Vacation Slide Show
When I was a kid, my dad was really into slide film. We took some awesome and interesting vacations (I’ll tell you more about those another time), and he would use his camera to take hundreds of photos, which were developed and viewed as a slide show once we got home. Dad would load up the carousel for the slide projector and mom would take the frames off the wall over the TV so we’d have a screen to view the entertainment. There’s just something about the anticipation of lowering the lights, closing the curtains, and sitting down to relive a great time with family.
Those were the days before digital cameras, so it was somewhat of a mystery to find out what was captured on film once it was developed. There were always pictures of the places we visited, but the best pictures included big smiles, silly expressions, and outfits that defined the decade. My mom was just glad to get pictures with everyone’s eyes open. And of course, there were always a few surprises like the “accidental” shots my dad took of bikini bathing suits at the beach.
As we prepare to dismiss students for summer vacation, let’s adjust our lenses and view some images we can use for learning, growing, and celebrating.
The first step is to compile as much information as possible. This will certainly include state data when it is available, but that alone won’t give us the full picture since science scores are limited to grades 5 and 8 and biology. What about graduation rates and passing rates by grade level and by teacher? What about high school science course enrollment, especially the electives? What does the attendance rate say about our district and its individual schools? Is there high teacher turnover at a particular campus or in a particular grade level? Focus with a wide-angle lens to grab as much information as possible and then sort it into a collage to see what is really happening.
Out of Focus
There were always a few pictures that were a little out of focus. As a science administrator, are you targeting what is really important with laser focus? Here’s a challenge: Take a look at your calendar for this past school year and tally up the time spent on various categories of tasks. Did you get into classrooms or get stuck at your desk? Can you see a connection between your stated goals and how your time was actually spent? It’s not too late to refocus for next school year.
Who’s That in Our Picture?
There are times my dad ended up with people whom we didn’t know in our pictures, but the majority of our photos focused on our family. As a science administrator, you work with hundreds of people, and it’s up to you to choose whom to include in your “pictures” each day. Touch base with campus principals and leaders to keep a common focus for best practices in science classrooms. Stop in to have a conversation with science department chairs and team leaders to get their perspective on campus and district happenings. Spend intentional time in new teachers’ classrooms to provide focused and specific advice to help them quickly grow as effective educators.
At the end of our vacation, our scrapbook of images told a story of a trip that represented us as a family, and at the end of the school year, your collection of data, details, and dialogue define you as a leader of science education. Is this chapter in your story guiding your district and ultimately your students to a deeper understanding of the science around them? There may be some odd angles or days when you had your finger over the lens, but the goal is to look for ways to grow and improve so that next year you are even better than you are now. So open your eyes, look into the sun, and tilt your head at just the right angle because there’s no better time than the present to take a hard look at how you are doing. Just be thankful that no one is projecting it on the wall in the living room.