Showing posts from February, 2015

Compliance or Commitment?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation about instructional coaching with an educator outside of my district.  We were talking about the coaching model that we utilize in Western Dubuque, and how we have implemented this in the past seven months.  I was asked how we are able to get teachers engaged and enrolled in the process.  I told her that our instructional coaches wait for teachers to come to them. The look on her face was puzzling, as she asked, "What about the people that really need to improve and others who are struggling?"  She continued to tell me that coaching is mandatory in her district and teacher engagement in the coaching cycle is pretty low.

After I left the conversation I continued to think about a quote that Jim Knight shared with me over the summer, "When you insist, they will resist." Participating in instructional coaching is 100% teacher choice in Western Dubuque because we believe that if people truly want to improve, they will reach ou…

Life in the Gray

There are many days that I wish my life as principal was simple and decisions were black and white, cut and dry, or whatever you would like to call it.  Unfortunately, this is not reality for school leaders, as complex situations, dynamics, and circumstances have us living in many shades of gray.  We are faced with decisions and situations where simple yes or nos simply do not apply.  We often compromise to meet various people where they are while understanding that not all parties are going to fully "win."

When I think about some of the experiences that I have had as an elementary principal in the past three years, I have come to the conclusion that my core beliefs have allowed me to make the best possible decisions for our schools.  In the following paragraphs, I will explain my core beliefs and share how these values have carried me through tough times.

It's About People, Not Programs (Thank you to Todd Whitaker)
Let's face it, students and educators are living in …

Personalized Learning at EdCamp

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend #EdCampIowa at South East Junior High School in Iowa City.  Ed Camps are unique because they allow participants to build the agenda and learn about whatever they like.  It was incredibly powerful to see more than 100 educators gather in the library at South East on a Saturday morning to better themselves for the benefit of students.  Seriously, more than 100 educators showing up to school on a day off when they are not paid to grow professionally. Amazing.  Three other locations in the great state of Iowa also offered EdCamps on this day, making it the largest EdCamp event in the country.  It's a fine time to be in education, and there are so many people doing the right work in our profession.

As I participated in the first session of the day dedicated to personalized learning and differentiation, I got excited about the many things that our teachers are doing to meet the needs of students in their classrooms.  We have teachers dabb…