Friday, August 2, 2013

A Mile Wide & An Inch Deep

Since I can remember I have always pushed myself to be perfect.  Growing up the son of a golf professional I often would walk across the street and proceed to chip & putt until it was dark out.  Deep down I knew that nobody's perfect, but I still chased it.  I was the consummate goal setter, I would have short term goals and long term goals.  I was driven to grow, improve and strive for perfection.  

Along the way I realized how ridiculous perfection was.  Some of my best memories are from how I have dealt with circumstances that have gone awry.  I'm not saying we shouldn't set goals, what I am saying is that we need to set a small number of goals and aim for mastery.

Throughout my time in education I have witnessed the Mile Wide and Inch Deep approach.  I despised this as a teacher, I rarely felt that ALL my students "had" it.  I desperately wanted to slow down and work on the essentials that would benefit them in the now and the future.  I see the same mistake being made in business and in sports.  The Mile Wide and An Inch Deep approach gets lost to administrators and leaders.  As the "Boss" you probably see all the flaws of your company and you want to correct them.  As a "leader" it is likely that you see a problem and want it fixed.  The problem with this mentality is that there will always be flaws and issues.  You cannot attack every issue all the time.  It is better to choose a couple areas that you want to improve on and make them strengths.  

For me it is being a better #EduCoach and being stronger with curriculum support.  There is a part of me that wants to wave the magic wand and make things perfect, but as I was reminded last week by my good friend +Jimmy Casas it's not about the result, it's about the process.  I completely agree.  Pushing to improve and grow is the important aspect.   I can relate it to my training and running the Grand Rapids Marathon a couple years back.  I trained my tail off!  I was logging 40+ miles a week and I was running at 4am many days.  Those quiet hours pounding pavement, alone with my thoughts, that was the process.  When the marathon day arrived it was anti-climatic.  I enjoyed the race (until mile 21, then I hit the proverbial wall).  The result was important, but not nearly as significant as the process.

Goal setting is about the process, my personality will always have me shooting for perfection.  I think the chase for perfection is part of "my" process.  I've reflected on some of my best moments and I've tried to pinpoint common denominators, what helped me be at my best?  In some ways I relate it to the athlete that is, "In the Zone."

So what was the common denominator?  I believe I have it narrowed down...

1) Confidence:  When I have been at my best I have been confident and secure in my surroundings.  I feel knowledgeable about my topic and I understand if I make a mistake it'll be okay.

2) Patience:  Each moment that I've felt at my best I've been surrounded by a strong sense of calmness and patience.  I've felt as though everything around me slows down and the world seems less hectic.

3) A Clear Mind:  Any time that I've felt at my best my mind has been clear and I've been able to concentrate on the task at hand.

4) Feeling a Sense of Mastery:  As I reflect, the sense of mastery has always come when I have felt knowledgeable, confident and prepared.  When I feel prepared for a situation I tend to be on top of things.

This coming year I want depth, deeper learning, critical thinking, creativity and risk taking.  These goals will not be accomplished with a Mile Wide and An Inch Deep approach.  Instead I say, "slow down and master content."  

What truly pushed me into this thinking was a series of events and conversations that occurred each school year.  I can vividly remember teachers sitting around tables and talking about what the students were doing.  

Every single year I would hear a teacher say, "Oh I taught that, they should know how to do that."  OR "We covered that as a class. They did struggle a bit with it, but we covered it."  


These conversations bugged me.  The pressure of covering so many GLCE's made it difficult for teachers to slow down and master anything.  But I'll be, at least everything would be covered (sarcasm)!  NO, this is wrong!  It wastes everyone's time to cover everything and master nothing.  I challenge you to slow down and teach to mastery.

What does all this mean?  My goals for Warner will not be watered down, I aim for mastery over mediocrity.

I have not finalized my goals, but this is my initial thought - 

*  Improve our RTI system.  My hope is for an improved organizational system and more effectively meeting student needs.

*  Develop a common language with staff & students of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Leader in Me).

*  Increase collaboration and communication.  With the CCSS shift it is essential to work together and "open our doors".

*  Provide and Engage in meaningful PD.  As we transition to Standard Based Grading, integrate technology throughout the elementary and immerse ourselves in the CCSS it will be vital that everyone feels knowledgeable, prepared and confident in what they are doing.

These goals will help us continue to move forward and keep us focused.  I still view Our Vision as the main goal.
We must continue to be student-centered, caring, compassionate and engaging.  This mentality will foster Life Long Learners!

This week's big questions:  As you begin to formulate your goals, will you be honest about your areas of growth?  Will you be bound and determined to get through the entire book? OR Will you set your sights on student mastery?  Ultimately, will your goals push you to improve?

We are one month away from the greatest time of the year!  


Keeping You Informed:

*  RTI position recommendations have been submitted.  The recommendations do not become official until the Board takes action.

*  We have a delay in classroom iPad pickups.  Mike MacGuinness will be contacting you with more information.

*  The building is really taking shape!  Our new custodians are doing a nice job and the painting is phenomenal!  Huge thank you to our dedicated painters and workers.  I'm so impressed with the family atmosphere, we are truly a team!

*  August 15th is Jackson EdTech Kickoff at Baker College please go to the site and register.  I'm confident you'll find the day very fulfilling.  The cost is $10, and I will make sure you are reimbursed.  I'm hoping our Warner turnout is very strong!

*  August 27th will be our Warner Open House Night.  I will notify everyone with times in the next couple weeks.

*  To date we have 13 staff changes at Warner.  This is a lot, some of the changes are small and others are big.  I believe it is crucial to get together before school starts and have a staff social.  We are a family and we need to welcome all of our new faces.  More information will be coming soon.  (If you have thoughts or suggestions please email or call me.)

*  Our new Custodial Crew is doing a terrific job!  I've been extremely pleased with Steve and Jewel.  I think you will be pleasantly pleased.



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