Sunday, December 14, 2008

Week 16: December 8-12, 2008

Enjoying the Gifts of the Season
The sound of children's laughter resounded down the hallway. I couldn't help but pause and enjoy it. I peek around the corner and see the teacher laughing with the kids. They are relaxed; they are all engaged in the conversation -- whatever it might be. For the moment at least, they are happy to be in school. I realized this scenario is happening more and more each day...

The Gift of Laughter
Our staff has made an enormous effort to bring the joy of the season of Christmas to the halls and classrooms of Benton High School. With the humorous Eyes Past Print, the attempt at asking (and remembering) the "Three Whys, Man!" as well as the Christmas decorating contest, I have heard comment after comment from the students about how fun our teachers are lately. I couldn't help but feel a thrill each time I saw the kids smile when they said this.

This is a tough time for all of us. As we gain ground on providing an excellent academic environment for our students, we are forced to confront some of the traditions of our past that were not necessarily student-centered. We are forced to reflect, sometimes together and sometimes alone, on what we do and why we do what we do in every aspect of our practice.
As we quickly approach the half way point of this school year (can you believe it?), I offer you all back a gift I realize you have so abundantly offered Jeff, Luke and me -- the JOY of working with each one of you.

Administrating Gifts
I know I have shared with many of you how strange it is for me to be considered, "the administrator." When a person enters the teaching profession with a love of teaching and enthusiasm of sharing your life with children, becoming an administrator does not look the same as when a teacher enters the profession to become the principal (or any other leadership position). It just doesn't. walk into a room and people become nervous. You share out loud a concern you have, and everyone around you thinks you are talking about them. You lose your cool over something relatively superficial, and it becomes a law of momentous proportions within the hour. Oh, I know. That's why you get paid the big bucks. People toss that line to me several times a week. Here's the funny thing -- money is NOT why teacher turned administrators do what they do. Nope. For me personally, I do what I do because I want to make the professional lives of all the teachers I have the honor to work with just a little bit better than they were before I entered them. I know, from too many perspectives, that probably doesn't seem possible. I guess I would ask you to consider this...what other reason is there?

The True Gift of Leadership
I don't think anyone will argue that gifts are more fun when they are wrapped in beautiful packages with great ribbons and bows adorning them. In leadership, those beautiful gifts are the relationships a leader gets to make with each teacher in the building. For me, relationships are the only thing I have to rely on at the end of the day. When I was teaching, those relationships were just there, sort of like a good pair of pajamas. I guess I just knew they would be. I still have a special bond with many of those teachers, but that bond is nothing compared to what I feel, and what I need, from the teachers (and admin boys) I work with now.

And so, I thank each one of you for the gift you bring to my life everyday as we work together. The work we do is hard, thankless, and abundant. We embrace change now like old pros. We march to the beat of the drummer even when it's not to celebrate the little drummer boy. We hold each other to high standards even when we are only treading water ourselves. We laugh, and we hug, and we eat M&m's with the best of them. The gift of our relationship is precious. Thank you for not giving up on each other or us.

Calendar Events for December 8-12, 2008
10 Dec -- BAR Meeting; 7:00, Room 103
10 Dec -- Open 4th Progress Reporting
11 Dec -- 8:00 to 11:30; Admin out of building
12 Dec -- 4th Progress Closed; verify by end of day
13 Dec -- ACT testing (encourage our testing students)