Archive for May, 2016

The Day Before Testing

I visited several classrooms today as they prepared their students for the EOG tests that begin tomorrow at Joyner. Here is what I noticed. In one grade level, teachers had prepared slides with talking points about the test for the students who have never experienced the End of Grade tests. They shared what it will look like, sound like, feel like, etc. They gave real examples to create a visual of what to expect during the tests. Students were asked along the way how they were feeling. All questions were answered. And overall, I just heard confident teachers sharing their encouragement. The teachers kept everything calm and clear. I heard teachers tell students how they get to show all they have learned. Teachers reminded them how each student was prepared.

I also noticed teachers building up confidence by showing children all the different things they know. In one math class, they breezed through their math journals discussing different points of learning. Kids were eager to share ideas. Others were able to ask clarifying questions. And again, teachers were clear and calm in sharing their confidence in each child.

An ease and calm manner filled each space in preparation for these EOG tests. We want our students to understand they have learned, we have taught and now they can just shine.

We encouraged our parents to feed and rest the kids. And in the end, all will be well. I am glad for the community of learners that feel comfortable to ask questions. I am thankful for teachers that keep the focus on positive celebration of learning.

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Appreciation

Today our amazing Joyner PTA served up lunch for all staff at Joyner. Parents swarmed the school to help take classes so teachers could spend some time together eating as a community. I am so thankful to have a community that loves on our teachers so often.

Tonight I sat in a ballroom filled with teachers. These teachers were nominated and selected by their peers to represent their schools as Teachers of the Year. Wake County placed the red carpet out for teachers. Family members came to support and celebrate the hard work that teachers do everyday to make a difference. County leaders from both the school board and commissioners spoke and celebrated. District leadership expressed words of gratitude and respect. It was a beautiful night to honor the work that our teachers do daily for children.

This morning we welcomed our newest members of the Joyner family. Our rising Kindergartners entered into school this morning and walked down the hallways on their own for the first time. There was a magic that the Kindergarten teachers held as they welcomed each child into this new world of learning.

We know our work is precious and important. It is enormous and grand and yet so simple and direct as well. Each little person that enters our school is welcoming by these important adults that come everyday to make a difference. The adults that enter Joyner come to help children grow.

Thank you, teachers, for your work. Thank you for being that difference in the life of a child.

Engaging Moments

This morning I began my day with our monthly staff meeting. We try to take the opportunity during these meetings to extend our own learning as a group of teachers. It is always a richer experience to attend a staff meeting where learning and sharing occurs. In small break out groups, we discussed the idea of student engagement. There are many ways that we can view how we engage our students in the lessons we design and teach.

This evening I experienced engaging moments. Our fifth grade students ended their first day of the Washington DC trip by visiting the 9-11 Memorial at the Pentagon. Walking through the memorial is an experience, one that I encourage everyone who visits our Nation’s Capitol to visit. But it was observing our students engaged with parents and teachers that was so powerful. Parents walked in partnership or in small groups with students talking and sharing story. Students asked many questions. Teachers masterfully talked about the metaphors around us.

Through making this real connection on the grounds of a historical moment in our nation’s history, students learned in a deep way what happened just years before they were born. Students engaged in different parts of the experience. Some students touched and felt the rocks. Some students needed to count and do math. Some students needed to read each person’s name. Some students walked only around the memorial’s edges. Some students just watched as others walked more deeply through the benches and trees.

Student engagement can be through the behaviors we experience, the cognitive interaction or the emotional affective moments. This evening was putting into practice our discussion from the morning.