Saturday, March 29, 2014

Living in Crisis

Today started our Spring Break and for me it kicked my concern into overdrive.

I realize that as the Lead Learner I need to be in classrooms as often as possible, I need to connect with students, assist teachers, support staff and engage our community in sharing our story.  BUT over the last eight weeks I have had my heart tugged on more than ever.  

I've met with parents and had very honest conversations about home, school and parenting.  Many parents have opened up to me and some have even become emotional.  I've also met with a myriad of students...and there is a common many of our students are living in crisis.

Here is a recent story I feel compelled to share.  This past week I learned of an altercation between two second graders.  I was very surprised by one of the students involved, but not surprised in the slightest with the other.  I made sure to call the students down to my office to discuss what occurred.  The student that was assaulted gave me some background information and then told me what happened.  The other student simply looked at me and nodded.  He then said, "Yup, that is what happened"...then he began to get angry. He started to raise his voice and he said, "I'm mad, IT IS okay for boys to hit girls!"  I quickly learned that the entire situation stemmed from a discussion.  One boy said girls can hit boys, but boys cannot hit girls.  The other boy argued this point.  The two went back and forth until one boy assaulted the other.  I now had important information, so I sent one boy back to class and focused on the anger.

This eight year boy had a lot of anger and he was still adamant that it is okay for boys to hit girls.  I asked him why he thought it was okay?  He then shared two stories with me that told of a MUCH BIGGER ISSUE!  You can only imagine where the conversation went.  For the next 15 minutes I tried to counsel and educate the boy.  What I chose to not do, is simply punish.  This is a boy, no a family that is living in crisis.  

My second story is from earlier in the week.  I was approached by a bus driver and the driver was really struggling with a couple of young girls.  I went down to see one of the students and then we went for a walk.  As we walked, we talked about how her first year at Warner was going.  She shared several positives and only a few negatives.  As we continued I felt as though she was holding something back.  We got to my office and sat down at the table.  We talked about her interests, her friendships and her sisters.  Then the conversation shifted.  She informed me that they were going to be moving soon.  I shared my disappointment with her.  Then I asked a few questions about home.  She explained some things that really disturbed me.  She talked about "live in boyfriends" and an overall lack of attention at home.  For the next several minutes I sympathized with her, I told her how I would feel if I was in her shoes and as we talked the tears came...she cried a lot that morning, and I think she truly felt better after she let it out.  I said as we started to wrap up, "I hope you know I will always listen and try to help."  She smiled at me and said, "Can I come see you tomorrow?"  I smiled back and said, "Absolutely!"

What breaks me up is that since that day she and her sisters haven't been to school.  This is another family that is living in crisis.

At the end of the week I sat down with our Social Worker, Colleen.  We talked about these situations and more.  Then I said to her, "How many kids do we have that are living in crisis?"  For the next three minutes we were able to name more than 25 right off the top of our head.  No lists, no notes...right off the top of our heads!  I then said to Colleen, "Imagine the number if we had class lists in front of us." We both simply shook our heads.

This gets me to my final thoughts.  I'm sure we get upset with students that don't do their work.  I'm sure we become frustrated with students that get aggressive and lash out at others.  We may even get angry when our students make the same errors over and over.  I challenge you to - understand, sympathize and invest in the individual.  I will guarantee every single educator can picture a student that they know is living in crisis.  Those individuals need our kindness and caring more than anything else. How do you help?  How do you give them the support, love and patience that they are clearly lacking? 

This Spring Break I will try to catch up, I will focus on my family, but I will also worry about my kids that are living in crisis.  

This Week's Big Question:  How do you support your students that are living in crisis?

Articles Worth Reading:

Wide Turns @Jonharper70bd

Feel Like A Number @jcordery

Videos Worth Watching:

Who would you play for? (3 min)

Do You Teach or Educate? (3 min)

This kid is remarkable! (10 min) 

Sheldon tries yoga?  Anything holding you back? (2 min)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Extra Things Make a Big Difference

It's that time of year...Spring...this means Kindergarten Round-Up and Parent Tours.  I will admit I enjoy giving parent tours.  This gives me a chance to share all the great things going on at Warner Elementary.  When I first began giving tours four years ago I always offered them to parents after school.  The first few times I did this I finished up with parents and felt disappointed.  I was disappointed because the positive atmosphere our students bring was missing.  It was then that I decided to shake things up and give tours during the school day.  I do not take parents into classrooms, we simply tour the building and talk about all things Warner!  What always makes me smile is when our guests comment on how positive the building feels. The colors, the smiles, the's something that cannot be replicated after the students leave.  Think about showing off your classroom...what's the key ingredient in any room?  The kids!  

I mention all of this for a reason.  This year I have noticed a theme amongst parents.  Every parent that has toured our building has asked similar questions. They ask about curriculum, test scores, schools of choice, class size, safety and the BIG ONE that always comes up is about extracurriculars and additional programs for students.  You might be wondering why this is a BIG ONE.  What I have learned is that, "The Extra Things Make a Big Difference."  Most parents expect their child to learn and be safe...then when you start to compare schools you are looking for those things that set a school apart.

When I talk about our extracurriculars with parents I mention all of these things:  Our Western String Team, 5th grade Drama Club, After school Arts, Engineering in the Elementary, Warner K'Nex, Lego Club, Minecraft Club, Spanish Club, several Youth Athletic programs and our Boy and Girl Quest Teams.  When I mention these programs immediately I see a new level of excitement in the parents. Here's why: After school programs are a way for students to find their niche.  Parents want their children to be happy and after school programs are a great way to build happiness and self-esteem. I also view extracurricular programs as an opportunity.  This is another way schools can "Tell their Story."  I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Students are the best storytellers!"  If students go home and share the wonderful things they experience at school this lifts up families and ultimately our community.

