Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reflecting on the Run

It is the "month of AprilMayJune" (so coined because it goes so fast that it seems like three months compressed into one) and like it is for everyone in education, time is just flying.  Students have selected their courses, and we are feverishly working on the timetable in order to maximize choices with a staffing budget that never seems to be enough.  In amongst parent teacher interviews, the New Parent Meeting, starting to prepare Grad Ceremonies, 3rd term report cards, student transfer requests, and putting the final touches on our School Improvement Plan we are busy like everyone else.  I like it, and the days fly by.  As a result of the relatively rapid pace of this three month span that feels like one and the fact that I like being a dad and a husband, I am finding it a bit of a challenge to find time to sit and reflect on my practice as a Principal.

Recently, I revisited one of my favourite quick reads, "The Learning Leader" by Douglas Reeves (I can't lie, I read books more than once, and with this particular book, I have read it four or five times).  In one part of the book, Reeves underscores the importance of a leader reflecting on their practice, even in the busiest of times.  He talks about leaders considering the following questions each day:
  • What did you learn today?
  • Whom did you nurture today?
  • What difficult issue did you confront today?
  • What is your most important challenge right now?
  • What did you do today to make progress on your most important challenge?
Each of us is busy gearing up for the sprint to the end of the year.  But within these frenetic and fun-filled times, I am realizing that it is vital for me to take a few moments to answer simple questions such as these suggested by Dr. Reeves and reflect upon our what I do each day.  By just taking a few moments to be a reflective practitioner, I feel like I can leave a re-traceable set of footprints for next year that helps me look back to avoid some of the pitfalls that can happen during the crazy "month of AprilMayJune".

Are you taking time to reflect, even while you are on the run?


  1. Thanks Cale for the Douglas Reeves reference - those five questions are really good. I spent my morning with our DPAC today, which included a presentation on mindfullness - and these questions seem in line with what was being shared about the need to find a way to focus.

    As to "the run" a challenge I sometimes find is there is never a good time to "go" - we move from "start-up" to "interms" to "reporting" to "Christmas" to "reporting" to "spring break" to "the run" to "wrap-up" - we are great at explaining why it is just the wrong time to refect and move forward.

    Hope you are finding some go-time during the run to the end of the year - I sure hope we will in our District.

  2. Thanks for the great questions; I have a place on my whiteboard for this sort of thing. Having amalgamated three schools into one, and housed 700 elementary students in a building built for middle schoolers, it feels like we've been "on the run" since Sept. In fact, we joke about how we are in constant start-up mode. I am aware more than ever that this is the sort of work that will never be finished, and so some days I have to leave things un-done and go home to my family.
    Your questions are a good reminder though to keep one's eye on the prize, and to make time for important things like reflection, analysis and goal setting.


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