Archive for September, 2016

Circles

Many of our teachers have a practice of bringing the class together in a circle time. During these moments, the class sits together. The teacher usually leads the group in discussions about different things. The class family is built. A community grows. Students learn about each other. And through this relationship building, they also set expectations of how the class will work with each other. As these circles become stronger, students feel comfortable raising issues, solving problems and gaining confidence in the learning community that they spend their days in.

Our staff has also experienced this circle work as adults. In an effort to build our understanding to lead in the classroom, we have practiced together as adult learners. This week the team that I join decided to practice the circle discussion again. We each shared what we need to feel successful in the group. This question came straight from the circle stems that we share with teachers to use in the classroom. It was powerful for us to share with each other. These conversations help us build stronger adult relationships.

When the adults in a school work well together, the positive impact can be seen in the work that we then turn around and do with our students. The interactions that we have with each other and with our families are critical. Building trust and relationships is what makes our whole school family strong.

Continuing to nurture relationships is important work. And it is work that is never done. Classrooms will continue to build school family throughout the year. And it is our hope that we continue to nurture our adult relationships as well. Through building that trust, we can all work more positively towards growing all students.

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Collaborating with our PTA

Earlier this week, I met with the chairperson of the Study Buddy program that our PTA sponsors. As we sat with my instructional support team, we talked about ideas of how our community would like to support the learning and growing of students in our building. There was a passion in this parent’s voice as she shared her hope for all children at Joyner to succeed. She talked about how the study buddy program is to reach out to all students. Parents want to serve our whole population of children.

This is the theme that I hear whenever I meet with committees of our PTA. Our PTA serves all students of Joyner. The programs that our PTA provides are incredible. I am grateful for the service and people-power that our PTA generates whenever there is a need. We have fun events that celebrate our School Family like the Jamboree. We have events that encourage all of our health through the Healthy Choice Marathon and 5K. Our children enjoy the Cultural Arts programs that are presented throughout the year. I can go on and on with the programing we have at Joyner.

I know the Fall No Fuss Fundraiser is nearing its end. Our PTA has goals that we want to reach out and achieve. I know these goals of funds are only raised because we have a drive for creating the incredible learning and living environment that our children experience at Joyner everyday.

I want to say thank you to our parents and community for the constant support they bring to our Joyner Family. Thank you to our Parent Teacher Association for coordinating so many events and programs. I look forward to an incredible year of partnership.

Each Precious Moment

As I sit down this evening and think about my day, I just can’t decide what to write about. My mind quickly reflects on all that I saw, did, experienced and navigated just in the last 13 hours. If I tried to capture all of it, I might sound manic. But I also then begin to think about all of those little moments.

The day at Joyner starts early and quick. Before children are even in the building, work begins and our school begins to groove. I enjoy the filter of teachers walking by and greeting each other. Quick conversations happen. Answers to questions are sought. Then the bell begins and so do we all. Children come from every direction. I enjoy those first 30 minutes as families and children all mingle and begin their school day together. I have the opportunity to reach out to students and be reached out towards.

Once students begin the learning for the day, I move too. Today I met with teachers in regards to their professional goals for the year. Other meetings were scattered throughout the day as well. Some of these meetings with adults and others with kids. Some meetings are scheduled and some just happen on the spot. The topics wide-ranging.

I get out into the building to see the learning and teaching. It is always exciting that I don’t even have to enter a classroom to see learning happening. All spaces at Joyner are fair game for collaboration. More likely than not, I notice students meeting on the couch by our cow. Reading together or using whiteboards to discuss math. I walk down the hallways and engage in conversations with students moving from one space to another.

Walking into classrooms and sitting down next to students is great. I have the ability to walk into a kindergarten class that talks about all the types of family members we can have and then move to a fifth grade classroom experimenting density of matter and division. I sat down in a second grade classroom reading a book about sharks and really did connect with a student who wondered why we need to care for sharks. A teacher stopped me to share the incredible work her students were doing as they made their thinking visible with Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking. And then I talked about artists with a couple of fourth grade boys as we discussed why was Josef Albers so precise.

Each of these moments are important as they are the touch points of the work at Joyner. When I sit back to consider all of the action that happens in a day at an elementary school, I am in awe. The learning, growing, planning, providing and connecting that we do is ongoing. The activity is continuous.

Each of these precious moments are reminders of how interaction is a valued piece of the learning we do. What a great week. What a busy week. What learning we are doing.

To Teach

The first week of school is full of excitement as we build our classroom family community. We get to know each other. We learn the procedures. It is a lot of connecting. We infuse curriculum but our big purpose those first days is that relationship.

Walking into classrooms this week has been amazing. Teachers are digging into teaching and curriculum. I enjoy seeing the teachers so excited to get into the content. The energy is incredible bringing that content to life. Just this morning as I visited classrooms, I noticed the buzz of excitement that the teachers are bringing. All the ideas that swirled through the summer are starting to be put into place. The conversations and learning play out.

Teachers bring an incredible energy to their craft. And that excitement is felt as I walked around the building these last couple of days.

I am proud of the steps we are taking this year to dig deeper into teaching. We are holding ourselves to high expectations; and our conversations have grown even more extensive in crafting teaching and learning. I am impressed by the conversations and planning aligned with our IB work. There is a great energy at this beginning of the year that our teachers are embracing.

I am thankful for the support our community gives to lift our teachers and honor the work they do for our students everyday. Thank you for a great start to this amazing year of learning and growing!