Sunday, August 17, 2014

What is your "Why"?

What is your "Why"?

As the beginning of the year draws closer and closer, I had the great opportunity to be a part of my building's "Leadership Academy" team. This team has representatives from all grades and areas, and we work to look over our building data (yes...I'm a total data geek! I fully admit and accept that fact! :) We, as a team, use this data to set goals for our upcoming school year. Tough, but extremely rewarding work! I look forward to this every summer!

At our first meeting together this summer, my building leaders shared the following video with us to get our gears moving. Their hope was to help us narrow our building "why":
It's a great "oldie, but goodie" and totally worth the 18 minutes. I saw this during my most recent grad program, and it inspired me to get and read the book: Start With Why by Simon Sinek. It's a wonderful and fast read, and it really helps you reflect on your practice.

It's funny how you can see something at different times in your life and it means something different each time. Seeing the video again (even if it was the 10+ time I have seen's that good) in my current situation, it was wonderful to use it to help me reflect on the "why" of our program in T.E.A.M. Togetherness.

What is our "why" in T.E.A.M. Togetherness? I think if it really came down to it, our first and foremost goal is for our kiddos to show growth. Why do we do what we do?--We believe that all kids can grow. But I think it goes deeper than just the word "grow." We want our kiddos to grow:

  • As learners--we want them to know more than they did before.  
I think most teachers would say that. Who wouldn't, right? But I think it goes even deeper than that. We also want them to grow:
  • As collaborators--we want them to grow their skills and strategies in working together
  • As problem solvers--we want them to grow their thinking and attack any problem they are faced with
  • As questioners--we want them to continually ask questions to learn, to challenge their thinking, and to push the thinking of those around them
  • As failures--we want them to be okay with their failures/mistakes. They can work to grow their thinking and learning from those mistakes and setbacks. Fail FORWARD!
  • As reflectors--we want them to grow in their" thinking about their thinking", set goals, and reflect on their progress
  • As 21st century learners--we want them to grow with and understand the digital tools at their fingertips and the responsibilities that go with them
  • As contributors--we want them to grow in the quality of their contributions to our classroom community, as well as in the world they enter outside of our space
  • As the little, wonderful, individual people that they are--we want them to grow in their own confidence, abilities, and understanding/respect of themselves for WHO THEY ARE--to be proud of that--and to know enough about themselves to use their strengths and weaknesses to their advantage throughout our year together--and in their future lives!
Whew!--That's a lot for that one little word--GROW! I'm sure I could keep going. I'm sure that our thinking will change, too, as the year progresses and those little people push our own thinking with their amazing growth! So, to follow Simon Sinek's bullseye completely through (similar to his Apple model):
  • Our "Why": We are a team that believes all students can show growth
  • Our "How": We will provide them with what they need, when they need it, and give them choice and ownership in the process. All this takes place within...
  • Our "What": Our personalized learning environment...Wanna join us?
Our district has an amazing phrase that I feel truly connects to our "why": Every Student. Every Time. All the Time. This year, our school will have this posted in every classroom and connect it to all that we do and communicate. Could there be an even better message?!--I think not! I absolutely LOVE it!

I feel that we, in T.E.A.M. Togetherness, a personalized learning environment, have that full potential to reach "Every Student. Every Time. All the Time." And our "Why"?-- to help our kiddos grow--in the ways that they need, at the times that they need it.

As you start your own year, I challenge you to think of your own "why"--why do you do what you do? Can you communicate it to your families? Your leaders? Your peers? And most importantly: Your students? When you pull out that thing you've "always done, every year, for the last X years"--ask yourself "why"? and does it match with your foundational "why"? Or is it merely a convenient "what"? Could you change it? Could you make it better? Could you scrap it altogether and start with something more meaningful that truly connects to Every Student. Every Time. All the Time? Feel free to comment below with your own "why"--we'd love to learn with you!


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