I was a basketball referee for several years, and loved being able to take part of the game. Since I was too slow to play anymore, reffing seemed like a logical fit
One thing that I found interesting about being a referee, was the amount of preparation there was put into learning certain key aspects of the game every single year. During any single season, we had a few key “points of emphasis” that EVERYONE would focus on during the season. This was made known to not only the refs, but also the coaches and teams as well. All aspects of being a ref were important, but we would all work to get better in one to two elements to build knowledge and skill in those specific areas. We would all have conversations about our overall reffing after games, but we would always revisit those specific aspects that were a focus.
Interestingly enough, I wrote a post recently entitled “8 Things to Look For in Today’s Classroom“, and I noticed that both Amber Teamann and Jesse McLean made comments either on my blog or to me directly, regarding not focusing on all eight things, but actually focusing on one to two things during the year and really getting strong in those areas as a group. Not simply glazing over and focusing on all, being masters of none, but actually having a specific focus on elements that the staff would choose that they would work on. That immediately took me back to the notion of the “points of emphasis” and made me think about how after one year of focusing on those 1-2 things, the skill of all of our referees in those areas would be phenomenal as a whole. The skills would not disappear, but would become second nature and part of your toolkit. The next year, you would focus on new aspects, while having major strengths in those other specific areas.
So as I look at both the “Teacher Quality Standards” and “Principal Quality Standards”, I wonder how much better we would be if we all talked about 1-2 elements of that practice and really master those aspects? As I continue my work and share what I am looking for, I have seemingly focused this year on the notions of student voice and meaningful creation as major “points of emphasis” in what I am looking for and have discussed this with staff. I have seen tremendous strides in this area, as well as have collected meaningful examples from staff and students who have pushed in this area. Next year, I plan to make this extremely visible in the work that I am trying to do as I believe that focusing on 1-2 areas will really help to push our schools towards transformation.
It may not be as fast, but it will be much deeper.