Monday, November 27, 2017

Beware of the Peter Pan Effect

Principal ponderings...

The other morning a crazy thing happened.  I was in Emerson's room after she woke up, trying to get her to stand still for at least two minutes so I could get her dressed.  She went over to the door and reached up and turned on the light.  And then she looked at me in shock.  The night before, I swear she could not reach that light, and now, just 12 hours later, she was able to stretch her body and reach it.  She proudly exclaimed to me, "Mommy, I'm big!"

In that moment, I swallowed hard and worked hard to fight back my tears.  Is it possible to plug up your tear ducts?!  And when Emerson ran back to me and jumped in my lap excited about her new ability, I said, "But I don't want you to grow up.  I want you to stay little."  She giggled and told me that she was growing up and getting bigger.  And then she at least gave me those few minutes of snuggling in my arms since she still is small enough to curl up in a ball in my lap.  I closed my eyes and remembered how it was not so long ago that she was actually a tiny baby curled up in my lap.  And then, suddenly, she was up out of my lap and bopping around her room talking to her stuffed animals.

I started to think about my wish to keep her little.  And I started thinking about our students and how we get them when they seem so little as baby kindergartners and then watch them grow to be the big 4th graders.  Do we sometimes have the same mentality that I had with Emerson that morning?  Do we watch them grow and change overnight, and wish that they would not grow up so fast?  Do we do things for them, not even realizing that we are doing it.  I just wonder if in school we sometimes let the Peter Pan Effect slip in.  While no one wants to rush and force kids to grow up faster than they already do, I just wonder if sometimes we hold them back, we help when our help is not needed, we jump in when they don't need us, we try to keep them little?  Do we say we have high expectations, yet in the moment, during the rush of the day, we lower them a little because we want everyone to get to the next task.  We want everyone to feel like they have been successful?

Without realizing it, are we trying to keep our students from growing up or are we doing everything we can to help them fly on their own?

Currently reading:
Over the break, I tried to give myself some more time to read.  Almost finished with reading The War I Finally Won and I am still listening to When Breathe Becomes Air.  Funny story about me always having a book with me.  I went to get my hair done on Sunday and I had the book The War I Finally Won with me.  The hairdresser asked what I was reading, and I replied with a smile...well a kid's book, I am the principal and I try to read books that the kids would be reading.  I told her it was an historical fiction book about World War II, and she immediately started talking about how she remembered reading the historical fiction book Number the Stars when she was in school.  She talked about how much she liked reading that book and it was the one that she really remembered from school.  I always love how certain books stick with people...hmmm...maybe another blog post for another day!  I am looking forward to starting to listen to The Power of Moments, also on Audible...loving using that app!  And I read another Melissa Stewart book, Beneath the Sun, in preparation for her visit in another week.  Will be delivering books to teachers this week to read to your classes.

Events this week:
Monday - FloRo Picture Retake Day and Happy Birthday to Melissa!
Tuesday - Teachers from Ruggles Lane visiting FloRo all day
Wednesday - Kindergarten chorus at 9:30
Thursday - Student Council Meeting @ 8:00
Friday - Gift of Failure book club @ 8:20, Elementary Curriculum Half Day, 12:15 dismissal
Saturday - Holiday Fair at the PAC and MSS!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Mrs. Spiczka's morning and afternoon K classes had some planned field trips to my office!  They see me in their room a lot, but they wondered what my office was like so I invited them to take a tour, and then they all got to sign the SPARK Wall of Fame! 

  • Getting excited about Melissa Stewart coming to spend two days at our school and I saw this bulletin board pop up! 
  • Peeked into the gym and saw 3rd graders having fun on  scooters. 
  • 4th graders were having to do some math thinking in MakerSpace as they were shopping for their supplies to make some interesting creations.  Definitely funny to see some toys, or at least parts of them, that used to be in my house, now being used to construct! 
  • Officer Mead's dog, Miranda, has recently completed her training and is now an official therapy dog.  We are excited that soon she will be able to help us at school.  They happened to stop by and it was amazing the affect Miranda had on one student who was upset and having a tough time.  Just a few minutes of petting and snuggle time and the child went from tears to smiles. 
  • Flo made an appearance Wednesday morning to wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving!  She gave out lots of hugs and high fives to students and adults! 
Check it out:
Here's a great post written by a teacher after seeing the movie "Wonder":

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Little Note of Thanks

Principal ponderings...

Saturday morning, I was excited to be one of the lucky ticket holders to see the movie "Wonder" thanks to Scott and Kate Middlemiss and their organization, The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation.  Emerson and I had fun having mommy/daughter time even though she was mainly there for the popcorn.  She was excited to see some Star Wars characters in the movie, and she did keep asking me why she heard people crying.  Yep, bring the tissues when you go to see it.

