“All In” – Message for a New Year

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Another year is upon us and I couldn’t be more excited for our students to return.  This week with our teachers has been filled with positive energy and good spirits.  This promises to be an amazing school year.

I rolled out the following unofficial motto for our staff for this year – Feedback, Support and Growth.  My question to my staff is “What do you want to do and what do you need from us to make that happen?”.  Our focus needs to be on the learning and teaching in the classroom above all else.  Teachers’ roles are to make students’ lives better.  Those of us in support positions are here to help make our teachers’ lives better so that they can make students’ lives better.

I also brought up some “What if” questions based on my summer reading and my interactions on Twitter.  Questions that I feel that if answered the right way, can take our school from very good to great.  These questions are not mandates.  However, just imagine the type of school we would have if we could make each of these a reality:

  • What if” – every teacher presented their best lesson on the first day of school and waited until the second day to discuss the rules?
  • “What if” – every teacher called the parents of each of their students within the first two weeks to say something positive about them?
  • What if” – each of us started simply each day by greeting each other with a smile and by saying “Good Morning”?
  • “What if” – every teacher identified areas where they wanted to grow and worked with an administrator or coach to improve in these areas?
  • “What if” – every student had the opportunity to direct a portion of their learning?
  • “What if” – every teacher used technology in the classroom to allow students the opportunity to create rather than consume?

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Finally, our official motto this year is “All In”.  When you play Texas Hold-Em Poker, there is a bet called “All In”.  There are many ways that this bet can be used.  It can be because you only have a small stack of chips left and you are desperate.  You might also use it to try to convince your opponents that you have a great hand when you don’t.  Finally, you can use this bet when you have confidence that you have the absolute best hand.  I truly believe that we have the best staff and that we are going to do amazing things together this year.  Please know that I am “All In” on each of you.  I want you to try new things without fear and with all of the feedback and support that you need to be successful.  Each staff member will receive a poker chip like the one above.  By accepting this chip, we are creating a bond that I am “All In” with you and that you will be “All In” with me and with each other.  This means that we uplift each other, only speak positively about our profession and each other, and agree to constantly learn, collaborate and try new things.  So please join me this year.  Let’s be “All In” with each other.  Make this the best year ever!

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