“Bright Spot on Flexible Faculty Forum” Guest Post: Sally Finch

When Dr. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile, numerous other runners soon ran through the opening that he cracked in an apparent barrier. Perhaps we have a similar situation here. Thanks, to Jen Lalley, the 112-day wait time paid off, and It’s About Learning enjoyed it’s first Junior-High-faculty guest post. Now, Sally Finch has offered up an email that she sent to Dean of Faculty Thad Persons. THANK YOU to Jen and to Sally for their willingness and courage – to share with a broader audience.

I loved the ease of registering on the multi-colored spreadsheet!  It was so user-friendly and made so much sense.

I just read Bo’s blog about how he and Jill changed topics at the last minute and got a whopping increase in attendance.  This kind of flexibility for Faculty Forum, with an “expert” speaker working along with us, and with us teaching each other, is the best kind of choice for getting back to school.  Even those sessions I could not attend but wanted to (Sophie is just across the hall from me) can be an asset in the future.

The flexibility made it possible for Marjorie and me to work together on economics, and that was especially helpful since Jay was on jury duty.  I was getting a little nervous about the technology before Thursday, but feel much better now that I have taken some baby steps on some new things and know that I have lots of folks around to help.

Thanks for a great two days.

People often pick up the phone or pound on the e-mail to complain. Fewer (it seems) take opportunity to communicate about a bright spot. For instance, we call the help desk when technology is frustrating us, and we call Georgia Power when the power shuts down. How often do we call to say, “Things worked great today! Thanks for providing the tools and the electricity!” Such positive feedback goes a long way to building a record of what works, what helps, and what needs to continue. Thanks, Sally!

A Single Note Can Make It All Worthwhile

There was a single note on the teacher’s desk. Turning the envelope, she slid her curious finger under the seal, anxious to read what awaited her. Just the crackle and hiss of that seal being broken blocked out the ambient sounds of anything else around. Wrestling the note from the casing, she realized she held one of “those notes.” Occasionally, over the years, she received several of those notes. Each one precious. These notes find their way into a treasure chest of memories – memories that resurface on a challenging day or a day soaked in gray rain. A student had penned a thank you – a note of gratitude and appreciation. Sustaining nourishment. Sweet nourishment.

As teachers, I believe that many of us “live for” that note from a student, or from any learner to whom we’ve contributed, that expresses the impact of a lesson or moment of learning. Yesterday, my school received such a note, and I share it here with the sender’s permission:


I’ve overcome severe jealousy to write a brief thanks to you & your school for today’s tweets.

I’m certain you have issues that drive you mad in faculty meetings, whether it’s dress code or recess or something else only tangentially relevant to Learning – but today had too many of those moments for me – and then I checked Twitter.

Watching the hashtag responses, and knowing that people I knew and respected were having the right conversations about students in the midst of preparing for the year ahead, gave me hope that such conversations would continue to blossom here, and maybe we would have a Twitter stream as a backdrop to a professional development session someday – to the betterment of our students, and maybe even to eavesdropping friends elsewhere!

Thank you again – not only for the knowledge, but for the Potential it represents for us all.

Please visit when you can – we’d love to show you what we’ve been doing since you were last here.

Warmest regards,


At this week’s end, Westminster is enjoying Faculty Forum with George Couros (@gcouros). Faculty Forum is an annual, opening-of-school set of faculty meetings for inspiring and readying the work ahead for another school year. As we transition our technology to Apple and a 1:1 framework, some may mistake that the focus is on the technology. George provided a keynote, and the school organized a number of learning spaces, which spotlight the actual focus – LEARNING and SHARING. That’s what it’s really about. [Twitter stream for Westminster Faculty Forum – #wmatl]

Didn’t we all get into teaching – if we are in it for the right reasons – because we ourselves love to learn…and because we want to share that learning with students? The mere word “students,” however, makes many think of children and teenagers. Yet we are all students if we steer our mindset to continuous learning. And we are all teachers, too, with such a mindset. In wholeness, we are learners, and we can hardly hide our passion for sharing that learning.

I am eternally grateful for Ezra’s note, and I am grateful to my school community – including @gcouros – for inspiring such a note. Ezra expresses the creative tension between vision and current reality, and he exudes that learner’s passion to close the gap by working to achieve the vision. And, he’s connected. He’s connected to a tribe of learners who want to do our best for ourselves, for our colleagues, and for our students.

We helped students today – before they even arrive at school for the year. We ourselves learned. And we shared. It is our way, and Ezra reminds us why we do it. A single note can make it all worthwhile.