Monday, December 29, 2014

Walking in their shoes

The holiday season typically offers the full range of emotions.  This year has been no exception.  It warms my heart to help our families, and it has also created reflection.

This year we were able to assist a handful of families that have experienced a plethora of challenges. Just a few of the challenges have been, a fire, loss of job and living apart for the better part of a year. When I reached out to the mom and offered to help, she cried.  She was very grateful.  We chatted on the phone about the kids and about what she was going through.  My heart hurt for her, and this is also where I had a turning point.

After hanging up the phone I sat back and thought about her situation.  I thought about the kids.  This is where I felt extremely sympathetic, but I was having a tough time putting myself in her shoes and feeling truly empathetic.  I've worked with this family for a few years and during that time I've experienced some doubt and I wondered if the family was doing everything they could.  

Each year we receive a new set of students in our classrooms and schools.  Every student has a story, every family has a history.  I believe we in education do a phenomenal job at sympathizing with families, but we can be better, I can be better.  As I look ahead to 2015 I want to better understand families situations so that I can walk in their shoes and show true empathy.

I've realized this is something I need to improve on, but in my own reflection as a person I've come to look at my own two boys.  At times I see them showing sympathy, but I don't think either one have an understanding of empathy.  If my two boys typically do not show empathy, how many of our Warner students don't either?  At this point I see a bigger issue.  As a society I do believe we sympathize and feel for people in unfortunate situations, but I don't think we truly empathize with them.  I don't think you have to look far to understand where I'm coming from.  So how do we begin to improve?  Here are three suggestions:

1)  Focus on your own child's social and emotional needs.  We cannot expect our kids to show empathy if they are not able to cope with their own needs.  Promote problem-solving and determination. Teach your child how to bounce back from adverse situations.

2)  Seize everyday opportunities.  Our kids watch and listen to our actions.  Take these opportunities to discuss your thought process.  When you happen to see someone under stress, talk about what they must be feeling.  Discussing emotions can be a good way to start getting kids to empathize with the world around them.

3)  Find commonalities in people and situations.  Kids are more likely to show empathy if they are able to relate.  When reading a book or watching a television show, discuss similarities with your child.  Talking about characters has the ability to humanize the situation, and create reflection and thought.

I'm proud of our Warner kids and I know my own boys have good hearts.  This year I'm hoping to help them take the next step.  I want them to learn empathy and to choose kind every time.

As for me, I have a lot of room to grow.  Our experiences shape us as people, and I will do my best to walk in the shoes of others.

Articles Worth Reading:

Onward to 2015 @Glennr1809

Too soon? @Jonharper70bd

Day One @DJrSchug

Can We Change Ed Reform? @joesanfelippofc

Videos Worth Watching:

The Year in Ideas, Ted Talks 2014 (8 min)

2014: Year in Review (2 min)

Will You Choose to Soar in 2015? Inspiring story of Charlotte Brown (10 min)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Kid From the Other Side of the Tracks

One of my favorite movies (and stories) around the Holidays is The Polar Express.  I could relate to the young man and his struggles to believe.  It took me back to my youth and some of my internal struggles.  I've watched The Polar Express at least a dozen times and read the book probably double that.  Recently I began paying a little closer attention to a separate storyline.  I watched and tried to better understand, the kid from the other side of the tracks.  At first I simply thought he was scared. But after watching I could tell, he was broken.  The boy had lost a lot of hope.

That story hits close to home.  Some time ago the holiday season hit and I was very worried about several of our kids.  One young man really stuck out for me.  So with the help of our social workers, we got this young man set up with, "Shop with a Cop".  I still remember the look on his face when he left with the officer.  The smile made my day!

When he returned, he came down and told me what he got for his little brother, his mom and his Nana. You could see his joy.  He truly felt lifted up by the happiness he would be spreading to his loved ones.

Last week that same young man came back to see me.  I was excited to see how much he had grown. We talked about school, we talked about his bike and we talked about life.  He then said to me, "Mr. Gilpin, do you remember when you talked to us at an assembly about the power of giving to others?" I smiled and nodded.  I told him that giving makes the heart feel good.  What happened next absolutely floored me.

