Several comments on my previous blog post about snow days asked about adjusting the schedule to add days/time to the 2nd trimester at the high school vs. the end of the year. (The 2nd trimester currently ends on March 13th.) The idea behind it is to better balance the days between trimesters to allow for similar content to be covered in each trimester.
It is important to note, the original school calendar called for 58 days in the 1st trimester, 64 days in the 2nd trimester and 53 days in the 3rd trimester. With the 8 days gone from the middle trimester - it is now 58/56/53 – which is actually more balanced. If we add 2 make-up days at the end of school, it would be 58/56/55.
At this point, we are not planning to adjust the 2nd trimester schedule. We do understand that staff planning for 64 and adjusting to 56 is not easy and will likely mean the final course exam may be altered, however, adding a day or two will not solve that issue and will further shorten the 3rd trimester.
As some of you may recall, last year a group of students, teachers and administrators took the plunge in an ice cold pool of water on the 50 yard line at the University of Michigan Football Stadium. The event raised funds for the Special Olympics of Washtenaw County. The group is different this year with a larger group of students carrying the Saline Area Schools flag, along with several hearty staff members. This is a worthy cause that directly benefits our students.
The event will again be held in the stadium and takes place this Saturday, February 22nd (Hi 32/Low 12). I encourage you to consider donating to the 2014 participants by clicking here.
With the closing of school today, February 18th – we now have passed the allowable number of days that are waived by the State of Michigan. To put it simply, this one needs to be made up. With a good month of possible inclement weather including snow and ice, we will not make a formal announcement regarding our plan to make up the missed day(s). The State Board of Education issued a statement last week, advocating for making up days vs. adding time to the remaining days. It is unclear what our options will be at this point. There is pending legislation regarding the adding time option.
I do want to caution families and staff members, it is very likely that we will be going to school at least a part of the week of June 9th. For planning purposes, I would keep that week open until we know more.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the AASA National Conference on Education in Nashville. It was an excellent chance to learn from educational leaders from across the country. One of the sessions that I attended focused on the need to screen new staff candidates based on their “disposition” vs. a specific set of skills or experiences. This is not to say that skills and previous experiences are not important, however, skills can be taught and experiences gained. The presentation focused on the need for the disposition first, without it the potential staff member will not be able to effectively use their skills.
This reinforces what the book, How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything by Dov Seidman discusses as a key to organizational success. The author highlights the need for “In spite of” vs. “Because of” employees. Seeking employees that succeed “in spite of” challenges vs. those who struggle “because of” similar challenges can provide a great opportunity to model that disposition for our students. Mr. Seidman states:
“What matters is not the obstacle, but how you think about obstacles, how you approach them, and how you behave in the face of them. Leaders believe they will find a way in spite of the forces aligned against them. They never walk away because of a problem. Sometimes you won’t succeed in spite of your best efforts, but if you don’t start with an in spite of disposition, you will seldom win.”
The reminded me, that as a leader I need to model this attitude. At times it is easy to bemoan the limitations of reduced funding and misguided education policy. However, I need to guard against using these obstacles as barriers to success. In addition, with spring around the corner, we are starting to review potential openings at the faculty level for the 2014-2015, I plan to use some of the disposition assessment tools I learned about at the conference when screening candidates.
As part of our Central Administration meetings, we have been discussing the book, How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything by Dov Seidman. The premise of the book is that in the 21st century it’s no longer what you do or what you know that matters most. It’s now about “how” you do it.
One section discusses the idea of “can” vs. “should” and how focusing on what we can do limits us from thinking about what we should do.
“From can to should. From rules to values. These fundamental shifts in language exert a profound effect on the way you think, orient your energies, make decisions, and, therefore, achieve. “
Our discussion in this area prompted us to think about moving from rules to values could have a positive impact of our students and community. In thinking about Saline Area Schools, what are the area where are doing what we “can” do versus what we “should” do for our students?
It was an interesting week for our community. Having three consecutive snow days immediately following the winter break is not something that happens often. The last time was January, 1982. So students, if you are in school now don’t expect it again – it’s a once a generation event!
It was good to be back in school on Thursday! I would like to thank the Grounds & Maintenance staff and Transportation staff in particular for their work making sure our grounds and facilities were ready to go and that our students arrived safely. I appreciate the patience and understanding of the community as we worked through our process to determine when it was appropriate to return to school.
Over the last couple of years myself and others from Saline Area Schools have had the opportunity to learn about the personal and organizational benefits of focusing on the positive from professors at the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan.
With the Holidays over and winter weather upon, now is a good time to remember the benefits of approaching each other and tasks with a positive mindset.
Some tips from University of Michigan Professor Scott DeRue:
- Frame staff’s positive qualities, existing strengths, and past successes as opportunities for building on existing excellence.
- Approach negative experiences with a positive orientation to enhance their developmental value.
- Link and reinforce positive experiences over time to foster positive development cycles.
- Recognize others’ struggles and respond by providing feedback, mentoring, coaching, training, and resources.
- Give frequent feedback about the positive contribution or impact your colleagues have on others.