When do we reflect and practice?

The past few months have been crazy with finishing up the school year, moving back to the United States and looking for a job. There has been no time for reading or writing blogs. Now that things have settled down for the summer I have time to do some writing.

Last week I had the pleasure of taking my son to the AT&T National Golf Tournament at the Congressional course in Bethesda. What a wonderful time we had watching Tiger and the others play golf. Over the years I’ve been to several tournaments and I really enjoy the atmosphere. The aspect that we sometimes forget is that these players typically work hard and put in long hours at the range, on the putting green and actually playing. This doesn’t even include all of the travel and the promotional appearances that they make. What stood out for me was the typical routine was practice on the putting green and then driving range, round of golf and then more practice on the range or putting green depending on where they felt they needed work. On that particular day, guys like V.J. Singh and Lee Jansen headed to the range immediately after a frustrating day. You could see the determination on their faces as they hustled off to work on their swing. Just like us, these guys are professionals who are driven for perfection.

I tried to think about how this practice applies to education. While they are working on improving physical skills, we have to constantly hone our skills as administrators. Can we equate their time working on their short game with leading a meeting? For example, when was the last time that you left a teacher observation post conference and hustled off to practice on areas that you may have not done as well as you would have liked? My first questions were, Is this applicable to what I do? and How would I replicate what they are doing? I mean, sure I can reflect on how I performed but how do I go about practicing the skills?

While some of the professionals were working on their own, others were getting advice from their caddy or coach. This is a practice that I believe can be replicated. Why not sit down with a colleague at the end of the week or day and discuss performance. What went well? What needs improvement? and Ideas for improvement? With the help of someone to give you feedback and ideas you gain knowledge and can build skills. What would it take to work periodically with a critical friend/mentor/coach? As a principal I’ve always felt that it was difficult to get direct feedback from others.

How do you reflect and practice?

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