Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goals, Support, Encouragement, & Accountability

     The importance of setting goals- big, audacious goals- is crucial in education.  My personal journey up to this point has shown me that not only is goal setting important, but developing a road map, with a clear plan of action has to accompany those goals.  In education, we have to know what action steps we are going to take to get us to our goals.  We have to align our actions with our philosophies.  My journey has shown that there are going to be times that we will fail- times we will not achieve what we thought we would achieve.  However, what we learn along the way is invaluable to our school systems, our stakeholders, and especially ourselves.  My personal journey has also shown me the importance of focus and determination.  In education, having all stakeholders involved with the vision or mission of your school is paramount!  Not everyone will jump on your bandwagon, and there will be plenty of nay-sayers who will try to derail your efforts.  But the important lesson, is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward.   Those that are with you are watching how you respond to these challenges.  As a leader, they need to see that you will not be deterred.  That the goal/vision/mission is important.

     The most important piece to my journey has been the support & encouragement of others.  Without others' guidance, encouragement, support, & accountability, it would have been easy for me to give up.  In education, we need each other.  We need guidance- even as leaders.  It would be great if we had all the answers, but we don't- at least not by ourselves.  It's the collective wisdom of others that will allow each of us to become better at the work we do.  If you are in a position to mentor or offer guidance to another, do it!!

     Encouragement as educators is needed now more than ever!  This encouragement has to come from all members of our educational systems.  Superintendents, your principals need to be encouraged!  Principals, your teachers & staff need to be encouraged!  Teachers, your students need to be encouraged!  Families, your superintendents need to be encouraged!  If we all just worked a little bit harder at supporting and encouraging one another, schools would be a more positive experience for everyone!

     Support can take many forms in education.  We all need someone we can call upon when the going gets tough or the road gets a little rocky!  I'm eternally grateful that I have been blessed with awesome parents, an amazing son, and terrific friends.  But there are times that they "just don't get it" because they are not in education.  Offer your support to someone in your school or another district or even another state.  We all need it, but most of us are too proud or stubborn to ask for it.  Accessing resources, connecting with other educators, reflecting on practices, and discussing failures with the intent to learn from them are different and often needed types of support we should be engaging in on a daily basis.  In education, we have access to more resources now more than ever and the majority of those are FREE!!  Using social media resources- Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Voxer, and Instagram- allows us to share free content/resources with one another.  These also give us a great platform in which to connect with others in education.  When I first started teaching, connecting to other educators meant talking to someone else in your building and occasionally someone else in my district.  It was RARE to connect with another teacher in a neighboring district.  Now fast forward 18 years (yes, gasp! I've been in education 18 years), and I am so excited to learn from educators AROUND THE WORLD!!!  This still sometimes blows my mind!!!  Having access to conferences where I have had the pleasure this summer to meet some of those educators in person has made a world of difference for me as an educator.

     Finally, there's accountability.  Yes, good ol' accountability.  Accountability has taken a bad wrap because as educators, we often equate this with testing.  Well, accountability doesn't need to be measured in a state or nationally mandated assessment.  Accountability occurs in school districts at ALL levels.  EVERY member of a school system is accountable to one another.  Educators- regardless of your title or role in the school system, you ARE a role model!  Everyone in your community is watching and listening to YOU!  What message are you sending about your school?  Think that your opinions don't impact the community?  Think again.  Is your district struggling to pass levies?  Take a moment to see if you've contributed in some way to this.  But accountability is more than that.  Accountability is about measuring our progress toward our goals.  Engaging in self-reflection and self-assessment is an integral part of the accountability process.  Sharing those reflections and assessments with one another and our community is vital.  Celebrating your milestones is an important part of accountability.  When we fall short of our goals, rather than playing the blame game or pointing fingers, let's look at what we have been afforded the opportunity to learn.  You see, accountability is more than a final score on a district report card or a measure of success that's been arbitrarily assigned to a teacher or school.  Accountability is saying, "Hey, this is where we are.  This is where we are headed.  We are working together to improve.  This is how we are going to do it.  We need your help & support to get us there!"

  I'm still reflecting and will be adding to my list.  What pieces would you add?

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