Friday, November 29, 2013

Sunshine Award

I am honored to be nominated for a Sunshine Award. Blogger, Brenda Giourmetakis... @bgiourme nominated my blog for the Sunshine award.  This is how it goes. . . 
The Sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger and then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know!
Here are the rules listed by Brenda on her blog:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
11 Random Facts about me...

1.  I have a true weakness for ice cream.
2.  I once cried when my favorite basketball team (Oklahoma Sooners) was beaten by Danny Manning's Kansas Jayhawks.
3.  When I was fifteen years old I met Greg Norman at a Charity Golf Tournament...he was exceptionally rude.  
4.  I have zero artistic or musical talent. I enjoy musicals and symphony's but only to listen to. I have never been to a concert.
5.  I cannot snap my fingers.
6.  I used to be addicted to online video games.  At one point in my life I was ranked #3 in the United States in FIFA soccer.
7.  I'm a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
8.  I've never watched a horror movie from beginning to end...I'm a huge wuss!
9.  The last movie I cried at was "For Love of The Game".
10.  I enjoy basketball but I stopped playing because I have terribly weak ankles.  It saddens me that my ankles are so poor that I rarely feel confident enough to jump.  
11.  Once in college our team was playing in the National Championships, four of my teammates and myself drove down to Miami, stayed out all night and sat on the beach watching the sunrise.  

Now For Brenda's Questions:

1.  I sleep on my back unless I'm sick.  I rarely snore so my wife doesn't mind me being a back sleeper.

2.  My glass is ALWAYS half-full!  I will openly admit I try to avoid half-empty people as much as possible.  They suck the life out of me.

3.  I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction, but I will lean towards fiction as more enjoyment.  My favorite fictional story is Where the Red Fern Grows.  I love that story, I laugh, cry and get lost in my own thoughts.

4.  My secret guilty pleasure is shoes.  I have tons of shoes.  I'm constantly buying new running shoes.  I can never have too many shoes.  

5.  I definitely prefer running over walking.  But I will admit I just like being active.  I nice walk with my family and dogs is always enjoyable.

6.  My favorite treat is mint chocolate chip ice cream in the evening.  

7.  How do you leave work at work?  Honestly I don't all the time.  The best cure for me is going for a run, playing with my boys, hanging out with my wife, blogging or participating in a twitter chat.

8.  If I was a tree...I would be a white pine.  Not sure why, I just like that the needles don't hurt and that they can survive in all conditions.

9.  My favorite subject in high school was Social Studies.  I enjoyed my teachers the most, but I also enjoyed learning history.  My history teachers made school more about relationships and less about getting through material.

10.  Socks with Sandals?...NEVER! If I have to wear socks I will choose tennis shoes each and every time.  Sandals should not be worn with socks.

11.  When someone thinks of me they think...nice guy.  I'm a bit bland, I'm a bit conservative and my humor is on the dry side.  I do think most people believe I'm a nice guy with a kind heart.

Now For Jim's Questions:

1.  If I wasn't in education I think I would be in the golf business or possibly a storm chaser.  I love storms and I grew up a golf junkie.

2.  Favorite book is a tie:  Where the Red Fern Grows and The Last Lecture 
I love both for different reasons.  I also enjoyed DaVinci Code...really made me think.

3.  Favorite meal...hmmm, I'll say Lobster, but I do love fall off the bone BBQ Ribs!

4.  Yikes...I sing a lot of songs I shouldn't sing.  How about, Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle.

5.  I'll do both for you Jim!  Favorite TV show is Castle.  I loved Alias for I've grown up and Castle is it.  Favorite Movie...I really enjoy Hoosiers, guess I have a soft spot for the underdog.

6.  If I was stranded on an island I would need - sunscreen...I'm fair skinned!  I would need the book Hatchet to keep myself entertained and finally, my fishing pole & hooks.  Cheers!

7.  Any three to dinner...#1 Abraham Lincoln...I would love to listen to the stories.  #2 Muhammed Ali...can you imagine having dinner with Muhammed Ali!  #3 +Jimmy Casas  I've eaten with Jimmy before...I'm confident he'd pick up the tab!

