Principal Impact

A Reflective Journey with Principal Hackett


The Quiet Learner

I try to treat all of our students as if their parents were standing right next to them. I hope I don’t need that reminder to be kind, respectful, and caring, but it is a good reminder that we serve students AND families…even if the adults aren’t next to us during the day. Like anyone, I miss the mark at times. I can be short when I’m running late or miss a faint “hi” or forget a name. Most of the time, I can tell if I have fallen short with a student and make an effort to connect with them to make sure they know I noticed them. Most of us in education would agree that every interaction with students is important. Our care and consideration to make kids feel valued can mean the difference between learning and disruptive or between excitement and dysregulated. We all know the many ways our students seek adult attention through both positive and less than positive means. What I’ve observed more and more lately is that our quiet observers learn from our interactions perhaps as much as the students who are outwardly seeking attention.


Recently I was subbing in a classroom, and I was having one of those interactions with a student that stick with you for several days and keep you smiling. The student talked about the fun he had at recess and some amazing snow forts that I just need to check out as soon as possible! We talked at length about the details, the teamwork, and the fun with the new snow that made the fort possible. The conversation was full of laughter and joy. It was a day-maker for me. But it wasn’t that student that has me writing today; it was a student who was sitting on the side watching, observing, and smiling.

I took notice of another student who was quietly listening and observing our conversation. He smiled when we laughed, and you could just tell he was completely engaged in our conversation without saying a word. When the conversation was over, there was a forceful sense that the quiet observer got every bit of joy and enjoyment out of the snow fort conversation as we did.

This is a small example, and as I continue to reflect I want to explore more about how our quiet learners interact, and feel most comfortable interacting, in the classroom. What I’m learning is that those priceless interactions with students have even more at stake than I originally thought. Our students are always learning from conversations and communications; perhaps even more when they can watch, listen, and observe.


2020 One Word – IMPACT

IMPACT – My one word for 2020 is about making a difference. When you look up impact, one of the first definitions reads, “the action of one object coming forcibly into another.” While I’m looking to make an IMPACT in 2020 in many ways, I’m not talking about putting my head down and forcing my way through change. Another definition you can find for IMPACT is, “to have a strong effect on someone or something.” I want my influence to be strong, IMPACTful, and purposeful. I want to make connections with students more meaningful and professional development opportunities for our staff more effective.

I am sure this isn’t anything new for a principal. Most of us want to make a bigger IMPACT than the year before or even the day before. I try not to lose sight of my why which keeps me motivated with a positive attitude in making a difference for our students each day. The real question I have now is more about the how. This summer I was introduced to the term Observable Impact from Garth Larson and Cale Birk, authors of PLC 2.0. In their book, Larson and Birk use their success and experience to provide direction, strategies, and tools to collaborative teams. The idea that collaborative teams can help students achieve at higher levels is nothing new. However, providing a framework for teachers and educators to be able to observe the IMPACT that comes from their collaboration (and answer the “how”) is groundbreaking in many ways. I am looking forward to starting a positive change in 2020, with the help of Garth and Cale, which leads us to a place where our collaboration has a definite and observable IMPACT in our classrooms.

Meaningful change takes time, and this will be a learning process for all of us at Little Mountain Elementary. But I can’t help but think about the complete mindset shift that originates with observable IMPACT as the focus. How are the professional development opportunities/staff meetings making an observable IMPACT in the classroom? How are the behavior interventions we put together making an observable IMPACT in and out of the classroom? Will it be easier to discover what is really important for our students and what we can do without when we shift our mindset? Is there a shift in culture when we are purposeful and always looking for results from our actions in everything we do? I’m looking forward to forging ahead and finding these answers in 2020



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