Archive for October, 2012

Spirit Week

How funny to dress up in patriotic colors or visit my closet to find the best tourist look! I have found myself talking style and clothing with kids more than I ever have and with staff!

Joyner Spirit week is a fun time for us to enjoy the spirit that is Joyner and end the week with the Jamboree fun. I have heard about the Jamboree probably since the first day I came to Joyner. Parents have talked to me about it with just as much excitement as the students! I am excited to finally see what Jamboree is all about.

I look forward to seeing everyone come out and have a great time. And thank you to all of the parents who have helped your students discover their inner patriot, tourist, wacky tackiness, team spirit and finally Joyner spirit this week. I know it meant a lot to your child! Thank you!

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Global

Our school is part of a global network of schools in Wake County. We also are a part of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. (Yes, spelled with “me”!) And on top of it all, our state has included an emphasis on Global and 21st Century Skills to teach our students. All of these are big words with big meanings for little people. And yet, the visible elements I see everyday in classrooms. The literature that teachers are selecting, the multiple viewpoints students are given, and the language learning offered. I am proud of how our school continues to encourage our students to view their own world through this lens.

Early release days are opportunities that our staff is provided valuable time for professional development. It is our turn to become students and learn. And that learning then transfers to the classroom. At our last early release time, we went global in our own community. Staff focused on creating real-world teaching and learning to better engage and create rigor for our students. (Check out the video on Joyner’s front page.) Taking these opportunities enhance the already incredible instruction daily at Joyner.

Only a couple of weeks later, the second graders went to the farmer’s market. Although many of our students might have already experienced going to the market with their families, the teachers asked the students to use the lens of economics to view this part of their world differently. Many students shared incredible stories about their conversations with vendors that tapped our students to view globally their own world.

I often think that when we say global we can be overwhelmed with the whole world. But I believe it begins with us looking at where we are and the world around us. Our students, being IB learners, are encouraged to be aware of their own surroundings. Our students see someone hurt and stop to help. Our students see an injustice and find me to let me know. Our students are learning to see their own world and how they can impact it. Allow our students to continue to unveil for us the world we live in. Encourage their questions about their world and let them explore their answers.

Joyner students will become the leaders we need in our world.

Inquiry and Engagement

This year our state has moved to what is called the Common Core Curriculum in Language Arts and Math. Although you will see and hear many things about this curriculum out in the community, we at Joyner have discovered that many of the instructional strategies align with what we already do with the Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate. Many of the strategies call upon the student to be engaged actively in their learning. They are pressed to make connections and build meaning. Teachers also create real-world teaching moments for students.

Our Spanish team of teachers has developed a design this year that aligns all these ideals with their fabulous language instruction. Each grade level has been given a “problem” that they will spend this year learning to solve. The language learning becomes more meaningful to students as they work to solve the “problem”. I sat in a fourth grade class with Ms. Cardona the other day. Students were working closely together analyzing a script in Spanish. They encouraged each other and put their heads down and took the challenge on. I love seeing our students embrace the language learning they are receiving. They are challenged and engaged.

I hope that parents begin to see the difference in their student as they continue to learn to inquire and wonder. Take advantage of moments when the students asks the adult the question. Press the student to analyze and realize for themselves their own thoughts on the subject. Model that inquiry of thought to them. The more we encourage our students to think, the better we prepare them for success not just at Joyner but in life!

Finding our beat

As I reflect on this past week, I keep coming back to how normal it has been. Sounds strange, I know. But this week has been full of Joyner learning and teaching. There is a beat that we all seem to be following. There begins to be a familiarity in greeting each other in the morning. Students get to class and start their day. I walked down the Kindergarten hallway first thing yesterday morning and the kids have their rhythm. They are doing their thing feeling confident in their surroundings. We aren’t in that new fresh start of the school year anymore. We are rolling. I don’t hear as much talk in classrooms of how to follow the procedures, I just see the students following them. Kids talk with me about their tests and quizzes. That tells me we have made it through units of study. I have seen the change of lessons as we move deeper into the curriculum. Students are comfortable. It is a good feeling. I like to see the confidence our students have in their classes. They are figuring out the predictable as a way to know what they can count on. They continue to be risk taking in sharing ideas. I believe because of their comfort they are able to try out new ideas and share them out loud.

And that is what makes Joyner unique. Because nothing is ever really just plain learning and teaching. There is beat and excitement. There is energy and drive and that is driven by incredible teachers and celebrated by the amazing students. I encourage everyone to consider the beat they follow at school. And remember to keep being creative and sharing new rhythms to that beat. Keep exploring and creating. It is fantastic as students continue to seek me out even more to share stories they wrote, projects they created or even share the grades on their last quiz. Being the global school that we are, I want us to continue to celebrate all that is unique about each of our students. And that is what makes the best music in our building.