Friday, October 31, 2014

My fortune cookie

I have experienced twenty incredible years in education!  The greatest majority of my time has been joyous and productive.  I can look back at my career and pinpoint many highs and a few lows.  I can draw out the waves of joy and despair within the profession, but without a doubt, my career happiness has slanted upwards!

I was the only male teacher on campus for my first year.  I was quite sure that I was already the best teacher on campus and that I would walk out the door at the end of the year with the award.  After only three hours, I calmly walked next door and asked Ms. Kiley for help.  I had a lot to learn.  More than most actually.  Most novice teachers begin with better equipment than I did.  Looking back, my students may not have learned anything that first year, but they did have fun!

What I lacked in my toolbox, I made up for thricefold in passion and enthusiasm.  I wanted to learn everything I could to become a better teacher, and I loved every opportunity to do so.  For several years, I went to every professional development opportunity I could!  I wanted to learn and implement.  I needed help and sought it.  More than most, I also took my new knowledge and put it into action.  I equate my willingness to learn and implement new stuff with jumping into the deep end of the pool.  Many teachers will learn something new, then tiptoe into that new endeavor one tiny little improvement at a time.  I prefer to jump in the deep end of the new and fail my way to success.

Once my classroom time turned to office time, as an assistant principal, I once again jumped on every learning opportunity!  I was blessed with three fellow administrators to show me the way.  I was also blessed with a district that prioritized professional learning the same way I do.  My interest in high-quality student learning simply broadened.  It became an excited passion for high-quality learning, regardless of age!

As a principal, the need to focus on learning for all was paramount to success.  Student learning was always the focus.  If high-quality teaching was the vehicle to get there, then high-quality professional learning were the keys to that car!  Professionally, I now firmly believe that passionate, high-quality faculty learning leads to the best possible student learning.

After 20 years, my desire to create a passion for learning extends from our youngest students to our most experienced teachers.  Engaged learners with a desire to improve make the school a better place for kids.  As educators, we should always model a desire to learn new things and fail forward.

When teachers model excellent learning, students benefit.  That is my fortune cookie statement.