The following piece is cross posted on the Willis PLC Blog — written as an end of quarter message to our teaching staff.
There is a student who approaches me, almost daily, with a complaint. It’s never anything of much substance…I suspect it is usually just an excuse to visit. Lately, I have been telling the student that I am fine listening to the complaints, but I also want to hear at least one positive comment during each of our conversations. It has become a game, but one that is forcing a bit of reflection on the positive.
I believe it is human nature to allow our focus to drift toward the challenges and frustrations in our lives. I also believe it is a more significant struggle for educators because we are problem solvers…and in order to solve problems, you have to spend a lot of time in the “muck and mire”, so to speak. When the problems become too complex, too many in number, or too emotional…stress levels rise and our ability to be optimistic becomes overwhelmed. I know, because it happens to me more often than I care to admit.
So as we wrap-up a quarter that I know has been very taxing, I want to challenge you to spend a few minutes celebrating the positives…the things that have gone right. Each one of you have accomplished a great deal this quarter, and as I mentioned at the beginning of the school year…you make a difference! Don’t fall into the trap of equating success with perfection — it is far to easy to follow examples of progress with a “but” — but, it needs improvement…but, it isn’t working quite right…but, it would be better if…, etc. A vigilant eye toward improvement is a hallmark of successful people/organizations, but be sure you take time to consider progress and celebrate success as the opportunities arise.
I am confident that each and every one of you have had a hand in many of the following first quarter “wins.” Be proud of what you have accomplished!
- Implementation of a Connections class to help foster effective relationships
- Better understanding of the new evaluation instrument adopted by the district
- Social studies teachers teaching language arts standards
- More students smiling and saying hello
- A great group of new staff members who have jumped right in as advocates for our students
- Integration of technology tools to improve student learning
- Patience…with students, colleagues, administration and district
- Teachers changing grade levels, or curriculum, and meeting the challenge with passion and intensity
- Organized opportunities for our students to interact with students from a feeder elementary school
- A willingness to learn and try new things
- A new-found ability to send and read e-mail in Outlook
- Initiation of an after-school homework program that has consistently drawn large numbers of students
- As always, a tremendous display of musical talents during this quarters performances at CCA
- Participation in collaborative learning opportunities and discussions with colleagues
- Surviving a fire alarm in the middle of a rainstorm
- Encouraging creativity in classrooms
- A great response to Ambassador’s Club, and a successful first dance
- Coaches helping kids on the field, but also providing mentoring related to classroom efforts
- Teaching teams successfully integrating curriculum
- Staff members taking time to visit with kids in the cafeteria during their lunch
- Working with some of our most challenging students, making headway, and smiling in the process
- Changes to campus policies that have been met with a very positive student response (i.e. hats and lunch-time restrictions)
- An increased number of students taking risks to do the right thing
- Combined efforts to improve the physical environment and cleanliness at Willis
- Overflow crowds at Culinary Club meetings
- Nine students on the Millionaire’s Club list for reading over a million words
- Athletic teams that have worked hard and been positive representatives of Willis
- An improving understanding of a new student management system
- A willingness, and ability, to deal with change (even when it isn’t fun)
- …the list could obviously go on and on
Wow! Please understand that NONE of this happens if not for your commitment and dedication to our students. Willis staff members are a very special group. Thank you for towing the line.