Friday, July 31, 2015

Presume the Best

I recently finished Dr. Richard DuFour's latest book, In Praise of American Educators: And How they Can Become Even Better.  To say that I was inspired is an understatement.  The book is a masterful blend of research and encouragement for everyone in education to do better on behalf of students; on behalf of all students.

One of the portions that has stuck with me while reflecting on this work and how I can bring it to Montpelier Public Schools, was the following:

"There is no evidence that teachers are withholding their best instructional strategies.  I am unaware of any teacher who is thinking 'I know how to teach this concept really well, but I'm not getting paid enough to use my good instructional strategies.  I'll just use my mediocre ones instead.' "

As educational leaders, when we think about ways to improve outcomes for all students, we must start from that place.  We must start from the notion that everyone who serves students in any way is doing absolutely the best they can.  Teachers are professionals, educating and serving students in ways that were not envisioned hundreds of years ago when public schools were created.

If we begin our thinking coming from the place of everyone is doing their very best, then envisioning ways to improve professional practice for better student outcomes for all students seems reasonable and manageable.  Presuming the best builds trust and provides the foundation to makes changes possible.  And let's face it, presuming the best is a way to maintain and improve relationships with the people who choose to educate and serve our students.

Wouldn't we want the same presumption made of us?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Today I Got a Flower From My Son

Today I got a flower from my son.

The flower didn't look like these - it felt like these.  

No reason, I was just getting ready to go to work and he came in from gardening with My Bride and said, "Here Daddy, this is for you."  In that beautiful, simple gesture, my son Brendan made my day.  It's the simple things really that make a difference in our lives.

When I logged into this blog this morning, it reminded me that I have not posted since January 2014 and that feels like a long time.  It is a long time.

I want to get better at blogging and make a commitment to post more regularly.  I am sometimes overwhelmed and feel as though I need to have something "big" to say, in order to blog.  Then I read someone like Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp) or George Couros (@gcouros) and realize that it doesn't always have to be big.  Don't get me wrong - I think that both Pernille and George are some of the biggest thinkers in education today and I am inspired by the work on a daily basis.  And often, when I am inspired by them, or by others, it is not because of the size of the idea - it is because of the simplicity of the idea.

So I am making a commitment to blogging.  I am making a commitment to sharing my ideas on a more regular basis not matter how big or how small they feel.  Because when I got a flower from my son, this is how I felt:

Coincidentally, this is Our Brendan who gave me the flower.

I may need a nudge, reminder, or shove to keep doing it.  I will rely on all of you to help me.  

Today, I got a flower from my son.