Archive for December, 2014

Focusing Energy

If you have never been in an elementary school the week before the winter holiday break, you might not quite understand the amount of energy that we are containing in a building. There is a buzz unlike no other. There is excitement and anticipation. There are nerves and worry. There are things that children cannot control that stay in their mind. But overall, there is just a lot of energy. The wiggles are on high.

As educators, we know we have to teach through all of this energy. We know that we cannot just give up this week. So we get creative. We use this energy in the work that we do. Students are given more brain breaks that provide opportunities to actually move. I hear songs for dancing. I see students outside doing extra games with purpose. Students are given activities that allow them to stand and move in the classroom.

Families, as you receive this energy at the end of this week for two weeks, keep on offering those movement activities. I am sure your children can share different dances and actions they have learned at school. Take those moments to get outside and play. Our students love to do the jobs we give them at school. Think of jobs you can include at home. Jobs allow children to feel even more connected to the workings of their day.

Also provide opportunities these next two weeks to exercise the brain. Allow your children to read aloud to you. If you have company, what a great joy to share a story or book. Share stories and memories with your child and allow them to share those stories with others. Find ways to sneak in these activities to keep the minds at work.

Have a wonderful holiday break. I wish everyone a safe time away and look forward to celebrating a new year with all in January.

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Stay in the Moment

This past Monday evening I was in a meeting that I had to introduce myself and share an interesting fact about myself. In one of those end of the day moments, I had to just think quick and it came to me. I shared that I love this time of year. I know it is typically the madness during the holiday season that keeps it from being always enjoyable. But I truly try to stay in each moment. I recognize with my own children how time quickly flies. As we follow family traditions, it is easy to be reminded through them how quickly they grow. Only a few short years ago, they were toddling around not understanding the swirl of excitement around them.

I think about this as we come towards the mid-point of this year. I already can see the looks on our fifth graders as they start talking about what middle school they might select. I see the skip of our kindergarten students who are now confident in their walk in the door in the morning. Students navigate their school world like they know it. Because at this point in the year, they do! They know when to get that next library book. They know their teacher and how the class runs.

In our staff meeting this month, I asked the teachers to consider those goals we made for our students at the beginning of the year. We talked about what our students needed to move to the next grade level. So this month as we look at these last few weeks before the mid year comes, we reflect on this journey for our students. We are pushing forward with our reading expectations. We want to make sure they are keeping track of that math growth. We want to be sure we are caring for that social and emotional change that comes at each critical point of their age.

This is a time of excitement and activity. But it is also a time to stay in the moment and be present in our learning. Each day is important. Each opportunity to be at school and learning is essential. Each connection, each an opportunity. Stay in the moment these last couple of weeks of 2014 and see how richer and greater each of those moments then can become.

Confident and Courageous

As an IB PYP school, we support our students in recognizing how they process the world and take on learning. These are attitudes and learning profiles. These vivid words describe the incredible active learners at Joyner. One of the terms that we have used for years in an IB school is Risk Taker. This is defined in a way that students approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with forethought. They have the spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and can stand up for what they believe.

Recently this term has been changed with the IB PYP to Courageous. I love this shift. I think it feels more powerful to students to consider being courageous. I think sometimes that we see our children as children who need our protection. And they do! They need that nightlight and hand holding across streets. They need those boundaries to keep safe. But children also are open in their hearts to try new things. They do it every day. They are continually asked to learn new things. We teach them new strategies in math. We face them with multiplication and big words and new terms and scientific experiments.

Yesterday afternoon I sat with our Pieces of Gold students as they were preparing to be picked up to perform. I was surrounded with their energy and excitement. Several were practicing some moves together. Others chatted about their day. All of them were just bouncing with excitement. I am continually in wonder of their courage to prepare to perform. They were all confident as they waved goodbye.

This morning as I checked in with the students, they smiled happily and just felt good about it all. This is the love of life that our students can carry. And they are courageous to do it! It takes courage to be happy sometimes. It takes confidence to meet the world with a smile. I think our children continually teach the rest of us how to jump in and try. Congratulations to our performers and congratulations to all of our students to being willing to leap into learning.