Like any good Canadian, I've grown up playing, watching, coaching, officiating and basically just loving hockey! I was never very good at the game, but managed to find a few recreational teams that would put up with my plodding ways and stray passes. It has been quite a few years since I laced up the skates, and while I do miss it, I realize at this point in my life my hockey days are long behind me. This week was the start of the NHL regular season, and much to my wife's dismay, I found myself glued to the TV watching teams start the season full of hope in their quest to be better than last year. Regardless of where teams finished at the end of last season they all took stock of where they performed well and in what areas they needed improvement. All the teams, even the champions, have a few different players wearing their colours this year and these additions will have to quickly learn the system under which the team plays.
While watching the games I was struck by the similarities between the start of a school year and the start of a hockey season, even if our "training camp" is only a few days at the end of August. Just like hockey teams, good schools look at their statistics, their data, from the previous year. When schools see great results they should ask, "how can we build on what we accomplished last year?" Similarly, when schools identify areas where they were lacking they must ask, "how do we begin to address this?"
NHL teams are beginning to venture into the world of analytics, using advances statistics to identify where their needs are. Schools have been doing this for a long time, collecting data on reading, writing, mathematics, student engagement, etc. By doing this schools can set goals and teachers and students can work together to build on the great things and address the areas of need. The end of August and the beginning of September bring a great deal of enthusiasm and optimism for the year ahead. Plans are in place and teachers are ready to start the onerous, yet rewarding task of helping the students get to a place where they themselves were doubtful they could get to.
But then October fades from the calendar and the short days of winter appear on the horizon. Students and teachers have settled into routines and there is a definite lull in the momentum that was present to start the year. How do we keep this momentum going? How do we as leaders avoid falling into a rut and as a result, failing our teachers when they need us to keep them keep the enthusiasm at the fore?
Some simple, yet effective things I do as a learning leader are:
These are just a few of the things I do as a learning leader in my building. There are many other ways to keep the momentum up in a school, and as always, I'd love to hear any and all suggestions and ideas.