Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dreams with Deadlines

Goals are dreams with deadlines.

Similarly, I have heard that the likelihood that you will accomplish a goal increases if you not only write down the goal, but also if you mark out the steps you will follow to attain it. Furthermore, telling someone else about your goals, especially someone you trust, can help hold you accountable, especially when you would rather ease up and give up in pursuit of your goal.

In addition to the strategies mentioned in yesterday's post, I also formed a list of goals for myself throughout the 2012 - 13 school year. They are not as specific or measurable as I would like for them to be. Furthermore, I have not been very successful in remaining faithful to any of them. I wrote them down over the summer, and I offered up some specific steps for each one. The final piece, making them public, happens now.

This past spring and summer I read Tony Dungy's book, "The Mentor Leader". Having read both "Quiet Strength" and "Uncommon" I was excited to read more from one of my models in education. I'm not one to get wrapped up in celebrity sightings. Seeing Tony Dungy at a local breakfast place, though, made me giddy. Emily had to practically hold me back to keep me from ruining the man's breakfast. Even now, I've digressed too far from the point: Tony's newest book outlines 7 things that a mentor leader should do. I adopted them this year as things that I would aspire to incorporate into my tenure.

Today, I share numbers 1, 2 and 3 (I am trying to compose 40 blogs, after all!).

1. Engage. One of the things that I've tried to do this year is be more visible to the school community. I have tried to spend more time engaging our parents, our students, and our teachers. I have sponsored monthly coffees with the principal as a way to engage parents. For the first part of the school year I worked lunch and recess duties. I continue to volunteer my time as a sub and enjoy visiting our pre-morning gathering as well as our carlines. I have tried to spend more time in classrooms and less time in my office.

2. Educate. Part of being the chief educational officer of a school means that I am charged with teaching teachers about new teaching techniques, programs and/or initiatives. Since arriving at ICS two and a half years ago, I have challenged teachers to utilize Bloom's taxonomy; I've asked teachers to be purposeful with student-centered, specific and measurable objectives for each class period; I introduced Understanding by Design, which has now become a diocesan effort as well as a way that we will prepare for the Common Core. This year, ICS faculty has spent much time on assessments and rubrics. They have done a great job with all of these various projects and ICS teachers continue to impress me with their commitment to the school and its students.

3. Equip. Unfortunately, equipping people costs money and money is something that many schools do not have in abundant supply. I have tried to ensure that teachers and students have the necessary tools to do the tasks required of them. I hope to be able to continue to provide my team with more and more equipment to more successfully compete in the game of academics. I've tried to loosen the belt strap of our budget this year while still being a good steward of the school's and church's resources. It is a delicate balance.

Even as I make public only the first three goals that I had for this school year, I feel my stomach fill with humble pie. I have so much good work to do to accomplish my goals. I have fallen so short in so many ways. My deadline is quickly approaching - the third quarter is already half over.

To paraphrase Mother Theresa, yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come (but will soon!). Today is as good a day as any to recommit to making these dreams a reality.

Let me begin.