Monday, March 28, 2016

Laughter Makes Things Better!!

It's said that the best medicine is laughter.  There is nothing better then the sounds of laughter but a child's laughter is even more joyful. Genius roaring laughter is contagious! When we share joy and laugh together, we get stronger, it's boost our energy, reduces pain and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. But the most importantly, laughter is a priceless medicine that is free, fun and contagious! 

Today we laughed!

It's MCAS season. MCAS is short for Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. To those who pay attention to the happenings of public education, you know that means standardized testing for students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 in English-Language Arts and Math. Some select grades also get to do Science and Technology tests. These tests have some very strict administration guideline for teachers and students and expectations for security for schools. There are endless hours of preparation for these tests at all levels in a school. Schedules need to be adjusted. Testing language taught. Practice tests administered. Pencils sharpened. Anchor charts and visual learning tools covered. The list goes on and it's endless. We take this very serious, we want to succeed but before we take get serious, today, we laughed! 

The awesome teachers of Phillipston Memorial modeled how to take a challenge to pump up our students and make them laugh! They volunteered to get a pie in the face by several students who have to take these tests! Our third and fourth graders voted to their heart to select those lucky teachers. Our mission was to show them how to be brave and do things that you might not want to do. 

Here's evidence of today's laughter, joy and fun!! 

Entering to the Theme from Rocky!

On the count of three....

Please keep all our kids in your thoughts and prayers as they face the this testing challenge. Life is filled with tests but this is the first time for standardized testing for many of our babies! We know our students are capable, bright and eager to show what they know. They are willing and they have great attitudes. 
This may not be our choice but we will meet this challenge with a smile and know our KIDS will rock it!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

5, 4, 3, 2, One-derful!

This is a first attempt to "blog"! This year, I've been on a mission to encourage others (most especially the teachers I work with) to step out of their comfort zone because it is only when we do this, that we really learn. Blogging isn't a step for me, it's a GIANT leap. Writing, in general, but even more specifically for public view creates tremendous anxiety!! Thanks to a great group of Principals, I've been inspired and challenged to step out and just blog. To just do it, they've said! So, Thanks, Adam Welcome for pushing the #PrincipalInAction twitter and Voxer group to reflect and share and to Kas Nelson for the topic: 5, 4, 3, 2, One-derful Blog Challenge and the many others who I love hearing from each day: Julie, Elaine, Hemmish, Kelly, Chris, Lindsy, Todd and soooo many more! Here goes...
1. What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?
My biggest struggle, not just this year, but every year is finding a work-life balance. It's a constant struggle to get it all done and get it all done well both at home and at school. There is always something that need to be done. There is always something I am forgetting to do. That in box is never empty!! Prioritizing the essential must dos is like a deck of cards that gets reshuffled after each card gets played in a game. I find myself with a list of must do's at the beginning of each day. I have high hopes to finish each before I go home but more often then not, that list never gets finished and other needs just get added so the deck needs to be reshuffled. The same happens when I get home. In the quiet ride home, I make that list for home, I walk in the door and the cards seem to fly everywhere!! It's really seems like a game of 52 pick-up! Who remembers that game as a kid?
I always worry about the cards at the bottom of the deck. Those things are just as important but they don't get attention they deserve. Getting it all done is my struggle!!
2.  Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.
The first success is we started an All School Meeting! Each Friday morning, we gather together as a whole school to build our school community! We celebrate success, share stories, teach lessons, do skits, role play problems, sing, dance and recognize greatness at our school!! "My" (yes, I'm being possessive... they are awesome and I'm proud to call them "my") teachers stepped up and step out to lead this meeting, they join in and dance, they've supported this idea and make it happen, especially when I'm not able to be there (which unfortunately has been way too many a Friday!) Without them, this venture would be a flop! "Our" (yes, being possessive again!) kids are awesome! They engage, laugh and bring their best to All School Meeting every week! One of those little cherubs made the statement just recently, "We should do this everyday!" Love that kid! She gets it! Yes, we should find joy, laughter and learn everyday but for now we'll stick to just Friday mornings for All School Meetings!

The second success is an experiment regarding how we are conducting the District Level Elementary Staff meetings. The contract requires a 1 hour per month district level staff meeting for elementary teachers. When we account for travel time (to get all elementary staff together 2 out of 3 buildings have to travel) it's really only 45 minutes.
Teachers really wanted some training and professional development with technology. Our district adopted Google Apps for Educators (GAFE) a few years back and all teachers received MacAir Laptops this summer but training and PD time is so limited. Obviously, there is a need for training but EVERYONE has very different needs depending on their teaching responsibilities. To tackle this problem, this staff meeting time has been dedicated to enhance our use of technology. The beauty is we've made these meetings voluntary and believe it or not... PEOPLE are actually coming!! It is a beautiful thing! People are sharing, working together and growing professional! It's an awesome experiment and so far it's been super successful!! 
3.  What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?

  • To purchase a "Buddy Bench" for our school playground so no one every feels alone and if they do, there is a way to find a buddy during recess!! 
  • To provide opportunities for our students to explore coding and develop ongoing opportunities to explore and experiment with the Spheros recently purchased! Maybe a Sphero coding challenge!!
  • Continue to grow my professional network and challenge myself and those I work with to do better for kids because Kids Deserve It!!

4. Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today’s rough culture.

  • I love what I do and working in Education as a blessing! Not everyone loves to wake up and go to work!!  I DO!
  • It's fun!
  • If those of us who love it, don't do it, we get people who don't and that's just not a good thing!!
  • When I was in the classroom, I use to say, "I get paid to finger paint." Now I get paid to "encourage others to finger paint!!" That's really cool! Truly,  it's not that simple or that easy but I know I am making a difference! 
5. Which FIVE people do you hope will the take the challenge of answering these questions.

  • Any member in the #principalsinaction voxer group that hasn't already finished it.  Claire Giardino, I did it, your turn!! 
  • Anyone who is as afraid to write as much as me, give it a try! 
  • Anyone who loves to write, you inspire us to read!
  • Any of "My" teachers at Phillipston Memorial School.
  • I don't want to call anyone out by name... just try it!