Archive for October, 2012

Welcome to Graduate School!

Two weeks ago, I took a big step in continuing my journey as an educational leader. I began graduate school, working towards a Masters degree in Educational Leadership.  WOW!  By December 2014, I will hopefully be certified as an administrator… the possibility of becoming a building level principal is exciting, yet overwhelming at the same time.  While I’m still not certain that I’ll immediately go in that direction, I want to keep my options open.  What I do know is that I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the opportunities I’ve been given as a teacher, teacher-leader, and instructional coach!  I’m humbled everyday by my teachers; no matter how big or little, how old or young, no matter what color or cultural background, I’m constantly learning new things from those around me!  

Last weekend, as I worked diligently with two partners in my class on our first of two presentations, I learned that I am a “big-picture” thinker, and that I do have patience for inexperienced, as well as experienced people, and I also learned two HUGE lessons about working with other people via emails.  The first lesson taught me that I need to clearly communicate my thoughts, especially when planning through email.  This one kind of caught me by surprise, because I used to type out very detailed thoughts, and then I started learning from some of my coworkers that they don’t really want to read those long emails, so I’ve tried really hard to pick out main ideas and just get to my point.  Well, I learned that when dealing with new people, that don’t know you very well, and that haven’t established a certain level of trust with you, it’s better to be as detailed as possible, clearly communicating what you are thinking! These will ease any anxiety another might have.  The second big lesson I learned, which has been developing recently, is don’t assume others know what you know!  I have a lot of trust in people as professionals, therefore I trust that they are lifelong learners, and continue to build their own capacity. While this still might be true, everyone’s different, and not everyone is at the same level, nor has everyone had the same experiences, therefore it’s important not to assume others know what I know. And I really don’t know much! Needless to say, we rocked our presentation!  

My program is considered intensive. I’m learning new things, while validating some things I’ve learned along my own journey. I’m also making many connections between the theories and concepts of educational administration and what I see in schools I work with. My list of questions continues…

How do you create, maintain, and change school culture?

How do you know in which environment you’ll be most effective?

Which style of leadership is most effective?When?

What are some mistakes new principals have made? 

What are some accomplishments of effective principals?

Will my teacher friends remain my friends when I become a principal?

Who are my mentors?

What traits and characteristics are the most effective from the  8 principals I’ve worked for in my career thus far?

If you have any words of wisdom, please leave a comment. I continue to be open to new ideas, and am excited that I’m finally taking this step. And  I’m forever grateful that I have a very supportive husband in this journey!




October 28, 2012 at 6:56 am Leave a comment

Excellence is an Attitude

When I first moved into my current office, I didn’t really think about the decor, as I don’t spend too much time in my office.  The one thing I did find that I knew for certain I wanted displayed in there was a sign I found that simply stated, “Excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude.”  Coaching people to be “excellent” is part of my job.

One of the greatest rewards of being an instructional coach is getting numerous opportunities to observe and interact with teachers and students in their own classrooms.  Recently, I’ve been to several of our elementary schools to do quick, informative assessments of where teachers are with implementing Math Workshop. We have been doing professional development and making the shift to more of a conceptual, problem solving approach in our mathematics instruction, so it’s a journey. Just like students, our teachers are at different levels on the journey, however one major piece that’s been lacking for many teachers on this journey has been feedback. Meaningful feedback, constructive feedback is SO important in order for teachers to improve and change. Just like students need to be met wherever they are in their understanding, and given feedback that will move them forward, teachers need this too.

Here are a few essentials for providing meaningful feedback to teachers:

1. Find out what they DO know, and what they CAN do.

2.  Be honest, yet humble.  

3. Ask a question to spark thinking.

4. Focus on the positives and build from there.

5. Provide a model of what you are expecting.

These essentials are really the same for giving feedback to students.

In his book, An Ethic of Excellence, Ron Berger describes how providing exemplars, examples of excellent work for students, we help them to see their own progress.  This concept is just as applicable to teachers. (or anyone, really)

While this is a cultural shift in thinking differently than just a right or a wrong answer, this way of providing feedback will move teachers toward greatness. And who doesn’t want a GREAT teacher?


October 20, 2012 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

Twenty Questions


1. What is your strength?

2. What is your weakness?

3. How are you working on the weakness?

4. Who can help you?

5. What do you notice about other people?

6.What do other people notice about you?

7. When is enough, enough?

8. Am I doing enough?

9. Am I doing too much?

10. How can I change that?

11. How can we change that?

12. What do you believe?

13. Who do you trust?

14. Why don’t they teach that in “school”?

15. Does it matter? Why or why not?

16. What impact will this have?

17. Who is on board?

18. Who isn’t on board? Why aren’t they?

19. Why?

20. Why not?

I do not have all the answers, I just continue to ask the questions and enjoy the journey.  What questions do you have?


October 5, 2012 at 10:55 am Leave a comment

Kristen Hahn

October 2012
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My journey from a Math-a-Phobe to a Mathematics Coach