Keep Your Eye on the Ball
What’s Your Focus this Year?
Patrick Vincent
Principal, Union Gap School, Union Gap School District
Evaluation Criteria: Improving Instruction
This summer, my wife and I decided to support the West Coast Baseball league by hosting two college athletes who played for the Yakima Pippins. Aside from the benefit of getting to know two great men from southern California, we got to see and learn a whole lot more about baseball. Not naturally inclined towards sports nor avid fans of any league or specific team, we still went to a ton of games; we welcomed something, anything else to think about and experience. Being a fan this summer helped right things in our lives that were offset.
But, as the summer began to wane, when we would attend the games, I found that my attention was less on the plays, and instead I found my mind wandering towards the coming fall. Details, plans, emails, new hires, and everything else that crowds our attention at the beginning of the year all came back to the front of my mind. And yet, I was helped by baseball in at least one way: focus. When players are on the field, as they all wait for the pitch, everyone is focused on one thing: the ball/student learning.
When players are on the field, as they all wait for the pitch, everyone is focused on one thing: the ball/student learning.
I have committed to myself this year that, yes, I will remain proactive in my communication, meticulously plan for relevant PD, and manage like I have never managed before; however, everything I do must contribute to student learning. Disruptive behavior? Get students back on track so they can continue learning. Master schedule? Prioritize small group instruction time to target interventions to fill gaps and holes. Budget? Approve the purchase of materials that support student learning.
Aside from being the obvious focus of lead learner, I anticipate that focusing on student learning will also help me cope with the never-ending roller coaster that is the COVID pandemic. Last year I burdened myself with the responsibility of being ready for anything; this year I would like to prepare myself to be ready to help teachers help students learn — this is something I can control and will help me sleep better at night.
To watch a ballgame in person is also to witness the full texture of the experience. When games are broadcast, you don’t get to see the high fives of the players coming in off the field after the great plays and the ending of the eternal innings. You will often miss the constant movement of the players to back each other up. And, most entertainingly, the jeers lobbed back and forth from dugout to dugout, because the game is serious, but also fun.
May any arguments with the umps this year lead to a satisfyingly heated conversation where points are made, the right calls stick, and questionable ones receive appropriate critique.
Play ball!
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Washington Principal | Volume 1– 2021-22