Three simple words

Posted Sunday, September 04, 2016

Appreciation.  Recognition.  Encouragement.

Three simple words.  As educators, we have difficulty using those three words when referring to our own practices.  We don't like to be held up in front of our colleagues and told "thank you."  Work hard, put kids first, keep your head down.  That's not a terrible thing, but we can do better.  The staff in our school district work extremely hard.  They put kids first.  But we often work in isolation and try not to draw attention to the great things we are doing.  In East Moline, we've been working to change that the past four years.  But we can do better. 

We have custodians that take great pride in ensuring our students and staff have an environment that is conducive to learning.  Come to our schools in January when the salt, slush and water can wreak havoc on tile floors and you will see custodians working to make sure our floors shine the next morning.  Our school district has bus drivers that understand they have to not only get the children to school safely, but ready to learn.  We have food service employees working to give the children entrusted to our district a nutritious breakfast so their brains can focus on learning.  We have teachers that knock themselves out by working together to meet the needs of every child in their classroom.  We have paraprofessionals going the extra mile for our kids in hundreds of ways each day.  Our administrators are working harder than ever to enable their staff to do what they do best.  And if we are doing things right, we are greeting each and every child in the halls, on the bus, in the breakfast line, or at our classroom doors with a smile.  Annette Breaux, an author that has spoken with our school district a couple of times, would call those people "3's."  Those are the individuals that are always positive, always smiling and welcoming our students because we know that might be the first smile they have seen that day.  

I have a framed note from a student hanging in my office.  I have had it my office wall since I left to take my first job as a school principal.  A student in my 7th grade class at Frank L. Smart Middle School in Davenport, Iowa wrote me a note of thanks at the end of her school year.  The note simply says:

"Mr. Humphries, you are one of the best teachers I've ever had. You are very supportive and always make sure people don't give up on themselves. Thank you for being such an awesome person and teacher."  

*I will always keep that note. It means a great deal to me because it shows the impact we can have on children.  I believe we can also have that impact on each other.  Education is tough business.  Legislators, state mandates, Federal programs, they all sorta get in the way of what is truly important -- ensuring that each and every child in our district gets a great education.  But if we hold each other up, appreciate the good things happening in our school district, recognize those that are doing amazing things to help children, and encourage each other even when we know it's been a tough day -- there is not a thing we cannot accomplish, together.

I look forward to hearing those three simple words all over the East Moline School District this year.  


*True story, that student came to our school district to do an internship two years ago and I was able to show her the note on my wall and tell her how much it meant to me, even years later.


Tags: appreciation , ARE , encouragement , recognition

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Something interesting is happening

Posted Sunday, August 28, 2016

I think we have the most important jobs in the world.  Is that a myopic view?  Maybe, but I don't think so.  Our jobs are to get children ready for a world that does not yet exist.  That's a tall order in the best of conditions.  Take a look at the infographic below.  It's based off a quote from Tom Goodwin.  The world is changing and it's important to work toward a common vision when serving our students.  Our school district has been working diligently to align our practices with shifts in curriculum and instruction.  It will be an ongoing process but it's important for leaders across our district to work together to support each other because of the important job we have -- to get our students ready for a world that continues to change at a rapid pace.  

I read a report on last week on unemployment numbers.  For the first time in a few years middle class jobs outpaced higher and lower paying jobs.  That's a good sign.  But the report also went on to say that 5.6 million jobs are unfilled because the American workforce does not have the skilled individuals to fill those positions.  That's where education comes in.  We need to continue to evolve so our students can be part of a future economy.  I worry that education is caught in a brick and mortar world -- and as you can see from the infographic, some of the world's largest companies don't have a storefront.  We are changing, and we will continue to change.  But we have to do it together.  Our vision in East Moline for this important work: We will support all adult learners with the tools necessary to implement a rigorous curriculum that meets the needs of each and every child and provides them real world, complex learning with high expectations. 

Something interesting is happening in the world today.  It's happening in education too.  





Tags: curriculum , teaching , vision

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The promise of a new year

Posted Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tomorrow is a powerful day for our students.  The promise of a new year, new friends, and an adult that believes in them is just part of the emotions our students feel as they will walk to the playground tomorrow morning.  I love watching teachers interact with their new students, kindergarten parents taking pictures, and children catching up with their classmates.  It's definitely my favorite day of the year.  Parents entrust their most prized possessions to our school district and it is not something we take lightly.  It's a new year for all of us and I can't wait to get it started in the morning.

Below is one of my favorite songs written by one of my favorite artists.  Welcome back!

"Fall is here, hear the yell
Back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are gonna be friends"

- The White Stripes

Tags: first day of school , new friends , student , teacher

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