Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Best Summer Assignment Ever!

Principal ponderings...
Several years ago, I discovered this Italian professor's summer assignment list.  Now those are assignments that I definitely support!  Reading his list, made me think back to several summers ago (pre-husband and pre-kid) when I spent my summer in Florence, Italy.  I signed myself up for a creativity workshop in one of the most creative and beautiful places in the world.  The workshop was amazing, and everyday we would spend time doing activities that stretched our thinking and got those creative juices flowing.  We would end our workshop session in time for a relaxing lunch together, and the afternoon would be left for exploring and completing our assignments.  Our assignments were often things like: go sit in a cafe for at least an hour and watch the people that come and go.  Sketch a picture of someone or write a description of them.  I have to say it was one of the most inspiring, relaxing times of my life.

So when I read this list from this Italian professor, it took me back to those wonderful days, and it reminded me that I can give myself some of those assignments from my workshop or add some from his list.  Of course, I love that he says read as much as you can because "it's the best form of rebellion you have."  And you know that I will be reading as much as I can over the summer.  Hope you get a chance to as well!  I love the idea of sitting and watching the sunrise and just being thankful in that moment.  And whether you are alone in your kitchen, at a wedding or having dinner out with friends...think about dancing shamelessly.  I guarantee you will feel better afterwards.

After reflecting and hearing and reading about "glows" and "grows" with all of you last week, it is evident that you have all worked incredibly hard this year.  You have been dedicated to helping our students be successful.  You have tried out new curriculum, planned lessons and reviewed assessments until your eyes hurt.  You have planned, implemented, redesigned and reimplemented behavior plans to help students learn how to be their best.  You have pushed your students and each other.  Always striving for growth.  But what was also evident after last we...all need to rest, relax, and rejuvenate this summer.  You need this assignment list!  We all need this assignment.

Read over the assignment list a few times.  Think about which assignments you will do this summer.  Add some of your own for extra credit! 

And be sure to...
"In sparkling sunlight or hot summer nights, dream about how your life could and should be. During the summer, always do everything you can to avoid giving up, and everything you can to pursue your dream."

What is on your summer assignment list for yourself?

Currently reading:
Saturday morning is our special day to go to the library.  Can't wait to have my kids be part of the library's summer reading program this year!  Emerson loves going to the library and then enjoys reading her book choices either in the car or at bedtime.  Saturday night's choice was a book about sign language and the ABCs and Sunday night's choice was a book about Independence Day. (We seem to be on a non fiction kick!)  I will be putting together a last week of school parent update with a focus on summer reading.  I will be sharing lots of resources for summer reading and encouraging families to make trips to the library a part of their summer routine.  This week I checked out a beautiful book called My Heart by Corinna Luyken.  It is a simple read, but has a lovely, important message about love and self-acceptance.  And the illustrations throughout the book are wonderful! 
I also checked out a great book called Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing.  This is a great book for kids to practice calm breathing with so many great ideas like "hugging breath" and "ninja breath."  I am excited to be meeting with Wendy O'Leary after school gets out to discuss planning to bring her to Mayo next year to talk about mindfulness and her new book called Breathing Makes It Better.  
And another book that I got from the library is called George, about a 4th grade boy who truly feels like he is a girl.  I had heard of this book and was excited to see it in the library on display with several other children's books about dealing with gender questioning and gender identity.  I love the back of the book where it says simply: "Be who you are."  

Events this week:
We made it!!  Last week of school!
Monday - Selectman Anthony Renzoni visits 3rd grade, Facebook Live Bedtime Story with Principal Garden @ 7:30pm
Wednesday - Grade 5 Program for the school @ 2:15
Thursday - Grade 5 Program for parents @ 10:30, End of the Year Staff Gathering @ 4:00
Friday - Move Up Activity @ 9:15, Whole School Assembly @ 9:55, Dismissal at 12:20, Staff Luncheon in the library provided by the Wiemer Family, "Staff Meeting" in the front circle at 12:30

Great things I noticed last week:
It was quite a week last week!  Field trips, enrichment programs, fun activities, author parties, book swap, wax museum, field day...  Here's just a small sample of everything awesome that happened at Mayo last week:

  • 1st graders loved hearing all about birds of prey and getting an up close meeting with many of them! 
  • 5th graders were very interested in hearing all about Dr. Mayo's life from his grandson, Roy Lane. 
  • Who says you can't have fun with flashlights and practice your math skills?!  Mrs. Leroy's class had a fun with flashlights day in their class. 
  • 4th graders in 4V were eagerly writing down book titles for their summer reading lists after listening to lots of book talks in the library from our amazing library volunteer Pat McEachen. 
  • I was lucky enough to walk by in time to join in as the AM kindergarten class released their butterflies! 
  • The 3rd grade Wax Museum was amazing!  So many famous people from MA!  I wish I could have pressed every single button. 

  • Our first Book Swap was a huge hit!  I loved being Oprah and telling kids that they could pick books for free!  I wish I had a video of the cheering that happened!  
      • Field day was so much fun!  A big thank you to Mr. Wilde and all of the parent volunteers.  So glad we had perfect weather! 

