Eyes Front

Tomorrow my school will have an inservice day for all the faculty and staff. I am super excited to see the possibilities unfold as we begin to look forward towards 2017-2018. In the administrative world, the master calendar for next year is all but solidified in concrete, and the various open spaces in our faculty teams have been identified. Solutions begin to appear daily, and the image of the coming school year is more than a mirage off in the distance. At the same time, however, the leadership team has been evaluating our various philosophies regarding the way we do business and targeting those pieces that need retooling. From schedules to the names of courses, everything gets a first look so that we can be sure that we are doing things with the learner in mind.

You can probably tell that this time of year is my favorite, as opportunity meets action. While we have no need to reinvent the wheel, it is my job to talk to faculty and leadership with the purpose of brainstorming ways to ensure that this wheel is screwed on tightly and well greased.

But for some, particularly students (insert “7th graders” here), this time of year can seem to drag on until Spring Break. People often find the phrase “more of the same” repugnant; I believe that there is always an opportunity to rebuild or redesign a program to make it better for our students and the learning in the classroom. So, in an effort to jazz things up a bit, I am instituting my first FedEx/Innovation Day program for the faculty.

Creative Juices Oozing

I learned about the FedEx day model a few years ago, but it just resurfaced as a logical thought this past month as I read through this Connected Principals blogpost by Chris Wejr. I was pleasantly surprised to find it; the timing could not be more ideal! For those of you new to the idea, a FedEx day allows an individual to pursue an innovative thought without the impediment of the regular grind getting in the way. In other words, someone covers your job while you pursue an idea that would benefit both you and your place of work. The goal of a FedEx day serves one’s heart and (in this case) one’s school as a teacher innovator creates an action plan that would bring a new idea to life. This isn’t a replacement program that simply changes the way we do our current curriculum; FedEx day is a game-changing, disruptive thought that could make us greater as an institution while demonstrating teacher mastery. I have already challenged teachers to start thinking about how they could utilize a FedEx day in a previous division meeting. It is my hope that tomorrow serves as the beginning of a time when our great minds can walk through open doors.

This isn’t a replacement program that simply changes the way we do our current curriculum; FedEx day is a game-changing, disruptive thought that could make us greater as an institution and that demonstrates teacher mastery.

In reality, the design of an action plan may require more FedEx time; that need has to present itself in the plan at the end of the day, and then the driver of the FedEx program can determine if more time away from the norm is warranted. But the initial day is one of creative flow. Here is the program model as I presented it to the middle school faculty:

  1. Take the afternoon of our inservice day, from 1:30 until going home, to think and design a plan to have some FedEx time.
  2. Create this action plan (there isn’t a specific design to this plan, but it’s sort of like a field trip form that we use…purpose, logistics, who is involved, goal, etc.)
  3. Send me the plan so that we can sit down and discuss how I can help bring an idea into light.
  4. Once ratified, the FedEx Day proposal will have these features at a teacher’s disposal:
    • Use a workday (without spending a personal day) to begin working on this plan.
    • Employ the MS Leadership team to act as teachers in the classroom for the day (so we will need lesson plans, unless it’s a day given to us in order to bring in something unique).
    • Request funding (as needed) to help bring this day into development. While funding is severely limited, it is never a bad idea to ask for help!

In thinking of the way I envision this program to go, I have done some brainstorming of various ideas:

  • Building a research project for your students that has them explore new and exciting learning strategies.
  • Searching for a MOOC or some sort of professional development program to complete and share with the faculty.
  • Exploring a new digital tool to introduce to students and teach faculty.
  • Creating a photograph collage or artwork to share with the school and the students (think faculty gallery).

I’m sure this list could grow as I sit here and do some thinking. I really hope that the various members of our great faculty sink their collective teeth into the FedEx idea. My personal goal with this program remains in the effort to make this school the very best place to work. In giving teachers a voice and opportunity to express their ideas, I hope that I’m on the right track.

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