Start Strong By Setting The Correct Tone

Most schools in the Midwest begin the 2011-12 school year the Tuesday after Labor Day. Building principals and their staffs have endured several professional learning days in preparation for the opening. As I reflect back on my years as a building principal , I remember  reaching the first day with students exhausted due to the planning and facilitating meetings for the new year. Read more

Focus On What You Can Control- Begin With Respect

We are living through an unprecedented time of attack on public education. Issues range from an over focus on testing to loss of  individual  benefits and compensation to loss of local control. Educators are being scrutinized more closely than any other time in recent memory . They are constantly having to adjust to changes over which they have little or no control. Read more

Principals: Get Some Rest, Then Reflect And Get To Work

After a long and challenging school year it is important to recharge and get some rest. It is critical that all principals reflect on the year and focus on those things that you have control of. After a few weeks it is time to get to work. The following ideas hopefully will assist as you begin planning for the summer and upcoming school year. Give consideration to the following strategies. Read more

New Shared Leadership vs. Traditional Autocratic Leadership

I have recently read a book by Linda Gross Cheliotes and Marceta Fleming Reilly. The title is, Coaching Conversations, Transforming Your School One Conversation at a Time. The book is filled with great strategies and suggestions that could enhance your skills as a leader. Read more

Instructional Support Teams (IST) Help Enhance Instructional Skills

In many school districts teacher improvement is measured by a traditional, outdated evaluation process conducted by building administrators.  Very little improvement occurs for teachers as a result of this archaic process.  Many of these observations are directed by individuals lacking background  knowledge in an area of the curriculum being observed and evaluated. For the master teacher it is an exercise that rarely provides growth producing feedback. For the marginal teacher, it turns into a dog and pony show. In other words a lesson that is special and unique  for the formal observation but rarely repeated throughout the year.  However, we are entering a positive period  with many changes to the evaluation process that are improving teaching and learning. The shift is to more of a self directed goal setting process that guide teachers in enhancing their own professional practice.   Read more

Spring Is The Time To Communicate-Try These Themes

The spring of the year is a welcome sign for many  of us that have survived another frigid winter. It can be a difficult time for student’s to remain focused as we wind down the 2010-2011 school year. It is also a critical time for principals to communicate with their staffs about finishing strong with energy and focus. Read more

Sharpen Your Saw, Prepare Like You Are Interviewing

For the past several weeks many of my mentees have been preparing for interviews. Through the process  of conducting mock interviews and  planning meetings I  wondered, could I answer all of these questions and meet the challenge of the interview process?  My last interview was ten years ago and you may share a similar time frame. It  got me thinking, why not self assess and take inventory of your performance by preparing for an interview? Read more

Live In The Learning Zone, Read Ten Minutes A Day

A few years ago a colleague of mine suggested that I read a book Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell. In it Cottrell reflects on eight sessions he had with his mentor. It is a concise read , filled with sound ,insightful leadership principles. In one of the chapters, Cottrell was encouraged  to lead from something his mentor referred to as  the learning zone as opposed to leading from the comfort zone.I use this as a reminder to avoid complacency and to challenge myself  to take risks  without fear of failure. If you find yourself repeating a pattern of complacency day after day this may be an indication that you need to move into the learning zone. Other characteristics of the learning zone include reading ten minutes a day, listening, goal setting, and staying positive. My focus for this blog is on  the strategy of reading ten minutes a day. As a principal and even today as a consultant, I find it difficult to find the time to read. When I do read daily , I am better prepared, more  productive and I acquire new knowledge that helps me grow as a professional. I am also able to discuss current issues and share  pertinent information with those I am working with. I realize now that I can’t afford not to find the time to read daily. Literacy is at the heart of what we do in schools. The more you read the more you learn. By living in the learning zone we model how important reading is.  Over the next month, I  urge you to begin reading daily for ten minutes. Do the math. If you read ten minutes a day, how many books could you read in a year?  Cottrell shares in his book the following thoughts: “most books are between 12 and 20 chapters, in ten minutes  you’d be reading about half a chapter a day. During the next year, you’d have read 12 books. Do you think you would know more about your craft if you read 12 books on leadership and teaching and learning”? Reading daily is essential to professional growth. As a result I now make an appointment  in my daily calendar to read. It is working and I am avoiding complacency!  One thing is sure, I am committed to continuing to read daily and live in the Learning Zone .

Coming Back from Break

So, I just had a great holiday break with my family, and my 29 year old son, who owns his own online company, is showing me some tips on how to better use my website and brand new Facebook business page.

It’s ironic that a thirty-some year educator like myself is now getting educated, but that’s a great message for all of us, as we can all learn from those around us, even our students.

I just wanted to post these thoughts to welcome you all back from holiday break and let you know that Hickey Leadership Group, LLC will be improving it’s online communications effort by ramping up website content with a twice-weekly blog, daily Facebook thoughts focused on leadership tips for educators of all levels, and other integrated content.

Dan Hickey is the owner of Hickey Leadership Group, LLC – a consulting firm focused on educational leadership. Hickey is a Learning Leader with more than 30 years of experience in public education. Check out his Facebook Thoughts of the Day.

Please feel free to join the discussion regarding Coming Back From Break.