Thursday, January 19, 2017

What do we want To BE

SDE.jpgWhat do you want To Be? Most of us have a To Do List, but how many of us have To Be Lists? I learned about a To Be List from a colleague last school year.  The idea is that we create a list of what we want To Be first.  This list then determines our To Do lists.  We focus our actions and our time on doing things that align with our values and what we want To Be.

This idea of a To Be list resonates with me.  I like the focus on what's most important both daily and long-term. I want To Be Supportive- of my staff, my personal children at home, and others that are part of my life.  I need to make sure my time is not taken up with so many To Do’s that I miss opportunities to be supportive to those around me.  It occurred to me that this idea of a To Be list can go beyond a personal list.  We are using it to focus the work of our elementary school.  What type of school do we want To Be?


During the 2015-2016 school, my first as principal at my current building, we were encouraged to consider what it meant to be an innovative elementary school.  What type of school do we want To Be?  We decided that we want To Be a school that personalizes learning for all students.  That means allowing students voice and choice in their learning, as well as allowing students to move through their learning at their own pace.  We determined that in order to truly personalize learning for students we needed To Be more flexible.  We found that our schedules and organization by chronological grade levels can prevent us at times from allowing students to grow. Some students are ready for additional concepts while others need more time where they are at.  Developmentally we all grow at different rates.  Why not allow students the time they need to progress and learn?  Students are not at a certain place just because they are all 9 years old.

So this  2016-2017 school year instead of organizing our schedules- lunch, recess, special area classes, etc- around grade levels, we decided to organize ourselves by vertical grade level teams- a K and 1st grade Learning Community, and three 2nd thru 5th grade Learning Communities.  These Learning Communities teach subject areas at the same time.  Eventually we hope to be able to view our communities as a group of four teachers teaching one hundred students, rather than by specific grade levels.  Students being able to grow at their own pace, receiving personalized instruction along the way.

We are already becoming what we want To Be this school year.  Our Learning Communities are sharing children to explore common interests, to work on projects, for intervention and extensions in content areas, and even to lead school-wide assemblies.  Relationships with multiple teachers, and a variety of students are being built every day.  

We believe in the power of relationships.  This is another thing we discovered we want To Be- in relationship with each other.  Remember a favorite teacher?  What was it about them that you remember fondly?  Most likely it had something to do with your relationship with them.  One of our district’s tag lines is Power of the Team.  We want To Be in relationship with one another as we teach, learn, and grow.

We have begun our journey as Learning Communities- To Be in relationship with one another as we personalize learning for all students.  Follow us and see where we go next.



9 comments:

  1. It has been so exciting to watch our community grow and see all the new relationships that have formed. I have always loved the idea of a "to be" list since I first heard about it. It really does make a difference.

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  2. Tamar, it is good to meet you. I followed you on Twitter, too, so that our relationship can grow. Julie Johnson suggested reading your very first blog. Congratulations on writing it, believing in your students and staff, and your journey as a principal. It is amazing to be part of a learning community that is bonded together. I invite you to participate in our #NYEDChat conversation on Twitter Monday night at 8pmEST. It is on new directions. Your To Be List is an interesting concept and I think you should share it with my PLN-another community who would listen. We welcome all educators to NYEDChat.

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    1. Hi Carol! Nice to meet you! Thank you for your suggestions. I'm am new to all this social media & edchats. I'll see if I can get freed up from my 'mom' duties and get online to grow myself professionally. Thank you for the invite!

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  4. I love the idea of the "to be" list. I love the community and how much we are growing our relationship with so many more students because of forming communities. It is exciting to see students across grade levels working together. I look forward to see where this journey takes us and to read more of your blog posts. Great job, Tamar!

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    1. Renee- You are such a vital part of our Learning Communities! I appreciate so much how you have taken your expertise and are applying it to a new group of students this year. Always the ultimate professional! I'm blessed to work with you.

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  5. Happy Sunday, Tamar. Great thoughts and action! I've pondered this important topic much. And yes, "to be lists" must precede "to do lists," for in my "being," I am able "to do." This also means that we will more likely see ourselves fulfilled in our "being" rather than in our "doing." If we get the "being" right, the "doing" will follow, won't it? The challenge, as educators, is how to help students (and teachers) grow in "being" when so much that measures us focuses on the "do."(I just had an insight!!...this is probably why I like writing gratitude bullets and quotes in my bullet journal before I enter my tasks!) Sounds like you and your staff are headed for real growth. So glad Julie Johnson introduced you to me.

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    1. Hi Alice! Thank you for reading my blog. My To Do lists are always so overwhelming, it is nice to be able to focus them on what is most important- my To Be's. I like the idea of gratitude bullets & quotes. I can handle a bullet journal! I'm enjoying this sharing of ideas. Take Care!

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    2. I love this! I'm going to share this with my staff task force and see how we can use this in our advisor advisee program this year if not for sure next.

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