Archive for October, 2014

The importance of a Question

Do you remember that moment when your toddler asked you “why” for the first time? And then the barrage of questions that ensued thereafter? At Joyner as an IB school, we encourage the continuation of questions. We celebrate the inquirer.

Questions are how we learn. But I also want to encourage parents to understand that we want our students to have the ability to seek the answers to their questions. This should be a lift and sigh for parents. You don’t always have to know the answer. Curiosity is what keeps our minds brilliant. When your child asks you a question, turn it back to them, “How can we find out?”

I enjoy so much having children stop me in the hall and ask about something. They always want to know why. They want to understand. And through that seeking of understanding, they are learning. As a school diving into Conscious Discipline as well, we want students to understand why it is important to make safe choices.

Our second grade team has embraced the many questions about the wildlife they kept seeing outside so they created a “I wonder” board in the hallway. They have pictures of the different creatures. Students are encouraged to pose questions on the board and then look for different answers. What a wonderful celebration of natural curiosity and questioning! How wonderful if we did the same thing at home! Seeing things in the world and allowing our children to wonder about it or model that wonder yourself. Then together try to find the answers. See what other questions you then have. This is the real learning that we will hopefully continue to do as a life skill. Our toddlers model this life long learning so well. Keep wondering and growing.

It is all in the Greeting

As we journey into the world of Conscious Discipline at Joyner, we continue to find the work that we already do seems to match the work of building a school with this mindset. If you have been in our hallways lately, you might have noticed a half sheet of paper, colorful and bright by the doorways. These offer choices to our students of how they would like to be greeted in the morning when they walk in their classroom. The list includes a handshake, high-five, hug, or creative option. Students fist bump. There are secret handshakes between students and teacher. Some just offer grins and call hello. No matter how they do it, we want each of our children to have a moment that they are recognized for joining the school family that day.

An important piece of Conscious Discipline that immediately resonated with the Joyner staff was the school family community. Each child and staff member is important and have a role in making our day move forward. Teachers have included this greeting in the morning in many different ways. Some students have the job to greet each new student entering the room. In some classrooms, it is the teacher.

I love to stand at one of the hallway crossings in the morning greeting our families and students as they come from the many directions. I enjoy connecting and checking in with everyone. I already know that most students have already had staff welcome them outside as they get off the bus or at their car door by the safety patrol or welcomed by our teacher on duty at the cross walk. I love that many of our parents that walk their children in also call out to other children and welcome them in the morning. Our parents begin to learn their children’s classmates and connect with them.

So families, as you come in, know that you are helping us build our Joyner school family community just by saying hello, smiling at a child and each other. The simple act of good morning could turn someone’s day into the right direction. And in your greeting, you made a child’s day step forward in a great direction at Joyner. Thank you!


Last night I attended the Wake County Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year Celebration. It is an incredible opportunity to sit with colleagues, celebrating their work. I sat in a room of amazing leaders and listened to each of the finalists share their joys of being the leader of a school.

I am proud to hear so many of the inspirations that I also find in my job. We wake up early and begin. We are relentless in our goal to serve our students and staff. Our work is more than a job. Our work is truly for the creation of the future.

I spend my days jumping from situation to situation, moment to moment, issue to issue, celebration to celebration. The activity that we see each day is incredible. As the principal we know the levels of intensity and heart that teachers put into their work for children. We see the passion in their eyes as they worry for students and celebrate their students. We hear the concerns and problem solve constantly. We creatively try to get the resources that our teachers need each day. We seek to find the supports and the solutions. We listen a lot!

We know the emotions that enter our building each day from children. We know when there are great days and happy days and birthdays. We know when the day might not have started on the right foot. We know when something worries our children. We hear from parents. We offer an ear. We do our best to make each day at school the safe learning environment for each child when all else in their life might not feel that way.

I am so thankful for the leaders in Wake County. I appreciate that my colleagues share this passion that I have. And I congratulations those winners from last night for all that they stand for and do for children!

Technology Down

Late this afternoon, Ms. Childress and I were sitting in a computer lab finishing a training with technology at the district office. We were working together to update our online observation tool information when the fire alarm sounded. As all good teachers do, the entire crowd quietly and quickly got up and left the building.

We moved together outside towards some picnic tables under a grove of trees. As we waited patiently to see if our meeting would continue, we began to just talk through our meeting. We set aside our electronics and did some great problem solving and discussion. The gorgeous early fall weather blew around us. We heard reports that our servers were down and email would not be connecting.

We continued to sit, talk and plan. What an incredible opportunity for the two of us to take advantage of a “quiet” moment without technology to get between us to do some real reflection and conversation about the work we do at the school each day.

We were not bothered that our emails  went silent. We didn’t worry that we couldn’t look on the internet for a resource or tool. We just let our minds work.

As I think about what a great meeting we ended up having without the technology, I was reminded again of how important it is to take a moment away from those plugged in tools to meet with the minds only. Our creativity is given the opportunity to fill in the gaps. We explore and question each other rather than question an internet search tool. No matter how great the technology can be, the silence of it this afternoon was fine too.

Sitting outside under the trees in the evening air was a perfect way to end our busy day. Our plans were written on paper, not typed into a laptop. We made notes and exchanged ideas.

This time outside were so wonderful that I didn’t want it to stop when I got home and immediately pulled my family outside to enjoy the evening together with conversation and play. My son joined our conversations in between kicking the soccer ball with his dad and taking down some ivy with his plastic knight sword. How precious the time it is to be outside, enjoying the cooler weather and just communicating through words with each other.

I encourage our families tonight to find those moments outside as the weather begins to turn to a more comfortable temperature. Take the time to turn the technology down and just enjoy the play outside. Share the great outdoors with your kids. And let them share it with you. Who knows what great ideas you might discover!