Monday, December 19, 2016

Stop and Watch

Principal ponderings...
Instead of a post where I share my thoughts with you, I am simply posting a few video clips that I have come across.  Take some time to stop and watch some or all of them.  Maybe they will spark a good conversation.  Maybe they will make you think.  Or maybe they will just put a smile on your face.

'The Power of Love' - Sometimes we need to put our devices down and focus on connecting!

I may have shared this one before, but it gets me every time.  So get out the tissues when you watch how this teacher talks honestly with his students about the importance of love above all else.

Here is a great short film from the White House Film Festival about using technology to help you pursue your passion.

Here is a clip about making the world more awesome by thinking about #yearofthekid from Kid President.

And I always love The Big Bang Theory for some great clips - here is "The Friendship Algorithm"

Currently reading:
I definitely had a not-so-good reading week.  But as we wind down with 2016 and get ready to start 2017, I thought I would add in some book list links for you.  Maybe you are looking for some new books to put on your 2017 reading list?  A principal friend of mine in California created a book club list for pleasure reading here.  Here is a list of the best picture books of 2016 put out by Goodreads.
And here is a link to the best sellers in Education from the New York Times.  Have fun picking out some new books to read!

Events this week:
Tuesday - HS Band Concert @ 9:30 in the PAC
Wednesday -  Pajama Day! 4th grade chorus practice @ 2:25, Staff Meeting @ 3:30 - We will meet from 3:30-4:00 in the PAC, Dr. Rodriguez presenting the district strategy plan, 4:00-5:00 - looking at student writing
Friday - Festive Wear Day!
** Enjoy the vacation week!

Great things that I noticed last week:

  • I popped into Mrs. Miln's class and caught them practicing some reader's theater. 
  • Enjoyed a final building walk through with Dr. Rodriguez.  We had fun chatting with as many teachers as we could.  Also enjoyed watching 3rd graders shooting hoops! 
  • Lots of police in front of the building!?  And our 4th graders climbing into cruisers?!  Must mean one was basket delivery day for our Groton seniors!  Thanks to everyone for their donations.  I am sure that the people who received the baskets were very appreciative. 

  • Thanks for the lotto ticket tree and wreath Dianna!  Did anyone win big?! 
  • Some days being a principal are really tough.  And then there are days when I get notes like this and it's all worth it! 
  • This 4th grader came to show me his social studies project where he used his dad's iPad to create a presentation about the northeast region.  Loved it! 
  • The high school chorus concert was awesome.  It was also so great to see one of our former student being the best big sister ever and stopping by to give one of our K students a much needed hug. 
  • I always love a good gingerbread man hunt!  Did you find him yet?  

Check it out:
Our fearless leader (for a few more days)...not sure if this is her swan song as she leaves Groton-Dunstable?! 

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Good Fight

Principal ponderings...
A principal friend of mine recently shared this song with me...
I have to say, I may have spent a few mornings on my drive into work blaring this song.  It has been a good reminder and great motivator.  While I know this was written by a Christian group, I like the overall message that we are all fighting the "good fight."  

In our classrooms, sometimes we do have days where we feel like our "backs are against the wall" as the song says.  We feel like we have only so much time and the expectations of what we need to teach throughout the year are high.  And then there is that issue of every single student being unique and needing a specific type of support in order to learn and grow.  There are definitely days when I have thought about giving up or when I have just felt overwhelmed and questioned...will I ever get done what needs to get done or am I making a difference?

It seems appropriate to be sharing this song and talking about the good fight since we just spent the week last week talking to students about perseverance.  We talked with students and they shared stories with us about how they have persevered, how they have not given up.  Everything from learning to ride a bike, tie a shoe, hit a baseball, solve a math problem, or read a whole book series.  We talked about how it's so important to not give up.  I love that acronym people use for the word fail: First Attempt In Learning.  We want our students to recognize that failure means they are learning.  But sometimes, we have to remember that same advice for ourselves.  

We have to keep fighting the good fight for our students.  We need to do what is best for them.  We need to think about how we can reach each learner, even when the day before, we tried to reach them and it did not work.  Even when a parent is telling us that we aren't doing enough for their child.  Even when we have students who are dealing with lots of "stuff" and that "stuff" makes focusing on learning difficult.  Even when we are just, plain tired.  

