From Guest blogger Paul McGuire
This time of year, our focus begins to shift to planning for the next school year. Sure there are lots of tasks that need to be accomplished before the end of this year, but we do need to spend time putting plans in place for the what is coming next.
Starting next week, we will start attending sessions to help us to develop our school innovation plan for 2016-2017. There will be increasing pressure on us to adopt new initiatives – some that are being adopted across the school board. I think this is natural, but I have begun to question why do we always want to take on more?
Before we get carried away with these new initiatives, it is important to reflect on what we are doing. I am reading Building School 2.0 by Chris Lehmann and Zac Chase. The book comes at a good time for me. It is full of the things we all need to hear as educators. It is a really interesting read and it challenges many of the things we do in our schools.
Chapter 10 stood out as really important right now – ‘Reflection Means Better, Not More.’
Instead of asking what more we need to be doing next, the more interesting question is ‘How can we be more thoughtful about what we do now?’
We conducted on our assessment at our school in preparation for the planning cycle. As I read through the responses, I saw that many teachers had written about consolidating and improving what we had worked on this year, including the Science Techbook and a home-grown character education program.
As we enter the inevitable planning stage of the year, we must all try to be wary of ‘What more should we be doing’.
Imagine the principal who announces to the faculty at the beginning of the year, “This year, we won’t be adopting any new programs. Instead, we’ll be spending the next months getting better at what we already do.” Imagine the relief of the teachers. They would have the space and mandate not to do more, but to do better. (pg. 25)
We will be obliged to take part in new board-wide initiatives next year which will have some impact on what we do at school. Both of these are mandated and we will have to find a way to incorporate each into the planning process.
What is important to remember is that being reflective on what we are doing is more important than doing more. This is a fundamental component of learning. Somehow, we have to maintain a balance, accept the new, but remember to value and reflect on what we have already learned.
What types of activities do you host with your staff to foster and promote reflection?
For more about this principal special series on Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need, click here.
Paul McGuire is a proud member of the Discovery Education Community and the principal of St. Anthony School in Ottawa, Canada. He also coordinates Compadres y Comadres – a project that links teachers and students in Canada and El Salvador. Learn more about Paul by following him (Twitter or Blog) or his school (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blog).