As I move into the new school year and reflect on my last few years as a principal there are so many things running through my mind. I’m preparing staff for what the upcoming year will look like while trying to ensure I welcome everyone, remember all and ease people back into school with a happy transition. We all know change is coming it’s inevitable right? No two years look alike.
I can’t help but wonder this year, will we make a breakthrough with a student that has been struggling? Will this be the year that we’re able to transition more students back to their home campuses? Or is this the year where we will see an influx of students with trauma, depression and other mental health problems that impact their days more than last year? But while I contemplate this year’s concerns, I don’t have too much time to waste thinking about them, because I have a staff waiting for me to bring continuity to our weeks.
It is my responsibility as the leader to get the teachers pumped up for the year and keep them pumped up. Get them excited to be back, because this year no matter what the challenges are that we will be faced with, our number one responsibility is to the students. So, I dig deep. I dig deep to plan this year’s professional development that will ease them back into the year without being overwhelming, but will keep them focused as we move through the year.
I decided in week two to go with the article, “The Opportunity Myth.” Now, I know what you’re thinking. Who eases staff back into school by having them face one of the greatest challenges in education? I questioned my decision also, but I know that this article, put out by TNTP on the opportunities that students are missing out on because we don’t offer students access to grade level material, is critical for teachers.
It is essential for us to put this article and the statistics at the forefront of everything we do this year because students deserve that. So, alongside engaging in some fun activities that ask staff to analyze their communication styles, and having them analyze their practices, we will also take our first steps to analyze how we can have high expectations for students. Not just the first few weeks back, but throughout the entire year. We took the first steps to discussing our collective commitment this year to our students. How will we face the Opportunity Gap on our own campus and ensure that we do not fall into the pitfalls of not offering students access to grade level standards?
I am so excited to continue the learning because I know that teachers are experts and alongside me they are ready to tackle this problem with me. I know, however, I cannot stop at the initial reading of this article, that we will need to continue to address the disparities in our own classrooms and that we will continue to work through the problems we face with students who are demonstrating an educational gap in a standard.