8.  One place I'd visit would be Old Trafford.  I'd love to take in a soccer game in England between Manchester United and Liverpool.

9.  I prefer dessert...but I rarely leave room.

10.  When work gets stressful I exercise.  For me there is nothing better.

11.  Favorite Band, I enjoy Journey or maybe Chicago.  Nowadays I like Zac Brown Band or Phillip Phillips.

Now For Cory's Questions:

1.  Favorite Movie of all-time is probably Hoosiers.  I love the underdog!

2.  My definition of character:  Being True to your word and values.

3.  I used to believe assessment drove planning...but then I began to feel as though I was teaching to the test.  I now believe you create the best plan you can and formative assess often.

4.  Who would play me in a movie...tough one...maybe a Josh Stumpenhorst.

5.  Odds on is Denver, but I'll say Seattle.

6.  Filet Mignon.  Hamburger feels like it sits in my gut for days.

7.  One word for 2014:  How about ubiquitous.

8.  I'll cheat and choose a poem for my favorite quote:  Robert Frost's - The Road Not Taken.

9.  Dream Vaca:  I would love to take a 3 week vacation that started in France and my family got to visit England, Switzerland, China and then we spent a week in Hawaii.  I could envision 3 days in each place and then a long stay on the islands.

10.  One thing to change for 2014, I will budget money better.

11.  In 20 years I see myself traveling with my wife.  Her dream is to by one of those bus RV's and travel the country.  I hope we are doing that in 20 years.

Thanks for the questions Jim.  I always appreciate your insight and support.  You are a valuable part of my personal #PLN.  Thank you for sharing the positive side of education.

Now For Bill's questions:

1.  My first city that I lived in outside my hometown was Angola, Indiana.  I really enjoyed my 4+ years there.  It really had everything I needed/wanted.

2.  Coffee or Tea?  I say neither.  I prefer lemonade, powerade, gatorade or water.

3.  To learn and grow I usually get online.  I enjoy reading blogs and participating in chats.

4.  My sophomore year of college was a turning point for me.  The light bulb went off and I realized I wasn't going to be a professional golfer.  At that point I began to follow my passion for helping kids.  I was inspired by the fact that I thought I could make a difference.  I truly believed education was my mission.

5.  I've only had a few challenges with parents and staff.  Looking back these are all moments of growth and reflection.  I've learned honesty and fact are essential. I can be at peace with all things if I'm honest, thorough and people oriented.

6. Two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost

7.  That's funny.  I actually reference both movies and TV shows.  All sorts of different ones.  Most recently, 42, Secret of Happyness and Remember the Titans.

8.  The Last Lecture is a book that should be read by everyone.  Puts things in wonderful perspective.

9.  Something to avoid in teaching or presenting?  I would say both overconfidence and being unprepared.  Honesty, humbleness and the ability to tell a story are key.

10.  Students succeed when they know we care.  Relationships must come first.

11.  My most recent compliment was on twitter.  I was told that my blog shows how much I care about my school and staff.  Surprised me.  But I do love my staff and building!

Thanks for the questions Bill.  Really glad I got to meet you in Brighton.  I hope we can grab dinner again.  Thanks for thinking of me.

Blogger's that deserve the Sunshine Award...

At first I thought it may be a challenge to find 11 bloggers...then I got started and I could have doubled my list!  These 11 bloggers are a part of my PLN and help me grow each and every week.  Thank you! Below is a list of the 11 questions I'm asking you to answer...

1. Do you prefer to shop in stores or online?
2. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
3. What is your favorite type of music? Favorite band or song?
4. Cats or Dogs? Why...
5. What is your typical bedtime?
6. Favorite twitter chat?
7. Democrat/Republican/Other? 
8. Best place you ever vacationed?
9. Best book you've read in 2013?
10. Favorite television show when you were growing up?
11. What is one thing you never/rarely share that you are exceptionally proud of?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Refocus on the Positive

After a stretch of time where I have felt less than my best, I'm especially thankful for second grade teacher Susan Nash.  Susan gave me a pep talk that I needed, and I'm grateful for her caring mentality.

