Thursday, July 25, 2013

If we are not busy being born, we are busy dying.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, if we are not busy being born, we are busy dying.  Today I start blogging for the first time, and I believe part of the reason is that I hope I am being born every day by discovering new and wondrous things in life.

I started on this blogging journey at the encouragement mostly of my daughter and as part of my journey into the world of Twitter since last fall.  As a high school principal, I had been seeking an opportunity to better communicate with my learning community as well as connect positively to the greater community I serve and so I established a school Twitter and Facebook presence.  I was truly amazed how quickly our friends and followers embraced us and I truly enjoyed in particular recognizing our students and families through real time photos and their participation in athletic events, plays, concerts etc.

These tweets and posts led me to wanting to establish my own personal learning network and so I entered the world of Twitter.  I did not know what to expect but admit that Twitter is one of the best professional development choices I have made.  I truly love it for all of the reasons many of you do, and I also believe it has made me a better principal.  In the end, I do not believe that as principals we can continue to ask staff to move forward in technology and face the changes in accountability if we are not willing to do the same ourselves.

And so, now why start a blog?

1. I believe very strongly that principals and educators need to lead with empathy and enthusiasm for learning and for life.  We need to be the harbingers of ongoing hope and optimism.  After reading many tweets, blogs, and articles, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of research and writing that clearly puts the burden for educational success and student achievement on us.  By blogging I hope to find a deeper connection with exemplary educators and gain exposure to your ideas and insights in leading.

2. Yesterday my daughter, also an educator and a National Writing Project consultant, helped me set up this blog.  She is a blogger and I have been mesmerized by her writing, her insights and the connections she has made with other educators.  After spending the morning with her about setting up this blog, I saw in her eyes all that is best about young educators today--bright and deeply committed to changing the lives of her ELL students. And I am amazed by her technology skills.  How did she ever learn all this, I ask her.  And she just grins and shakes her head without a answer.  And that is the difference between her generation of educators and mine.  She doesn't know how she learned it because she LIVES it.  I have to LEARN it.  Her whole life is different because she and her husband naturally use technology.  More importantly, she teaches differently and utilizes technology naturally in her classroom to improve her students' achievement, especially in literacy.  This year she taught her students how to blog and connect with the real world through writing and reading blogs in the Slice of Life project.  People from all over the world commented on their writing and reading and the world is their audience.  They grew immensely and I hope to experience what they did.

In the short hours we spent together in learning about blogging, I learned the importance of choosing the right background colors from her (Mom-- I have read that dark backgrounds and light print are more effective for blogs--the colors we chose are the Jerome school colors), widgets (she started losing me here, believe me) and the importance of choosing the right name for my blog. (Mom-- the name of your blog should reflect what you really believe about education or why you are blogging, but it can't be so long).  This led to a philosophical discussion with her on my core beliefs of education-- it was truly meaningful to be able to discuss this with her from one generation of an educator to another and from mom to daughter.

My title-- Every Student, Every Day is from my heart and reflects what I believe education, especially high school education, is and should be.  We work every day at getting better at this at Jerome, for it depends on every person in our building, secretary, custodian, teacher, administrator, and/or counselor to focus on changing the life of an individual student every day in some way, making a substantial personal connection.  Yes, our focus is academics but changing lives is our business, for the decisions we make daily and the decisions we help students make truly can and do affect the people they become and the learners they become after high school.  And the world needs good people and good learners.

3. I hope to blog to have my colleagues and other educators, perhaps even my students and parents, get to know me better.  Relationships are so important in education today and we can better build trust when we all know each other better.

4. I also hope to be a resource for other high school principals, particularly in collaboratively and interdependently working and sharing with them our ideas in Professional Learning Community work.  I have been significantly impacted by hearing Rick DuFour early in my admin career as an assistant principal and knew after that first meeting at the Franklin County ESC Principal Academy that PLC work is the work that high schools needed to be doing.  Having been a high school admin for 14 years now and principal now for 8 years in a new high school (this year we celebrate our 10th anniversary), PLC work has become my passion and guiding light in improving and creating a high school committed to student learning every day.  I am eager to learn from each of you who also have this same passion.

And so, I end my very first blog post.  I will be interested in what my daughter thinks (Mom-- it may be a little long :)) and I am interested in what you think.  I know that learning is living and that living is learning.  I strive to be born every day in learning. I know that every day as a high school principal and a high school educator is a challenge but one worth taking, for it is these wonderful students and colleagues that change my life for the better every day.  I also know that I hope to get better every day, and with your help, ideas, input and feedback, I hope to achieve that goal, as a person and as a principal.

With Celtic Pride,