We shall persevere.  When the going gets tough, educators keep going.  So crank up your speakers in the car, belt out the words..."keep fighting the good fight!"  Or maybe you have another song that motivates you?  Use that one.  Dance in your classroom before your students arrive.  Write yourself a "you can do it" sticky note for your laptop.  Whatever you need to do, do it.  Don't give up.  Our students always need you.

If you need more inspiration...Here's another short motivational clip for you...

Currently reading:
I am still enjoying The Wild Robot.  It's quite unusual reading about a robot interacting with animals and dealing with nature.  We had Emerson's birthday party on Sunday and she got some new books, so of course I enjoyed reading those!  We got the book If You Give a Pig a Party, always a fun read.  We also got a special personalized book...The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name...and in the end it spells out Emerson's name.  Her cousins gave her a whole bag of goodies from the Eric Carle Museum...perfect gift for my daughter! :)
Events this week:
Monday - Snow Day!
Tuesday - School Committee Meeting @ 7:00 at the High School
Wednesday - Dr. Rodriguez visits in the am, 4th grade chorus practice @ 2:25
Thursday - Staff Breakfast in the staff room...come hungry!
Friday - High School Chorus concert in the PAC at 9:30

Great things I noticed last week:

  • This 3rd grader shared her amazing informational writing with me.  If you had 8 dogs, you would probably be a dog expert too!
  • Some of our students enjoyed 'shop with a cop' after school on Thursday. 
  • Mrs. Benkley's class has been focusing on spreading kindness within the classroom and throughout the school.  
  • We have been working to fill up our perseverance bulletin board!  Check out what everyone is work to get better at...
  • I had lots of fun talking with all of the grade levels about perseverance.  We sang and danced to the 'Power of Yet', did some book buzzing, and had students writing down something they were persevering with. 

Check it out:
We did not show this video clip during our perseverance talks, but it's a great one that your students might enjoy, all about trying your best and planning for potential failures before successes: 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Are You Speaking the Right Language?

Principal ponderings...

Have you ever had a student that maybe was not responding to you or used to act one way but suddenly became a different student?  Or maybe you are just wondering about different ways to connect with your students?

I have been reading and participating in a book study about the book The 5 Love Languages of Children.  There was an original book put out that was focused on the 5 love languages for relationships.  The authors realized that adults could benefit from applying this concept to children so they wrote the version I am reading.  While reading the book, it has been interesting to think of my own child, even though she is only 2, and also to think of different interactions with many of our students.

Let me tell you a little about each of the love languages...

1. Physical Touch - If a child's love language is physical touch, then they will feel most loved when you are giving them a hug or a high five or maybe even just a pat on the back.

2. Words of Affirmation - A child whose love language is words of affirmation will want you to tell them you care instead of show them.  Someone who has words of affirmation as his love language will feel most loved when given praise, encouragement and compliments.

3. Gifts - A child who has gifts as a love language means that they feel loved when receiving personal, thoughtful gifts.  Of course you might think that every kid has this love language!  But the gifts that are important to this child are the ones that are thoughtful and are given out of the blue.  These are also the kids that will frequently give you little gifts.  It's important to tell them you appreciate them and are grateful for the "gifts" they give you because then they will feel loved.

4. Quality Time - Kids who have the love language of quality time are the ones who feel most loved when they have your undivided attention.  Considering you have a room full of students who need your attention, this can be a difficult language to speak.  Sometimes all it means is taking a few minutes to sit and talk with a student or listen to them talk about something important to them.  If you give them that quality time before an activity or lesson, they are more likely to respond to you in a positive way.

5. Acts of Service - With this love language, children feel most loved when you perform some sort of service for them, such as fixing a backpack or helping to organize a folder.  These don't need to be big acts of service, just something simple that will translate into speaking that child's love language.

It might be interesting to stop and think about the different love languages that the students in your class speak.  Some students are easier to categorize than others.  But once you have an idea of which love language a child is speaking, then you just might be able to connect on a different level.  And when you make that connection and that student feels valued and cared for, that student just might surprise you!

Are you curious about what YOUR love language might be?  Take this quick quiz to find out!

Currently reading:
This weekend, I traveled to DC to visit with family, and I brought along a book that I have had for a while but had not started yet.  The book I began reading is The Wild Robot.  It seems like it will be an interesting read: a book about what happens when technology and nature collide!
Events this week:
Monday - Elementary curriculum meeting @ Prescott 12-3
Tuesday - Ed Eval Working Group Meeting @ Prescott 12-3, School Council Meeting 3:30-4:30
Wednesday - District-wide curriculum half day, 12:15 dismissal, 3rd grade SPARK assembly @ 9:45, 4th grade SPARK assembly @ 11:40
Thursday - Student council meeting @ 8:30, AM K SPARK assembly @ 10:10, 1st grade SPARK assembly @ 11:45, 2nd grade SPARK assembly @ 1:45
Friday - Interim Superintendent Bill Ryan visits FR @ 11:45, PM K and Full Day K SPARK assembly @ 1:15
Great things I noticed last week:

  • A big thank you to Mr. Casey for building a frame and mounting our voice level sign in the cafeteria! 
  • I popped into Mrs. Wilkins class just in time to hear about how they were solving problems with three addends using their knowledge of 10. 
  • Wednesday morning 2nd grade was having a giant dance party in the hall...what a fun way to start the day! 
  • Mrs. Wenz was reading a story to her 2nd graders who were listening intently. 
  • Who is that lady in the hat?!  I think it was Mrs. Taylor about to read to her students after they talked about words that start with H. 
  • I did a book buzz in Mrs. Pierantozzi's class and one of the books I talked about was Dear Dragon.  I tweeted the author, Josh Funk, to tell him that I was talking about his book...and he wrote back! 
  • When I popped into Mr. Smith's class, they were sharing some ideas for how to make informative writing more interesting.  

Check it out:
For those of you who have been trying out Twitter or those of you who want to try out Twitter...check out the hashtag #12daystwitter.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Let's Talk About PBIS

Principal ponderings...

We have not really talked too much about PBIS since back in August.  I thought it was a good time for a little refresher.  The PBIS team will be sharing some information at an upcoming staff meeting, but for now, check out this short video created by another school...

We are preparing to do some more grade level assemblies next week, focusing on the 'P' in SPARK...perseverance.  And then in the new year, we will start 2017 off with discussions about 'R' for respect.  If you have thoughts or ideas for ways to spread the message about perseverance and respect, let us know!

Check out this humorous top 10 list of why we need PBIS...

Before the next staff meeting, you will all be getting a few brief surveys in an effort to gather everyone's thoughts on the beginning stages of implementing PBIS in our school.  Please be sure and take some time to give your input.  PBIS works when it is supported by all of us.  Studies show that PBIS frameworks are most successful when there is at least 80% buy in from stakeholders.  We want to make sure all voices are heard in this process.

Over the summer, the PBIS team began to build a resource folder.  Staff have been adding to it as we continue to meet and plan.  If you get a chance, take look at what has already been added to the folder in the drive and let us know if you have more to share.  Click here to go to the folder.

Currently reading:
Over the long weekend, I made sure to find time to do some pleasure reading.  I enjoyed finishing the book The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  It's definitely a light read about conquering fears and finding your happy place. 
Another book on top of my to be read pile...  I heard really great reviews from several different educator friends about The War That Saved My Life.

Events this week:
**Report cards open all week, Trimester 1 ends on Nov. 30
Wednesday - Kindergarten chorus practice at 9:30, Dr. Rodriguez visits in the am,
Thursday - 1st grade chorus practice @ 2:25
Friday - Kindergarten chorus practice at 9:30, Dianna at UDL Leadership class in the am
Don't forget...Saturday is the Holiday Fair sponsored by the PTA!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Thanks to the PTA for funding Monday's author visit.  Grace Lin talked about how a book is made and if characters from her book are real.  She also did some drawings that you might see hanging around the school! 
  • This kindergartner was excited to show me his awesome math skills when I popped in the room.  He has strategies that he uses to solve some difficult math problems...that he makes up on his own! 
  • After having to attend a friend's funeral, the place that could help me smile?...Kindergarten!  All you have to do is spend 5 minutes down in the K wing and you will definitely have a smile on your face. 
  • I popped in to hear the K students practicing for holiday fair.  They were working on the school song! 
  • It was a short week that ended with a half day.  Even though we weren't there for too long on Wednesday, I managed to do some turkey trotting with several classrooms on the back track. 

