of Arts Education in this article, but he piece on assessment is very relevant in all disciplines.

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