Welcome to the RRISD Superintendent's Leadership Retreat Blog

Welcome to the RRISD Superintendent's Leadership Retreat Blog - A place where several RRISD administrators and teachers have been asked to share their reflections and insight throughout the leadership retreat.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. ~ J.F.K.

This summer I read Leading School Change by Todd Whitaker and was inspired by his clarity and candidness. High expectations have to begin with the adults on the campuses and in the district if we have any hope of achieving our vision with the children. If you found his information on knowing and dealing with the variety of teachers on a campus refreshingly honest, you will enjoy his book. He also shares a plan for how to make change happen once you realize who your key players are.

To everyone who worked so hard to provide such a high quality retreat for the district leaders this year, BRAVO! You met your goal. Now it is time for us to take action with the knowledge and use the passion for our students to improve the quality of our educational programs for all students.

Building Relationships with Students with Cheryl Hester and Deanessa Zuniga

This was a great session that helped participants learn new strategies for developing relationships with students and coworkers. We divided into teams and we each created a school and came up with more descriptive names for our current roles.
One Team Example:
School Name- The Dream Academy which specializes in finding out the students' dreams and showing them how to get there. The renamed roles were:
Administrators- Dream Guides
School Community- Dream Weavers
Students- Dreamers
Counselors- (Dream) Spirit Catchers
Teachers- Dream Angels

Great Start to Retreat

Wednesday was fabulous. Damen Lopez was great and truly showed his passion. His comments were right on target with what we believe in RRISD. I received numerous comments about how great the presentations were. I attended two breakout session (technology and differentiation)and the presenters did a great job. Dee's session was tremendous; a number of people shared this with me. I am excited about the opportunities today. Alan Blankstein will be great. From your Superintendent.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Growing Older But Not Up

Is there anything more inspiring than the unbridled enthusiasm of youth? Three cheers to whoever decided to have recent former RRISD students speak at the end of day one. Those kids believed they could walk on water. Why can't they? Why can't we?

Each of those young people reminded us of the fire we can still summon. Why should confident idealism be wasted on the youth? We are the ones actually doing the work, making the difference. They're still donning togas and painting their chests at football games - not that there is anything wrong with that.

But, they also reminded us that we made them. They spent more hours of the day with us than their families so let's take due credit. I never laid eyes on any of them before this afternoon, but I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment as they spoke. We are a team after all.

I'm most inspired because only four spoke. How many more like them are there? There must be hundreds, maybe thousands. We did that. We're creating 18-year-olds that can stand up in front of hundreds of educators and demand more attention than professional speakers. Did anyone check their cell phone while they were speaking? Did anyone drift into a side conversation about summer vacation?

Why can't we all be young? Maybe it would not be fair, I don't know. For now, let's listen to our favorite French romantic Victor Hugo who tells us that, "Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age."

There is a pond out back, let's go for a walk.

Google and Beyond!

The session presented by the RRISD Technology Team on the possibilities of using 21st century technology in the classroom was inspiring. It allowed the participants to see an overview of what can be used and a brief introduction to how RRISD teachers are currently taking advantage of technology as a tool to extend student learning. It was also refreshing to see that even the gurus have a glitch every once in a while (the projector bulb went out in the middle of the presentation), and they modeled how to handle the situation with perfect grace. In this session, and in prior conversations with teachers and administrators, I have heard wonderings about the limits of using technology for those who don't have access at home. Knowing that no excuses are acceptable, how do we ensure that all students have rich experiences that allow students to use technology to extend their learning - especially for those who do not have the opportunities to interact with technology at home and are counting on us to prepare them for a technology-filled world?

Cultures of Universal Achievement

Damen Lopez provided a magnificent presentation for all of us in RRISD. How powerful were the statistics he showed to justify the need for changes in our school systems? Damen is very clear that students must graduate from college in order to have a chance at a life outside of poverty. It is painfully obvious that we as educators have control over whether or not our students make it. I also like that he gave a very clear and message for us to take away from his talk. His staircase graphic did a great job summing up all of the components of "Exceptional Systems". We are now able to reflect on the status of these systems within our schools and determine where we need to focus our attention. I also loved his story of the wrench vs. the pencil. That was a powerful visual about the two extreme roads that our students face. I also thought that Damen did a great job with the delivery of his message. I loved the movie clips and how they enhanced his message. In the three years I have spent with our great district, I felt that Damen Lopez has been the best keynote we have heard. Thank you to the organizers for bringing him in.

Positive Beginning!

I thought that Dr. Chavez did a great job delivering a positive message this morning. Whenever he speaks to us he does a great job of calling out multiple schools at all levels for their great achievements. I am also excited to be a part of his vision for the future of our district. The board and Dr. Chavez are really doing a great job supporting the campuses with the resources we will need to continue to be one of the best school districts in the nation. Overall, I thought that the retreat started on an extremely positive note.