Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Assignment

We had our end of summer leadership meeting for school today. Administration, team leaders, and instructional lead teachers all gathered to come up to speed on what's been happening over the summer and to formulate a plan for the coming year.

I attended my first leadership "retreat" twelve years ago. Back then it involved an overnight stay at a motel in Leesburg, a community just far enough outside the city limits to justify calling it a retreat, well, that and the two day schedule. The next year we got a new principal and she put her own personal stamp on the event by reorganizing it into a 9-3 meeting, with lunch, held in our library. (I approved of the change, mostly because I didn't have to share a room with anybody, although I did kind of miss drinking beer on the porch until midnight with Larry and Mark.)

This year we went to someone's house because our building renovation won't be complete until next Monday. We met in the family room, and I got the leather easy chair, so I can't really complain, especially when the principal perched on the stone ledge of the fireplace all day. The meeting had a different kind of feeling than those in the past, and in odd moments, I found myself trying to figure out why. Was it the setting? The ever changing cast of attendees? Or could it have been me? After 17 years, I'm on the downswing of my tenure.

At the end of the session, which ran long as usual because of so many non-agenda issues that seemed worth spending time on, our attention was directed to a single sheet in our folders. Its title was Focusing Work to Improve Instruction and it consisted of six questions:

What does success look like?
How do I impact instruction?
What is my role in our success?
How do I help all kids excel?
How do I monitor progress on a regular basis?
What do I need to do differently?

I folded the paper in half and tucked it into my writing notebook. As the new school year begins, I couldn't ask for better prompts.

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