To be fair, I've struggled with my selection of my word for 2015. I've thought about the idea of choosing the word "sprint" because of how fast it feels we're moving as a middle school. Conversely, I've thought about choosing the word "slow" as we often need to shift down during our days and appreciate the blessings of being able to work with kids (and people who work with the kids!). Ultimately, I've chosen the word "perfect".
But not "perfect" as a noun... instead, "perfect" as a verb, specifically: "make something complete, free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible."
At Union Middle School, I feel we are in the "sweet spot" of education. We have possibly the most innovative CTO in the entire county in Mr. Andrew Schwab... We have an incredibly supportive district office and parent community... And perhaps most importantly, we have one of the best school staffs in the state of California.
Union Middle School already offers so many incredible opportunities for our students. We have Project Lead The Way, Design Thinking, Minecraft, and more. There is a flourishing music program with an incredibly supportive band boosters behind it. 97% of our kids have reported that they have not been bullied due to an academic or social disability. And perhaps most telling, over half of our staff has been hired at Union Middle within the last five years, including yours truly.
So my one word for the upcoming year is the verb form of "perfect".
My goal is that we begin to improve and perfect everything we're already doing.
I don't want to add more electives to our staff. I don't think we need to switch how we experience our days with our students. We already have so many opportunities for our students, staff, and parent community to become involved at our school. What we can best improve upon is perfecting everything we're already doing... or as close to such a condition as possible.
How do we do this?
1) Time - Provide as much time as possible for our staff. Time to prepare for the Next Generation Science Standards. Time for our Tech 2 staff members to assist their peers in improving their classroom experience. Time for our leadership team to meet with students, with parents, and with teachers to hear feedback and augment what we're already best providing.
2) Experience - The best gift in the teaching profession is experience and it's only something that we can receive through walking through our daily lives in and out of the classroom, learning from our own mistakes. We are on our third year of Project Lead The Way, our second year of Champions, and our first year of Design Thinking and Minecraft. The gift of experience provides confidence and a reassurance that we're providing the best curriculum and school experience possible for our students.
3) Reflection - I'm not going to assume that everything we're doing is the best way to accomplish our goals. As you've possibly heard before, the phrase "because we've always done it this way" has become our enemy mantra. We need to evaluate our administrative choices and determine how we can best serve our students and best propel (or perfect) our school educators to achieve greatness. We will reflect on our current practices to best improve future performance.
So the one word I'm going to focus on is perfect as in how to take the amazing work we're already doing to the next level and how to support our staff therein. Here's to an exciting 2015.