Helping Oneself Help Others

“You need to take care of yourself first.
If you don't care for yourself, you can't take care of someone else.”

-Kathleen O'Brien

As a new school leader, I think that sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and stop to reflect.  This afternoon I got the opportunity to stop and reflect with other new assistant principals in the Boston area, thanks to a roundtable discussion hosted by the MSSAA in Franklin, MA.  It's funny, the fact that as school leaders, we ask teachers to stop and reflect on their practice, to focus on student learning, and we ask students to stop, and assess their learning, and revise their goals, and to keep on going!  As an administrator, we don't have many other checks, besides our peers and our superiors to stop and reflect.  And often times, we all (other administrators) are also running around like mad men and women, assessing their ever-expanding to-do list, and trying desperately, all the while, to spend time in classrooms and with students, to have an impact on student learning.

This deliberate break in my day was just fantastic.  It was a true PLC: we focused on student learning, worked together, shared best practices, and kept the norms of the group that would lead to full, authentic participation by all.

Rick DuFour states that in order to "create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results."  It was great to stop and reflect on my own learning, the learning of students, and to work collaboratively with a group of professionals in the same boat as me!  I will need to hold myself accountable for some of the action items we discussed in the group, and to create an action plan that will force me to regularly stop, reflect, and take care of myself professionally.  Just like good teaching is never finished, as teachers constantly reflect, revise and edit, and schools that function as a high-level PLC will encourage that, I need to encourage myself to do the same.  I must reflect; I must revise; I must edit.  I will need to rely electronically for other educators in my PLN to keep pushing me, hold me accountable, to regularly carve out the time I need to engage in my own professional development.  The Chicken-Without-A-Head Syndrome, which I genuinely love about my job, needs to occasionally be put on hold, so I may stop, take care of myself, reflect on my learning, and engage in as much of professional learning community as I can, even if it is on my own, or with hundreds of fellow educators out there in my PLN who challenge what I do and affirm what I do.  Thank you to you all!

Works Cited
DuFour, Rick.  "What Is a "Professional Learning Community"?


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