The young man pulled out a wad of money, and began to put it in my hands.  He then said, I've been raking leaves this fall and helping my neighbors.  I remember when I was at Warner and someone helped me at the holidays.  Now it's my turn to help someone else.

This gesture, this act of kindness, blew me away.  I smiled, hugged him and told him to come back soon.  I let him know that his kindness would never be forgotten.  He smiled and headed back for home.  I turned and just couldn't stop thinking about what he had just done.  When I counted up the wad of money it came to $32.  The amount had to be everything he had.  Every so often people remind you of how great the world can be.

Next week will be an exciting time in many of our student's lives.  The anticipation of the holiday season, the joy that so many people are surrounded with, but it also can be a very stressful and sad time for some kids.  We all know that often times school is a safe haven, it provides consistency, love and so much more.  Some of our kids may act out around the holidays, they can't explain it, but internally they don't want to be away from us for days on end.  I, for one, always like to leave the communication lines open.  Encourage students to blog over the holidays. I've also checked in with my kids by arranging a movie day or a meet-up at All Skate.  This is a nice way for families and students to come together, and it gives some students that piece of hope they so desperately need.

This week's big question:  How will you support the student that needs you most over the holidays?


Monday, December 15th:  AM Lockdown
Monday, December 15th:  4pm Lego Club
Monday, December 15th:  3:45pm String Team
Tuesday, December 16th:  Warner Outreach Night 4:30-7pm
Tuesday, December 16th:  Admin meeting 9am
Tuesday, December 16th:  4pm Minecraft Club
Wednesday, December 17th:  Grades K-2 assembly 8:45am
Wednesday, December 17th:  7pm Musical in CAC for grades K, 2, 4
Wednesday, December 17th:  3pm Board Game Club
Wednesday, December 17th:  3:45pm String Team
Thursday, December 18th: Board Meeting at a special time (5:30pm)
Thursday, December 18th:  Classroom parties in the PM
Thursday, December 18th:  4pm Minecraft Club
Friday, December 19th:  Staff Holiday Breakfast in the Library (7:45am)
Friday, December 19th:  Lil Boy Blue rehearsal in the Warner Cafeteria (9am)
Saturday, December 20th:  Winter Break Begins
Wednesday, December 24th:  Happy Bday to Shelley Singleton
Saturday, December 27th:  Happy Bday to Joan Fitzpatrick
Monday, December 29th:  Happy Bday to Susan Nash

Articles Worth Reading:

How much does fear drive us? @pernilleripp

7 ways to keep others from squeezing the life out of you @coolcatteacher

What is the hour of code? @HuffingtonPost

The Identity and Empathy Gap @HuffingtonPost

15 Photographs That Will Open Your Eyes to the Wonders of the World @HuffingtonPost

Learning Unleashed @Venspired

Reimagining Learning @Jeff_Zoul

When your run gets ugly @ShutUpRun

30 Things To Let Go Before the New Year @marcandangel

Principles of Guiding Choice @gailandjoan

Videos Worth Watching:

Catching Kayla...touching & inspiring! (12 min)

One Stitch Closer (2 min) GREAT STORY!

Spirit of Giving (5 min)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional!

This past week I had the good fortune of listening and learning from one of the greats... @ToddWhitaker.  The title of this post was a quote from the beginning of his keynote.  

During Todd's Keynote I heard several quotes that I wanted to tweet, but couldn't get myself to take 10 seconds and stop listening.  I did jot down several quotes, and here they are:

"We give negative people the power to ruin our day."
"Great teachers have an intention behind every action they do."
"Twitter is not an obligation, but it is the best FREE professional development in the World."
"In great classrooms, each child believes that he/she is the teacher's favorite."
"When it comes to behavior, the best teachers want prevention; the poor teachers want revenge."
"Treat ALL people as if they are good."
"The difference between effective and ineffective people is, effective people know how they are perceived by others."
"Positive feedback will do loads for the morale in your building."

