Archive for May, 2015

We are Learning

I moved around the building this morning through the silence of the hallways. During EOG testing, our building becomes very quiet. It is a strange feeling to hear this silence and see all of the doors closed. But as I entered rooms where students weren’t taking the EOG, the world came alive. Students in fourth grade were working together in groups on math engagement lessons. Later I observed other fourth graders writing and exploring topics for the 60th year celebration writing. Technology tools were whirling. I also walked into science lessons in third grade. Kindergarten students were active in their Daily 5 reading. I enjoyed listening to a student in Ms. Piner’s room read to his partner a story he had written about turtles. He was fascinated to share this with his friend.

We are still in the end of the year assessment window, but we also are still in the teaching window. Our teachers are working together to create and design instruction through the rest of the school year. Keeping the routine is important for our students and for us. Our students seek the pattern of their day. Although we have had to run different schedules to make room for the testing and be respectful to those in those classrooms, we still are focusing on the work of learning.

I am thankful to our teachers who seek to help our children keep these rhythms. Even as we start to recognize we are now under 10 days of school, we will continue to value our time together. I encourage our families to value this school time as well. Keep the rhythm of bedtime and schedules too. I know this becomes more challenging as summer sports heat up, pools are open, and vacation plans begin to form. Summer camps are finalized. Daycare options completed. Our summer schedules seem to start creeping in. We have less than two weeks. Let’s help make it strong for our students!

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Growth

All around the building, I see students and teachers with their heads together around books and math manipulatives. High fives are given. Celebrations of growth are done. This time of year, we are assessing our students’ growth. We measure how our students have grown with fluency, comprehension, math concepts, letter sounds and on and on. All of this matters in our academic world called school. There is joy in the next book on the shelf that can be read. There is joy in knowing and understanding math in a deeper way. Students comfort in communicating with their teacher in Spanish has grown. The interests are piqued in scientific thought and in the study of social sciences. Artistic talent has developed. Students can stretch a bit farther, jump a bit higher and are checked for their growth in athleticism.

But I also see the celebrations of growth in many other ways. Of course, our little ones are getting taller and our big kids are starting to see if they meet me eye to eye. I see proud little ones carrying their first tooth home in their hands. And I also hear our teachers talk about how a child has opened up in the classroom. I see children solve conflict using their assertive voice and conversation skills. I notice positive interactions and friendships blooming.

School is a place that we continually develop who we are. Our students and staff all are a part of filling our minds and building connections and learning. It is a fun time of year that we quantify as well as qualify what we have spent a school year doing. And that is grow.

Tempo

The rhythm at school is kicking up! Staff moves at a quicker pace. Conversations seem to move faster. Teachers are focused on diving into assessments. Meetings have more of an urgency. Deadlines are starting to approach for the end of the year. My schedule seems to be full every day. I find myself making appointments that squeeze into 15 minutes of free time here and there. Parents connect and share how they rush to find those last few open weeks that need a camp or daycare. Students share the dress rehearsals that are approaching and end of season tournaments they are leaving for on Fridays.

Our tempo and pace picks up this time of year. Can it really be almost mid-May?

Thankfully our students slow us back down. I love the tweet that Ms. Childress sent out earlier today about a third grader stopping and talking with her in the hallway. One of the many reasons I love school are those times that kids stop me. I cannot help but melt a little when a student stops to talk with me about something important like a book they just checked out or an issue they are having or a concern they are struggling with or just want to talk about something as silly as my hair! Taking in those pauses are terrific in this quick pace time of year.

So I notice how our fifth grade students seem to linger just a little bit longer around Ms. Burston and I in the mornings during arrival. We allow conversations to go a bit more than we usually do. Parents of fifth graders linger after meetings to talk about their memories of Joyner and share their melancholy feelings of leaving so soon. I am so appreciative that many of our fifth graders recognize their experiences at Joyner and are joyful and thankful. I love when they seem so wise as they reflect on their time and share their emotions on moving on.

And I also notice how our kindergarteners just continue to skip and hop and leap into school in the morning. Their big grins seem to give no indication of the summer break ahead. To them, this school thing is just rolling along. They skip down the hallways without really knowing having never experienced their first summer break yet. I am sure they can feel the excitement because they have that great intuition. But what the excitement is for… perhaps not.

I wish everyone a great next month together. Try to keep up with the different beats that come. Keep connecting your child to the learning we still have. Enjoy the momentum and energy. And I plan to just continue to tap my foot with this quick step until the end.

We do Field Trips

I am so thrilled to join our 5th grade on the field trip to Washington DC. I happily made it for our Capitol picture and tour yesterday. In that tour, our guide shared at the very end how travel really is essential in our education. I felt him wanting to impress on the students how lucky they were to have the opportunity to come to learn in DC. He was proud of his work and the history and connection he was making for our students. He expressed his wish that all children had this opportunity. I quietly thought how he was very “IB” in his statement.

At dinner I talked with some parents about all the field trips their children have been on at Joyner. It was fun to listen to these 5th grade parents reminisce. I noted that as IB learners, we like to get out into the world to see it in action. Our teachers don’t hesitate to add this extra work to their plates in planning and designing incredible learning opportunities because they know the value it has on the students. I am so grateful that our teachers do plan these trips and find ways for all children to participate and be included.

There were so many moments yesterday that I will hold close of our JYJ students having connections to their learning. Our guide was inundated with questions from our inquirers. Our teachers had prepared them so well, they were hungry for more. They didn’t need the basic information, they wanted it extended. Eyes popped in discovery of seeing things in real life. Kids shared with me their surprise of seeing moments in reality. Even our parents shared things they learned from our tour.

We could not do this without the organization of our teachers. We could not do this without the support of our community. And our children grow in their learning because of this commitment.