Sunday, March 5, 2017

I Love Hockey - Day 5 #sol17

Each sport has a personality and an unmistakable sound. In high school, I used to help collect tickets at the door of the gym for basketball games. The sound of basketball shoes squeaking on a hardwood floor takes me right back to those days.

My favorite sport is hockey. My team is the Columbus Blue Jackets. I usually tune into the games when they are broadcast on TV. There is nothing better than being at the game but watching on TV is a close second. Throughout the course of the season, I rarely miss a game.


The clack of sticks on the ice.
The cold crisp air.
The bang of bodies against the boards.                              
The spray of ice as skates skid to a stop.
The band of a puck on the goal post.
The whistle from the linesman.
A hard-to-come-by hat trick.
The crowd chanting and cheering.
The cannon blasting in celebration.
Yes, I love hockey!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

February Warmth - Day 4 #sol17

It's cold today with a trace of snow on the ground, and I am thinking back a couple weeks when we were blessed with weather in the 60s and 70s. It was quite unusual to have that kind of weather in the middle of an Ohio winter. 

We spent days outside, cleaning up the yard and flower beds. We picked up broken branches that had fallen to the ground and gathered pine cones that dropped from our pine tree. We raked leaves and twigs and cleaned up some brown withered plant growth from the garden making way for the little green newness that was just beginning to poke through the soil. The grass began to change to a brither shade of green. We warmed in the sunshine our arms bare and our faces to the sun. We rested in our lawn chairs with our dog, Barney, by our side. 

It was all just a brief and bright peek at spring but we loved it. I am thankful for those days of sun and warmth. We are back to colder weather and a bit of snow. But it's like we were able to peek around the corner of winter and gaze quickly at the spring that is sure to come soon. I'm waiting! Are you?

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Rainbow of School Supplies - Day 3 #sol17

My birthday is in August ... just in time for a shopping trip for school supplies!
I considered it one of my gifts to go shopping with my mother for my yearly supplies. 
It stretched my birthday out a bit and added to my excitement of new things I received for my birthday. I was like a kid in a candy store when it came to the aisle of school supplies. (And I admit, I still get excited when I see any office/school supplies all lined up in an array of colors.) 

So today my post is brief and colorful.

A Rainbow of School Supplies

New yellow pencils 
   waiting to be sharpened.
Fresh white drawing paper
   waiting for an image to appear. 
Crayons in a box of 64
   with a sharpener right in the box.
Bright lined white paper
   with a vertical red margin line.
A rainbow of watercolor paints
   and a brush for painting.
A yellow-lined legal pad 
   for notes and math computations.
Pens (maybe even a fountain pen    
   with blue ink cartridges).
A pink eraser
   to remove stray marks.
Binders and folders 
   in every color.
Blue-handled pointy scissors
   for sharp cutting.
Fresh white paste
   with a special smell.
A metal compass with a little yellow pencil 
   for making circles and arcs.
A clear plastic protractor
   for measuring angles.
A box of colored pencils
   sharpened and ready. 
Gifts of color
   organized and ready.
A rainbow of possibilities
   waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Rhythms That Define Our Lives - Day 2 #SOL17



I retired three years ago and immediately missed being with kids and teachers. As a principal, I spend my days with them and lived out the rhythm of school life. The start of a new school year, greeting the kids and watching their learning unfold, parent conferences, holiday programs, staff meetings, talent shows, and field days. 

Once I retired, I missed the rhythm of the school year. It took me awhile to get used to the absence of the milestones that marked the passing of the school year.

About the same time that I retired, the school district in which I live opened a new middle school and the entrance to the school is directly across from my house. And so a new rhythm started. Fourteen buses make the turn into the school drive each morning. I hear the rumble of the engines as the buses slow down to make the turn and then head up to the school.

As I wake from sleep, I hear the buses rumble toward the school. I can tell when it's a school day or an occasional day when school is closed. I can tell when its the weekend. And I can tell when it's summertime in the absence of that early morning greeting as bus after bus comes by.

The rhythm of the school year is still with me. It's a little more passive because I can choose to rise or stay cuddled under the covers a few more minutes. But it is one of the rhythms of my life that mark my days. It is part of me. 

What are the rhythms that mark your days?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The First Robin

It was February 20 and time for an early morning outing with our dog, Barney. He is having some troubles with herniated discs in his back, so for six weeks we have to carry him outside and place him gently down on the ground. He is getting plenty of cage-rest as he heals.

On this day, I was thankful for the warm weather we have been having since I am usually out there in the backyard very early or very late letting him do his thing. I often pray no one sees me because I am often in my jacket wrapped over a nightgown with a pair of leggings hastily pulled on and my snow boots that sit by the back door. Quite a sight! But both the early mornings and late nights are quiet and gentle and it's nice to breathe in the fresh air.

It was early in the morning on a day that promised warm weather and sunshine. I stepped outside with Barney in my arms. The sky was a beautiful blue and the first thing I noticed were the birds chirping. They flew from tree to tree and their beautiful bird songs filled the air. Cardinals, bluejays and ... yes... robins! Three of them! 

