Successful educational programs require hard work and (occasionally) difficult changes. It can be daunting to keep and sustain the sort of drive needed to make them take hold and become permanent. But, that doesn’t mean you should allow excuses or circumstances to prevent you from trying new initiatives to improve your school. Here, then, are seven common excuses that shouldn’t stop you from starting difficult changes—along with the one reason you should halt any initiative before it gets off the ground.
It’s easy to get caught up in the details and duties of your own division. Faculty meetings, evaluation and coaching, professional development, and perennial "fires" all demand your attention. But when you’re one Division Head of several in a multidivision school, you have to think beyond your own area. You must understand how your particular “cog” turns in the overall “machine” of the school, and how your students’ needs change as they age.
Source readers, we’d like to introduce you to Katie Johnson. By day, she’s an art director from Austin, Texas. By night, she’s the founder and CEO of the Monster Project. Her organization fosters imaginative play by sending student-created drawings of monsters to professional designers all over the world. These designers then create their own versions of the students’ prototypes and return them to the schools, so students can see how their monsters—and their own creativity—can “grow up.”
Report cards: One of the few things that parents are guaranteed to read. It’s a unique opportunity for your teachers to communicate—clearly and authentically—with both students and families. This semester, evaluate your students with more than a letter grade or a percentage; it’s time for teachers to tell families what they really need to know.
Have you heard about the “Common Core check”? If you missed it, here’s the summary: A father became frustrated by some new methods of teaching math which rendered him unable to help his second-grader with assigned homework. To mock the new teaching system, he wrote a check using the new teaching methods to protest what he saw as “change for the sake of change.” His photo of the check went viral, being shared across social media and news outlets, as a symbol of the new curriculum that many other parents found mysterious and confusing.
It happens to every Division Head at some point. A father flags you down in the parking lot for a “quick chat,” or leaves you a voicemail on your office machine, or shoots you an email with his child’s name in the subject line. Within moments of the interaction, it becomes obvious that the parent needs to vent about his child—and he expects you to do something about it—immediately. How do you handle this?
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