I've read a couple of Todd Whitaker's books, and I've now had the pleasure to meet and listen to him in person.  What I appreciate is this- if you're looking for a silver bullet you're likely to not find it. But if you are looking for practical, sensible and people driven support, there may not be a better person to learn from.  Todd is engaging, witty and his stories will make you laugh out loud.

I say all this as the premise to this week's post.

Change is inevitable, Growth is Optional

There are times in my life that things are moving so fast that I feel as though I'm simply trying to tread water, not move forward.  The day to day dealings have the ability to mask real issues that can improve the entire organization.  I often reflect and feel as though I need to continuously improve.

This week our teachers will participate in Classroom Labs.  What's a Classroom Lab?  This is a model of a teacher sharing his/her room as a laboratory.  A couple years ago I attempted to get people to observe each other, and a few took the leap, but now as a district we are jumping in with both feet. I'm excited about the Classroom Labs.  I've participated in a few and I see tons of opportunity for insight, reflection and growth.  What I believe is simple. Change is Inevitable. It is up to each individual to determine the amount of Growth.

This week I expect some people to feel energized, I expect some to feel overwhelmed, and I expect some to be hard on themselves.  

I say that because I've been there.  I've visited classrooms and buildings and I've internalized a lot. Four years ago I visited a different building.  I listened and took in all the things happening.  I left feeling challenged to improve.  Any time we step out of our comfort zone and we are willing to grow (because change is inevitable), it is a risk.  I'm excited about the opportunity in front of us, and I will do everything in my power to help others grow.  I hope you'll walk along side me.


Monday, December 8th:  Santa's Secret Shop
Monday, December 8th:  Grades 4/5 PD in Nancy Pack's classroom (8-3pm)
Monday, December 8th:  4-5pm Lego Club
Monday, December 8th:  String Team 3:45
Monday, December 8th:  Happy Bday to Nicole Kelly
Tuesday, December 9th:  Santa's Secret Shop
Tuesday, December 9th:  Michigan Innovative Schools Conference (Lansing, MI)
Tuesday, December 9th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Tuesday, December 9th:  Bible Release
Wednesday, December 10th:  LIBRARY CLOSED (MAISA PD will be conducted in the library)
Wednesday, December 10th:  Grades KDG/1st in Micki Archer's classroom (8-3pm)
Wednesday, December 10th:  Santa's Secret Shop (alternate location)
Wednesday, December 10th:  Holiday Tea (1:30-4:30)
Wednesday, December 10th:  8:45am Grades 3-5 assembly in cafeteria
Wednesday, December 10th:  3-4pm Board Game Club
Wednesday, December 10th:  3:45 String Team
Thursday, December 11th:  Grades 2/3 PD in Suzanne Woolworth's classroom (8-3pm)
Thursday, December 11th:  Lockdown AM
Thursday, December 11th:  CP Federal Credit Union PM
Friday, December 12th:  Warner Fun Night 5:30-8:30
Friday, December 12th:  Select Choir 9am in the gym

Articles Worth Reading:

Teaching is the most exhausting job I've had, but I won't quit @HufffingtonPost

Playing Nice With Others: Why schools teach social emotional learning @HuffingtonPost

Why teacher's aren't going anywhere @twhitford

3 Ways Social Media Can Improve School Culture @gcouros

It Appears My Students Have More Faith In Me Than I Do @pernilleripp

Point of Pontification @TonySinanis

It's Elementary When it Comes To EdTech @E_Sheninger

10 Habits of Happy, Healthy Couples @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

Ellen discusses Emoji's (2 min)

Adam Levine on Jimmy Fallon (4 min)

Steve Harvey on Ellen (5 min)

The Crazy Ones (1 min)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pictures say 1000 words

I will keep this brief.  One of my goals for the past few years has been to share joy through pictures. If you check out my twitter feed it typically has pictures to check out.  All this in an effort to share our story and spread joyful moments with others.  This past week I spent some time checking out pictures past and present.  Here are a few that I hope will make you smile, think and reflect.

