Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Local - National - Global

Each year our students have a Celebration of Giving rather than the traditional holiday party that is typical on the day before winter break. When we opened the school three years ago we decided that we wanted our students to understand the notion of giving instead of focusing on a holiday wish list or thinking about what gifts they were going to receive.

Each December our students do chores for family and friends to earn money to donate to a charity. We ask parents to help out by taking pictures of their children doing the chores. They send the pictures in so we can make a slide show for our Celebration of Giving Assembly held on the last day before winter break. The assembly reminds us all that together we can do great things and that there are many reasons we help others who are less fortunate.

Our Student Leadership Team is in charge of choosing the charity each year. This year I am so impressed with their thinking. They have decided that instead of giving to one charity they want to choose a local, a national, and a global charity that needs our help. They are doing some research and will soon make a decision about the three organizations that we will support.

I am first impressed each year by the many ways our students open their hearts to give to others. This year I am so proud to be working with a group of children who understand the small as well as the big picture. They understand the importance of helping our local charity. But I am even more proud that they have chosen to consider a global charity.

These are the things that cannot be measured on any test. These are the things that make us hopeful that our students can impact their world - close to home and far away.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Twitter Treasure

Portwiture is an interesting program that grabs photography from Flickr that matches the content of your most recent Twitter updates. You can view the photographs on a grid or in a slideshow.

Here is my Portwiture.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Talking Him Off the Ledge

The beginning of the school year can be daunting for our youngest students in Kindergarten. Today I was called down to a kindergarten class because a child was not cooperating and being pretty disagreeable. I could tell that he was highly frustrated and impulsive. My goal was to calm him down and figure out just what led to his state of mind. His class was on their way outdoors to observe a tree. I asked him if he would stay inside to calm down a little and talk with me. He parked himself under a table and seemed to prepare for a battle.

In the first few minutes of our conversation, we just weren't connecting. He was still too frustrated to be logical or cooperative, but slowly he began to talk with me. I made it apparent that I was very interested in what he had to say. In a few minutes, he got the idea that I wasn't there to make his day more miserable but that I was genuinely trying to understand him. We spent the next 15 minutes talking - he stayed under the table as I sat near trying to make eye contact.

Some moments in education are magical. In just a few minutes, I found out what was making him so unhappy and learned about what he liked. But more importantly, we connected. The class returned from observing a tree outside and went out for a bit of recess. I watched him and two other boys play soccer. When the children came inside, they spread out with books for a few moments of independent reading. He chose a book about bugs that we both found pretty interesting. We looked through it together, and I invited him to come to my office to read with me sometime.

In those last few minutes together, I could have imagined it, but I think he nearly reached for my hand. In our time together, I learned some things about him and he learned some things about me. We can build on the friendship we began today. I am looking forward to more opportunities to spend time with this child. He has some challenges but he is a most interesting child. In small ways I hope I can help him find his place in our school.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

So Much Potential

Our school's vision ends with the phrase "encourage the unlimited potential of the whole child."

It's a lofty goal in these times of grades, competition, testing, accountability, and an outdated school structure that impedes authentic learning rather than encourages inquiry, collaboration, discovery and a meaningful and thoughtful pursuit of new learning.

I continue to have a steadfast belief in our school's vision. But there are days when it is tough to sustain the vision and to rely on my beliefs about learning and teaching. I believe in the possibilities. I believe in the unlimited potential of every child. I believe in a caring and nurturing learning environment. I support the work of teachers who bring out the best in our children. I appreciate their dedication and commitment. I believe in the power of relationships.

Today I watched again the presentation by Benjamin Zander titled "The Art of Possibility" because it renews my belief in the possible.

Watch the video when your belief in the potential of every child is shaken by the rumblings from the conditions that seem out of your control. I intend to encourage my staff to watch the video and reflect on its connection to their own learning and teaching.

And I am wondering what it would be like to share the video with children and listen to their responses. I hope to do that this coming week and will post my reflections.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

3 Days Into the School Year

We finished our third day of school today. It's amazing how quickly we settle into our routines. How do we re-establish those routines but guard against the complacency of doing things the way we have always done them? How can we start the year with a new set of lenses through which to view our learning community? Can we get in the habit of asking "Why?" so we know our decisions are
meaningful and purposeful?

Today I was strolling around the cafeteria helping students open the juice boxes, milk cartons, and string cheese wrappers when a second grader stopped me as I walked by. He said, "My name is Jaden. I'm new here and who are you?" I love the way he felt comfortable enough to strike up this conversation. I told him my name and that I was the principal. I knew he had transfered from another school in our district and told him that his principal had told me he was coming to our school. We had a brief conversation, and I moved on. I won't forget Jaden's name tomorrow or the next. We have made a connection. My challenge is to make those connections with all the children at our school.

Tomorrow will be the end of our first week of school. We are settling in and making our new friends feel welcome. The hope of the new school year is ahead of us.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Twitter is my PLN

I am responding to Franki's Twitter Mosaic Meme with my own mosaic of friends, colleagues and highly respected edubloggers.

It is difficult to even begin to describe the impact that Twitter has made on my professional learning. My learning community has grown by leaps and bounds and I have learned so much from everyone. My Twitter is my Professional Learning Network (PLN). I used to complain that I didn't have enough time to read the newspaper in the morning but now I spend at least an hour at the beginning of the day checking the latest tweets.

I appreciate the discoveries I make each day but I worry about the time I invest. I wish there was an easier way. I am reducing the amount of people I follow to make it more manageable. I know someone who keeps the number of people he follows to 150. If he finds someone new that he wants to follow, he drops one off of his list. I think this is good advice.

A day does not go by when I don't discover a new tool or a thought-provoking article. My list of bookmarks has grown so large (@2000) that I am attempting to move them from my browser to a social bookmarking site (Diigo). It will take me awhile but I can tag each bookmark to keep them all a bit more organized and accessible.

So here is my Twitter Mosaic.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

So, here are the rules:
1. Go to http://sxoop.com/twitter/ to create your mosaic (you can choose friends or followers).
2. Copy the code and paste it into a blog entry.
3. Reflect and comment on your mosaic.
4. Tag some “tweeples.”
5. Link back to this post or the post where you were first tagged.

I am tagging @katiedicesare and anyone else who thinks this sounds like fun!