By Jennifer Robinson
First quarter has drawn to a close, and I am taking some time to reflect on the past 10 weeks – taking a breath and looking with open eyes and a clear mind, wondering what is working and what needs to be adjusted. The past several weeks, we as a school have been preparing for our Lighthouse Readiness Review and demonstrating sustaining evidence in leadership principles, leadership culture and academic systems.
We will also have an extensive on-site review, which will provide us specific feedback to help inform our practice and prepare for our official Lighthouse Review in February.
Through this exhausting process we began to see things differently, looking at teaching and learning through a different lens. We started to see what we were doing well and where we had gaps. We paused to reflect on our school’s four-year journey and what we have created and accomplished. Although our state test scores and letter grade do not indicate this success, yet – it does give us a starting point as we move forward.
We looked through pictures and videos of our scholars and how much they have grown and changed the culture at our school. We stopped to notice what they are capable of, what their potential is and, if given the tools and time, the impact they have on our school community.
Here is just one example.
In a parent meeting, a teacher shared a scholar was having trouble finishing his homework. In her class, she has homework monitors who check whether homework is completed and turned in. These scholars approached her and expressed a concern with another scholar who was not completing his homework. They thought it would be a good idea if they sat with him and came up with a plan to help him finish.
The teacher created space for this to happen and now they have a plan. At dismissal in the cafeteria where scholars wait for parent pick-up, they sit off to the side and help him finish his homework. Four years ago, our scholars didn’t have the tools or the mindset to execute this plan. Now win-win thinking is part of our culture.
So, taking a breath, clearing my mind and opening my eyes was a powerful strategy to really see what we are doing and where we are going. I wonder how to keep this mindset and focus and not get sucked into the day-to-day whirlwinds that cloud my thinking, limit my sight and narrow my focus. How do you stay focused on what is most important in the midst of day-to-day whirlwinds?
Jennifer Robinson is the principal of Maricopa Elementary School, a partner with the Be Awesome Youth Coalition in implementing a leadership program and developing confident, connected and successful youth.
This column appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.