We've all been there, we hear so many comments, suggestions and opinions on a continual basis. The majority of comments are usually positive ones, but we also hear the negative nellies. Human nature is that one negative will outweigh nine positive comments...I wish it wasn't this way.  So after a pep talk and some fresh air, I have "re"-focused on the positives.  

This "re"-focus reminded me of a random encounter from earlier this year.  I was in town and bumped into a former student.  This actually happens pretty often...but this time it was different, I didn't immediately recognize her, but she recognized me.  As I approached her she said, "Mr. Gilpin?" I said, "Is that Sam?"  She got the biggest grin on her face!  We chatted for a moment and then she said, "I gotta tell you that you changed my life in 5th grade."  She then shared her painful memories. Sam talked about how she was teased.  Sam had low self-esteem and believed she was ugly throughout elementary school.  She then said, "Do you remember what you said to me?"  At that very moment I didn't remember.  Sam said, "Mr. Gilpin, I was in tears and I felt ugly.  No one liked me.  You met with me and told me I was a beautiful girl and that some day I was going to be a model!"  (Side note: Sam's dream in 5th grade was to be either a singer or model when she grew up.)

Sam then told me that she never forgot those words and that she just received an offer from a modeling company.  She starts in June of '14!  The smile on Sam's face was all I needed.  Sam told me thank you for believing in her and for always caring.

I told Sam I was proud of her!  Sam didn't know this but she picked me up.  Just like Susan picked me up. These are the moments that we need to focus on. The naysayers won't ever go away, but we can choose who we listen to.

Sam is a true success story.  She got beaten down by naysayers and negative nellies.  Sam "re"-focused on the positive and it pushed her to go after her dream.  Each day we can make a difference.    

Will you choose to be the positive voice people hear?    


Monday, December 2nd:  Tech Meeting 1:1 at 1pm
Tuesday, December 3rd:  Crisis Response Meeting at 1:15pm
Wednesday, December 4th:  K-2 Assembly at 8:45
Wednesday, December 4th: EdTech PD at Bean Elementary 3:30-4:30 (Video Story Problems)

Articles Worth Reading:

You Got Students Blogging Now How To Get Comments +Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

How To Help Your Students Embrace Failure Through Game-Based Learning +TeachThought @TeachThought

Praise or Reflective Questioning? +Joan Young @flourishingkids

5 Rules To Simplify Your Life @ajjuliani

Common Core Math Word Clouds shared by +Sue Haney @susankhaney

The Week of Two Drew's +Suzanne Gibbs @Suz_Gibbs

Power of the Lurker shared by +Dan Spencer @runfardvs

Why Do You Blog? A Student's Perspective +Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal

A Thankful Heart at School +Jennifer Hogan @Jennifer_Hogan

10 Ways To Get Books For Your Classroom #nerdybookclub @GigiMcAreads

Teachers: 5 Reasons Why I Think YOU Should Join Twitter @daydreamreader

10 Biggest EdTech Trends (with infographic) @JeffRahman

Top 10 iPad Tips For Teachers @edudemic

50 Happiness Quotes To Change The Way You Think +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

Check this out! Thanks for the share Sue. (4 min)

I grew up watching the Fresh Prince! This is a classic performance...gets really good after the first 2 minutes. (6 min)

Priceless video! A Father's Joy in his son's report card.  I wish all parents and adults got this excited about student successes. (2 min)

Brotherly Love! (11 min)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Reinventing Classroom Learning

Last Spring I was hearing a lot of hullabaloo about Project Based Learning.  Most of what I was reading and hearing was coming out of Stockbridge, Michigan.  So last April I made the 45 minute trek north.  I met with Principal Jim Kelly, and he set me up with several students that would guide me throughout my visit.  As I posted last Spring - PBL - Leave Your Comfort Zone and Try Something New I strongly believe Project Based Learning (PBL) and Genius Hour can be the answer to the CCSS shift.