Special thanks to the photo contributors:

Do you have a picture that lifts you up? Makes you think? or Simply makes you smile?


Monday, December 1st:  Western Wear due
Monday, December 1st:  3:45pm String Team
Monday, December 1st:  4-5pm Lego Club
Tuesday, December 2nd:  1st Grade to Safetyville
Tuesday, December 2nd:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Wednesday, December 3rd:  No AM assembly
Wednesday, December 3rd:  3-4pm Board Game Club
Wednesday, December 3rd:  3:45pm String Team
Thursday, December 4th:  CP Federal Credit Union PM
Thursday, December 4th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club

Articles Worth Reading:

Driving Lessons @gailandjoan

Educate with Heart @TonySinanis

My Worst Teacher Ever shared by @casas_jimmy

Videos Worth Watching:

Jennifer Aniston & Ellen play "Last Word" (2 min)

Good Answer...wait...huh? (1 min)

Odell Beckham Jr.  (1 min)

Foxhole Friends...story of friendship (22 min)

Jimmy Fallon with a Holiday Parody (4 min)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sharing Joyful Moments

I remember growing up and reading books.  As a youngster I enjoyed repetition.  One of my favorite stories was, The Little Engine That Could.  Most of you know this is a story about believing in ones self.  I also believe it is about attitude and mindset.  When the Little Engine encountered the hill, it could have easily given up, but it didn't...and the rest is history.

For most educators the school year began at the end of August or the beginning of September.  It has been a long stretch for students and staff.  Essentially we've all been at it for roughly sixty days. Whether you are five years old or fifty this can take a toll.  What I see is fatigue, less patience and increased physicality's.  

Some days we can all feel beaten down as we manage behaviors and try our best to keep order. There has been stretches where I have felt stuck in the office being the disciplinarian.  For me it's easy to fall into a rut when I feel as though I'm simply "managing." 

When I fall into a rut a few things jump start me.  If your first 60+ days has challenged you, try one of these ideas:

1)  Write Notes to Staff/Colleagues  - This is one of my favorite activities.  I find lots of joy in lifting people up around me.

2)  Spend tons of time with kids - A great way to lift your spirit is by visiting classrooms, playing at recess or attending events that occur outside of school.

3)  Read - I have a couple of books and several blogs that I read.  Reading gets me thinking and often creates a couple of prompts:  "How could I..."  and "I'm going to...".

4)  Writing - Ten years ago I would have never said this, but now I find writing to be reflective and therapeutic.  

5)  Sign up for a conference or an EdCamp - Collaborating with educators is a great way to snap oneself into a more positive mental spot.

6)  Assist a family in need - There's just something about helping others that makes most people feel good inside.

7)  Lean on your faith - Often times we lose focus of our faith in times of stress and anxiety.  

8)  Get Creative - As a classroom teacher I often believed the more dynamic my lesson the less I would have to manage.  Simply put, I tried to make learning exciting.  It was a great feeling to see the smiles on kids faces.

9)  Take Pictures - This is one of my favorite things to do.  I take my phone or iPad out and click pictures of people in happy spots.  I enjoy sharing these photos with others and spreading the joy.

That brings me to my final number.  Number ten is one that has the ability to fluctuate.  Number ten often is more about others than it is about me.  Number ten is... trying something new.

Four years ago I tried something new...I started blogging.
Last year @colbysharp and I started the Panthers Podcast.
Just two weeks ago out came the The Warner Star

The latest endeavor is The Warner Star and in a nutshell, it is all about student voice.  My plan is to meet with students, ask a few questions, do lots of listening and share the experience with others as a podcast.  If you haven't listened to the first one, I strongly urge you to click on the link below:

Every day instances occur that have the ability to bring us down, we're faced with the proverbial fork in the road.  We always have a choice in how we react.  

How do you pick yourself up in times of stress?  What do you do to feel a sense of happiness?  Do you share joyful moments?


