Archive for March, 2013

A Break to READ

Things are trying to bloom. Pollen is hinting at my nose. And there is a huge buzz in the air at school at this moment. Today is the last day before our students get a break. And I am looking forward to a short bit without evening functions especially myself.

I have a pile of new books that I recently purchased on our family’s trek to our favorite book fair in Virginia. Plus, my daughter and I are reading Maniac Magee together and are nearing the end with tears and sniffles. On my night stand, I bounce between this great non-fiction read and (yes, be surprised those that are learning about me) another fictional book taking place in the far north Canada.

I look forward to these moments that I can settle in without as much guilt to read. I hope for all of you to enjoy some moments together with your children and families in the next few days. Try curling up with a good book with your youngest reader or teaching your newly independent reader the joy of time to relax with a good book.

P.S. Speaking of Reading: I have to share an awesome blog of someone close to me. This links to a book club for boys. They are currently in the midst of their Books and Basketball Bracket tournament. This is a great link for book ideas  for some of our more independent readers. And I love the idea of fun with books and March Madness! Even the books’ authors are getting into it! http://smsguysread.wordpress.com/

Have a great break everyone! See you in April!

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Thank you Parents

Last Friday, our third graders shared a project that had just completed. Parents had come in to celebrate with them. Other grade level students visited as well. The buzz was wonderful. After the students presented, they reflected on their work and problem solved how to improve or add on. Ms. Rosen was speaking to her group as I walked in. She was coaching the students on how to look for support and help when working on projects. A mom who was still in the classroom asked to speak.

This mom pointed out that she understood that many parents worked. She shared that often she works and is unable to come in and volunteer all the time. But she wanted the students to understand that anytime a parent walked in to volunteer, they came for the whole class. She encouraged the students to always seek help from anyone in the classroom. She reminded the students that all parents came to help all students.

I walked up after she spoke to thank her. I am continually amazed at the work our parents offer all of our students. Anytime I speak with different committees in the PTA, they make every effort to point out their work is for all students at Joyner. And I am so grateful to the many troops of volunteers that give so much. Parents who come weekly to sit and read with students, parents who work in the JAG office, parents who meet multiple evenings coaching OM, parents who send in supplies, parents who send thank you notes to teachers encouraging their work, parents who coordinate incredible events and parents who high five kids in the hallways as they are welcomed to their day. Each parent and volunteer and supporter of our students is incredible.

Thank you! And thank you for helping make a positive difference in the lives of all Joyner students.

Burning Learning

I had several Common Core moments on my own this past week. In discussion with a friend, we were talking about a mutually relatable issue in the adult world. Then late Friday evening, I read a book review related about said topic which lead me to text a continued conversation with said friend. The next day I walked into a local bookstore looking for the book I had read the review on. That lead to another great conversation with the store owner about said topic. THEN this week in one of my many meetings, I found myself in the same topic of conversation with some colleagues!  It is interesting to see how one conversation can bring life to something and then keeps arising in other areas.

Have you ever had a burning topic that just keeps showing up wherever you go?

The Common Core instruction that we have moved towards in North Carolina asks our students to do the same thing. We no longer ask students just to give information about a text they just read. We want our students to take a topic and let it become real. We want our students to have burning topics of conversation. We want our students to go home to parents with questions. We want conversations around the dinner table that allow our students to become the teachers.

Our fourth graders recently wrote stories about the Trail of Tears. The students’ products were so real and moving. Students dug deep into their learning of the content, connected it to themselves and produced incredible accounts. Their ability to allow the content to burn in them gave them such rich reward in their stories. When I met with some of the fourth graders in my Huddle last week, they again mentioned this writing as one of their favorite activities this year. When I brought up the other known “fun” things they have done, the students began to realize the journey their teachers had taken them this year.

I continue to be so amazed at the journey our teachers take our students through in learning. Students might not look like they are burning, but when I hear the excitement different grade levels of students share as they talk about their best projects and their favorite moments so far this year, I celebrate.

How incredible to be a student these days! How incredible to be given the opportunity to be kids and just follow their spirit of questioning, wondering and exploring. And how incredible are the teachers that I see each day taking our children on that journey!

Mom moments

The Joyner 5K was this past weekend. What an event! I loved that my family joined me in this Joyner family event. In reflecting on the running experience, I keep going back to the cheering and positive energy everyone shared with each other. Parents were parents to all kids. Every adult out there felt inspired and wanted to motivate all of the students to accomplish the goal of the race. The students of all sizes cheered each other on. They received motivation from everyone around them. It truly was a family event.

And I laugh at my mom moments throughout. I stuffed extra bandaids into the jogging stroller just in case. One of my students stopped me along the way asking for a tissue. She told me that she knew she could count on me since I was a mom and all. I stopped along the way and with the help of a dad assisted a baby snake to make his way across the path so not to be terrorized or be terrorizing.

I left with a great feeling of pride for Joyner and the interactions I experienced. And then came another mom moment when my own little one climbed into my lap that evening and was burning to touch.  The juggling ensued for what to do Monday morning. Up all night I sat with him, comforting and being there. The next morning I found good hands for him to be held in while I made my way to my other 700 plus children.

And as I drove, I did have that torn feeling. I have often joked when students ask me how many children I have. I always tell them the exact number of students at Joyner at the moment plus 2. I point out that I only feed 2 at dinner but the rest lunch and some even breakfast. I could not walk through the doors of Joyner to do my job without having this belief that I come for the children and staff. It is my goal to work with all families to ensure student success.

And like most moms, I am not perfect and make mistakes. I can’t do it all, even though I want to. But I keep in my heart that my decisions and intentions shall always remain on the students. My work is for kids. It might be the mom in me, it might be the educator. I’d like to think it is both.

Thank you to everyone in the Joyner family for their support and efforts for all students! The 5K is only one example of how well we can come together and how well we can cheer for each other.