EXCUSES CANNOT EXIST WHEN CHOOSING EXCELLENCE #SAVMP

      One of the most dangerous things to happen to any educator, at any level, is complacency.  Complacency is dangerous in any walk of life.  Complacency is usually a feeling that you have when you already achieved enough and do not need to work hard anymore. Complacency usually means you are in your comfort zone. I feel your comfort zone can be your biggest enemy.  My college basketball coach used to say one of the most important ingredients to success is your ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable.  I am so grateful that my coaches and parents challenged me to step outside my comfort zone because I believe it allowed me to reap many benefits.  Their constant push challenged me to work harder, and more importantly it inspired me to eventually push my students in the classroom, athletes on the court, and currently my teachers at Central.  However, I must admit it has been one of the most difficult parts of my job as a principal.  For me it was easy to step outside my comfort zone because I wanted to be the best, and I also watched my two older brothers reach their goals by working hard and overcoming adversity. I never wanted regrets, but it has been much more difficult inspiring others to choose the road that requires us to work harder, the road that might make us uncomfortable, and the road that might cause us to even fail.   But, inspiring my teachers to “Choose Excellence”  instead of settling for mediocrity has been a priority.      

 “Temporary discomfort leads to permanent improvement”

       Based on my staff’s knowledge in the implementation of CCSS, I will need to become the kind of “coach” who challenges them to step away from their comfort zone.  Change is needed to grow as educators so our students have a high quality education.  However, it will be my job to offer support for my staff as they embrace these needed changes.  For our professional development, I make sure that our staff meetings are focused on how we can ensure student learning.  The staff meetings where the principal gives information that can be handle electronically will no longer happen.  This was very different for them.   Many questions that have been asked make me realize change is difficult.  One of the most common questions that I have been asked; Why are the staff meetings like mini School Improvement Days? No longer is the principal just a manager, but they also must be an instructional leader.  Many of the staff wanted to know why I am giving little assignments to them and I had to explain the importance of reflection for continuous improvement.  These questions made me realize sometimes the expectations teachers have of their students are not the same they have for themselves.  We must raise the bar if we want our students to raise the bar.    

 “If we do always do what we always done, we will get what we have always got”

       As a former coach and teacher, one of the statements I said quite often was, “No More Excuses”.  Throughout my career as a teacher and coach, I knew the excuses I made distracted me from my goals and success.  Excuses do not move us forward, but rather encourage complacency. Although it is easy to make excuses in education today, they still do not move us in the direction we need to go. Here, at Central excuses were quite evident, and I knew I had to make a strong statement that “we are done making excuses”.  We want to model for our students that it takes perseverance and determination to become successful.  If we are constantly making excuses, we will teach our students to make excuses.  Our teachers at Central will work hard to have a No Excuse Mentality. We will focus on the process and results not the excuses that get in our way.  Our students deserve educators that are willing to step outside their comfort zone to create a learning environment that is engaging and ensures student learning. 

 We still have a lot of work to do, but together we can accomplish great things!  I encourage all my staff to become connected educators by using Twitter.  I owe my improvement as an educator and now a leader to my PLN.  My PLN inspires me to stay the course!  Every day I  get on twitter, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be an educator! 

“Problems don’t exist. Challenges do. Take pride in finding the solution.

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Central Staff and Students Choosing Excellence During the Week 1 #SAVMP

Although my job changed from teacher/coach to elementary principal, my responsibility to motivate others to reach excellence remained the same.  Our first staff meeting  started with some of my favorite educational quotes, and Rita Pierson’s powerful message, “that every kid deserves a champion.” I wanted my staff to realize that building relationships will be critical to our success as a school.  Every day we will strive to connect with our students through our positive interactions,  meaningful curriculum, and parent communication.  

After the motivational video, we, then, had a discussion on what it means to be a professional. We discussed the role our professional dress plays in creating an environment that displays excellence.  As the principal of Central Intermediate, I believe everything we do, and everything we model is important. For this reason, I asked my teachers to model excellence in their attire.  After a discussion, the staff agreed to raise their level of dress and thus far have done a wonderful job.  

We ended the meeting watching, Dalton’s Sherman’s, keynote speech, on the importance of believing in every student.  His speech reminded all of us that if we ever want students to reach their potential, we must believe in them.  At Central we will take pride in having a growth mindset, a mindset that truly believes that every student can succeed.  Dalton’s Sherman brought tears to our eyes as he encouraged us never to give  up on the students because sometimes teachers are all they have. “You are the ones who feed us, who wipe our tears, who hold our hand, who hug us, and love us when it feels like no one else does” (Sherman 2008).  At one time in our teaching career, we have witnessed what Dalton says.  To show our students we believe in them, we will raise the bar for all our students, and do whatever it takes to help them reach success.  

The tone had been set for the 2013-2014 school year, and the teachers were ready to inspire our students to Choose Excellence.  On the first day of student attendance, the students rotated through stations to learn behavior expectations of PBIS.  Students were engaged and modeled the appropriate behavior all week.  We went through the student handbook using multimedia and an interactive discussion.  Students were encouraged to reach excellence through a positive attitude, a strong commitment, and a great effort.  So far the students of Central are showing they are making the choice to CHOOSE EXCELLENCE EVERY DAY!  

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Central Students at Morning Assembly

If the first week is an indicator of how the year goes, we are going to have an outstanding year!