Monday, November 24th:  String Team 3:45pm
Monday, November 24th:  No after school clubs this week
Tuesday, November 25th:  Admin meeting 9am
Thursday, November 27th:  Happy Bday to Laura Smith

Thanksgiving Break Wednesday, November 26th until Monday, December 1st

Articles Worth Reading:

Flipped Mindset @Glennr1809

Making it Stick @Jeff_Zoul

Videos Worth Watching:

Super Cool Science Experiments with Kevin Delaney and Jimmy Fallon (4 min)

Ellen shares Technology of yesterday with today's kids (7 min)

Life is your Talents Sir Ken Robinson (10 min)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What if...

What if everyone strived to be better tomorrow than they are today?

What if all kids had a loving family?

What if all schools and all families partnered together to help kids?

What if people stopped making excuses?

What if all families read to their kids?

What if educational systems could be proactive instead of reactive?

What if our government put education as a priority?

What if we all had fewer families in our schools living in crisis/poverty?

What if so many kids didn't grow up in split households?

What if diversity was embraced by everyone?

What if people didn't gossip?

What if more people were willing to step out of their comfort zone?

What if everyone took time each day to be thankful?

What if all people were kinder than necessary?

What if "your word" was your most important possession?

What if we stopped giving participation ribbons?

What if our main goal was to teach students how to learn?

What if people didn't take disagreements personal?

What if gifted students had the same supports as struggling students?

I assume some people will read my list of What If's and call me a dreamer.  For me, I'm good with that.  I strive to improve every day and I do this through learning, reflecting and experiencing.  I compiled the above What If's over the course of last week.  At one point I counted 36 "What If's," then I decided to narrow.  My final count is...19.  If you could add just one to my list, what would #20 be?


Monday, November 17th:  4-5pm Lego Club
Monday, November 17th:  Happy Bday to Chris Kline
Monday, November 17th:  3:45 String Team
Tuesday, November 18th:  1st Grade to Safetyville
Tuesday, November 18th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Wednesday, November 19th:  Grades K-2 Assembly 8:45
Wednesday, November 19th:  3pm Writing Share with Brad Wilson (In Mrs. Brugger's classroom)
Wednesday, November 19th:  3-4pm Board Game Club
Wednesday, November 19th:  3:45 String Team
Thursday, November 20th:  CP Federal Credit Union in the PM
Thursday, November 20th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Thursday, November 20th:  School Board Meeting 6:30pm
Sunday, November 23rd:  Happy Bday to Suzanne Gibbs

Articles Worth Reading:

Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids? @HuffingtonPost

It's the Poverty, Stupid @HuffingtonPost

8 Things You Should Never Feed To Dogs and Cats @alternet

There is always something good @pernilleripp

5 Ways to Make Your Classroom Fun (not chaotic) @Angela_Watson

I've Been Doing This For The Past 13 Years... @justintarte

When you say, #GeniusHour "isn't enough"...You're missing the point @ajjuliani

Roots and Wings @Jeff_Zoul

9 Tips for Smarter Teaching with YouTube @TeachThought

The 10 Most Important Questions You Can Ask Yourself Today @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

All about sharing... (3 min)

School should take place in the Real World (16 min)

#MyFamilyIsWeird (2 min)

Ellen goes to Target...this is awesome! (3 min)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What came first the Chicken or the Egg?

I'm throwing a wrinkle at the age old question.  Here's my version -

What comes first healthy school culture or strong test scores?

The obvious statement is, do you have to choose?  

I view myself as a life long learner and much of my learning comes from reading, listening and personal experience.  A couple of books I've gained a lot from are:


"Good people know that high stakes testing has limited value and they keep operating anyway.  They don't let testing get in the way of doing the good work they want to do to get kids prepared for life.
-Todd Whitaker

Todd's exactly right!  Most schools are working as hard as possible and it is imperative to focus on helping kids be prepared for life.

I interact with many educators on a regular basis and I hear three things that come up over and over. 

1) Data Driven
2) Budget 
3) Test Scores

Recently I heard these topics come up and I simply stated, "That's a shame. Shouldn't we be focusing on students?  

