I’m reviewing…the situation….
Some weeks are loaded with reflection worthy experiences – or maybe it’s just that there are times when my deep thinking radar is on high and I just can’t help but be engaged in a process of reflection. If I’d been sitting on a beach this week I probably would have been contemplating my navel, but since I’ve been dipping my toes in a whole lot more than a warm blue ocean…..here goes….
Head Start is coming up for an annual review this year and I feel like all that is supposed to be “work as usual” has ground to a halt just so systems can be checked and rechecked. Here are the mixed messages I am getting in the whole process: 1) don’t get worried about the review, we’re doing good work, just keep doing the good work you are doing, and: 2) are you sure you know what you are doing? just in case you don’t here is a check list — or two or three just to make sure, let us know what you don’t know so we can be sure and tell you… So which is it – I’m doing good work or whoa – big gaps, better get a shovel.
Okay, that was a negative reflection. The next little bunch of “ahas” was more positive. I realized that I’m beginning to hit my stride in this position of teaching as part of a school district and under the auspices of Head Start. I’ve gotten my own set of systems together that are helping me stay on top of planning meaningful curriculum, being in touch with the families of my children, documenting student progress and planning for future events in the classroom and for parent engagement. I realized that part of the reason this is happening now is that there is finally some stability in the preschool program. I’ve been out in this district for 11 years but every year was different until I moved into this building 5 years ago. My level of experience in the field was strong enough that I could focus on adjusting to changes in site and staff and learning new assessments and documentation processes. Now that I’ve been in this building, I’ve received professional development support that has enhanced all of it – the classroom experience and the systems work – and I’m feeling more relaxed and competent. That feels good.
Another reflection came out of our work as a building to institute a school-wide behavior plan. I know that most staff want to see this program succeed and they understand the value of having documentation for those students that struggle. I think the counselor has made it clear that any alerts we start to gather on students will be helpful to implementing interventions before behavior has escalated to suspension level infractions. But when it comes down to the involvement that might be demanded of a teacher that has a student with challenging behaviors – I’m not sure all the teachers want to be that engaged in the process. I think they want to be able to throw out the flag and then call in a referee and walk off the field.
I also started thinking about how the difficulties of instituting anything “school-wide” challenges current school culture where we tend to operate as single teachers behind closed doors – “my kids” means the 20-30 faces in front of my black board, not the 250 entering the front door each morning. I’ve been reading Teach Like a Champion with my primary teacher book study group and many of the techniques described in the book would be most effective if they were institutionalized – made a part of every classroom from preschool to grade 12 in some form or another. What would it take to make those kinds of shifts in a public school setting?
some of you would be happy if I’d go back to navel gazing – how about the beach to go with it?