With the movie "Wonder" and Thanksgiving break this week, it is certainly the time when we are all thinking even more about being grateful and being kind.  Many of you have expressed your gratitude to me either through spoken words or through written words.  And I try to let you know how grateful I am for all of you and everything you do for our students.  Many of you have done random acts of kindness for me, and I have tried to do the same for you.

This week, since it's a short week, I am writing a short and simple post.  But I am hoping my short post will have a big impact.  For this post to work, I will need your help.  I am going to be placing a whole bunch of note cards in the staff room and in the office.  I am asking you to take a few minutes to write out a note to a friend, a family member, a student's parent, or one of your awesome colleagues.  A simple little note of thanks and appreciation can mean so much to the people in our lives.  Your act of kindness can have a ripple affect.  Maybe if you write a note to someone, they will pay it forward and do the same for someone else.

You get what you give.  If you give out kindness and appreciation, I guarantee it will come back to you tenfold.

Who will be the lucky person to get a note of appreciation from you today?

Currently reading:
In preparation for our December author visit, I read a few of Melissa Stewart's non fiction picture books.  I will be giving different titles to grade level teams to read to their classes before Melissa's visit on Dec. 7 and 8.  Here are some of the titles that I read this weekend:

Events this week:
Tuesday - Dr. Chesson visits in the afternoon
Wednesday - Half day, 12:15 dismissal, no lunch served
Thursday - Happy Thanksgiving! No School
Friday - Thanksgiving break, no school

Great things I noticed last week:

  • This 3rd grader found just the right spot to dive into his book. 
  • Kindergartners were working on reading their sight words while moving around and finding their match. 
  • Thank you Nurse Natalie for your wonderful poem and information about nurse visits! 
  • These 3rd graders were discussing and showing their math thinking in order to solve some tricky problems. 
  • MakerSpace is quite an exciting place to be when you get to deconstruct all sorts of things.  I can't wait to see what the students create when they use all the materials they have discovered! 
Check it out:
I follow lots of blogs and get daily email updates from many sites, but one of my long time favorites is Two Writing Teachers.  Recently, they did a series of posts about homework.  Here is one post from the series to check out or you can go to their site and read all four posts that they did:

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving break and spend quality time with family, relaxing and recharging, ready to come back on Monday and do great things for kids!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Is there a hole in the bucket?!

Principal ponderings...

Do you know that song about the hole in the bucket...dear Liza, dear Liza?  And now you probably have it stuck in your head.  You're welcome and I'm sorry.  For some reason that popped into my head when I was trying to decide what to write about this week.  Last week, kindergarteners were talking about being bucket fillers.  You know what a bucket filler is right?  When we do kind things to each other, we are filling buckets. But these days, considering what is going on with people all over the world, it seems as if there are holes in our buckets.  We need more and more bucket filling to happen to keep our buckets from draining out.

Today, November 13, is World Kindness Day.  What better day than today to make sure that we are trying to plug up the holes in everyone's buckets.  What can we be doing to fill our students' buckets?  What can we be doing to fill each other's buckets?  What can we be doing to fill our students' family buckets?  What can we do to fill our own buckets?  There is a lot of bucket filling that needs to be happening.  Here and all over the world. 

But let's start here first.  If we start with filling buckets for our school and community...just maybe we can spread out to the rest of the world.  Check out this video that shows the ripple effect that one act of kindness can start:

Did you know that there are several organizations that are all about bucket filling and acts of kindness?  Here is one site that has several blog posts about kindness:
And locally, many of you know Scott and Kate Middlemiss and their organization and message of "All You Need is Love":

This week, we start off with World Kindness Day and then end the week with the opening of the movie "Wonder," based off of the amazing book by RJ Palacio.  And then next week we have time to spend with our families where we will stop and think about what we are thankful for.  So these next two weeks are certainly optimal bucket filling weeks. 

How will you fill someone's bucket?
How will you feel when you fill someone's bucket?
How will you will your own bucket?
How will you let other's fill your bucket?

That song that is still stuck in my head...the one about the hole in the bucket...I can't help but think of it and feel this sense of urgency.  We need to fill buckets.  We need to plug the holes that keep forming in our buckets.  And yes, we need to do this especially on World Kindness Day.  But we need to also remember to fill buckets on every other day of the year too.

I know all of you will do acts of kindness today for World Kindness Day.  

But the question is...will you promise to do them when it's not World Kindness Day?

Currently reading:
I am still really enjoying listening to The Gift of Failure on Audible during my commute.  But I just added two new books to my audio book collection and plan on mixing it up during my drive.  The first book has been recommended by a few of my principal friends.  It's called The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact
The other book that I downloaded and have started listening to is called When Breath Becomes Air.  I picked this book up in a bookstore recently but then put it back down because I have too many books in my house that I need to read first.  But that doesn't mean I can't listen to it on my commute!  I know this is going to be tear jerker because it's a memoir about a doctor who battles stage IV lung cancer.

