Archive for December, 2012

Giving Forward

I struggle to begin this blog and reflect on the events of the past week. My emotions and sorrow have been incredible. As a parent, I have wrestled with my response to my own children. And as a leader of so many children and staff, I am even more moved to reflection.

Something I read to help our children to move forward is to consider ways to do for others, to do a positive act to send forward into the world. Being an International Baccalaureate school, we often encourage our students to put their words into action. We have different grade levels that have already done some service projects this year. This past Friday morning, our second grade students were visiting a local older adult care center performing their incredible music.

This week ends with an Early Release for our students. This is then a time for our staff to do professional development. Part of our time will be another field trip. Through our work with the Essential Standards in Social Studies, we are focusing on primary sources. So in that conversation we will be visiting a community of seniors to talk and share and listen. It will be our time to give back to our community and spend time building a community with those that live down the street.

It is my hope that our teachers will then have some time to build their hope and build their sense of giving forward to others in a time with so much sorrow.

I encourage all of the families to consider ways to empower your children to offer hope to others and to give forward. Through these acts, we can find a sense of assurance of the goodness that we can find in the world and give to the world.

Thank you for sharing your incredible children with us each day. They provide the staff such hope and joy in their interactions in learning and living!

Practice makes Confidence

We do a LOT of learning around Joyner. Our students grow from learning their letters and sounds to reading novels full of inferencing and connection. We learn to point to an object and describe the shape and count it and grow to manipulating and combining and calculating the volume of the object. We learn basic words in Spanish to speaking fluently with each other. SO MUCH LEARNING! I love watching how the teachers engage our students in this learning process. But sometimes it just takes that repetition and practice. And some of our students struggle with the “why” of that practice. Why labor over that book for 20 minutes EVERY night? Why practice those math facts?

I had a wonderful conversation with Mr. Whitehurst, our AG teacher this week. He shared an example that he uses with his students to help them understand why they must practice. He asked an older student to come up and tie her shoe while chatting with the class. Of course, this was no problem for the student. He then points out that there was a time that that same student had once had to concentrate so hard in doing the task of tying their shoe they might not have even noticed how they twisted their tongue to get it done! Same with a younger student in putting on their coat. My three-year old son still has to concentrate as he puts his winter coat on in the mornings. Soon, he too will be able to continue his conversation with me without missing a beat.

Sometimes it just takes practice. And with that practice, we all become more comfortable and have more ease with those difficult tasks.

Practice might not always make perfect, but it can mean feeling stronger and more confident.

Writers Workshop

There are weeks when I sit down to write this blog that I look at the computer screen and believe I catch a sliver of what writers feel when they are stumped. I look around for inspiration. Usually I have made notes to myself at different points of the week that strike me as something to blog. But then there are those moments I need to just go for a walk into classrooms and see the students and let them inspire me.

So today, I went to Kindergarten. These are our newest writers, and the classrooms have started to really dive into Writers Workshop. This is an instructional tool that our teachers use school wide to create a time and space to teach writing. Teachers generally give a mini-lesson to focus students on a specific strategy or skill. Then students move to the workshop time. They pick up where they left off the day before on the selection they are working on. Teachers then conference with individual students offering feedback and input. Many of the students take the mini-lesson idea and implement it directly into their writing. One of the terms you hear in all classrooms, students are called writers.

I walked into Ms. Wilkinson’s room and entered at the perfect time. Ms. Wilkinson was telling the students in the mini-lesson that good writers write about what is important to them. Perfect! Good advice! Thank you, Ms. Wilkinson. And then the students shared with me stories about decorating trees, walking their dogs, going to the book fair. One student worked on his story about liking to take walks with his dad. Thank you kindergarten students! You continue to amaze me with your straight to the heart, honest view of the world.

So I will try to remember this, Ms. Wilkinson. I will continue to write about what is important to me. I will need reminders some days and that is why I will probably be back to visit often. And thank you to all of our teachers as they continue to encourage our students to become writers.