Saturday, March 22, 2008

Final Remodeling Project

Whew, after a few long days, bruised knees and a really sore back, our final remodeling project is complete! We overhauled our two bathrooms last spring, and this past weekend we (and I use "we" very generously ;) completed the kitchen. We'd put a new fridge and stove in place last year, but it was time to lay down the same ceramic tile that we used for the bathrooms. Our countertops were marked and stained, so we replaced those too. A new faucet, a dishwasher and floor molding made it all complete. See the before and after shots below.

P.S. Courtney helped a lot more this time than last :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Leadership Lessons

Courtney and I have officially decided to leave the classroom after this year. It's a decision we made a couple of months ago, but we're making it official this week by telling our respective principals.

I can't possibly list all of the things I've learned from this experience, and this won't be my farewell, reflective post. But I have definitely learned some things about management. The morale among teachers at my school is generally low, and this can be attributed to a couple of specific factors controlled by my principal. Another glaring gap in the leadership at both of our schools is extremely unfortunate. At the beginning of the school year, Courtney and I were very open to staying in the classroom a third year. It's been a series of instances where we've been treated as something less than professionals, along with many instances where our input wasn't listened to nor valued, that has led to this decision.

The final frustrating piece was that about two months ago we were asked by our principals whether we'd be returning next year. We were fairly sure of our answer, but didn't want to rule anything out just yet, so we said "not sure." During the following two months, our principals never once approached us to talk to us about our decision, or encourage us to stay. Knowing the impact we've had on our students, we're confident that we've done a great job. This, however, left us feeling unwanted and little-valued.

We've seen countless problems and inefficiencies that are contributing to the failure of schools like ours to provide a relevant, meaningful and sufficient education. The most glaring problem, however, is school leadership. The job of principal is a difficult and multi-faceted leadership position, and we must have competent and capable people leading these schools.

Leadership/management lessons learned:

1. Encourage open lines of communication, and consider all perspectives and opinions
2. Do everything in your power to retain your highest performing and highest quality employees