Monday, August 3, 2015

It Has Been a Long Time...Together, Whatever It Takes

It has been years since my last post, years since writing a reflective piece about...anything. I have been caught up in the daily minutia that we all get sucked into. Why did I stop? There are too many reasons why and going back and looking at the dates it all became very clear.  I became an elementary assistant principal about eight months after my last post. So much has happened that could fill volumes (If those still exist) since writing three years ago.

One thing I know for sure is that the information from my last post still resonates with me. It did as a teacher and it does as an administrator. It is all about the kids. It is all about the kids. We need to work together as a TEAM.  Bo Schembechler said it best "THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM!"

We need to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to meet the needs of our students.

We need to take care of each other.

We need to help one another.

Another school year is upon us and being a reflective practitioner should involve some reflection. I am promising myself to be more reflective; to write about experiences. This has always helped to make things more clear.

Friday, October 19, 2012

One Year Later...What Have I Learned?

It has been a long time since I have taken the time to write.  I have been writing alright, just in a different format.  I have been writing college papers to earn my certification to be an administrator.  
Today was the day I sent all of the paperwork in and feel a genuine sense of relief that the year of not seeing my kids, wife, and friends is over.  

What have I learned through all of this new schooling to be a "leader" of a school? 

I have learned that you need to listen more than you talk.

You need to take the time to get to know the people you work with as people, "human beans" as the BFG from Roald Dahl's classic children's book would say.

You need to focus. Not only on the big picture but on all of the individual details.

You can't be afraid to make mistakes.  "If it weren't for mistakes how would we ever learn."  That's my motto.

You need to be honest with yourself and others around you.

Admit what you don't know and then learn what you don't know.

You need to stop throwing all of those educational acronyms and initiatives around and get to the heart of the matter.  What will help kids learn the best way possible.

To go along with this, use plain language the third grader can understand.

You need to empower others.  All people need to feel valued. Equally.

You can't play favorites.  This I learned form Bo Schembechler, the former Michigan head coach.  He was a born leader.  I recommend his book to anyone.

One kind comment can make someone's day, week, month... Try to do this often.

Complaining only gets you so far...So far, I don't know where that is.  Don't complain.  (We are all guilty of this sometime :)

I love working with peers to get better at teaching.  I love observing them and having them observe me... then...talking about student learning and understanding.

Be more creative in the classroom everyday.  I learned so much of this from my teachers at Sacred Heart University and from my Cohort 24 crew.  I miss seeing them and talking about the important stuff very much.

Laugh a lot.  Then laugh again.

You need to keep meetings short.  You need to not meet at all when there is no need to meet.

Walking the beat often is probably the best thing you can do.  Your colleagues appreciate this.

Hanging in the cafeteria and on the playground will allow students to see you as a human bean.  You will see them just as they are, kids who need time to play, have fun, and feel safe in a positive environment.

Working with small groups of kids for short periods of time is very powerful.

People want to be led.  They want to learn.  They love what they do.

Parents want to help.

Be proactive.

I'm sure I missed a whole bunch.  I hope to add more real soon. 

It's time to play!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Inconsistent Blogger is Back...With Random Thoughts

My thought was to rename this blog "The Inconsistent Blogger". New ideas always pop into my head but finding the time to post is nearly impossible.  Today I will post some random thoughts and hopefully develop some of these ideas soon.

I still need to tell you about inquiry science. The students learn more in a rigorous, thought provoking way than in any other way I have ever seen.  Here is a link to the Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry.  They can explain it very well.

Inquiry can be done successfully in math, science, reading, social studies, writing, and probable any discipline.  It begins with having questions or a desire to learn something new.  Just think about how many questions come to mind every day about the world around you.

Right now I am so disappointed with the state of science in Connecticut and in the U.S.
Science is treated as a closest, not a discipline. 

You can teach reading, writing, math, social studies, social skills, technology, and engineering through science. Can you do the same through the others? 

Bobby Valentine will be a good fit for the Red Sox.  Everyday will sure be fun!

