I saw this video a while ago and just thought it was pretty cool. In August, as I was thinking about the start of a new school year and reflecting upon what direction I wanted our school to move, I happened to watch this video again and it was like a light bulb went off in my head (at least 100 watts!). The accomplishment of the musicians in that video exemplifies my vision for our staff and our school.
Yesterday we had our opening faculty meeting and I had my first opportunity to work with the teaching staff. After processing our progress and accomplishments from a very successful 2012-2013, I asked the staff to watch the video and reflect on what they saw. After watching the video, here are some of the things we discussed.
- Teamwork. The most obvious thing that people saw was five guys working together to accomplish a task. As a school we need to work together to accomplish everything. Our school theme last year was "Better Together" and our school theme this year is "Better Together: HATS off to learning!" (HATS stands for Habits, Attitudes, Talents, Skills). We proved last year that we are a better staff when we work together. When we plan together, teach together, watch each other teach and talk about student achievement, we are better. Our children learn more when they work together. Whether they are working on a service learning project, creating artwork for the school, developing their mathematics skills through cooperative learning, or mastering literacy skills in a small group, the process is stronger when it is collaborative. Our families are more connected to the children's education when we encourage them to be a part of our mission. The volunteerism and passion that families bring to our community is heartening and provides fuel for all that we do. As lead learner of our school, I want all members of our community to be on the team and work Better Together.
- Trust. Closely related to Teamwork is trust. The five guys clearly trust one another and this is why they are able to collaborate. The most concrete evidence of this in the video is when one of the guys is
- Flexibility. Again, related to both teamwork and trust is flexibility. About two thirds of the way through the video, the five guys all run around the piano, switch places, and play in different ways. They are all willing to do their part to make the music beautiful. As they work together, they realize that their talents can be utilized in a variety of ways to achieve their goal. Our students need to take on different roles as learners and teachers. Sometimes they may be the presenter, sometimes the researcher, sometimes the glue that holds the group together, sometimes the leader, and sometimes the supportive team player. Our staff members need to know that they are valuable teachers to all of the children in our classrooms, not just their own class. They are responsible for all of the children (the whole piano). They also need to know that they can take on different roles in the education of the children, they can work next to one another, combine classes, co-teach, share children, and generally look at their roles through various lenses. Our families need to know that school in 2013 may look and feel different than when they went to school. This idea of giving the unfamiliar a chance is expanded upon in the next item in the list. As lead learner of our school, I want all members of our community to embrace change and know that resilience is an important life skill that we teach here and it begins with being flexible.
- Innovation and Tradition. The five guys did not just play the piano in a traditional fashion. They played the piano in ways that most of us had not thought of before. Many were struck by the use of the bow strings (very cool). This is important because we need to ensure that we are continually looking at the ways in which we perform our craft. Teaching is an evolving art and science. The ideas, shared resources, and collaboration of the educational community on #twitter is a testament to the
- Risk Taking. Can you imagine sitting in a meeting where five guys sit down and say, "So, we're going to open up a piano and start strumming, banging, plucking, and playing a piano in ways it was meant to be played!"? I would think that there are some who would balk at the thought of it. However, these guys took a risk and it paid off. I like the original song by One Direction. It's catchy and you can dance to it, but the version in the video above is amazing (I believe better than the original - personal opinion). It is not easy to go out on a limb and take a chance. Our school should be a place where students, staff members, and families can do that. We need to build up our children so that they are creative thinkers who are willing to take those risks. We need to empower our teachers to try things that may fail and we need to encourage our families to step out of their comfort zone and get involved in ways they never have before. As lead learner of our school, I want all members of our community to know that risk taking is okay and if we fail it is simply our First Attempt In Learning.
- Hard Work. That video is amazing; however, it didn't happen without hard work. There had to be many attempts at it and likely many failures. Making beautiful music takes commitment, practice, teaching and learning, self-reflection, correction, and all of the above enumerated concepts. The results of that hard work can be great. Our students need to know that success isn't and probably
- Have Fun. It was clear that these five guys were having fun doing what they love. The looks on their faces and the choruses of "na na na na" are clear evidence of that. Having fun is such an important part of the learning process. Who wants to do something in which they find no joy? Our children need to have opportunities to find their passions and have fun in school. I am not naive and I know that we
Needless to say, I found that video very powerful and I hope that you do, as well. I think it was a great way to kick off the year with an amazing group of educators who work everyday to embody the ideas above. At the beginning of this post I mentioned that I was reflecting upon what direction I wanted our school to move and I am pleased that I was able to find some help from a song by One Direction (bad pun intended). But hey, that's what makes it beautiful (okay, I'll stop now).
I know this is going to be a great year and that we are going to do wonderful things. I'm sure that there are other things in the video that I haven't mentioned above. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the video or anything in this post.
Have a great school year!