On this particular visit I was reunited with old friends Josh Nichols and Steve Trosin.  As I toured the elementary and talked with students I was blown away.  Teachers had taken a step back, the voices in the room were student voices.  Students were asking questions and investigating for answers.  Mr. Nichols and Mr. Trosin were facilitating and observing, not dominating the learning.  This created personal reflection...I thought back to my years in the classroom.  I remember walking into the teachers lounge after school and seeing exhausted teachers...I thought, this is wrong, why are the teachers exhausted...shouldn't the students be more tired than the adults?  Who's doing all the work?

As I refocused on what I was watching, I saw underwater robots, reassembling of musical instruments and the growing of plants in various conditions.  Most of what I saw was not brain surgery; these were hands-on activities that created thought, discussion and student engagement.  Here is a clip that Brad Wilson - @dreambition created:

Over the last several weeks I have had face to face conversations and online conversations that have a united message.  The message I keep hearing is that educators are feeling burned out.  I've heard it from colleagues, friends, acquaintances and even strangers.  At first I believed a positive attitude could fix it. But the more I listened and the more I attempted to fix, the more I realized this isn't going away.  So I ask the question, is it time to reinvent classroom learning?  At the end of the day who is working hardest, the students or the teacher?

Just this week I watched this classroom video, and it inspired this post...check it out:

As a teacher I was fortunate to have the ability to create and try new things.  Two lessons still vividly stand out for me:  The first was an activity on Speed & Velocity.  I had brainstormed the idea to order Lego tubs from our local ISD.  They supplied me with the Lego boxes and I then went to work creating a rubric. Students were then put in groups of two or three.  They needed to build a vehicle that would go down a ramp and along a designated grid.  Students then asked a variety of questions that reaffirmed I was doing a pretty decent job of teaching.  Students asked about surface, friction, weight, mass, obstacles and other variables.  One student brought up Newton's Laws of Motion. I simply stepped back and turned them loose.  Students used learned knowledge to design and create their vehicles.  The final projects were really cool.  It went so well that the next year I did something very similar with one big wrinkle...I wrote a grant for solar powered vehicles.  Students painted and designed their vehicles, and now they were also learning about solar power.  These projects still stick in my head.  Students were fully engaged, I had very few behavioral issues and the learning was constant.  I went home each day energized and excited to see where the students would take the learning.  As I look back, I wish I had more experiences like this.  Project Based Learning has always been around, but we are smarter now. We've learned valuable information on how to enhance the process.  

If you are feeling defeated, tired, burned out or simply exhausted I encourage you to think about reinventing the learning in your classroom.  Here are a few simple steps - 

1)  Start Small:  Brainstorm a project or read a bit about Genius Hour

2)  Create some guidelines and expectations

3)  Be willing to let go of complete control

4)  Take pictures, praise the engaged learning!

5)  Don't Fear Failure:  Try not to fear messy or boisterous noise

This Week's Big Question(s):  How are you feeling as an educator?  Is it time to re-energize yourself? Is it time to re-invent the learning in your classroom?  


Monday, November 25th:  LifeTouch will be in the building doing candid shots
Monday, November 25th:  Tech Meeting
Tuesday, November 26th:  9am TEAM meeting at Warner
Tuesday, November 26th:  After School String Team at SAU
Wednesday, November 27th:  Happy Bday Laura Smith
Wednesday, November 27th:  No School, Thanksgiving Break

Check out Brad Wilson's @dreambition Thanksgiving Symbaloo

Articles Worth Reading:

Got Forgiveness? @joykelly05

Read and Connect @JennaVDixon @ErinMastin

Are You Teaching Kids To Fail Less and Fail Slower? @ideaguy42 (MUST SEE Video in this post!)

Videos Worth Watching:

What truly Motivates us? (11 min)

How To: Screen Record Your iPad (3 min) @techsavvyed 

Difference Between Dogs and Cats (3 min)

Hilarious Clip! (2 min)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Is Your Greatest Strength also Your Biggest Weakness?

