Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year
The opening of school is always a time for students, families, and staff to reflect on our joys from the past; but more importantly look to our hopes and dreams for the coming year. Whether it is an individual aspiration, a team goal or a school wide goal; the beginning of each school year always presents an opportunity for growth. The start of the year presents a potential for dreams to be realized, a time for meaningful change!
The question is what do we as individuals want to change in a meaningful manner; what are we looking for this year to make the year special? As parents do we have a goal of supporting our student learning more effectively, as students do we see a chance to improve in a specific academic area, or certain study skills; as teachers and administrators do we see specific programs we could support more completely? The thing about growth is that is requires a change, and change is a verb; something that is always happening, always around us but not always understood. By understanding the elements of change better we can embrace it more effectively.
I hope you will take some time to view change in a format that I think helps us understand where we might get stuck in the change process, and through this format maybe we can “unstick” ourselves and reach the goals we have set. The format that I propose is viewing change through five integrated elements: 1) vision 2) skills 3) incentives 4) resources, and 5) action plans. Each of these five elements plays a role in the change process; whether it is an individual goal we set for ourselves, or a group goal that we have defined with people around us.
I encourage you to play with the pieces of these integrated elements and get comfortable with them. Take some time to imagine how difficult it would be to achieve a goal when you are not quite sure what the end result looks like (vision)? What if I set a goal so high and I do not have the initial skills to get started on my plan of action? What if we cannot define an action plan because we are missing critical resource to move forward? These frustrations, confusion, and feelings of anxiety that a change context present are avoidable. These annoying emotional context can be avoided by working as a team; engaging in shared responsibility helps each of us reach our potential. At the Universal American School it is our desire to support the aspirations of our students and their families within our learning community through effective teamwork.
Our students (and their families) can rely on the Universal American School staff to help them define the foundation pieces of the changes they want to engage in. As parents you can work with and depend on our staff and administration to set realistic goals for each child and help them see that the change process is both manageable and rewarding. As UAS staff you can rely on your administration and your peers to support your daily work and make your service to our families rewarding. As the Universal American School learning community we understand how to manage the changes around us, making it meaningful for all, and hopefully less of a challenge.
Change has some consistent elements whether in school our outside of school; it always presents a challenge, it is constant in some aspect of our lives, and it can be seen as an opportunity to take advantage of, not something to shrink away from. Together we can approach the opportunities for this year as a means to grow and become more comfortable with the changes around us. I feel having a common language in which to talk about the change facilitates meeting its challenges. Having a means (vocabulary) to talk about change in the context of vision, skills, incentives, resource and action plans will help us support each other in constructive manner.
I wish you the best of years and look forward to helping you reach your goals, please feel free to share your goals with me, and I hope together we can continue the great trajectory of success at Universal American School.
Brian D. Gander, DEd.
Dr. Brian Gander