A few days ago I had a debate on social media about data and culture.  I found myself frustrated. During my educational career I've watched the pendulum shift multiple times.  I see times where the focus is squarely on numbers and then I've also witnessed times when relationships take center stage. What I'm about to share may be viewed as a weakness, but I stand by my beliefs.

At the heart of a successful school/classroom/district is putting relationships first.  My philosophy is this:  An atmosphere that puts students first, focuses on relationship building and establishes an environment where students love to learn is one where the data will take care of itself.

I'm not a Data Hater, but I've come to learn that data can be manipulated and often doesn't tell the whole story.  Have you ever had a parent approach you and tell you they want their child in a certain school because they have strong test scores?  

I have.  

My response is often one that creates dialogue.  I share our philosophy, our programs and our passion for kids.  I don't share scores or data.  It simply isn't my focus.  

When I hear parents bring up test scores I sometimes feel disconnected.  I'm a parent.  My child's test scores are not a big priority.  When I think of a school for my kids I think of these things:

1)  A school that is safe
2)  Educators that are passionate 
3)  A school that is welcoming to families and student-centered
4)  Opportunities & Programs for students
5)  A school that my child enjoys

As I share all of that I feel the need to also share a story about data.  A while back I was sitting at my classroom desk.  I was looking at my class list and I was checking my notes. What I was doing was simply going down the line and trying to gauge or predict how my students would do on an upcoming social studies test.  As I finished looking at my list I confidently believed that my class average would be between 87% and 92%.  My test was not a piece of cake, it was twenty-six questions long and had a mixture of Bloom's Taxonomy.  

Before I handed out the test I sat on the corer of a desk and I looked at my class.  I told them that I was very confident that they would do well.  I told them I really didn't think I needed to give the test. At this point one of my students said, "It's okay, Mr. Gilpin, we're ready!"

That night I took the tests home and graded them.  My class average was 89%.  As I looked at the data I discovered two questions tripped my students up.  I was confident that my wording was the issue, not the students' knowledge.

To me this was valuable data.  Not a standardized test score.  

This Week's Big Questions:  Where do you stand?  Is data at the center of your decision making or is it about relationships?


Monday, November 10th:  AM Tornado Drill
Monday, November 10th:  Conference Week
Monday, November 10th:  Book Fair Opens
Monday, November 10th:  4-5pm Lego Club
Monday, November 10th:  3:45 String Team
Tuesday, November 11th:  Veteran's Day
Tuesday, November 11th:  9am Admin Meeting
Tuesday, November 11th:  PTO Conference Dinner for Staff
Tuesday, November 11th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Wednesday, November 12th:  Grades 3-5 Assembly 8:45am
Wednesday, November 12th:  3-4pm Board Game Club
Wednesday, November 12th:  3:45 String Team
Thursday, November 13th:  PTO Conference Dinner for Staff
Friday, November 14th:  Picture Retake Day 9 - 12pm
Friday, November 14th:  Happy Bday to Angie Pratt
Sunday, November 16th:  Happy Bday to Katie Powers

Articles Worth Reading:

The letter Y @jonharper70bd

Videos Worth Watching:

Arms Wide Open... (16 min)

Dog Tested...Dog Approved! (30 secs)

Egg Russian Roulette (4 min)

Videos on Ellentube... (2 min)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Eggshells in the classroom?

One of the most famous educational quotes ever spoken was by George Evans.  He stated, "Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way."

My belief is similar, I believe all students can succeed.

A few years ago my son had a student in his classroom.  The student's name was Wade.  The year my son was in class with him was a real struggle.  As a parent I heard my son complain about the boy. Each time I sat down with him and listened.  Then I encouraged him to stand up for himself, to speak with an adult and I also taught him to walk away.  Day after day the stories continued. As parents we talked with the teacher and we were assured the situation was being monitored closely.

Unfortunately it wasn't just that Wade pushed and hit, he also made the learning difficult in the classroom.  Our son came home with marks on his paper.  I asked him what these markings were...Drew said, "Wade wrote on my paper."  I could tell young Wade either had it in for my child or was disrupting the learning environment for many kids.

