Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm Not Racing

My three daughters, all under the age of seven, like to race wherever we're going and no matter what activity they're racing to at the time. When it's time to get ready for bed they race to be the first one to brush her teeth, get her PJ's on, and get in her bed. Each girl has her own personality and ways of dealing with this nightly competition. The middle daughter always wants to win. Always. Cries when she doesn't and taunts when she does and I'm sure she gets that behavior from her mother! I've noticed something recently though. The moment she realizes she isn't going to win she says, "I'm not racing." I thought about her today during our district-wide Professional Development.

We had the opportunity to hear Dr. Tammy Hefelbower speak about several education issues as they relate to our work: determining essential standards, creating 4 point scale work, developing assessments, and how we grade students. After her presentation in the morning (and a hurried lunch), all teachers met as grade levels and/or departments followed by building-level meetings.

It was a great day for all teachers who came with an open mind and a desire to improve. During the grade-level meetings, I facilitated the third grade teacher group. It was powerful listening to the teachers describe how each of the 14 elementary schools were carrying out the district's vision and goals. Some schools were more advanced than others while some schools seemed to be in the 'crawling' stage. My school is somewhere in the middle.

When we came together for our building-level meeting it was great to hear what my staff members had learned, unlearned, or relearned from their individual conversations. During our discussions a few teachers voiced their concern about our building not being as far along in the process as others while some teachers explained that we are farther along than most schools. It made me think of my daughter who says, "I'm not racing." This is a good point for all schools who are embarking on district-wide initiatives requiring paradigm shifts.

As educators it's important for us to do the work correctly, not quickly. Here is my mantra for the second semester: We're not racing!

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