Sunday, August 26, 2012

Building Students is a lot Like Building a School Building

This post is several days in the making and has been spurred on by items I have read, things I have observed, and thoughts I have thunk as the scarecrow might say.  It really all began with an email from our Director of Professional Development, Jennifer Felke (@jenfelke) commending our staff for a great second week of work at the School of Inquiry.  It got me thinking about what a great week it was, despite some challenges that are simply part of starting something new.  It also prompted me to let my staff know what I had observed this week and what a great job I thought they had been doing and how fortunate I feel to work with such an awesome team.  In the midst of that message, I began to think about a video I had taken earlier in the week of construction continuing on our permanent building. It lead me to write this:
In some ways this year is going to be like watching our new home being built.  There will be times when we see incredible changes in a few short days-in 1 week we have gone from an empty shell with an elevator shaft (image above) started to the video I shot Thursday ( today having the atrium cut out and steel being put over the first floor (I was getting looks from the construction guys so no picture or video unfortunately but I will get one tomorrow)-to times when it will seem as if nothing much is being done to move the ball forward that is visible, but incredible work will be getting done in ways we don't see-putting in electrical and floor boxes, wiring for technology, creating the HVAC and other mechanical areas-that are just as important as the flashy stuff we can ew (sp?) and ah over.  
Saturday morning I read this post by Cale Birk via Connected Principals.  In it he speaks of the flow zone.  That place where new challenges are at the appropriate level of challenge.  Where learners are supported as they reach beyond what they think they can do and go further than they had ever dreamed.  It is the place where tasks are not easy, but are not overwhelming.  Finding this flow zone for our students, at all the various levels of expertise they have, will be one of our greatest challenges.  For me with my staff it means giving them the confidence to leave the site of the shore, without knowing the terror of being lost at sea.  It means not simply being the head cheerleader, but also asking tough questions about our practice and being able to guide us as a group to answers to those questions.

Final Thoughts:

Whenever you begin to try something new  you are going to have those  moments of sure bliss, when everything is working and all seems right with the world.  Those moments when you say, "why I have I not been doing this all along".  You are also going to have those moments when you want to say, "why did I ever agree to try this.  What was I thinking!"  With either comment, I want my staff, and myself to focus on what is working, what needs improving, and most importantly to not lose sight of our ultimate goal, creating a great learning environment for students to excel in.

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