At first those lovely birds that promise of spring flew away but after a moment they came back and rested on the fence to watch Barney and me. I always look forward to my first robin sighting of the spring. It means that warm weather and a garden in bloom are not too far away. And so this day began with hope and promise.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reflecting on Week 3 of #IMMOOC - Trust, Passion, Vision

My brain has been working overtime this week. There was so much to think about in Episode 3 and Part II of the book. I loved hearing Kaleb Rashad's perspective on trust, relationships, and innovation. Thanks to Katie and George for planning and facilitating this episode. 

I am in an interesting position because I am a retired elementary principal. I enjoy being retired and have so much more time for reading, writing and connecting. But I miss being in a school. I miss the brilliance of teachers and children. I need to be part of the conversations that happen in classrooms. So I am hoping to broaden my experiences. Retirement is great but learning alongside students and teachers is even better.

I listened to episode #3 twice (OK, I admit. Maybe it was three times). My work in schools over the years was affirmed by the conversation but I was reminded how much I miss the face-to-face connections with educators and students. I have visited a friend's third grade classroom a few times since school started. I was there to share my writing notebook with them and talk to them about blogging. I value the time I can spend with young readers and writers. It was such a pleasure to talk with them about their own writing. Without that face-to-face interactions with learners my thoughts are missing the credibility of experiences in classrooms and schools.

I believe strongly in trustful relationships and understand the energy it can bring to a learning community. I was fortunate during my career as a principal to open a new elementary school. It was a dream of a lifetime. 

We began by bringing together a staff and exploring what we wanted for our new school. I shared my hopes and dreams for our school with honesty and passion. We needed to begin our journey with the power of honesty and conversations. As we approached the opening of our new school, we had many opportunities to be together and talk about our hopes and dreams. We wanted to bring together colleagues who believed in the unlimited potential of every child. We were beginning our journey together and were committed to creating new paths that would help our students explore the world with curiosity and wonder. I never insisted that our classrooms and our teaching were the same but I did insist on us coming together with a shared wisdom and a rigorous commitment to doing what was right for kids. There were lots of conversations that first year about learning, teaching, and building relationships. Our mission began to form within the conversations we had about what mattered.

The summer after our first year, we were ready to create a vision statement for our school. We planned a retreat for the staff so we could reflect on our first year together and breathe life into a vision for our school. Since we believed strongly that the voices of children must be heard in everything we did, we invited some 4th and 5th graders to join us for part of the retreat. We asked them to tell us what they liked best about our school and what they would want for our learning community. The conversation was inspiring.

As we captured our thoughts we began to co-create our vision. Some of the important considerations seemed to take shape:

     inspiring students to find a passion for learning

      honoring the unlimited potential of the whole child

     promoting leadership

     creating a safe and kind environment

     giving staff and students a voice

We crafted our vision that truly came together from our shared beliefs about schools, learning, teaching and leading. I am proud that I was able to be part of such an amazing experience.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What I Believe About Innovation and the Purpose of Education - #IMMOOC

I am participating in #IMMOOC with a group of educators who are reading and discussing the book, Innovators Mindset by George Couros. I am responding to this week's prompt for furthering the conversation.

What do you see as the purpose of education? Why might innovation be crucial in education?

I strongly believe that the purpose of education is to create learners who can navigate the world to satisfy their curiosities and passions. Certainly, our students need to develop the skills, content, behaviors and attitudes that help them grow toward independence. But the path our students take provides so many innovative opportunities to develop those on the way toward becoming a citizens of the world. 

When a child walks into a school, he comes with a unique set of talents, interests, learning styles, strengths, challenges, dreams and passions. If our goal is to innovate, we have to consider each child as a learner who is like no other. When that child engages in learning experiences they need to be specific and focused on what he needs to become more independent, to be able to see a world of possibilities, and to love learning. A complete profile of the child as a learner is what drives instruction and discovery. We can and should be innovative about the ways we engage in the learning lives of our students.

So many people assume that innovation is closely aligned with the technology and the digital devices we can offer our students. But I think it is so much more. Digital devices are changing classrooms but so are the teachers who plan thoughtful learning and teach brilliantly.

So here's what I believe about innovation:

     The learning environment can be an innovation in itself. Going beyond the desks-in-rows mentality. Designing a space with a wide range of resources where students are comfortable, challenged and curious. The appearance and functionality of classrooms is changing.

     Relationships are critical to innovation. We build trust through relationships. When teachers and students feel valued and trusted they take the risks that move them towards their goals. I consider the relationships among the adults in the school as important as those among and with our students. With strong relationships in place we can venture out from our comfort zones to be creative, curious, and passionate.

     Innovation can be represented by who is in charge of the learning. I think the biggest innovation we can make in our schools is to break down the heirarchy of learners. I have always hoped that schools could be places where there are no big people and no little people. Imagine that! A school where everyone is a learner who drives their own learning. I believe that everyone in school learns alongside each other. We are all on a journey.

      Lastly, I believe that innovation can be sustained when there is shared leadership among students, teachers and leaders. The voices of children and the voices of teachers need to be heard. The school environment can be led by the strong voices that are part of the fabric of the school.