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...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Leave, leaves and more leaves!

Principal ponderings...
It's that time of year.  All of those beautiful, colorful leaves in the trees that we loved to watch on a Sunday drive are now on the ground.  They just aren't as pretty when they are covering your yard, walkways, driveway, gutters...

It's also that time of year for...parent conferences.  As I was spending time this weekend raking up leaves, leaves and more leaves, I couldn't help but think that there are a lot of similarities between raking leaves and parent conferences.  Yes, raking leaves is a tiring process, just like how meeting with every parent individually can be tiring, but that was not the connection I want to make.

I feel like the leaves are all of the little nuggets of information that you know about a child.  All of the nuggets that families know about their kids.  All of the nuggets that the school has come to know about a student.  At a parent conference, teachers have this urge to rake up all of those leaves and get them into a nice pile or load up the tarp or bag with every single leaf.  But here's the reality.  You are not going to be able to rake up every single leaf.  And if your pile gets too large, you are going to have a hard time sharing all of that information with the parents.  

We raked a ton of leaves this weekend.  We used the leafblower.  We dragged full tarps to dump in the woods.  And this morning when I looked out at my yard, do you know what I saw?  Leaves.   We will need to rake more on a different weekend.  We will need to clean leaves out of the gutters.  We will not get every single leaf.  

You have a ton of information about each child that you can share with parents next week at conferences.  But you do not have a lot of time.  And besides you sharing information with parents, you might actually want to gather more info from the parents about their child.  You will not be able to share every single piece of information with the parents.  And that's ok.  Just like I will be spending another weekend raking and another weekend cleaning out have all year to communicate with parents.  And you should be communicating throughout the year.  At this point, you have already been talking with parents, sharing newsletters or blog posts, talking on the phone, or maybe even already meeting face to face.  We definitely need to be keeping parents informed, and parent conferences is one way to share information.  But know that it is not the only way and the only time to communicate.

I gave some suggestions last year in this blog post about preparing for conferences.  Feel free to check back on that post.  Whether we are talking about raking leaves or conferring with parents, they are both physically demanding tasks that can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed.  There will always be leaves to rake up and there will always be nuggets of information to share with parents.

Don't let your leaf pile get too big!  There are so many leaves and never enough time to get to all of them.  The important part is that you are taking the time to rake, to gather information, to share, to communicate.

Currently reading:
I am excited to start reading a new book called The 5 Love Languages of Children.  I am going to participate in an online book study that will start Nov. 14.  We will read a chapter a week and discuss it on Voxer.  Let me know if you are interested in joining in.
I am also enjoying reading the book Booked by Kwame Alexander.  It is a novel told in verse so it's a quick read, but it's definitely heartfelt and always interesting to see an author use fewer words to convey a message.
Since we have Grace Lin coming at the end of the month...I will be delivering lots of her books to classrooms this week.  She has written picture books, easy reader chapter books and chapter books.  Here's one of her picture books that you may have heard of: The Ugly Vegetables

Events this week:
Monday - Para meeting @ 9:00, School Council Meeting @ 3:30
Tuesday - Picture Make-up Day, Election Day
Wednesday - Workout Wednesday! Building Leadership Team Meeting @ 8:30, 1st grade chorus @ 2:25
Thursday - Thankful Thursday! Kindergarten Nashua River in house enrichment program, Hoops for Fun begins @ 3:15
Friday - Veterans Day, No School!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • 2nd graders from Ms. Johnson and Ms. Hoke's class were explaining to me how they were using their knowledge of place value. 
  • Kindergarten had fun doing different Halloween activities. 
  • 2nd grade enjoyed a special music enrichment program on Friday; they were singing and signing!  
  • Dr. Novak thought that filling my shoes for a day would mean putting her feet up and relaxing...oh boy was she wrong! 
  • I enjoyed presenting about UDL at the MESPA Fall Conference on Thursday.  I also really enjoyed hearing the keynote speaker, Alan November talk about being a connected educator and making sure to connect our students.  Check out his site here.  I also attended a great session all about implementing data teams, improving the SST process, providing strong intervention and how to organize all of this through Google drive. 
Check it out:
Interesting article to challenge our thinking about timed math facts tests:
Here is a post that is part of a new series about assessment in writing:
Great video about "famous failures"...