Archive for March, 2015

School Family in Learning and Teaching

This morning I had the joy of visiting Ms. Arch’s 5th grade classroom. Initially when I first walked in, I noticed everyone deep in a book with notebooks along side of them. Students were making notes and visibly looked like they were digging into their books. Ms. Arch was moving around the room talking individually with students. She engaged them in a variety of conversations, check-ins, follow-up on conversations with parents, questions of understanding. Eventually she began to work with all students as they read and discussed together their shared text. I was drawn in by the beautiful way that Ms. Arch wove personal stories of the students into understanding the non-fiction historical account they were reading. There was laughter. Students commented to the group. Others would ask wondering questions. Ms. Arch would hold off on answering, allowing others to step up and try. What an engaging level of work happening in fifth grade today! As I left, I just felt that not only were students having fun learning but Ms. Arch seemed to be enjoying it just as much. I love to feel that school family in classrooms and see how learning is impacted so positively.

I then reflected on the opportunity I recently have had in reviewing our new website before it went live. As Ms. Bell and I worked together to talk about how we wanted to share our faculty with the internet world, we both immediately wanted to make sure we capture the spirit of the staff. And so we asked for teachers to share a little about themselves, why they teach or why Joyner. I have to admit, I felt overwhelmed with emotion as I felt the energy of our teachers in the writing they submitted for the website. Over and over again, they spoke of the school family community at Joyner.

There is a feel at Joyner. Our families and children bring it and mix it with the staff. And all together we make something special happen everyday. We learn and grow and we are building community in it all.

Bowl of Chocolate

On my desk sits a homemade pottery bowl that was a gift from my husband. In it I keep chocolates. These are special chocolates only for the staff in my building. I started this practice a long time ago. I like to have something sweet for those days when someone might just need that little something.
I have learned to love that bowl of chocolate. Not because I munch on it, actually I don’t. I love it because my staff has learned to love it. They are comfortable to stop by and pick up some candy for the road. Sometimes if I am there, I get to connect. We sometimes talk about life and more often we talk school. In those moments, I hear some of my best stories of what is happening at Joyner.
Teachers truly know how to celebrate. They have a gift to see the joy. They share these stories and gifts with each other. Sometimes the stories they tell are not as joyful but are also important to share. There are moments around the chocolate bowl that we find solutions to problems. Ideas are shared. I always love when others join the conversation and true collaboration and innovation happens.
I am grateful to the Joyner teachers who connect with each other in many ways. And I am thankful to have a space that teachers feel comfortable to reach out for a piece of chocolate and talk. The stories I hear help paint an even richer picture of the work we do.
We might not have a water cooler, but a bowl of chocolate might be even better!

Book Drive is So Much More

This morning, Ms. Wilkinson, our Kindergarten team lead, drove up to the front of the school in a borrowed moving truck. Someone immediately jumped on the intercom to announce the truck was here. And quietly and swiftly, staff came from all directions of the school moving boxes and boxes and boxes filled with books. Teachers worked together to move these heavy objects through the hallways and out to the waiting truck.

As I watched the floor of the truck begin to fill, my eyes did the same thing. I am overwhelmed by the amount of giving our school did in response to our county’s call for books. The Wake Up and Read book drive means so much to me. I know the value of a book as you have read many times from me.  I know the joy that children have when they are given a book to own, to keep, to put on their shelf or by their bed. And so many of these gifts were carried in by children, boxed up and are going to children.

I am grateful to our community for the outpouring of books. The generosity and heart to give is large at Joyner. Parents shared stories with me as students asked if they could bring books in. I placed books from my home shelves into the pile. Each book is a memory for me of reading it to my own child. I had the conversation with each of them asking to give the books to others. Children’s hearts are large. Sharing the gift of reading is joyful.

Ms. Wilkinson and I pulled into the donation location this afternoon. Happy to make it before the rain. The welcome committee of one opened her eyes wide in surprise at the amount of books. She shared the stories of her work at the donation location. I can only imagine the joy that sweeps into that site every moment they are open. The excitement of everyone who carried a book, a bag, a box or a car full of books. To own a book, makes you want to give a book.

Thank you, Joyner for your gift of literacy to all. There will be many children who will say thank you!

Happy to See You

What a wonderful feeling to open our school doors on Monday and welcome everyone back to school. The school building seemed to let out a deep breath and just exhale. The last few weeks with the continual anticipation of snow or ice or cold and its impact on the day has been an uneasy experience. I imagine each morning our students wondering what the day will bring.

It is a truth that the majority of our students are delighted to see snow flakes fall. The anticipation of finding a sledding hill is number one priority. As a kid in the south, we don’t have the opportunity to go out and play in that white stuff all winter. So there is an excitement to having that chance. And I agree that many of our teachers also enjoy that wintry fun!

But after the sledding is done and the snowmen are built, there is also this strange sense of lack of the structure our children know from school. They might begin to miss their friends and their teachers. There is a connection to school that children have. These past two weeks with the multiple days off sure made me miss everyone!

I enjoyed walking around on Monday hearing the voices of our school. Over and over, I walked into classrooms and heard teachers express their gratitude of being back. Students’ hugs were big and their smiles bright. I even had a student discuss with me that I could tell the school board that we didn’t need spring break now because he missed school. I might not go that far, but I take that as a true sentiment that we all felt. We missed school.

And I am happy to jump back in and see the Joyner family back together again. I am happy to see everyone safe. I am happy to see the reconnection. And I am happy to see everyone get back into our school life.

Welcome back!