As I welcomed my staff back two weeks ago I wanted to craft and deliver a meaningful message that would hopefully resonate with them throughout the school year. So I stepped out of my comfort zone (as a science teacher I tend to be very concrete sequential and analytical) and developed an acronym focused on the word "desire". Here is a quick summary:
Development: As educators we must always model life-long learning for our students and continually pursue avenues for growth. I remember during my time at the Google Academy for Administrators hearing the term "lead learner" for the very first time. How can we expect our students to embrace this concept if we do not? In addition to a District PLC initiative, my administrative team and I worked over the summer to reduce non-instructional duties so that the majority of the staff would have time embedded into the day to pursue a variety of growth opportunities, including those associated with a Personal Learning Network (PLN). You can read more about this initiative HERE.
Energy: "To teach is to touch a life forever" - Anonymous As educators we must exhibit a passion for what we do because each day we have the opportunity to positively impact the life of a child. It's our energy and passion that convey to students that learning is fun, possible, and important. If we lack the energy to instruct each and every learner to the best of our ability day in and day out we might possibly lose one of the most precious gifts in our profession.....helping all of our students accomplish and exceed their goals.
Solutions: Change, increasing student achievement, and getting better is hard work. Educators must diligently strive to eliminate the excuses, collaborate, and respect one another. With this in mind, a culture will be established that seeks to find solutions as opposed to focusing on just problems.
Innovation: Abiding by the status quo is not an option. We must continually reflect upon our pedagogical techniques to cover the curriculum in a way that enables our students to develop critical thinking skills, foster problem solving techniques, work collaboratively, build technological/media fluencies, and make interdisciplinary connections. Innovation also requires us to integrate 21st Century tools into our instruction, take calculated risks, and relinquish control at times.
Resolve: "His resolve is not to seem, but to be the best" - Aeschylus It is imperative that we continuously exhibit resolve in our quest to provide our students with essential skills to be successful in college or the workforce. A collective mindset on becoming and being the best educator possible must always be our goal.
Environment: Learning environments must be transformed in a way that best meets the needs of our learners. They should be student-centered, integrate technology, flexible, allow for creativity, support higher-order thinking, and celebrate student accomplishments. I even discussed the push to move away from traditional seating arrangements in order to promote collaboration.
I asked my staff and now ask you the same, do you have the desire to:
- go above and beyond to ensure that all students succeed?
- model life-long learning?
- collaborate with peers, share resources, and be pillars of support when needed?
- take calculated risks without the fear of failure?
- share student and personal accomplishments?
- create a student-centered, rigorous, and relevant learning environment?
- extend yourself outside of the classroom and in the community?
Note: All teachers received this acronym on poster board for display in their classrooms. It has also been placed on the walls in offices.