At least once a week, my principal and I meet to debrief, and to exchange thoughts, ideas and feedback. Lately I’ve been sharing my enthusiasm with him about blogging. We’ve set up a school blog, he’s visited this blog, and I’ve created two classroom blogs with both classes I teach. The comments and feedback from parents, students and staff have been very positive and I can’t wait to see the excitement spread. My vision is to see widespread use of blogs as a means of increasing parent engagement in our school.
Today my principal and I sat down in his office (yes, it’s Saturday, but if you’re an administrator and reading this, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise, right?) so we could catch up, plan and exchange feedback. I look forward to these sessions for my personal and professional development. As I was rattling off excitedly my plans and visions for school-wide blogging, he smiled the smile I’ve come to know as the one that indicates he’s about to impart some wisdom on me. Bring it on, I’m thinking.
He opened his notebook and drew the familiar four-part Venn diagram like the one above, from Victoria Bernhardt’s book Using Data to Improve Student Learning in Elementary Schools. It’s familiar not necessarily because I’ve read the book, but because it’s such an intrinsic part of his leadership approach. Whenever he’s faced with a decision, and not just school improvement decisions, he pictures the diagram and considers all four sectors: demographics, perceptions, student learning and school processes. So while I was going a mile-a-minute about blogging and school-wide implementation, and won’t this be fantastic, he’s considering the bigger picture.
This is not to say that he’s against the idea, or that he’s reluctant. Like me, he gets excited about initiatives, new learnings, anything that engages kids and improves learning and teaching. And he’s just as excited about my pushing him in a direction that’s new for him. But he’s trained himself to put the brakes on, if only just a smidge, and filter his enthusiasm through Bernhardt’s framework. For instance, he’s thinking about the perceptions of the staff with regards to classroom blogging. If we start talking about classroom blogs, are they going to perceive this as being forced upon them? If I bring in colleagues who are advanced bloggers, how will the staff receive this? His feedback? Start with the few keeners, and have them present to the staff at a later date. Hopefully, staff will see the merits in blogging and come to it on their own, with their own level of enthusiasm.
I value my relationship with my principal, and I am so thankful for his openness and his feedback. I know that I am the type of person that gets so excited about something I want to rush ahead, but by doing so I risk separating myself from my team and losing sight of the whole picture. It becomes “my thing”. By slowing down I then have the opportunity to work collaboratively with my team, expand ownership and move an idea or vision forward until it becomes part of school culture.