      • And in an appropriate ending to a jam packed week...I was dunked in freezing cold water about a hundred times! Thanks to the PTA for organizing a fun pizza social.
      Check it out:
      More book swap fun...

      Monday, June 3, 2019

      Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

      Principal ponderings...

      We have made it to the last two weeks of school!  This year has been full of hard work, struggle, new ideas, learning from mistakes, being vulnerable, stepping out of comfort zones, and successes.  It's important to take some time to think back over the year and reflect.  Right now, if we take time to look back, this year is fresh in our minds.  It's "closer" to us right now.  If we wait until August to think back on the year, we will most likely forget parts.  Here are a few questions and reflection prompts to get you thinking about the year, to help you look in the rearview mirror.

      Reflecting on the 2018-2019 school year, I am proud of...

      2 ideas/new learning/experiences I will take with me into next year are...

      Something I wish I had done differently...

      Ways that I have grown professionally this year...

      Now see if you can picture a particular student for each of these prompts, and think of what you learned or how you will grow as an educator as a result of your interactions:

      Think of a student that challenged you...

      Think of a student that made you proud...

      Think of a student that you felt lucky to teach...

      Think of a student that made you better...

      Think of a student that you will miss...

      I went back to find my first post to all of you and found this quote that I had shared back in September:
      As we wrap up this school year, I know I will be asking myself...were children the priority in our school?  Were they at the center of every decision we made?  A change in leadership was certainly your reality this year.  I look forward to gathering feedback from you at our last staff meeting.  I consider myself an educator who always needs to hear constructive feedback in order to keep improving my practice.  Did we live up to the statement "Collaboration is the strategy"?  I think we took some baby steps and some big steps in terms of collaboration.  

      I really do enjoy these last few days, thinking back over all that has been accomplished.  Thinking about where we all were on the first day (when I was just getting to know all of you and you were getting to know me) and how we have gotten to this point right now.  I also think about what did not work and what are ways to make changes for next year.  I like to think about all the new innovative experiences that our students had and how we will have even more new and innovative experiences next year.  And I am looking forward to growing myself professionally even more this summer, taking time to read, write, connect and reflect.

      Once you are done reflecting on the year, be sure and think ahead to this summer.  How do you plan to be mindful over the summer break and rejuvenate yourself?

      Currently reading:
      I found time this weekend to finish listening to Brave, Not Perfect.  It was a great book to listen to and certainly has me pumped up to be brave and fail forward.  It's a great book to get me warmed up for Empower Our Girls.  Excited to read a book written by a good friend of mine, Lyn Colon.  The next book I started listening to was Grenade by Alan Gratz.  I loved his book Refugee so much so I am thinking I will enjoy this one.  
      We usually go to the public library after gymnastics on Saturday mornings.  This week, I added a picture book to Emerson's pile.  It was called How to Teach a Slug to Read.  This is such an adorable book!  I think many of our kindergarteners and 1st graders would enjoy it.  Might be added to the Facebook Live Bedtime Story list.  
      I also finished reading Mountain Dog.  I love finding good books written in verse.  Amazing how the author can use fewer words, but still tell a story and paint a picture of the character's thoughts and feelings.  
      Events this week:
      Monday - Bird Man presentation in 1st grade @ 10:30, Roy Lane presentation in 5th grade @ 10:30, KM Authors' Celebration @ 2:00
      Tuesday - Grade 3 Field Trip to Holden Center, Liz meeting w/superintendent @ 2:30
      Wednesday - Last Staff Meeting of the Year @ 8:00!  Grade 5 Field Trip to Sturbridge Village, Grade 4 Earth Science Enrichment Program, Grade 3 to Senior Center @ 1:15, KL Authors' Celebration @ 2:00
      Thursday - Kindergarten Screening all day in the gym, Reading Assessments (DRA and F&P) should be completed, Grade 2 Field Trip to Boston Children's Museum, Book Swap set up after school in the gym, Staff Gathering in the library @ 3:30
      Friday - Field Day!  Book Swap during specials!  Grade 3 Wax Museum @ 9:30, PTA Pizza Social @ 5:30

      Great things I noticed last week:

      • The 5th grade End of Year Carnival was a blast on Friday night!
      • I had a hard time keeping up with Principal Mastro, the principal for the day!
      • The 4th Grade Math Olympiad group was recognized for their competition participation.  We had one student perform in the top 10% of all 4th-6th graders!  And a few students who performed in the top 50%! 
      • Mrs. Hilton shared her love of National Parks with 4B.  Did you know she has visited over 25 parks?!  And did you know that 4th graders and families can get into the parks for free over the summer? 
      • I stopped into kindergarten and everyone was excited to show me the stories they had written as well as the butterflies! 
      • What an amazingly awesome concert put on by the 3rd, 4th and 5h graders!  Thank Mrs. Popek for working so hard and including so many fun songs and dance moves! 

      Check it out:
      Loved reading this post about rewriting our stories as teachers:
      Also loved reading this diary entry of a first year teacher reflecting on the school year: