Monday, October 26, 2020

We're All In This...

 Principal ponderings...

My brother came across this chalk message on a sidewalk in CA and shared it with the rest of the family.  He said, "obviously the word together washed away but I actually think what's left is a more appropriate encapsulation of the time we are in."

The 'together' part may have washed away, but it was there at one point.  You may feel like the together part has washed away for you, but I promise you it was there and it is still there.  Our minds still automatically fill in that chalk message.  You are not alone.

As we prepare to make another change, and as you are still navigating and adjusting to remote teaching, remember that the together part may not be visible, but it's still there.  We need to support each other.  We need to lift each other up.  We need to remember that everyone is experiencing that same struggles, the same frustrations, the same anxiety.  

I am enjoying co-facilitating a book study with the book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.  Our Sunday night discussion focused on the chapter about the anatomy of the brain and some culturally responsive brain rules.  The first one and the most important one is: "The brain seeks to minimize social threats and maximize opportunities to connect with others in community."  And the book went on to say "The brain's two prime directives are to stay safe and be happy."  Ha, wow, did that sentence jump off the page and slap me in the face during this crazy time we are living in?!  But see...we are hard-wired to fill in that chalk message.  We need to fill in the message.  And our brains fill in that message even if we don't want to in the moment.

Heard this beautiful song and thought it was appropriate to include and share with all of you...

Yep, we are all in this...


Currently reading:

I was excited to get a new book in the mail called Just Look Up by Joe Beckman.  A prefect, quick read to inspire me right now...

Events this week:

Tuesday - Prodigy Parent Session 7:00 PM, Hybrid/Remote survey due

Wednesday - Half day, Staff Meeting 12:30-1:00, Liz and Laura in a 504 training @ 1:30, 30 minute eSpark optional PD call @ 2:00, SIMCO Meeting @ 3:00

Thursday - Halloween read alouds by High School Student Council Members, schedule coming

Friday - Halloween read alouds by High School Student Council Members, schedule coming

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out:

So this might hit a little too close to home, but we all need to be able to laugh about all of this...

And if you have not seen this brilliant kid, take time to listen to his #YouCanBeABCs!!

Thank you Kate for sharing this video tutorial about virtual parent conferences...

Monday, October 19, 2020

Rise Above the Mess

 Principal ponderings...

I recently read the We Are Teachers post titled, "Are Teachers OK? No, and Toxic Positivity Isn't Helping." You may have seen it floating around on social media last week. And there were many points that resonated with me. When the author talked about the phrase "it could be worse," it made me think of one of my favorite books growing up called...Could Be Worse. Yes, one of my Reading Rainbow favorites!

I totally get the idea of toxic positivity.  No one wants to hear that it will all be ok, things could be worse, let's only focus on the positive.  If you know me, then you know that I have tried to be realistic and honest during this pandemic mess.  I have agreed with parents...this is a terrible situation we are in.  I have shared with all of you...there is no good answer, this is hard, and the joy of teaching is getting harder and harder to find each day.  

You have heard from me that we all need to stop saying when we are available and start saying when we are unavailable.  It's ok to be unavailable, to not respond to emails late into the night or super early in the morning.  You already don't make the money you deserve, let's stop working 24/7 and bringing the hourly rate down for yourself more and more.  (At this point, are we actually in the negative with our pay with the hours worked?!). 

Yes, will I still try to share inspirational videos with you about how this job is a calling?  Yep.  But at the end of the actually is a job.  Do your students and families know you care about them even if you closed the laptop and went to bed early instead of commenting late into the night on Seesaw or Google Classroom.  Yep.  Do I wish I could take away the stress and the anxiety and the pressure that educators naturally put on themselves.  Yep.  Does the world know you love teaching even though you might not be able to be in your classroom right now?  I love the end line from the author of the post: "You can care about your kids and love teaching and still leave school when school ends."  

