Monday, August 17, 2015

Welcome Back!

Van Meter Teachers:

We are excited to have you back, or here for the 1st time as a new employee of Van Meter Schools. Our school is a special place and we are looking forward to another great year for our students and staff. As you think about the start of the year, there are a few things I hope you consider. I borrowed some of this from Dr. Joe Clark, a school administrator in Ohio.

Start With the Why

We've talked a lot about Simon Sinek's work. If you start with why, you'll make decisions that are best for kids, and you'll demonstrate the skills and dispositions we expect out of our graduates by being a learner who:

  • Communicates
  • Collaborates
  • Creates and Innovates
  • Adapts
  • Solves Problems
  • Thinks Globally
  • Lives Ethically 
  • Perseveres 

Dare to be Great

Being a mediocre teacher can be the easiest job in the world. By treating kids well and not making waves, the mediocre can coast through a long career. But being a great teacher is the hardest job in the world. Great teachers differentiate instruction, put in long hours, worry about their students, facilitate awesome learning activities, give meaningful assessments and let the results of the assessments drive their instruction, and so much more. You can have a long career of mediocrity and never be noticed. But the great ones take risks, make mistakes, and keep trying.

Great teachers teach 35 years, not one year 35 times. Great teachers understand that kids change, technology changes, the research on quality instruction changes. Dusting off lesson plans year after year is a way to doom yourself to mediocrity. It is fine to continue practices that work. But great teachers reflect and adjust constantly. If you aren’t reflecting, you aren't improving.

Your Attitude is Contagious

There will be some challenges this year. Things won't always go well or how you had hoped. What will your attitude be like? Will you find the positives and/or look for solutions? or, Will you complain and be a naysayer? Attitudes are contagious, is your's worth catching?

We can plan and be as proactive as we want, but it won't always go well. We just need to remember that life is 10% what happens and 90% how we respond to it. Others will be watching.

Relationships Matter Most

Everyone will eventually have a retirement party, and everyone at the retirement party will be happy. Will they be happy FOR you retiring or BECAUSE you are retiring? Being a great teacher also means being a great colleague. Be professional and ethical and work collaboratively with your colleagues.

All of your students will one day tell stories about you. Maybe they will tell stories at their class
reunion, or tell stories to their kids or spouse. And you will be a character in every one of your student’s story. What will they say about you? How will you be remembered? That is entirely up to you. Treat kids well. Make sure they describe you with adjectives that make you proud.

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