Archive for January, 2016

Now is the time

It is amazing that we sent our second quarter report cards home this week. That small envelope indicates that we are halfway through this school year. My how time flies when having fun and learning! These next few months are truly the critical learning time. Students dig even deeper into the content that makes their grade level. Every day is important as we grow. Every day of instruction helps our students receive that nurturing that they need.

I know we have so much to contend with during this time of year as well. The cooler temperatures often bring on new illnesses. We encourage hand washing at a constant. Weather is always something to watch as well. As we watch inclement weather begin to unfold, our teachers begin to encourage students to pack up books to bring home. We encourage games to play when caught in the house. We hope that that spirit of inquiry continues to be ignited during their snow play and while the ice melts.

Now is the time for learning. Help make every moment count for our students. Be sure to have students here well before that final morning bell rings to begin learning. Know that we are teaching up to the 3:00 end time. Our instruction blocks are scheduled until 3:00. Even when we are in dismissal mode, our students are encouraged to have a book in hand to read and take advantage of those extra moments. Teachers are often connecting in small groups with some extra instruction time.

The homework time is also important. Taking the time to allow your child to show you what they are learning is key. Listen to how they are processing the math. You might be surprised to hear how they are thinking through math. Listen to them tell you a story. Ask them questions about the book they are reading. I know how busy that evening time can be, but taking those extra moments of focus can help propel your child forward in growth.

Now is the time for learning. How fun it is to watch our children grow their minds!


When the weather comes

Sitting and listening to the weather reports tonight, I reflect on the snowy weather from last year. There were many unexpected days at home with our children last year. The nerves of potential winter weather has begun to buzz in the community today. As a parent, I know I assess what I need to be prepared. But these needs aren’t all revolving around milk and bread.

Everyone loves a snow day. There is truly something magical for our children living in the south to play in that fluffy white stuff. I enjoy seeing the families tweeting and sharing pictures.

The unknown can be exciting but perhaps a little unnerving for our children. Not knowing if we have school can be challenging. Children like to know. Children feel a sense of safety when they have the information of what is happening. Talk through the different possibilities with your children. Talk about what will happen with the many possibilities. Let them know the what if’s of early school closings, etc. Remind them how they will be safe.

Enjoy the snow and play. Also find ways to encourage the inquiry. Allow the questions, explore the science behind the snow. Curl up afterward and read and share stories. Snow days can always be a gift for the family. Preparing can make it even more successful. Stop by the library. Grab some books. And let’s hope the weather holds off to the weekend!

Be safe, Joyner family!


Busy at Learning

I have found myself caught in several meetings right after meetings these last few days. These are critical moments that lead to opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, connect with parents, brainstorm with teachers. When I find myself in these back to back meetings, I am more determined to find myself out in the community of learning at Joyner to keep my balance. This afternoon I wrapped up a meeting and quickly jumped up. I declared that I must get out to see the learning.

I love those purposeful moments of checking in throughout the building. There are particular students who immediately see me and want that interaction. Others that I seek out to connect. Teachers know they can quickly ask that question hanging in their minds.  And overall, I enjoy seeing everyone at work in the various activities that our teachers are engaging students in.

I love seeing the essence of what is happening on different grade levels. Our fifth grade enjoyed shining with their respect for shared spaces as they lined up and transitioned to the hallway for specials. Several pointed out to me how well they were doing. One checked in on my health after noticing my cough a few days ago. Our first graders gathered around teachers as they transitioned from lunch to literacy learning. Our kindergartners were active in wrapping up their afternoon activities and preparing to move to Spanish. Third graders were all huddled into reading work with noses in books. They were eager to show me what their texts were. Our second grade were busy making the final touches to their culmination activity happening tomorrow. There was a buzz in each of the classes about their projects and expectations to shine in their work. And finally I enjoyed seeing our fourth graders finally at break with recess play. While enjoying the sun, they were bundled against the cold.

Again, I am amazed at how active we are in the building. Elementary school is an exciting place where we have children in six grade levels all engaged in learning and growing. And when I complete my visits and head to my next meeting, I feel a little more filled up. The energy I get when walking the building and being present in classrooms is truly filling and energizing. How lucky I am to enjoy the busy work of learning at Joyner!


Shared Spaces

Happy New Year!

In this fresh start of a new year, we often take the time to reiterate those behaviors and structures that help us have a safe and strong learning environment. Our classroom teachers spend the time reteaching and continuing the building of the class community.

This week, our administration team has also visited each and every classroom. As we spend our time with the students, we focus on our whole school family. We share with students how large our school family is with 722 children to care for. We celebrate our school family community. We also talk with the students about how each of us has a role in building this school family and keeping it safe. In our conversation we talk about the shared spaces.

I enjoy helping build the image of shared spaces with our students. They seem to enjoy the idea that all 722 of the students all pass in the hallways, eat in the cafeteria, play on the playground and use the bathrooms. We talk about our roles in helping to keep our school family safe and how we can be helpful through being respectful in our actions.

It is our hope that we continue to allow our students to be a part of building and strengthening our school family. As we leave each classroom, we leave the students with a task. We have asked each child to consider what area of our shared spaces would they like to commit in improving. I share that I always can work on using a softer voice in the hallways. The students have giggled when I tell them that people are always stopping to talk to me in the hallways and I need that reminder to keep that soft voice because learning is happening in classrooms nearby. They are also fascinated when I tell them how we all have areas we want to grow and improve in.

I encourage you to ask your student what was their commitment they have made for our school family in those shared spaces.

Happy New Year and thank you to all who also have a part in building that large school family!