Archive for February, 2014

A Heart in the School Library/Media Center

Yesterday our students were given the gift of a visit of an author, Mike Artell. Ms. Hale, our media specialist, helped to coordinate this amazing event for our students. I walked into the library/media center in the afternoon. I witnessed our students joyfully sharing their drawings with the author. They shared with me their books signed. There was a buzz of excitement about meeting an actual author. I saw budding writers skip off inspired.

As I left, I reflected on the work that Ms. Hale put into creating such an amazing day. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to invite authors to our school. Our PTA supports this event for our children. But I also want to celebrate the work that Ms. Hale does daily at Joyner.

As you might have figured out about me, I LOVE books. I LOVE reading. Stop me anytime and I can tell you the current book I am reading or books. I want to know what you are reading. I believe that our library/media center is the heart of Joyner in many ways. Our children access books daily. There is a constant stream of students going in and out all day. Just as the heart pumps the blood to the rest of the body, there are books and words and stories moving in and out of the media center to the rest of the school.

I can walk into our media center at any point of the day and find small groups discussing books. There are students accessing research at the computer. There might be a parent group meeting or teacher group. Book clubs meet. There is constant movement. And Ms. Hale and Ms. Ward are like the bees moving around the space helping, answering questions, directing and guiding. I am amazed at how this space functions, and I am so thankful for our media specialist for making this atmosphere so warm and welcoming.

Ms. Hale welcomes all of us as she wants everyone to feel her space is our space. I am so grateful to her for that. I am so glad that our students have this space as a part of their Joyner world.

The next time you stop by Joyner, be sure to swing by and say thank you to Ms. Hale and Ms. Ward. And maybe ask for  a book suggestion and watch their eyes pop with delight to talk about one of their favorite topics too.

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The Joy of Teaching

One of the many strategies our School Improvement Team suggested to the staff this year was the gift of each other. As many of you may know, the talent in this building is tremendous. We have many opportunities to meet with each other as a grade team during planning and Professional Learning Teams. During professional development opportunities, we sit together as a larger group learning and growing from each other. But the one thing we often cannot do is go see each other in action. We are so busy in our own classrooms and struggle giving up the precious time with our own students to become a student ourselves. One of the ways I have offered to provide this opportunity for the teachers is to teach their class while they can go visit.

This morning I was given that gift. Because yes for me, it is a gift to have the opportunity to practice my skills as a teacher. Plus it is my joy to be with our students and engage them in learning in this unique way. Watching our children in action in the process is fantastic. So today I was working with fourth graders in math. We were in the thick of function machines. After reminding myself of this algebraic thinking, I jumped in. What fun I had working with the different learners. I enjoyed seeing the multiple ways students were understanding and discovering.

I also had the opportunity to work with the Promethean board. I never had the gift of such an amazing tool when I was in the classroom. I have watched our teachers and students use this with fluidity and practice. After a few pointers from the students, we jumped in.

Last night, our PTA board discussed investment of funds raised. The board decided to continue with making an investment in our students and teachers in replacing some of the Promethean boards that no longer function. I am so grateful for the support our PTA has given to allow our teachers to have the tools they have come to use as another arm in the classroom.  And how lucky for me to be able to put my hands on one in my own teaching the very next day.

As I walked out of math this morning, I had the teacher happiness that we get when a lesson was filled with energy. I look forward to many more opportunities to be a part of the learning and teaching throughout Joyner. I am thankful for our parents who support us with tools in our quest for learning for our students.  And I am again reminded of the INCREDIBLE work that our teachers do every day all day for our students!

We Come Together

Tuesday at lunchtime changed our learning and teaching mode with a different energy. As we first heard of the cancellation of our after-school program to dismissing an hour early, the priority of our entire staff became focused on ensuring our children would get home safely. Communication became our greatest strength. Teachers wanted to be certain that every parent knew what was happening. We wanted to be certain that even our bus riders had someone greeting them when they got off the bus. Specialists and support staff buzzed throughout the building assisting to call and contact our families. Classroom teachers used their strong avenues of communication in order to connect. Technology was our friend. Through texts, emails, twitter and phone lines, we slowly made our way through contacting everyone. We worked as a family to take care of each other.

As parents came to pick up their children, they expressed their willingness to help if we needed to get everyone home safely. Neighbors reached out to each other. Families and cousins shared contact information. Once again, I witnessed why Joyner is a family. My heart was warmed as each parent that I spoke with was grateful as well as expressive of concern for the all of the children of Joyner.

Thank you community. I was grateful Tuesday afternoon when every child was safely home before any weather came. I celebrate the staff for their work and focus. As I walked through the hallways at the end of the day, I heard teachers wrap up lessons, direct students to pack extra books and just assure any student who questioned what was going on. Our children left with their smiles in tact and their happy energy on high.

As I sit with the snow and ice piling up now, I worry for my students and staff. I hope everyone is safe. I hope that parents are able to make it home from work safely. I am thankful for our Joyner family and look forward to seeing everyone very soon back at school.

A Day Full of Moments

What a packed week this has been! I am not sure if it is because we have tried to put last week and this week together… but it is Wednesday evening and I finally am sitting down to write. As I reflect on this week so far, I consider how our days at school are full of so many moments, some challenges, some celebrations and everything else along the way.

I have the privilege of moving throughout the school building each day. I see, hear and experience so much. I have amazing encounters in the hallways with students who are working quietly or in small groups in all of the corners of Joyner. I enjoy sitting at the back with a student in a class listening to a review. I snickered yesterday as I sat next to a fifth grader who had some clever comment as a response to hearing about an approaching quiz. He started to ask me what my thoughts were on quizzes. Earlier that same morning I had folded myself into a Pre K chair to watch our youngest explore with blocks and glue creating art. The explanation they gave me was impressive. I jumped then to answering questions and talking with some third grade parents in regards to what they are hearing about Read to Achieve.  I then am able to sit with a grade level’s professional learning team meeting and am blown away in the conversation about instruction. And oh, I sat in a class as they wrote their response to a powerful video clip that their teacher just shared. The enlightened conversation that can only come from young minds ensued.

Yes, all of that and more happened in one day. And that is my joy as I work in such an amazing school. The work we do at a school is busy and full. The work we do is full of passion and excitement. The work that we do is never-ending. And the work that we do has meaning in the lives of children and each other.