…how do we as leaders reflect at the end of a day?

My colleague Jeff Nelson retweeted the following tweet from Jason Kennedy a couple of weeks ago:

Upon reading Jeff’s tweet and subsequent blog post, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my two end of the day questions would be! Jeff encouraged our entire Teaching, Learning, and Innovation team to contemplate this, as well.

We give students exit tickets all throughout the day and we know the power of allowing learners the time to reflect from time to time. Why should we be any different?

We met up yesterday as a team and I asked everyone to share their two end of the day questions. POWERFUL ideas were shared! The best part? They showed the passion our team collectively has regarding our roles and the staff and students we serve.

We are making a commitment as a team to individually reflect upon our chosen questions at the end of each day. I can’t wait to check in at some point down the road and reflect together on how this has shaped, encouraged, prodded, inspired, and directed us.

Here are our collective end of the day questions:

Elaine | Director of TLI
“How did I make someone’s day better?”
“Did the time spent today match my why?”

Jenn | Instructional Facilitator, Math & Science
“What have I done to support?”
“What have I done to inspire?”

Kevin | Director of Instructional Technology
“What did I do well today?”
“How do I need to build capacity?”

Jeff | Assistant Superintendent, TLI
“What did I do today to encourage and inspire educator learning?”
“What did I do today to support students?”

Keith | Instructional Facilitator Instructional Technology
“How did I support teachers in being more effective or solve problems with tech today?”
“What is something new I learned today that I can use to support teachers int he purposeful integration of ed tech?”

Marlyne | Director Career and College Readiness K-12
“How was I present?”
“What did I do to encourage?”

Lindsay | Director Curriculum and Instruction
“What did you do to inspire an educator today?”
“What did you do to cultivate a relationship today?”

Natalie | Administrative Assistant
“Did I get everything done on my to do list?”
“What’s the priority for tomorrow?”

Diana | Administrative Assistant
“What was the best thing you did today?”
“What is something that you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?”

Join us! What will your two questions be?

…what brings you hope?

Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit) has a powerful new podcast, Human Hope, and he ends each week by asking his guest the following question:

I asked my TLI (Teaching Learning & Innovation) teammates the same question this morning and you’ll find our collective replies below:

  • Who we are! We never stopped looking ahead while living in the immediate.
  • The structures we have put in place will serve us well as we continue to be about our work in September!
  • THIS TEAM! Our cabinet, our building leaders, our teachers. The professional conversations we have that hold each other accountable and challenge each other as we work to do EVERY dang thing we can to give our students everything they need and deserve.
  • The puzzle pieces coming together to strengthen how Since Time Immemorial curriculum taught throughout the district.
  • Our new Equity and Inclusion position and the amazing person who choose to join our Fife team!
  • To not get hung up in all of the details always, but to remember that we are going to make it!
  • The power of the team. The strength of each individual within the team is only made stronger by the team itself. The confidence and inspiration that each team member brings me. The teamwork I see all throughout the district is phenomenal. Collaboration is alive and thriving all throughout the district.

Such a simple question to ask; such an important answer to consider.

What currently is giving you hope?

…seeing students and teachers together brings me joy!

“Can you believe we get to be here?!”
– third grade student spontaneously to me when I visited his hybrid classroom

One of the MOST favorite parts of my job is grabbing my camera and capturing, via my lens, the magic that our teachers create for our students. Yesterday was a red letter day – the first time I walked into classrooms, camera attached, since mid-March.

It’s so great seeing students back in buildings, safely learning, alongside their peers and teachers. We began welcoming our youngest learners back two weeks ago and our secondary students are up next!

When I dropped into a 3rd grade classroom, a student met my eyes and EXCLAIMED, “Can you believe we get to be here?!” Oh my. Tears in eyes I said, “We’re so glad you are!”

I heard giggles, saw readers, watched a math lesson, saw students create, experienced teachers and students building culture and routines, and could see the smiles hidden under the masks through the sparkling eyes.

There’s just no replacing the magic that happens when teachers and learners gather together in person. It was a glorious site to behold!!

Click here to take a peek if you are interested in seeing more of the pics I snapped yesterday. They are posted on our district Facebook page.

…what’s your word?

This afternoon we wrapped up our first-ever Virtual District Leadership Retreat. The retreat planning team did our best to design a time that was worthy of their time. A time that would guide, inspire, and allow us to roll up our sleeves and get a bit dirty in the muck of ever-shifting waters. School district leaders are currently faced with unprecedented decisions while doing their best to navigate a clear pathway for the staff, students, and families they serve. It’s no surprise to me that our district and building leaders showed up in big ways over our three days together. Rock stars. Each and every one of them.

At the end of our time today, I asked each participant to think of a word. One word that they could lean on when things are messy or difficult. One word that would remind them to keep going as they continue to be innovative and courageous leaders during a pandemic. One word that would keep their focus on what matters. One word.

Here are our collective thoughts:

What’s your word for the year ahead?

…teamwork makes the dream work!

Team member Kevin Johnson shares a photo from his early years of teaching at Surprise Lake Middle School.
(not pictured is our teammate Natalie who was traveling today)

Pardon me while I take a moment to reflect on something I’m ever so thankful for – my work colleagues. Jeff Nelson and I have the immense privilege of leading our district’s Teaching, Learning, and Innovation team – and what a team it is! We have big dreams for the students and staff of Fife Public Schools and together we create the capacity needed.

Today we met simply to check-in on each other, to take a short pause in our work, to lean in and learn something new about one another. Prior to the meeting, team members were asked to bring an item from their home to our Zoom meeting. Something that represented a story or time in our lives that we may not have shared with one another before. It was magical and fun!

What was shared? A photo from the early days teaching in a building soon to be demolished, a concert t-shirt worn by a dad and then year’s later by his son while attending the same band’s show with the dad, a bag of St. Helens’ ash grabbed on THE day of the eruption, a Bible belonging to a great grandmother given to her by her circuit rider son, a wedding veil w/ patches from a mom and grandma sewn in, a player-piano roll shared in front of a restored vintage piano, an original watercolor painted by a great grandfather, and a grandmother’s cookbook w/ a favorite peanut butter fudge recipe.

Each of these “things” has helped to create a piece of our individual stories. Together, each one of us makes up the Fife Public School Teaching Learning & Innovation team. A team committed to providing equitable learning experiences for ALL students!

Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.

John C Maxwell

Jeff and I have BIG DREAMS for our district. So grateful for this team we get to work with. Wouldn’t want to work to make the dreams become reality with anyone else!

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