Archive for September, 2015

Meetings that Work

The last three days have been filled with important meetings. On Monday, our PTA Board met for the first time this year. It is amazing to hear the focus and commitment of our parent population to support all students at Joyner. We had representatives from Wake PTA and someone on the state leadership for PTA’s as well. It was a testament to the commitment of our community to support our work at Joyner with such passion.

On Tuesday, I attended our first School Improvement Plan Core committee meeting. Our representatives shared the current realities of the teams. The members shared the celebrations, work and challenges. We then participated in a chalk talk conversation. In this experience, the team communicated ideas, responded to each other and challenged with questions. What a focused group targeting where we want to see growth and forward movement for our school!

And finally today was a Teacher Workday. It is so rare for our teachers to find any length of time to learn together as a whole body. This morning was ignited with the drive that our Joyner teachers have for their art and craft. We worked collaboratively and engaged in conversation and reflection on the work of school. The activities that we participated in were models of instruction that we will take back to classrooms. We also built on to the strong relationships we have with each other. There was great laughter. There was thoughtful listening. The spirit of inquiry and learning was at the heart of the work. Every moment was filled with lively meaning making to Joyner.

Our students are constant in all three of these organized meetings. The individuals that walk into our school every day give us meaning. The different needs give us purpose to continue to grow. And it is through community that we make a difference.

This morning we talked about the 4C’s in education. These four core ideas are Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication. As I look back at these three meetings, as adults we participated in all four of these skills. The impact of our work in classrooms will be skills that hopefully translate to the future for our students.

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Engaged

Four weeks and rolling. I walked into many classes today and enjoyed seeing the children engaged in learning. Teachers are teaching. The business of school is on its way. Our kindergarteners are looking more comfortable as they move through the hallways. I enjoy their brilliant waves and smiles of excitement as they pass. It is always fun to have those greetings and moments with the students.

I walked into a classroom this morning while the students were engaged in many different math activities. The atmosphere was comfortable and filled with learning noise. Students looked up from their discussions to talk with me. They shared the different ideas they were having on the content in front of them. I have found that the students are always willing to share with me what’s happening in the classroom.

I love having those moments of engagement, but I also enjoy when the students are so involved they are surprised to notice I have been sitting near them just listening. It is in those moments that I hear students encouraging others. They think aloud, they process, and provide feedback. Teachers are always everywhere in the classrooms. During those active moments of learning, I am hard pressed to see the teachers as they are on their knees, sitting on the floor, or bending over listening. It is always fun to see what captivating conversation they are having with individuals or groups.

Although it is only mid September, we are learning. We are growing. We are engaged. Each moment is filled and important to our work. As I walked out of a classroom as they were wrapping up a lesson, the teacher exclaimed that they had two minutes before heading to Spanish. The teacher quickly engaged the students in asking for any random inquiry. And the session of fun began. Two minutes mean the world in our classrooms.

Today was a fun day to capture these moments and share how we are engaged.

Teachers as Learners

At the beginning of each year, our teachers reflect on their practice and determine what ideas would they like to grow in their teaching and work with students. We talk as a whole school. We look at our data. We consider our celebrations and our struggles. And then we commit to an idea.
Our teachers this year have already started developing a plan for our students. I spend these beginning weeks connecting individually with teachers to listen to their plans. I love that teachers are eager to share, collaborate and seek ideas to explore. Teachers truly are amazing learners who recognize that their own growing impacts positively our students and their growth.
Folks, I will just say that after sitting through these meetings, our students are in for some incredible work by the teachers. The ideas I am hearing are innovative, targeted, and real. The drive that our teachers bring to building on their practice is inspiring.
We have built a board of the ideas we are growing. We have self-appointed partners that we will connect with to hold us accountable and dare us to grow further. And through it, our goal is to see the positive impact on learning and growing for our students.
Thank you teachers for modeling how we all can grow and learn.

Grateful for our PTA

Yesterday morning I had two amazing meetings with different members of our PTA. We talked about different service areas that can support Joyner. In one meeting, we talked about how we can ensure that all parents feel connected to the many activities our PTA offer for families. In another, we talked about the amazing rain gardens and how we can create the education part of this project. We discussed ways to support our students and teachers in learning about the role that these gardens play in our community and environment.
After both of these meetings, I had the feeling of deep gratitude for this parent community that focuses on supporting all students and staff at Joyner. As I participate in the PTA board meetings, I appreciate the language that our parent leaders use in ensuring that the decisions we make and the activities we support can reach all members of the JYJ community.
It is that time of year that our PTA builds the momentum of membership and fundraising. I enjoy overhearing our PTA leaders talk with potential members about how the PTA serves. It is exciting to think about it all. I have already had conversations with the Science Go Round committee as we plan for yet another amazing experience in November. I connect with our Cultural Arts team as they plan for great opportunities for all students in celebration of the arts. I hear the conversations of our 5K committee in how to support the healthy choices we make all year. Our JAG office is looking for interested members. The Spelling Bee Committee is planning. The book buddy groups are getting organized. And yes, the Jamboree Crew is gearing up for another fun time as a JYJ community coming in October. The list continues on of the many ways our PTA serves and celebrates the learning and community of Joyner.
Thank you, Joyner PTA, for your support. Together we look forward to an incredible year!