There is no award for working the longest school day.  There is no bonus being given out for fastest email response.  Who am I kidding...there is no bonus.  Period. Ever.  That's pretty much the opposite of positive thinking.  But it is realistic thinking.  I certainly don't mean to bring anyone down.  I feel like as a leader I am learning how to walk a very fine line.  How do I lead people through a pandemic?  How do I support everyone and appreciate all of you while also not sugar coating the situation?  How do I remain transparent about a fairly bleak picture of the school year while also trying to calm anxieties and reassure everyone that we will get through it?

I love my Sirius Radio and the other day I was listening to my 90s on 9.  Hootie and the Blowfish came on with the song "Hold My Hand."  The beginning lines of that song have been on repeat in my head...

"With a little love and some tenderness,

We'll walk above the water,

We'll rise above the mess.

With a little peace and some harmony,

We'll take the world together,

We'll take them by the hand.

'Cause I've got a hand for you..."

I will continue to offer you all love and support, along with a regular dose of reality.  I will continue to remind you about self care while also recognizing that none of us can meditate our way out of this current situation and not answering an email tonight really just means it will need to be answered tomorrow.  

I've got a hand for you, please reach out if you need to grab on.  Please keep sharing the text message memes that show how not fun any of this is.  And I promise to continue to answer you honestly in emails or over the phone when you call me in tears and say you don't think you can do this anymore.  I will give you real talk and not tell you it will get better.  You know that I will do what I can to lighten the load, to relieve the stress, to shield you, to reduce the work, to advocate for you.  

This year is a mess. But we will rise above the mess.  You might not feel that way or see it happening, but it will happen.

We will rise above the mess.

Currently reading:

I started reading the book Blended by Sharon Draper. This is the same author who wrote the amazing book Out of My Mind. This book is about a girl who is the daughter of a biracial couple who end up going through a divorce. The book is about how Isabella deals with divorce and racial identity.

I was excited to get two new books in the mail.  One was a recommendation from a principal friend in Illinois.  It's called Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators.  And it comes with a workbook that should be arriving in the mail this week.  Hoping to be able to share some nuggets from this book with all of you.

Another book that came in the mail is called 180 Days of Self Care for Busy Educators.  I am looking forward to working my way through this book and sharing self care tips with all of you.

Events this week:

Wednesday - Half day, STAR Math and ELA self-directed training, 2:00 Prodigy PD, October birthday books available in the lobby

Friday - Parent survey due for remote vs hybrid decision and transportation plans

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out: 
A video of Colby Sharp sharing some read aloud titles for upper elementary of you are looking for new read aloud options: 

Monday, October 5, 2020

World Teachers' Day!

 Principal ponderings...

So apparently it is World Teachers' Day today.  I feel like it should be World Teachers' Day every day.  Sorry I can't be in school to appreciate all of you, but I will share this statement that was posted today in honor of all of you.  Here is a snippet from the statement and you can go to the link to read the whole statement.

"In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue. Their role advising on school reopening plans and supporting students with the return to school is just as important.”

Thank you all for the leadership, compassion, dedication, innovation, and love you have shown for all of our students. I appreciate you. And I honor you today and every other day. You are truly difference makers, and our students continue to grow into amazing human beings because of you!

It is also the kick-off day for Global Read Aloud. Sadly, think this is the last year that Pernille Ripp is doing GRA. But if you want to do anything related to it with your students, here is the link:

Happy reading!

Currently reading:

Looks like I will have a lot of time this week to do some reading!  I plan on listening to a book called Kids These Days: A Game Plan for (Re)Connecting with Those we Teach, Lead, and Love.  A recommendation from a friend and seems like a good time to read this one. 

I also have book lined up in my Audible account that a friend recommended, Making Bombs for Hitler.  Will be diving into that one too. 

Events this week:

Monday - World Teachers' Day!

Wednesday - Half day, teacher directed afternoon time

Friday - Parent survey due for remote vs hybrid decision and transportation plans

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out: 
Here is a cool newsletter I came across:, He shares 3 ideas, 2 quotes and 1 question.
Here is a resource a parent shared with me from the Worcester Public Library:

And to make you laugh...