Monday, April 25, 2016

Motivation Monday

Principal ponderings...
I hope everyone had a relaxing vacation week and took time to be with family and friends.  It's hard to believe that we only have eight weeks left!  But let's not think of it as only eight weeks left.  Let's think of it as eight weeks to still have an impact on kids' lives.  Third and fourth grade has PARCC testing beginning this week.  Let's not let the testing take over.  I have seen so much great reading, thinking, problem solving going on in our classrooms this year.  I know our students are going to do their best.  And when the session ends, let's go back to the business of teaching and learning.  Let's go back to making a difference in the lives of children.

Whether you are easing your way back into the swing of things or jumping in feet first to business as usual, here's some Monday after vacation motivation for you...

Currently reading:
I had preordered Peter Reynolds newest book, Playing From the Heart.  It's a sweet story of a father and son who connect through the language of music.
I have also been rereading one of my favorite leadership books, The Starbucks Experience.   Even though I still don't like coffee, I definitely like the 5 key leadership principles discussed in the book.
And I am almost done with Pax and Kizzy Ann Stamps.

Events this week:
**PARCC testing begins this week.
Monday - Welcome back! Last Monday zumba class with MaryKaye @ 3:30 in the gym
Tuesday - School Council Meeting @ 3:30 in the office
Wednesday - All 4th grade, except Coronis, will be doing 1st PARCC session ELA testing in the am, Several staff at CPI Refresher class 12-3 at Prescott, Kindergarten chorus
practice @ 2:25
Thursday - Student Council Meeting @ 8:30, Coronis will be doing 1st PARCC session ELA testing in the am, last Thursday zumba class with MaryKaye @ 3:30 in the gym
Friday - Special Olympics!, All 4th grade will be doing 2nd PARCC session ELA testing in the am

Great things I noticed last week:
  • Monday was #LoveMySchoolDay and I love that I caught a first grader helping a friend with some math in the hallway. 
  • In case you didn't hear...strawberries won the snack food bracket!
  • On Wednesday, we had two 4th graders represent FloRo at the School Committee Meeting.  They both did an awesome job!
  • Loved the smile on this 1st grader as she shared her informational writing with me.  What do you know about consequences for dogs?  She knows a lot! 
  • It was silent day in Mrs. Hoke and Ms. Johnson's class, but they figured out how to communicate without talking.  Thanks for the note Isaac! 
  • Enjoyed listening in to morning meeting in Mrs. Robinson's class.  
  • Check out these cool art projects hanging in the hall by the art room. 
  • Thanks to the PTA for showing lots of teacher appreciation the week before vacation! 

Check it out:
I encourage all of you to sign up for Teachers' Top 3.  Every other week you will get a short email from DESE with important and relevant information just for you!  Go to this link to sign up:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

There's Still Today and Tomorrow

Principal ponderings...

This is about the time when I hear people start doing the countdown of how many days are left in school.  And when we return from vacation week, it seems like time starts moving in fast forward.  When we are planning and teaching, we are thinking about end of the year field trips, PARCC testing, field day, placement, supply orders, and end of the year celebrations.  With all of the future needs and events crowding our thoughts, it's important to stop and take our fingers of the fast forward button.  Yes, we are in the final stretch.  Yes, we know that summer will be here sooner than later.  But we need to make sure we don't let ourselves get caught up in the rush.  Actually, our students are the ones who really need us to slow the pace.

Remember, there's still today.  Don't let yourself get lost in thoughts about what will be happening three weeks from today.  Live in the moment.  Today you are a teacher in a room full of learners.  What are you going to do today?  What are they going to do today?  There is so much potential wrapped up in each teachable moment of today, each teachable minute.  Capitalize on that daily potential.  Forget for a bit about what is to come and focus on what is here and now.  Focus on those students who are in front of you, beside you, waiting for you to make today the best day yet.

We can all benefit from thinking...there's still today and tomorrow.  Don't worry about the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the year.  For now, there's today and tomorrow.  What are you going to do today and tomorrow?  What will learning look like today in your class, and how will it be even better tomorrow?  What will our students be excited about today?  And what will they be engaged in tomorrow?  Let's take our finger off of the fast forward button and think about all of the possibilities that are contained in today and tomorrow.  Today and tomorrow will eventually turn into the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the school year.

But for now, let's just be here today and be here tomorrow.  Our students need us to slow down and look them in the eyes today and tomorrow.  They need to know that we care about them today, and we will be thinking about them tomorrow, too.  Let's not count down the minutes or the days until the last day of the school year.  Let's count on the minutes today and tomorrow, each and every minute, to be meaningful.

What kind of educator are you going to be in the here and now?  What are you going to do for kids right now?  Because remember, there's still today and tomorrow.

Currently reading:
Thanks to the PTA sponsored book fair, I had some new books to read this week!  I read and loved Ninja Red Riding Hood.  This is a cute, current version of a classic tale.  There are some great themes in this book, such as dedication, mindfulness and relaxation!
Emerson and I enjoyed reading Click, Clack, Peep during our bedtime routine.  I just love all of Doreen Cronin's books! 
Angela Smith had recommended Kizzy Ann Stamps to me a while ago.  I finally bought my own copy and started reading it.  Love the way this historical fiction book is written; a little girl writing letters to her teacher in 1963, the summer before she is going to begin going to an integrated school. 

Events this week:
Happy Staff Appreciation Week!!  Thanks to the PTA for the surprises and treats all week!
Monday - #LoveMySchoolDay!  Post to Twitter or have Dianna or Liz post for you...why do you love FloRo?! Liz at Ed Eval Meeting 12:00-3:00, Zumba with MaryKaye! @ 3:30
Tuesday - BLT Meeting @ 8:30 in Cheney's room
Wednesday - Grade 3 chorus practice @ 2:25 in the gym, School Committee Mtg @ 7:00 - FloRo 4th graders doing the pledge
Thursday - Student Council Meeting @ 8:30, Half day, dismissal at 12:15, PTA luncheon for the staff, para professional development in the afternoon
Friday - Liz and Maureen out of district for the kind to Dianna!
Have a wonderful vacation week!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Thanks to Mother Nature our morning kindergarteners had to stay the full day and had a special lunch delivered to their classroom by the principal!
  • Hope everyone enjoyed the book fair!  I had fun shopping with students each day.  Here was one of the lucky winners with her book choice. 
  • Mrs. Pierantozzi's class invited me in to share their reasons for why 3rd graders should have one night a week without homework. 
  • Mr. Crowley shared a great analogy of unpacking boxes after moving and having to organize everything...just like you have to organize your writing as part of the revision process. 
  • Popped into several 1st grade classrooms and saw students doing think alouds, reading non fiction and talking about different genres. 
  • Mrs. Benkley's class invited me in to read and discuss their amazing informational writing books that they worked so hard to complete. Their books had a table of contents, interesting introductions, lots of details and facts and glossaries!  

Check it out:

Check out this Twitter chat that is happening Monday at 4:00...

Check out this great list of questions focusing on fixed versus growth mindset:

Monday, April 4, 2016

Move Over Twitter, Time for Something Even Better...Voxer!

Principal ponderings...
I have been writing these weekly posts for three years, and I am excited to share that this is my 100th post!  I think back to what I knew and what I was writing about then, and now I think about how much I have learned and all of the professional growth I continue to experience every day.  One of my first posts was about how I had recently discovered Twitter.  I talked about my education information addiction.  I was encouraging all of you to check out Twitter; free PD 24/7 at the tip of your fingers on any device.  Today, I still encourage you to check out Twitter.  It really has changed the education game...connecting educators from across the globe.  Twitter allows people to learn, share, question, challenge, and inspire each other, without even meeting face to face.  Of course, there is still the 140 character just have to get good at being succinct.

It has been 10 years since Twitter began, and we all know that a lot can change in 10 years.  I am so glad that I discovered Twitter, but I feel like now I have discovered something even better.  Voxer.  Earlier this year, I was at a conference and another MA principal (Julie Vincentson) introduced me to this new form of communication.  Shortly after that, I was participating in a Twitter chat and a principal from CA (Adam Welcome) invited me into a Voxer group of principals from across the country who are the most energetic, inspiring group of people that I've ever met.  Well...I actually haven't met them, but because of Voxer I consider them colleagues, friends, motivational coaches.

Voxer is like a walkie talkie.  It is a free app (you can also purchase a pro account) that allows you to connect with groups of people.  You can record messages.  You can send text messages.  You can share photos and videos.  There are many different Voxer groups that have been formed or are being formed each day.  Right now, I am in several groups, including a book chat group discussing The Book Whisperer, a work/life/balance group for principals, a local organization group called MESPAchat, a group called Principals in Action, and even a group called Moms as Principals!  Joining these Voxer groups has energized me, helped me feel supported, challenged me and given me ideas that I would have never thought of.

What I love about Voxer is that I can hear people's voices.  So I feel really connected to people who are actually thousands of miles away from me, but are experiencing the same struggles and successes that I am.  Voxer has turned my car ride into mini PD sessions.  I hit the play button and I listen to educators from all over share.  The recorded messages are saved in order and I can listen to them whenever I want or I can replay them to hear them again.  I can also send specific messages to people and they can respond to me...we are basically carrying on conversations that I can select when I want to listen to them.  Our recent Marvelous Mondays in March that we had?  That came from an idea of a principal in a group from Chicago who did Fabulous Fridays in February.  Because I heard her speak about it and heard in her voice the positive impact it had on her staff...I knew I wanted to do that here at Flo Ro!

I hope you will take some time to look over the links I put in at the bottom of this post and maybe get the app and try Voxer out for yourself.  I am already trying to formulate a plan of creating Voxer groups for us this summer.  I thought it would be a good forum to use to talk about the Units of Study for writing.  It's very easy to record your thoughts, listen to others, and ask questions that might come up as you are reading and preparing for next year.  That's just one way that I thought we could use Voxer.

Who is ready to take their professional learning to another level?
Here is list of all kinds of voxer chats.
Currently reading:
I read a great non fiction picture book, Finding Winnie.  It's the true story of how Winnie the Pooh came to be a character that we all know.  This book is one that is going to be available at the book fair!
I am excited to start a new book that just came in the mail...Move Your Bus.  A great principal in Virginia, Lynn Colon, recommended it to me.  
I started reading the book Pax, about a boy and his fox.  Lots of people have been talking about this book and recommending it so I had to read it!  It is written by the same author who wrote The Summer of the Gypsy Moths
Can't wait to see what books I add to my collection after the book fair!

Events this week:
**Book Fair in the library all week!  Students will visit and shop during their library special time.
Tuesday - Dr. Rodriguez visits FR in the am, MS transition meetings
Wednesday - Liz at DESE meeting in Malden in the am, PreK transition meetings, Grade 3 chorus practice @ 2:25 in the gym, Staff meeting @ 3:30 - Dr. Novak presenting
Thursday - PTA Book Fair event @ 6:00 pm

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Positive Post It Note Day on Tuesday was awesome!  Loved watching kids and staff read the notes and loved it even more to see all the sticky notes that were added around the building throughout the day!  
  • I received about 250 notes from students about their favorite book and why.  Here was a great one.  Can't wait to take some lucky students shopping for books this week! 
  • 2nd grade had a fabulous trip to the New England Aquarium! 
  • Friday was Light It Up Blue Day in honor of Autism Awareness Day.  Here was a group in the office sporting blue, including a 3rd grader who happened to be delivering a note! 
  • The book fair was set up in the library.  Thank you to the PTA moms who spent a late night at school getting it ready for this week!
  • I loved being the guest teacher in Mr. C's class, especially since it was during independent reading time.  After some reading time, I did my best to impress the class with my read aloud of a chapter from Harry Potter.
  • Caught some student council members working on a song about PARCC.  You are going to be impressed with the finished product!
  • I also had fun being the guest teacher in art.  Mrs. Cragg's class listened to me read a story and then worked on some pattern snakes.
  • On Saturday, I stopped by the science fair and saw so many great research projects and experiments!  Many of our FR students took home a top prize. 

Check it out:
Voxer tutorial here:
Read more about Voxer...