Archive for February, 2017

Welcome to the JYJ Family

This morning we held our Magnet Welcome event. This is an opportunity to welcome those families that selected Joyner during the magnet application time and were accepted. It is an exciting moment to sit with folks that have taken that journey of visiting and making a magnet choice for the school they want their children to attend. After a visit to the kindergarten classrooms, our newest Jaguars visited the cafeteria. We asked several fifth graders to reflect and share memories from different grade levels at Joyner. They also shared what they like best about being a Joyner kid. Throughout the sharing, the stories of family came up from our students. They talked about finding friendships, being recognized for being themselves and the relationships they have built at Joyner. As the principal, it was moving. And most staff sitting in the event also found sweet tears.

After leaving this gathering, I happened on the playground. One of our young first graders spoke with his teacher sharing a story of another classmate who was struggling. He immediately stated that he needed a friend and he was ready to be one. This young one quickly shared that being a friend could be like having more family. How amazing I thought that even our first graders see the power of connection that we can build at Joyner.

By midday I walked into our Spanish team classroom during their planning. There was literally a hum from sewing machines, sizzle of irons and swirl of movement. Our Spanish team was in the midst of preparing costumes for Pieces of Gold and for our visit from guest dance artists through the United Arts Council. They were laughing and working hard. It was magnetic and I couldn’t help but join in for a bit pitching in where I could. The respect and collegiality were overwhelming. Even as an adult team, this family “feel” spread throughout the room.

I know it takes more than words to build a school family. And as I shared with our newest members this morning, it begins with each of us taking that time to connect and build relationships. I look forward to our newest members and I continue to treasure our building work that we do every day at Joyner.

100 Days! What?

In the very filled moments of life, I was surprised when our students walked in today with celebration in mind as they recognized 100 days of learning for this school year. How did we get here so quickly? I have always talked about how living life in an elementary school is fast. Our ten months with children really fly. I start to notice when they return in January that their legs seem a bit longer, the heads seem to be held up more, the faces mature. I sometimes have to stop and think about what grade a student is in because time just flies.

Our students are the focus of our work at school. And to consider our days, we might have taught for 100 days but now we only have 80 left. Our teachers gear up for some great teaching and learning in the next months. We feel every moment seems to slip away and don’t want it to not be tied to something that gave greater learning or connection for our students.

Sitting with the first semester done, we want to emphasize the support of the parents in helping our children grow at least a year. Reading at home, completing homework, strong attendance are just a few things. We also think about what we are doing in the classrooms. We are excited to meet all together one last time this year on an early release day this Friday. We will look deep into our mid-year data and lay out the plans for this second part of the year.

I am excited to see how minds will grow. I am grateful for the relationships that we have built. And proud of the growth we are making. Well done students. Let’s enjoy these next few moments in the 80 days ahead.

Stop, Take a breath And Relax

I listened to someone today talk about breath. She shared that when there is tension, taking a breath helps us replace that tension because there is no room for both. That made me think about breath. I find when a student is having a rough moment, my first response begins with breathing. I take those moments to just inhale and exhale.

We do a lot of “breathing” at Joyner. Many of our teachers take the time to teach the idea of breath. We help students see that just in our breathing, we can help to begin to regulate how we are feeling and pause before we respond. Teachers use the tools of STAR (Stop, Take a breath And Relax) breathing as a reminder to take a breath, take a pause. We teach the balloon breathing, my favorite. Filling our balloon arms and then making a wonderfully loud blowing out sound to empty our balloons. We pretzel and drain. All of these ways help our students build tools to calm and focus.

I think of many times as adults we need to stop and take the breath. When our little one has a hard moment and yet need to find the courage to step forward, we breathe for them. When we are in the midst of tough conversations, we take a pause and a breath. I listened so often when our spellers took that moment before attacking those words in the recent Spelling Bee. I appreciate the work that our staff takes in teaching our students and providing them tools. We cannot always remove the stresses in life, but we can offer some strategies to help navigate it. When we face those moments of tests or making up with a friend, drawing on a breathing strategy helps us through.