Monday, March 30, 2009

I am working with a group of six kindergarten students who were identified as falling a bit behind in expected development of emergent reading skills. It is a great opportunity for me as a principal to exercise my teaching skills. We meet everyday for an hour.

When we first began to meet, I set out to get to know each one of the children. There were blaring deficiencies and a few strengths to build on. But when I asked one of the children to read something, he too quickly said, "I can't read." It was in that moment that I decided to prove him wrong. So as I work with these six children I will not accept low expectations. I began that day to convince them that they CAN read. It is often in the conversations that we build the confidence in reluctant learners.

It has been a great experience with these children. Yes, they are reading and continue to build their confidence and their skills. I have not heard, "I can't read" in a very long time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

School is for asking questions...

I read a lot of blog posts today and spent some time (way too much) on Twitter. I always take away some new thought or reflection. In a post on Teaching with Technology Steve Kirkpatrick made a statement that made me think. He said,

"At which point did children stop going to school to ask questions and go to school to be given answers to remember?"

What have our schools become? How can we make our schools places where children come to ask questions? In another recent post, Angela Maiers shared a wonderful video of her lesson with first graders about how learners constantly ask questions. Take a moment to watch it.

I am wondering if we ever slow down enough so kids can ask the questions. If we don't take the time to stop and listen, their questions just might stop. That's a very scary thought. I can imagine a school where children walk through the door each day with a "Good morning", a smile to start the day, and a brain filled with questions and inquiries.

"Do you know..."
"I am wondering..."
"What might happen if..."
"How ..."

School would, once again, be a place where children came to ask questions. How would our classroom conversations be different? Would students feel differently about school? How would learning look and sound? I would like to find out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Do What You Can - Share What You Can

I have been spending so much time on the internet lately that I feel like I have lost some balance in my life. Don't get me wrong. I am learning so much and growing my Professional Learning Network (PLN). It is difficult to even explain how my learning has changed. But I admit that I am somewhat addicted to time online.

So when I read the recent blog post by The Cool Cat Teacher I was reminded that while our lives continue to move forward "like a speeding bullet" we should "Do What We Can" and "Share What We Can." My blog posts are few and far between. Yet each day I am learning, doing and sharing in many ways. Unfortunately, I am spending less time on writing blog posts and more time on teacher evaluations, school newsletters, writing grants, learning, school wikis, twitter and such. Some of this I truly enjoy and some of it just needs to get finished and off my plate. So I am doing and sharing in many ways. In the quiet moments of my days, I slow down to connect with my new grandson, Zeke, who is truly a joy.

Sometime soon, I hope, there will be time to reflect, post on my blog, write a book and the endless other things on my "to do" list. For now, I am doing and sharing what I can.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What I Heard Today - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more I was in a first grade classroom today during writing workshop. The teacher has supported these young writers in many ways, and they have grown so much since the fall. As the teacher asked what each student was working on today, students shared a variety of writing projects in process. Since this teacher offers so much choice to her students, there was a wide variety of responses. One student with a tiny voice but a determined stature replied, "I'm using the book, 31 Uses for a Mom, as a mentor text to write my own book just like it."

This child has recognized that books can be a scaffold for her own writing. The word "mentor" is part of the shared language of this classroom. This young writer was engaged, motivated, creative, determined, and focused on her work. She created the text and began to illustrate. We talked briefly about how much her own mother would enjoy the book, so she has learned about audience. She never doubted that she could do it. In fact, she said that she had so many ideas in her head that she couldn't get them all down.

In writing workshop, even our youngest students can become writers with the support of a caring teacher, a classroom full of books, and the confidence to simply go at it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What I Heard Today - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

In my role as a principal of an elementary school, it is an absolute joy to wander the school and listen in on the learning conversations.

Today I passed a second grader sitting comfortably in our open learning space just beyond her classroom door. She was concentrating on the laptop computer screen in front of her. As I walked by, she seemed intensely engaged in a task. I asked her what she was doing and with spontaneity and ease she said "I'm recording a voice over."

Gotta love it! Learning that counts!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I need to get my hands on Sir Ken Robinson's new book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I am fascinated by his thoughts on creativity and eager to consider ways to build a school where learning is centered on our passions. Until the book arrives in the mail, I will listen and listen again to Sir Ken Robinson speak on this video.

It's a 40 minute video, so take some time to sit back with a cup (or glass) of your favorite beverage and enjoy. Don't be tempted to skip the question and answer session at the end because his final words are powerful.