2012/2013 Was A School Year Like No Other. Now What?

What a year! New job. New colleagues. New divisions. New classes to teach. New protocols for hiring, creating budgets, evaluations,……  New terminology, acronyms, and policies. New internal and external politics. New networks. New knowledge, skills, and expectations. All in all, it was a whirlwind of change packed into 12 months, and only now am I catching my breath. In fact, yesterday was the first time in 12 months I made the time to delve into the growing pile of files and folders scattered in different areas of my office. What a glorious feeling to churn through the materials, sorting some into new and glossy folders complete with typed labels, while discarding others in the recycling bin, thinking through the process, “I survived.” I know the job better now. I understand the expectations and the resources I have at my disposal. I’ve worked hard, earned respect, made mistakes, and tried to make a difference to the institution. Always looking through the lens of P-12 education, I appreciate the similarities of my first year experience with those of every P-12 educator and administrator who grappled with a state-wide reform agenda.

Public education was at times crazed this past year with new expectations, new curricula, new assessments, new ways of evaluating teachers and principals, new observation protocols, new performance management systems, new resources, and the list goes on. Teacher and principals had to write Student Learning Objectives, understand the HEDI Scale, implement Common Core Standards and concomitant Instructional Shifts, ready students for higher stakes state tests, use new inventory and progress monitoring assessments, conduct classroom evaluations, implement DASA, and do many other “new” things associated with Race to the Top. The challenges were at times overwhelming for building principals and teachers, but through the process, the status quo was turned on its head–and that’s not a bad thing.

With the year under our proverbial belts, it’s time to step back and reflect on all we’ve accomplished and plan what’s next in the cycle. For me, it will be to expand on the skills I just learned this previous year, and to make better those that require fixing. My classes will certainly be more structured and coherent as I repackage the syllabi and improve the embedded authentic tasks. Understanding more about how the system works, including development of budgets, evaluation tools, and the intricacies of SUNY-SED communications, I’m looking forward to expanding the visibility of our programs and Branch Campus culture (Which is pretty darn good already). We’ll also grow new partnerships, extend our services to the region, and fulfill our vision and mission statement. To do my best work, I’ll use the SUNY Plattsburgh Campus Plan 2018 for guidance and direction.

For public school educators, this is the year to fully assimilate Data-Driven Instruction into the regular school routine. It will be a year to refine common core curricula, implement the EngageNY curriculum modules, stay sharp doing evidence-based observations through inter-rater reliability training, create quality SLOs, and so on. This can also be a year to cultivate career ladders that promote teacher and principal leadership. Meanwhile, to stay focused on what matters and to find the best resources, educators would be wise to access the New York State Metrics & Expectations for 2013-2014 resource. The document defines what district superintendents, principals, network teams, and local superintendents should be doing in the areas of Curriculum, Instruction & Feedback, Data-Driven Instruction, APPR Implementation, and Culture of Safety & Development. People do better when they know better, and kudos to NYSED for clearly articulating what needs to be done and where to find the tools to do good work. Now it’s simply a matter of using the document to continue successfully along the path of school reform.

Peace.

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