Then it happened.

I received a phone call from the school.  I was informed that my son had fallen off a piece of equipment and he was hurt.  My wife went and picked him up.  When she walked in she could tell Drew wasn't himself.  He looked groggy and sad.  She immediately decided to take him to the doctor and have him checked out.  Before she left she asked Drew what had happened.  Drew said, "Wade pushed me."  I know my wife and I know that inside she was fuming.  Once they arrived at the doctor Drew was taken back for an x-ray.  After a bit of time the doctor came out and told us...Drew had a broken arm.

As parents we said all the right things and told him he was going to be fine.  I also told him that his Uncle Nick broke his arm as a boy and he turned out to be a doctor.  We really tried to pump Drew up.  But inside we were both at our wits end.  Our family endured a trying year, we met with the school and the teacher, but those were just band-aids.  We had to get our son away from young Wade.

As a parent this story is how one child can destroy a safe learning environment.  As an educator I will share this...

I believe all kids can succeed!  I will stand behind that statement for the rest of my days, but take a good look at that doesn't say all kids will succeed in every classroom or every school. As educators we must solve the complex puzzle of students.  How do they learn best?  What are their motivators?  What are the strengths and weaknesses? Education is not a one-size fits all approach. Being an educator has allowed me to experience many success stories.  I live for the underdog that turns things around and flourishes!  Yet occasionally we are thrown with severe challenges.  In my 15 years of education I have witnessed so many successes that I can't even count them.  Unfortunately I have endured some unfortunate events that still sit with me.

Five years ago I had a child that was simply on the edge.  There were many days that nothing negative would occur.  But then something would set the student off and when he lost it, it was like an explosion went off.  I'll never forget the time I watched the student throw a chair, swear profusely and whip a pair of scissors at people trying to help him.  After this occurred the general consensus was fear.  Day to day I could see the fear in classmates eyes.  Many students did not want to interact with the boy.  It was an atmosphere of walking on egg-shells.

As educators we tried hard to NOT poke the bear.

So this leads me to my thoughts.  When we talk about creating a successful and safe learning environment we often think this includes ALL students.  But what if ALL doesn't mean ALL?  What if one student creates an unsafe learning environment?  Does this then mean, The Good of All Supersedes the Good of One?

I used to believe ALL meant ALL.  Now I believe this, the one thing every family expects is their child will be safe and have the opportunity to learn.  This is expected.  

My stance has evolved over time.  Personal experiences have shaped my beliefs.  If one student creates an unsafe learning environment or disrupts the opportunity for others to learn, we as educators must be willing to put the needs of the whole over the needs of one.  I still believe all students can succeed, but maybe not in a room with 25 other students.

This Week's Big Question:  Have you ever had one student change the entire dynamic of your classroom or school?


Tuesday, November 4th:  PTO Meeting 7pm
Tuesday, November 4th:  9am Tech Meeting
Wednesday, November 5th:  CP Federal Credit Union Assembly (All grades in Gym) 8:45am
Wednesday, November 5th:  Report Card data due
Thursday, November 6th:  Tornado Drill AM
Thursday, November 6th:  4pm School Improvement Meeting
Friday, November 7th:  Report Cards go home
Friday, November 7th:  Staff Meeting 8am in Mrs. Struck's room

Articles Worth Reading:

Dear Teacher @TonySinanis

No More Scores, Only Feedback @Jennifer_Hogan

Making Connections @DJrSchug

Silver Linings @Jonharper70bd

Learning Walls @Jeff_Zoul

Making Difficult Parent-Teacher Conferences Easier @gpescatore25

6 Changes Towards Personalized Learning @pernilleripp

Partner with Parents @scholastic

2 Secret Tricks of Highly Productive, Self-Disciplined People @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

Wheel of Impressions with Kevin Spacey (5 min)

Ellen sends "Scandal" to a Haunted House... (2 min)

The Best of Ellen Scares... (2 min)

Voices of #michED (1 min)

Together... (2 min)

Crazy...just crazy (2 min)