Check it out: 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

An Attitude of Gratitude

Principal ponderings...
We all know that saying... an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  Actually, it turns out that it should be an act of appreciation a day keeps the doctor away.  Did you know that having an attitude of gratitude really is good for your health?!

I am grateful for...
  • Students who love learning and are always willing to share smiles, laughter, hugs, fist bumps and high fives!
  • A little mini-me who loves learning and is always willing to share smiles, laughter, hugs, fidt bumps and high fives. (Of course, she also shares dirty diapers, temper tantrums and sticky fingers...sometimes those things I could do without!)
  • Staff who give their all to our school and whose daily dedication to kids is inspiring.
  • A school community that is my home away from home.
  • Books, books and more books!
  • My family, especially my husband, who supports me and understands my struggle to find a healthy work/life balance.
  • An awesome PLN...professional learning network...through Twitter and my edurockstar peeps!
  • The chance to have a positive impact on kids and adults.
  • The true joy that comes from being the lead learner at FloRo #bringthejoy!

What are you grateful for?  And how will you show your gratitude?

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Currently reading:
I got a new non-fiction picture book in the mail that is all about a little girl who helped to end school segregation in California.
I am still trying to finish several books at once...maybe over Thanksgiving break I will have some time to do some reading.  I just picked up one off of my stack that I would like to complete...

Events this week:
Monday - Grace Lin presents throughout the day in the PAC (9:20 1st grade, 10:30 K, 11:45 4th grade, 1:45 2nd and 3rd grade), Principals meet with PBIS consultant 12-3:00 @ Prescott
Tuesday - PBIS team members meet with consultant from 8:45-9:45 @ FR,
Wednesday - Half day, dismissal at 12:15, no lunch served
Thursday - Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday - Enjoy the break, no school

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Have you ever seen turkey feathers and turkeys with number bonds on them?  I have!  I found some being made in Mrs. Wilkins 1st grade class. 
  • Thanks to the PTA we got a really big box of books in the mail last week!  When we return from the break, I will be giving everyone a copy of our 'one book, one school' choice for this year...What to Do with a Problem.

Check it out:
Maybe this video clip will put a smile on your face over the next 2 1/2 days.  What do you I need any of these social stories?!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

'Borrowed' Letter to a Tired Teacher

Principal ponderings...
I read a post a few weeks ago that I knew I wanted to share with all of you.  I wish I had written this letter, but even though I did not write it, I have certainly thought this in my head many, many times.  On the eve of what I know will be a rather long and tiring week with not one, but two half days and parent conferences, I felt like it was a good time to share this "Letter to a Tired Teacher."

Please take a few minutes to click the link above and read what another principal wrote.  And know that I am truly thankful for you.  I'm thankful for all that you do for our students.  I am thankful that you put so much time and energy into your jobs.

Thank you for pushing on...even when you are tired.

Currently reading:
I am excited to start the book Flying Fingers.  This is the book that was written by the child prodigy, Adora Svitak, that we watched on one of our days before school started.  Click here if you want to watch her talk again.  Right about now seems a good time for a reminder that the world needs "childish thinking" as she said in her talk.  I certainly love the thinking on the back jacket of the book: Adora Svitak believes that a more literate world is a more peaceful world.

Events this week:
Tuesday - Half day, dismissal at 12:!5, Parent Conferences
Wednesday - Workout Wednesday!  PBIS Team Meeting @ 8:30, Liz @ DESE Meeting in Malden, 2nd grade chorus practice @ 2:20
Thursday - Half day, dismissal at 12:15, Parent Conferences in the evening, dinner provided by the PTA
Friday - Liz and Dianna at SLT meeting @ Prescott, 8:15-11:30

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I was lucky to get invited into Mrs. Taylor's classroom to see the students doing yoga moves that went along with the story There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves.  The K students impressed me with their poses!

  • I enjoyed having lunch with some 3rd graders.  We might have taken some photos and created a few videos. 
  • I also popped into a few classrooms to create some #edufreeze videos.  Check out that hashtag on Twitter to see how schools across the country are getting in on the action...or should I say frozen action? 

Check it out:
A quick post with helpful hints about conferences:

And a classic that will hopefully put a smile on your face...