Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Using a Framework to Look Toward the New Year

Alas, another year has come and gone and it has done so very quickly I might add. So far this year, I have been a graduate student, an administrative intern, an adjunct professor at local university, a teacher on special assignment as an administrator, and an assistant principal in a district that I have loved for fourteen years, and finally I became the principal of a UPK program as well as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in a new district altogether. As one year ends and a new one begins most of us find ourselves thinking of new goals and ways in which we can identify and implement them. Whether these goals be personal or professional, or a combination of both, establishing goals and effective ways in which to reach them within a set time frame requires a great deal of personal reflection and strategic planning.

Reflection is hard work because it requires us to really look honestly and deeply at ourselves and our practices. Many do it when they have a minute or when they exercise, take a walk, mow the lawn, etc. One of things I like best about being a writer at heart and my connection to the web 2.0 world is that it has helped me to reflect in a much more powerful and lasting way-- in writing. I did weekly as a classroom teacher and I still do it weekly as an adminstrator. Sometimes it's not easy to find the time, but the professional growth I experience as a result is well worth it.

When we reflect, we must examine our personal strengths and weaknesses as well as things that we have accomplished and done well and things that we know or wish we could have done better, while all the while keeping in mind what is at the heart of all we do as educators and educational leaders, the students we serve. The number of students we directly affect varies according to our particular assignments, but the important thing to remember is that the social, emotional, and academic growth of our students is at the heart of all that we do. That being said, the first questions we should be asking ourselves when we reflect on the year that has passed are: How well did I serve my students? How do I know I was successful at serving them? What data can I reference to show that I have done my job well and have helped students to grow?

Other questions I'm considering in my dual roles are: How effective am I as a leader? How well am I supporting teachers and encouraging them to grow in their practices? In what ways am I modeling for teachers the practices and habits I feel support student achievement? What kind of data can I reference to prove my effectiveness?

Heavy stuff, huh? As I said, reflection is hard work because it requires us to be honest with ourselves. I'm going to start here, with these questions, and from there, identify some areas of improvement for the coming year. I will use a SMART goal format and document it all so that I can reflect on my progress at identified intervals throughout the year. In the best interest of the students and teachers I serve, I hope this is a successful year for all of us!

Happy New Year to you and yours! May you, too, find time to reflect on the passing year and have a happy, healthy, and successful 2009.


Adam said...

Nicely said. I love to see these ideas develop.

Linda704 said...

Well done, Kate! (as usual!) As you have probably figured out I'm really big on reflection, and its importance in the development of not only our practices, but ourselves as people. And really, it's a reciprocal relationship, no? I so enjoy our reflecting and sharing on Twitter-amazing what can be said and learned 140 characters at a time!