Events this week:
Monday - Elementary Curriculum Leadership Mtg @ 2:45
Tuesday - 4th grade Around Town Geology Field Trip
Wednesday - SST meeting at 8:45, Staff meeting @ 3:30
Thursday - Grade 2 Peacock Players field trip
Friday - Half day, 12:15 dismissal, parent conferences

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I listened in to a quick video and conversation with Ms. Kinneen about what it means to show good sportsmanship.  The 3rd graders shared many examples of how to demonstrate these important social skills. 
  • I was lucky enough to be the one helping cover part of a kindergarten wellness class.  The students were talking about what it meant to be a bucket filler and then we all practiced giving each other specific compliments.  When there was a little time at the end, they got to color in a bucket filler page, announcing that they were all bucket fillers! 
  • I was excited to get an invite into Mrs. Wilkins' 1st grade classroom where the students were sharing their published stories with each other.  They were complimenting each other about how they were unfreezing characters, writing great blurbs, using pop out words, and adding in speech bubbles in their illustrations. 
  • Have you had a chance to peek into MakerSpace?  The students are starting a unit all about deconstruction.  Looks like some intense work about to happen.  Can't wait to see how they repurpose the materials into something totally new. 
  • After school one day, I got to watch Mrs. Wallace do her teaching thing, working with 4th grade teachers to practice organizing their Google drive folders. 
  • Thursday afternoon and evening was filled with lots of parent conferences.  I brought along my "assistant" and she found a coloring friend who was waiting patiently for her parents.  Thanks to the PTA for feeding everyone during the evening!

Check it out:
I know I have shared some posts before and written my own, but here is another recent post about rethinking things like clip charts, marble jars and stickers for behavior:
And who is excited about the movie "Wonder" coming out at the end of the week?!

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Picture Book is Worth a Thousand Words!

Principal ponderings...
You know how the saying goes?  A picture book is worth a thousand words!  Ok, maybe it's supposed to be a picture is worth a thousand words, but November is Picture Book Month so I figured the saying needed an update!  

Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative.  It's a month to celebrate print picture books.  I feel like there is nothing quite like being able to turn the pages of a beautiful picture book, reading aloud to a classroom of students, and sharing an awesome story with kids and adults.

In honor of Picture Book Month, here are some great picture books from 2017.  Have you read these?  Do you own any of these books?  I'm thinking I need to add some to my Amazon cart!

This is the sequel to Josh Funk's awesome book, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast.  The characters in the fridge need to solve a smelly mystery.

This is a book about overcoming your fears where a little boy prepares to jump off of the diving board.  Luckily, he has his patient daddy there to support him.

I have this book in my office.  The title certainly reminds me of lots of family trips! This is quite an inventive book that you even have to turn upside down to read a few pages.  

Here's a great poetry picture book all about the different seasons.

This non fiction picture book makes me hungry!  It's the story of Hanson Gregory, the guy who basically invented the donut.

Hopefully you will use Picture Book Month to share some new picture books with your students, whether they are kindergarteners or 4th graders. Everyone loves a good picture book!

Currently reading:
I am still enjoying reading The War I Finally Won.  I need to finish it since I know many 4th graders are reading the MCBA books The War That Saved My Life and will want to read the sequel.  I also want to reread the book Wonder.  Such an amazing book, and I can't wait to see the movie when it comes out!  If you have not read it yet...what are you waiting for?
I am also reading a new professional development book and writing a review for Principal magazine.  Looking forward to this book: When Writers Drive the Workshop: Honoring Young Voices and Bold Choices. 

Events this week:
Tuesday - School Council Meeting @ 8:00 am, 4th grade Lowell Mills field trip
Wednesday - 4th grade Lowell Mills field trip
Thursday - Half day of school, 12:15 dismissal, no lunch served, evening parent conferences
Friday - Veterans Day, No School

Great things I noticed last week:

  • I had fun subbing for Mrs. Nissi while she was in a meeting.  The 4th graders were choosing different ways to read and write about the Industrial Revolution.  Can't wait to hear how their trip to Lowell Mills goes this week! 
  • I enjoyed taking a walk with everyone for our staff meeting.  Thanks to Officer Mead for reviewing safety evacuation plans.  I also enjoyed walking through classrooms to notice and wonder about the different environments. 
  • We filled another SPARK Wall of Fame last week!  Do you know we have had over 800 positive office visits?!  We got some new spirit sticks in for backpacks.  Can't wait to see more students demonstrating SPARK behavior. 
  • On Thursday, I took 5 teachers to visit Ruggles Lane School in Barre and meet with their teachers to talk about WINN - What I Need Now - Block.  They were also able to ask us about Eureka since they are piloting that program.  Can't wait to visit other schools and continue to bring back new learning for teachers!  Ruggles Lane will be visiting us the week after Thanksgiving to observe our math instruction. 

Check it out:
Here is a site dedicated to picture book month:
And here is a teacher resource download for picture book month: