Restructure Me.

A week or so before winter break our Principal challenged the teachers at my school to come up with a new vision for our school. We have a very small school that has only been around for a few years, but because of budget cuts and serious staff turn over we are at a place where we really need to reconsider who and what we are. The Principal wants the mission to be grass roots and organic (my words), and come from the staff.

I have less patience than that. I want a plan. I want a direction. I want someone to tell me what the direction is and what the mission is, so I can go do it. I have a fear that if a decision is left to us, we will decide to keep doing the same old thing, and I don’t think that is either good or enough. 

I spent the first part of break doing a lot of thinking, and a lot of writing. We are a school of choice; we have no attendance boundaries, students have to choose to come to our school. We have to give them a reason to come to us. If we do not have a certain number of students we loose teachers. It is real cut and dry- if kids come to school we exist. If kids do not come, we close down. So I made lists of what is good about our school, and what is not so good. I made lists of what other schools are doing, and looked for areas of opportunities; what things can we do that no one else is doing. I looked at mission statements. I looked at ESLR’s. I looked at master schedules, I looked at reform models. And I wrote.

I came up with what I thought were some really good ideas. Some great plans for what would be a real fun school. But I realize what my Principal is worried about. I cannot make other people adopt my plan. I think it is a great idea, but that doesn’t mean other people will, and if they do not “own” it, they probably will not do a great job at it. And the whole thing will fail.

So that leaves me with a problem. The Principal wants a new vision. I can’t give him one. But I can give him guiding principles for my classroom. I can show him what I am doing in my room that no one else in the district is doing. And I can work really hard at making sure that kids are engaged in appropriate and relevant activities during the hour a day I have them. So that is what I am going to do.