This week I had a moment that truly made me reflect on a lot of things.  I took a moment to sit down and chat with Nicole Kelly ... @PowerofPE and I really benefited from our talk.  Nicole and I discussed the change from Science to Physical Education as well as the overall culture and climate of Warner.  Then Nicole made a comment that has stuck with me, she said, "Our greatest strengths can also be our biggest weaknesses."  I thought about this and I believe she is exactly right!

Let's think about this statement, Your Greatest Strength can also be Your Biggest Weakness:

What if your strength is organization.  In turn your weakness may be OCD or inflexibility.

What if your strength is your drive and determination.  In turn your weakness may be that you don't listen to others and you may not be the best teammate.

What if your strength is loyalty.  You may be loyal to a fault and unwilling to change or move forward.

What if your strength is your mathematical mind.  Your possible weakness is that it comes easy for you and you struggle to explain it clearly to others that don't understand.

What if your strength is your kindness and care for others.  Your weakness may be the inability to accept criticism and deal with conflict.

This is a small sampling designed to get you to reflect on yourself.  Is your greatest strength your biggest weakness?

Check out this article by Dr. Brunner: 10 Flaws That Can Derail Good People

We're all human, we're all flawed and we all make mistakes.  By human nature we try to improve our weaknesses.  Sometimes  I want to fix several flaws at one time...this is next to impossible.  So how do we go about improving ourselves?  This is what I've discovered through reading books, listening to podcasts and watching Ellen Degeneres!

1)  Self-Reflect:  Reflecting on situations promotes growth.  You must be honest with yourself in this process.

2)  Stop Comparing:  Be the best YOU!  Everyone has idiosyncrasies, embrace them and don't try to be someone you aren't.

3)  Laugh At Yourself:  Thank You Ellen! Humor can heal the soul.  When you make mistakes be willing to laugh at yourself.  Remember we are all flawed.

4)  Learn From Others:  It takes a big person to admit they don't have all the answers and that they need support/help.  Learning from/with others creates strong bonds. 

5)  Remember this quote:  

Try as I might I'll never be perfect.  The world would be a boring place if we were all perfect.  The best approach is to understand and try to improve.  Thank you Nicole, thank you for helping me reflect on an issue I've pushed to the back for too long.  

This week's big question: How well do you accept criticism? Do you have a kryptonite?


Monday, November 18th:  Young 5, Kindergarten and 1st Grade Clarinet Performance: 3 Billy Goats Gruff and the Troll (10:15am)
Monday, November 18th:  1:1 Tech meeting at 1pm
Wednesday, November 20th:  Grades 3-5 Assembly

Wednesday, November 20th:  2nd Edtech Afterschool PD session +Brad Wilson +Stacey Schuh will be discussing Video Story Problems and more... (3:30-4:30 at Parma Elementary)

Thursday, November 21st:  Crisis Response Meeting at 1:30pm
Saturday, November 23rd:  Happy Bday to Suzanne Gibbs

Articles Worth Reading:

What I don't know...and some of what I do @christopherlike shared by +Jimmy Casas @casas_jimmy

When there is a fork in the road...grab a spoon Post about Standard Based Grading @garnet_hillman

Videos Worth Watching:

Toxic Grading Practices (6 min)

Alison Sweeney vs Ellen! (5 min)

Hayward's Heart (touching...12 min)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Should school be fun?

I will admit the title of the post is a loaded question.  I'll get to my opinion a little later in the post.

As a kid growing up I had times when I loved school and times I despised it.  I'll never forget a particular moment in eighth grade.  I was in line walking up from the middle school to the library.  The hallway was wide and the floor was carpeted, you could only hear quiet murmurs as we walked up the hall.  I turned the corner and started up the gentle incline.  The windows grabbed my attention, I peered out.  It was beautiful outside.  The sun was shining and I just wanted to get out.  I'll openly admit I felt as though I was in prison.  I wondered, could I crawl out that window and escape? Would they notice if I was missing?  It's not that I hated school, I was bored.

