Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Teachers Are Back!

In early August, my non-educator acquaintances always ask me, “So when does school start?” What they really mean is, "When do the students start school?" But my mind is on other people. I'm likely to respond, “We’ve already started! The teachers come tomorrow!” or “We’re in session. The teachers are back!”


Administrators’ school year starts four weeks before the kids arrive. The first three weeks we are attending numerous meetings, including sessions about our own professional development, updates from departments, review of district goals, and school leaders'  marching orders.


In between all those meetings, I’m working with teacher leaders on our building-wide instructional programs, the master schedule, interventions, and teachers’ professional development. My assistant principal and secretary and I spend considerable time examining and updating our Staff Handbook, and I continue to interview applicants for any remaining vacancies.


Then we have one week with teachers before the kids come. We have two full days of building in-service, another two days in district content meetings and at district-wide convocation, and a full day of classroom preparation. 


All leadership personnel in my building know very well that the success of our school rests on how well we can support our teachers. They are the ones who make the greatest difference for our students. So our attention is on them, not on the kids, as we start the school year.


This year, we are starting our school year with 10 new teachers, three of which are new to the profession. Six of our new hires attended five days of Basic BIST Training to learn about our school-wide system for working with difficult students. Several returning teachers spent inordinate amounts of their own time helping new staff prepare for their classrooms and students. 




At our opening meeting, one of our new teachers remarked, “Wow! A whole breakfast. We always only got donuts.” Donuts are not enough for our super stars. We cook scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage to accompany our pastries on opening day.



This was the best start of school year we have ever had. Our building structures are tighter than ever. Our returning teachers are more prepared and/or have gained more expertise. We leaders are more focused and are trying to roll out all programs and initiatives, including our building-wide discipline system, in smaller chunks of implementation, with facilitation and teaching.


I would put my teaching staff (and my leadership staff) up against any workforce in any school building in the nation. They just rock!


They rock our school theme and motivational structures – Houses!

They rock their grade level team tasks!

They rock our discipline system and our student support system!

They rock Unit Planning and Daily Planning!

They rock Family Advocacy!

They rock supporting one another!

They rock their bulletin boards!

They rock their grade book system!

They rock how they take care of kids!

They rock our interventions – academic and behavioral!

They rock our building literacy initiative!

They rock collaboration!

They rock instruction!


They are celebrities. They deserve red carpet treatment.


They even rock their own humility. It doesn’t matter how often we tell them how great they are, they never rest on their laurels. They just pick up the next task or focus . . .


and they rock that, too!


School may begin. The teachers are back!

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