Archive for September, 2013

Different Viewpoints on Our Students

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the informational session for our OM teams at Joyner. The media center was packed with interested people. As parents listened to information about the program and then about what it takes to become a coach, questions began to arise. The commitment initially appears too large. Questions of parents wondering if they could do it came up.

Then a Joyner coach for many years stood up. He is a proud dad who is involved in his children’s lives. He began to speak. He shared how coaching his OM team  and his own child gave him a chance to see his child in a different way. He shared the perspective that we all do as parents of how we see our role as guide giver, safe keeper and helper on their journey. But as an OM coach, he was able to see his child in a different way. He couldn’t give the answers. He didn’t offer warnings. He allowed them to explore and seek their own independent answers to the questions in safe learning environment. He spoke of that as a gift. This eased and inspired many parents that evening.

As parents, we watch our own children grow, we know that we begin to let go of some of our control and watch our children try out all the lessons we hope they have learned. And we wonder how they will do. What this dad shared, was a perspective that was beautifully put.

I believe that at school, teachers are given this opportunity so often. We see all the guidance you have given to your children. We see them try out those lessons. We see your children take risks and learn. We see them growing.

We are so thankful for the work that parents do. And even as children grow, they still need their parents’ guidance as well as schools’. I look forward to continue watching your children grow and learn to shine. I look forward to working together in helping our students reach new places!

Thank you, Joyner dad, for inspiring this adult once again with this reminder.

Thoughts on Open House

This past week we celebrated our Open House at Joyner. As I walked around the building, I reflected on how different our Open House looks in 2013 compared to years ago. The tradition of one teacher talking about the work that happens in that one classroom is no longer the norm. Teachers have reflected how to take it to the next place. We want to show how important and necessary our collaboration is to our teaching. So instead, some teams presented on the work of the team. All students become a part of one grade level that all teachers teach. Afterward, many teachers sat at the table with the parents having conversations. Questions of parents drive the presentation to match the needs.
I listened to common conversations about curriculum, assessment, and the teaching we do. I heard expectations that are set high. I enjoyed the connections that teachers offer to parents.
The next day, one of our teachers talked about how he just wanted to speak passionately about teaching and learning. He wanted that feel to come across more than anything. What a powerful statement!
It is our time to open our doors and speak directly to the parents.
School looks differently. Teaching and learning looks different, feels different, engages different. And so Open House is as well.
I thank those parents that keep coming out, even after the 13 years of attending Joyner’s Open Houses. I hope you found something new each time. I hope you met some new faces. And your presence still here means the world to the teachers who prepare for the night. And thank you to those who came for the first time. Welcome to this journey!


I am joining a brave new world of technology. I am on Twitter.

This all began as I reflected at the end of the school year. I felt proud that I had accomplished my first year at Joyner and enjoyed the practice of writing and reflecting each week on my blog. But I also felt discouraged that I was unable to highlight all that is great day in and day out at Joyner more often. I also want to find other ways to communicate with our community. So with the encouragement of my ever-present husband, I took the step into Twitter.

My goal with Twitter is as simple as this. I want everyone to know what excellence looks like in classrooms. I want our community and beyond to understand that Joyner is more than those big moments when we come together to race in a 5K or have nights of nonsense. Joyner is also incredible because day in and day out our teachers engage students in learning. Our students challenge and push us to be the best we can be. There is magic that happens in the classrooms all day. School is a busy place. There is no way to capture it all. But through my tweets, I want to try to celebrate as much as I can. I want to highlight to anyone that will listen that teachers do incredible work.

I am proud of the team that I work with at Joyner. And I know that in every building, teachers create magic for students. That is the gift of education. I am proud to be in a profession that impacts the future one child at a time.

So yes, please come visit my blog to read my reflections each week on Joyner and the work we are doing. But perhaps consider following me on twitter as well. My handle is @JoynerPrincipal. Take a brief moment each day to see what incredible work that happens in these walls and halls. Help me to celebrate the magic of teaching!

A new tool in our belts

This year, all students at Joyner and schools around the state will be participating in a component of the Read to Achieve endeavor by the North Carolina General Assembly. This component is a formative and diagnostic assessment for literacy. All teachers will assess each individual student within the first four weeks of school. The tool we are using is mClass.

Imagine scheduling time to sit individually with your entire class while also setting the stage for a year of learning and expectations. I have been amazed at how our teachers have taken this opportunity and run with it. Time is being used creatively in order to find this individual time while still keeping engaged the rest of the class.  Teachers truly do perform magic.

At the end of these assessments, each student will have a current snapshot of their literacy knowledge at the start of the year. Parents will receive this information. Teachers will use this information to collaborate and design their instruction.

We are beginning this journey together as a team to achieve our ultimate goal of all students reading and growing. We value this time  as it is our hope that we can reach an even deeper understanding of where our students are in this journey.

Our teachers have always carried an incredible tool belt of strategies and knowledge in educating a child. This is one more item they can add to their belt. What makes our teachers at Joyner special is how well they have collaborated and processed this new tool into their constant goal of achievement for all.  

Thank you, teachers, for your work. Thank you, students, for your focus. Thank you, families, for your support. Together we will move forward for all students this year.