I asked a loaded question in the beginning. This is my opinion on the matter.  

I believe learning should be an enjoyable experience.  

I believe we are life long learners and learning should make us feel good.

I believe an engaged student is a student that will learn.

I believe engagement can create curiosity and joy.

I believe students that enjoy school have a higher probability of success. (All you need to look at for justification is the drop-out rate)

The research says that an engaged student learns twice as much.  Yes, TWICE as much!  Check out the article Study: Engaged Students Learn Twice As Much

As a teacher I spent a large chunk of my evenings and weekends planning lessons and trying to brainstorm ideas that would excite student learning.  I still remember times when I heard students say they were bored.  Outwardly I would say, "It's not my priority to entertain you." But inwardly I was disappointed by the comment.  I was hired to teach and I took that as a huge responsibility, I knew that a bored student learned very little.  Essentially I believe a bored student simply regurgitates information and doesn't truly learn.  

Recently I asked a student the question, "Should school be fun?"  What do you think the student said?

The answer was an emphatic YES!  The older we get the more we understand that school is seven hours of each day, but it's more than that.  It's the main social interaction for students during the day, it's their exercise for the day, it's possibly their best meal(s) and it is definitely the most they will learn for the day.

Ultimately fun is relative; what is fun to one may not be to another.  I do believe we should enjoy what we do.  I once dreaded what I did.  Years ago I went through a funk. I dreaded going in each day and it showed in my planning and delivery.  I was fortunate because I had a friend simply tell me that I had changed.  At first I was angry, but then I realized he was right.  I slowly shifted my attitude and rededicated myself to my students.  I wanted learning to be enjoyable for my students.

I believe this is an attainable goal.  Students spend more time at school than they do at home, shouldn't their experience be a positive one?

This week's big questions:  Are you the teacher you dreamed of being?  Are your students engaged in your lessons?


Monday, November 11th: Conferences
Tuesday, November 12th:  Pioneer Living 3rd Grade
Tuesday, November 12th:  Panther Pride Lunch
Tuesday, November 12th:  Happy Bday Kathy Sharp
Tuesday, November 12th: IEP's in Conference Room
Tuesday, November 12th:  2nd Grade to JCC
Tuesday, November 12th: Conferences
Wednesday, November 13th:  K-2 Assembly
Wednesday, November 13th:  String Team 1:55pm & 3pm
Wednesday, November 13th: TAT 3pm
Thursday, November 14th: Pioneer Living 3rd Grade
Friday, November 15th:  Fire Drill at 9:20am
Friday, November 15th: Picture Retakes
Saturday, November 16th:  Happy Bday to Katie Powers
Sunday, November 17th:  Happy Bday to Chris Kline

*  Book Fair is located in Library all week
*  Please let me know if you would like me to attend a specific conference

Articles Worth Reading:

How To Use Real-Time Technology in the Classroom by @toddacurtis

"Who will survive?" A Beginners Guide To Project Based Learning shared by  @MPNEngaged

A Dozen Basic Guidelines For Educators by @alfiekohn

Mashing Genius Hour With Problem Based Learning +TeachThought @TeachThought

Take a day and visit your school +Tony Sinanis @Cantiague_Lead

Common Core in Action: Writing for an audience shared by +William Powers @MrPowersCMS

How We Can Actually Create Life Long Learners +Fred Sitkins @fsitkins

Overcome 4 Massive Motivation Killers shared by @MPNEngaged

Dragon Dictation App shared by +Vicki Davis  @coolcatteacher

50 Math Web Games for Kids +Matt Gomez @mattBgomez

5 Engaging Activities for Early Finishers +Erin Klein @KleinErin

Boring Teachers and How We ALL Can Respond @grantwiggins

How To Follow On Twitter Without Joining Twitter +Patrick Larkin @patrickmlarkin

Videos Worth Watching:

3 Minute Video explaining the CCSS (Worth your time) @SueVanRiper

Perseverance! Thanks for sharing Dan. +Dan Callahan @dancallahan

Freedom isn't Free: Tribute for our Veterans

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Controlling what we can control

Recently I sat down with a parent in my office.  This actually occurs quite frequently, but this one was unique.  Prior to the meeting I had contacted the parent with specific concerns.  The parent "pushed back".  Unfortunately the parent chose to make things "personal".  I was in one of those modes where I wasn't going to take it.  We've all been there, you take and take and take and then you break!  I was very constructive, but I did not take it!  This prompted a sit down meeting, just the parent and myself.

