On Thursday I decided that even though I had the day off, I would take the opportunity to go into work and get some things done that I don’t normally like to do when students and staff are in school. Truth be told, I had a large stack of filing, and when you have 103 staff members and 500 students that need you, it just doesn’t seem right to file while they are all there.
As I often do, I called one of my colleagues on my way to work and we began talking about our district’s implementation of the new Massachusetts teacher evaluation system. Our discussion weaved in and out of the logistics for the staff meetings we would be having, what we would present, and how we’d present it. We also talked about our own work, our new principal evaluation system, and then we began talking about SMART goals. The conversation turned out to be very rich and extremely helpful to me.
In the end, prior to hanging up, our conversation took a turn that I didn’t expect. That being said, the conversation reminded me about my work and why we’re really here. It reminded me about my mission and vision and what I stand for in regards to my work. It wouldn’t matter whether I was in Maine, Massachusetts, or California. My mission is always to help students achieve high levels of learning in a safe and productive environment where everyone collaborates. My vision is that all students get across their own personal “finish line” because they have gotten what they need, and that they make academic and social gains. Although I am always true to my mission and vision, I was reminded yesterday about my work and what I need to hold steady on: It is always about students. It is always about providing them with a great education. Kids need us and their parents depend on us to do this important work. That work does not happen in isolation, and it does not happen without coordination. It requires coherence.
I cannot fulfill my mission and vision for students without coherence. My school cannot achieve its mission and vision without coherence either. That means really looking at our work and seeing how everything is interdependent and interconnected. The intersecting point always leads back to one thing: Student learning. It is always and should always be about students.
New educator evaluation processes, data teams, RTI, and professional learning communities. You may be asking, “What do they all have in common?” besides being talked about in education all the time. Each of those systems working with one another in a coherent way is focused on improving outcomes for students. Coherence, and having a vision and mission, help bring those initiatives together to form systems where teachers and administrators improve their practice, students get what they need, there is continuous inspection of practice and help is always available for those students that need a challenge and for those that need extra support.
It is my job as s leader to help staff see that coherence, and to realize that each one of those initiatives does relate to one another. In the end, students and their learning are the reason why we are really here. That focus, and having coherence within the work, will surely bring us closer to realizing excellence in education for all of our students.