It was a really good day.

Posted by Lindsay Harris on 4/3/2017

I want to tell you about last Thursday, but before I do that, you need some background: I’m a big believer in collaboration. My leadership style reflects a desire to have input from others and I find work the most fulfilling when it’s done as a team. One of the first decisions that was made once I came to work as the principal of Wagner Middle School was that I would establish a team of Wagner staff that would give input and serve as guides for decisions to be made. This work is too important for others to not be a part of it from the very beginning.

You probably know this, but there are endless decisions made each day for WMS -- some as significant as who we hire and what our instructional priorities are and some less significant, like which rooms need to have the same keys and what color the bleachers in the gyms are going to be. (Note: Even the insignificant decisions seem important, though, because who wants to be the person responsible for future key frustration or missing the mark on bleacher color?!?) 

Over the course of the Fall, the Wagner Leadership Team was established. The team consists of two assistant principals, two counselors, four teachers, a librarian, a principal’s secretary and me. Most of the team agreed to come on board while they remain in their current positions for the school year, which means our time together is even more special because most of it’s in the evenings after long days. These eleven people have very different backgrounds and areas of expertise but they are united in this: a commitment to make Wagner Middle School a campus where supportive relationships abound and learning experiences for both the adults and students are engaging and empowering. That shared commitment is the undercurrent in all of the team’s time together. 

Sometimes we tweet pictures that make it look like it is all fun and games (and there are some of both), but this group also works REALLY hard. While we are intentional about getting to know each other better and learning how to collaborate and work together, we really spend most of our time together learning. Prior to each meeting, everyone on the team does some work to prepare and that usually means there is some reading to do or videos to watch about a topic that we plan to spend some time on in the meeting.

All of the background is to tell you that the Wagner Leadership Team spent the day together last Thursday. As always, we enjoyed our time together -- there was laughter, there was debate and there was so much thinking that sometimes our heads hurt. We learned and we made some decisions. It was a good day.

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“Team Blue” celebrating a good idea with their Team Thinking Activity.


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We bring all of our instructional learning and decisions back to our GISD Learner Profile.


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To begin our conversation on Personalized Learning, we watched videos that showed personalized learning in action and had thoughts from teachers, parents and students that are using it on their campus.


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Mrs. Gaylor and Mrs. Heil are working through some research and preparing to share their learning with the group.

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And then there is this.


My favorite part of the day was when the team was able to tour the construction site. I love visiting it myself, but what was really special about this tour was getting to watch the reactions of people seeing it for the first time. They were overwhelmed with excitement and that took on a lot of forms -- some were speechless, some were saying things that showed it, there were even some tears. One by one and over the course of the following day, they all expressed that seeing the campus made the instructional vision more clear. And all of them shared how honored they were to get to be part of something so special. I can’t wait for the rest of the Wagner Team to have that same experience! That building is something special and not only because of it’s forward-thinking design … it is special because you can look at the space and see all of the possibilities for teaching and learning. It’s so much more than a building.

These pictures won’t do it justice, but here goes:

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This is taken from the parking lot behind the building near the Athletics facilities. The red-colored area behind the cars is part of our tennis courts. (We will have 8 courts total.) You can see the stadium lights are already up where the stadium will be.


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This is from the front parking lot. The large equipment is directly in front of the office area (first floor) and library (second floor). To the right is the 6th grade Den and to the far left is the STEM Den (first floor) and the Humanities Den (second floor). The brown metal roofing is over the main entrance.


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This picture is from the foot of the learning stairs. You’ve seen this view before, so I hope you can see the progress! The second story is now complete and we can walk on it! From this spot in the school, we will be able to see learning happening in many places -- the Commons, the Teacher Design Lab, the Library, the Art classrooms, the STEM Den and the Humanities Den. Pretty cool!


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This is taken from the library, which will have a lot of glass windows. What a view!


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The wooden beams are in! These are in the Commons.


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This is the view from the Humanities patio. That building in the distance is East View High School!


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View from the Art Patio, which is HUGE and will allow students from the art classrooms and the library to have a change of scenery as they work on it.


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This is the Humanities Den, where Social Studies, Language Arts and Foreign Language classes will happen for our 7th and 8th graders.


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Eight wise leaders and their principal, at the foot of the Learning Stairs.


Until Next Time,

Lindsay Harris

Lindsay Harris,

Principal, Wagner Middle School