A bit of background about me, I don't mind deep, heavy conversations if I have a few things: 1)Background or Prior Information 2) The Facts 3) An open-mind, the ability to be constructive with the individual 

The meeting date arrived, I was in my normal routine of welcoming students out front.  It was a chilly day, the wind was brisk and the students could all see their breath.  I enjoy these morning, full of smiles and lots of energy.  I knew as soon as I finished greeting students things would become more tense. Over time I will tell you that these discussions don't become easier...but having all the information and a confident mindset makes a difference.

I warmly greeted the parent and we went into the office.  We talked for 5-6 minutes about her child.  I had heard this information before, but I knew it was important to simply listen.  I then conveyed what we as educators were seeing at school.  The similarities between home and school were eerily similar.  It was at this point that the "AHA" moment occurred.

The parent said to me, "I don't know how to fix this."  She then added, "We've been working on this for a long time and I'm frustrated just like you!"

It was at this point that I internalized that this must be a partnership.  It sounds so simple, but so often I hear educators place blame on parents or the home environment.  The truth of the matter is parents cannot fix every issue.  I was pleasantly refreshed when this parent told me that she's tried to fix this, but isn't making progress.  This could not have been easy for the parent to admit,  but she did.

The point is this, we must remember we can only control ourselves.  Our students are with us for seven hours a day, five days a week.  What happens outside of school is completely out of our control.

As I wrapped up with the parent I discussed "OUR" partnership.  We talked about working together and trying to problem solve as a team.  This is the critical piece, as educators we need to control what we can control.  Blaming and finger pointing will not accomplish anything.  I hope we will move forward with a mentality of partnering together for the sake of the children.  

I was reminded this week, parents can't fix everything...teachers can't fix everything...but together we can make a difference.

This week's big question:  Are you waiting for parent/teacher conferences to sit down with parents or are you addressing the issues now?

Next Week At A Glance:

Monday, Nov. 4th:  Tech Meeting at 1pm
Monday, Nov. 4th:  Chicago Trip Parent Meeting 6pm in Warner Cafeteria
Tuesday, Nov. 5th:  PTO meeting at 7pm

Wednesday, Nov. 6th:  Grades 3-5 assembly in cafeteria at 8:45am (This will be longer due to Beauty & The Beast Elementary Tour from 9:15-9:45)

Friday, Nov. 8th:  Veteran's Day (4th grade is headed to the Senior Center)

*  Still looking for someone to take over Student Council.

Articles Worth Reading:

Are Sleep Problems Linked to Attention Deficit Disorders?

Book Hounds by @cwdexter

iPads and Higher Order Thinking Skills Training +Dan Spencer @runfardvs

Social Media Do's and Don'ts for Student Athletes shared by +Michael Smajda @smaj40

Abolishing Award Ceremonies and Honor Rolls @joe_bower

Ready To Learn? The Key is Listening with Intention shared by @edtechcoaching

App Smashing with iMovie in ios7 @gregkulowiec

Is Your Teaching Replaceable? +Mr. Abud @MR_ABUD

Why Grades Should Reflect Mastery... @McLane_Ryan

Poisonous Truth about Control +John Spencer @edrethink

How to not crap yourself on the run @ShutUpRun (This is back by popular demand ; )

Dyslexia and Life by +Ira Socol @irasocol

Put What Matters At The Center +Tony Sinanis @Cantiague_Lead

8 Things Extraordinary People Give To Others +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

The Future of Learning... (Click on the Link)

This scene made me smile! (3 minutes)

Jack's Heat: Touching... (13 min)