I am quite impressed with the professors at Sacred Heart University's Farrington School of Education.  They really make you learn in a rigorous, thought provoking, engaging way.

After last year's debacle, I officially passed on raising the trout this year.  (See last year)

Giving specific effective feedback really helps to improve student learning. 

Atul Gawande deserves the Time Man of the Year Award.  Just read his stuff.  He is far ahead of his time.

Making students go back to their work really helps to improve student learning.

I have heard more lightbulbs go off then any other year of my teaching career. 

Cognitive Coaching training helps people become better teachers.

Get sleep. Eat right. Laugh a lot.  This will make everyday better.

You learn something new about people you already know all of the time. 

Have fun.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Week of Science Inquiry... Want to Know?

You must be on the edge of your seat waiting to find out all of the fascinating details of the week.  You will not be able to move on until you know what this group of teachers from Danbury, New Milford, and Newtown accomplished over the past week.  

Their work was so important they were visited by the Danbury News Times.

Their work was so regarded that they were visited by Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Their work was so exciting they landed on the front page of the Danbury News Times on August 16th.

What did this group of teachers do over the past week?

Want to know?

Well to understand you need to go back about a year ago.  Back to last August when they first met for a similar week long experience.

But that won't help because you need to go a bit further back to when the seeds of thought for this group began to be formulated.

Are you more confused?  Do you have more questions?  Do you want answers to those questions?

That is what inquiry is all about.

I will tell you.

Just not right now.

Feel free to ask.  I will let you know soon enough.  You just may be able to find out for yourself.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It is Sunday

A long way back Philly broke the summer up into parts, like one long weekend.  The part left in June was like a Friday night.  A little chunk, a break away from the daily grind.  July is Saturday.   A whole month to enjoy all that summer brings.  August...Sunday, with all of the anticipation that leads to the work week ahead or in an educator's case a school year ahead.

We are now fully into Sunday.  The thoughts of the new year begin to creep into our minds with all that a new year brings. A routine is good. The excitement of what will be is good too.

Can we hold onto Sunday just a little bit longer though?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The CMT Results are in and...They did great, again!

Just a quick blog to report the great scores again for the students at my school.  The students and teachers deserve a bit of recognition for their continued improvement every year.  All of the teachers from kindergarten through whatever grade have helped the students to learn and make the growth year after year.  It is only one test, but it is the only comparative test we have until there is a national curriculum and national test.


Percent of students at or above goal:

Grade 5

Math         94.2
Reading    85.4
Writing     91.5

Grade 6        

Math         94.9
Reading    95.6
Writing     88.7

These scores have basically gone up every year and are far above the state averages.  I won't bore you with all of the information.  It is unfortunate that the press messes it all up and finds only bad things to say for the most part.

We should be proud of our students.

(I apologize for only focusing on two grades.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Moby-Duck, A Great Summer Read

Anyone interested in inquiry, science, adventure, toys, teaching, the environment, high seas, mysteries, and basically anything else will need to pick up this book for a great summer read.

I just picked up the book Moby-Duck, by Donovan Hohn from my local library.  I was intrigued by the story since Eric Carle's Ten Little Rubber Ducks is based on the same topic.

A container ship south of the Aleutians loses two containers in a vicious storm on January  10, 1992.

One paragraph from the prologue sucked me in and I know I won't be able to put this book down.

"Follow one line of inquiry and it will lead you to another, and another. Spot a yellow duck dropped atop the seaweed at the tide line, ask yourself where it came from, and the next thing you know you're way out at sea, no land in sight, dog-paddling around in mysteries four miles deep.  You're wondering when and why yellow ducks became icons of childhood.  You want to know what it's like inside the toy factories of Guangdong.  You're marveling at the scale of humanity's impact on this terraqueous globe and at the oceanic magnitude of your own ignorance.  You're giving the plight of the Laysan albatross many moments of thought."

If this isn't pure real life inquiry, I'm not sure what is.  It sure is a great example for teachers of inquiry science.

Happy Reading.

Here is a link to an NPR story on the topic