Archive for September, 2014

The What I see at Joyner

I have been in a ton of meetings recently. It is that time of year that I have the great opportunity to meet with staff individually and talk about their goals for the year. I appreciate the opportunity to connect one on one with each teacher and listen to their journey as a teacher. But these meetings and the many others that come up in the job that I do take time. And I always feel a little unsettled when I don’t spend my usual amount of time in the classrooms and hallways that I love.
I keep a plan book. (Yes, a paper calendar book that holds my day to day comings and goings. Many friends further down the road in technology tease me, but I enjoy that paper and the colored scribbles of meetings and things to do each day.)
A priority that I make each week is my time in the classrooms and moving throughout the building. So when I find that I am scheduling too many meetings in the office, I start to also schedule that time in the classrooms. I keep in mind the priority to always stay in the work that we do in schools. And that most important work is with children.
So today I took myself into the hallways to listen, observe, connect and learn. I smile and receive the warmest smiles, waves and hugs of children as they pass by in line. I quietly remind particular students to use safe feet. Today I sat in a first grade class as they celebrated Jaguar Day with the Spanish Team. I am always amazed by these incredible days that our children celebrate culture and show off their Spanish learning. One student in particular gives me a discourse on favorite colors and how they change… all in Spanish!
I walk into classrooms that have hands on learning and mom volunteers all digging up to their elbows in frosting. I hear teachers connecting with their children about the importance of relationships and how to write thank you notes.
I am amazed when I discover city and county officials taking time from their busy schedules to talk with our third graders and answers those very important third grade questions like what does a judge mean when they call to adjourn for a recess.
As I move back to my office to sit in another meeting, I reflect on the work that schools do. I love the amount of energy and buzz that I can find each day in the learning at Joyner. I love that I can be surprised each day by the incredible journey our children are taking with their teachers.

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Getting into our Groove

Working into our fourth week of school, I really feel the rhythm of the classes starting to move. At the beginning of the year, there are many required assessments that teachers do as whole class and with all individuals. This information gives teachers great starting points to know what instruction needs to come next for our young minds. Our team meetings are opportunities to connect and make plans. We celebrate success and plan for opportunities in growth.
I have found myself spending more time sitting with our students this week as I visit classrooms. I enjoy joining classroom discussions and listening to the thinking our teachers encourage. When I walk into a classroom of readers, I slip next to a student and ask them to read to me. I enjoy taking these moments to ask some questions about their thinking. I am curious about how they are understanding the math they are working through. This is the celebration of what school is about. The active process of learning.
The joy of being an elementary school principal is experiencing students who may have never sat in a classroom before or had the opportunity to learn and watch these students grow to fifth grade students full of ideas. I watch those first moments of hesitated exploration with letters on a page flourish to lengthy expressions of thoughts and ideas. Artists bloom. Bodies learn to skip, hop and then run. And I watch the comfort of our students as they move through the building and have more relationships with the Joyner staff.
I strongly encourage parents to consider the journey your child is on these years at Joyner. Celebrate the growth they have made and help encourage them to set goals to come. Thank you for sharing these important years with us. We truly treasure each learning step along the way.

Teachers as Learners

This past Friday was our first early release day. These days are opportunities for teachers to come together for professional learning and growth. We value these moments together to learn. I believe every teacher would agree that we sometimes are even more exhausted after these days than a regular day. But I also know we are also often full of new ideas. It is wonderful to connect as a faculty as learners.

This past Friday we journeyed with our International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme content. For the past few years, some of the topics we have focused on at early release days were learning and building understanding of Common Core and working intently on navigating the Read to Achieve legislation. This past year we have journeyed into the learning of Conscious Discipline.  This coming year we are taking the time to build on our knowledge of our magnet theme. The IB PYP is a continual model of reflection and a process that we view our instruction and work with students.

Our team of teachers enjoyed the opportunity to build our working knowledge of the many parts that it includes. We laughed and performed and taught each other. We came together as students. We identified ourselves with the different learner profile components.

I am excited to see the work that our team of teachers are diving into this year. I appreciate the leadership of the teachers who are leading us. I am thankful that our teachers see the joy in learning. We continue to grow and improve. And working with an incredible group of educators that believe that growth is always an option is a gift for Joyner.

We are so appreciative of the time that we are given on early release days to continue our professional growth. Through these opportunities, we believe our students will reap the rewards as well!

Start the Year with a Good Book

This past weekend, I finished my summer reading pile. What a great time I had catching up on the list of books I had hoped to get to these last couple of months. I now have found myself in search of a new book and, even more, found myself having book conversations with different people. I enjoy hearing books that they have read and look for new titles to try.
Having all of this book talk is a great way to model for our children that reading is a part of life. It can be something fun. It can be a way to connect as well. My children hear about the conversations I have about books with my friends. I also talk with my children about the books they are reading.
My kindergarten child is starting to see the words leaping from the page. It is an exciting moment to have him see this new world he is joining, the world of readers. He is excited to carry proudly his book from the library under his arm. I know it is important to encourage that pride, celebrate it and recognize his desire to show it off.
We sit and read together. I talk about books. I share my joy of story.
I encourage you this year to make yourself a model of being a reader. Remember to talk about those moments you read. I know I have mentioned before, but remind them of the reading you do when you check the news online or sit with a magazine. But I especially encourage you to share the joy. Welcome your child into this reading world. Let words play in their minds and fall from their lips. Listen to their stories they create. And encourage them to get those stories down on paper whether through words or pictures.
You never know how far your excitement might encourage that little budding reader in your world. And let this be a year to enjoy reading!