Today was our Warner 5K, and I will guarantee that I'm biased, but it was fantastic!  The event had an aura about it.  Everyone was excited, happy and positive!  It's an amazing event when you constantly hear people cheering each other on!

I'm proud of the atmosphere we have at Warner Elementary.  I fully realize it is because relationships are the priority.  The focus is on the person not the program.  I hope more people realize that "The Extra Things Make a Big Difference."  In the past 8 weeks I have heard so many positive comments about our Minecraft Club and the bubbling enthusiasm for our after school Lego club.  These activities have added a new dynamic to Warner.  We can all find ways to support our students and school...maybe you are involved in committees, maybe you attend your students' after school events, maybe you help run an extracurricular activity...the opportunities are endless.

Years ago I tried hard to clear my plate of all the extra things, I now realize that the extra things are what make the difference.

This Week's Big Question:  Do you get involved in the extracurricular activities?


Monday, March 24th:  1:1 Tech Leadership Meeting at 1:15
Monday, March 24th:  Reading Posters are due
Monday, March 24th:  Minecraft Club 4pm
Monday, March 24th:  Teachers/Staff meet in the Library after school to discuss Reading Month Finale
Tuesday, March 25th:  3rd Grade Field Trip
Tuesday, March 25th:  Minecraft Club 4pm
Tuesday, March 25th:  BDay Lunch for March
Wednesday, March 26th:  Grades 3-5 assembly at 8:45am
Wednesday, March 26th:  Reading Assembly for Lower Computer Lab at 8:45am
Wednesday, March 26th:  Minecraft Club 3pm
Wednesday, March 26th:  String Team 3pm
Thursday, March 27th:  Reading Month Finale in the Afternoon!
Thursday, March 27th:  Pajama Day Dress-up
Thursday, March 27th:  Kelly Gooch visits in the AM
Thursday, March 27th:  Reading Logs are due
Thursday, March 27th:  SAU Panel Discussion for Educators 6pm
Friday, March 28th:  Spring Break begins

Articles Worth Reading:

After Spring Break some new ideas to try +Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

We Must Create Room For Failure and Mean It +Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

Inspiring!  +Justin Tarte @justintarte

Attracting the Best Talent +George Couros @gcouros

If I had a Sledgehammer... +Nicholas Provenzano @thenerdyteacher

10 Risks Every Teacher Should Take With Their Class +A.J. Juliani @ajjuliani

63 Things Every Student Should Know In the Digital World +Terry Heick @TeachThought

I'm Glad You Were Here When It Happened @Jonharper70bd

Lily's Crossing #nerdybookclub @Suz_Gibbs

Take a Chance, You May Surprise Yourself +Shannon Degan @shannondegan

Meeting Students Where They Are. Virtually. +Crista Anderson @cristama

10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel
(I Love #5)

Videos Worth Watching:

This is sure to make you HAPPY! (2 min) shared by +Andy Losik @mrlosik

If you do nothing else...WATCH THIS!  Powerful, Inspiring, Motivating...and it makes me think #GenuisHour & #MakerMovement #PBL (10 min)

Explorer Story:  What is your passion? +Andrew Vanden Heuvel @avheuv  (2 min)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Story Is Being Told?

Just the other day I read an online article about education.  The article talked about increased safety in schools, more tools for students than ever before and individualized professional development for staff. The article was very positive and lifted me up.  Then I scrolled to the comments at the bottom of the page.  In a word...disappointing.  Person after person bashed education.  I chose to stop reading.  The sad thing is that I left with a bad taste in my mouth rather than feeling uplifted.

So this got me thinking.  What story is being told about our school?  What story is being told about our classrooms?  Who is telling the story?

In the very near future Standardized Test scores will be released to the general public.  When this occurs I'm sure the negative bashing of education will increase exponentially!  We will all hear how we are failing our students.  We will be told that education is broken.

I believe we have three options, but if you read between the lines you only have one real option:

1 - Make excuses and blame others...this is a popular option.  It is called deflecting.  This is when an educator blames government and leadership for lack of funding/resources. Sometimes parents are blamed. Deflecting tears down communities and simply doesn't work, in fact it often makes things worse. Unfortunately too many educators choose to blame, make excuses and deflect.  I urge you to not be a deflector.

2 - Do nothing. Assume that the way you've always done things is good enough.  I see this from many educators.  My 2 cents...the World has changed.  If you believe staying the same is a positive, I'm afraid to say you are very wrong.  The saying goes, "If you're not improving you're going in the wrong direction."

3 - Tell Your Story!  Try to outweigh the negatives with positive stories.  You have an opportunity each day to tell your story.  Do you?  Are you sharing the wonderful things that happen in your school? Are you sharing the fantastic things that take place in your classroom?  

Recently +Tony Sinanis and +Joe Sanfelippo began a Podcast that is all about Branding.  It is called BrandED you can click on the link to take you to the podcasts.  I encourage all educators to listen to these podcasts.  First of all they are all approximately 12 minutes long.  In my opinion that is very manageable as far as time.  Second, the ideas and knowledge you gain will help you share your story.  Whether you choose to listen to one of them, or all of them, they will lift you up!

At this point you may be asking yourself, why do I need to tell my story?  Here's the fact, +Eric Sheninger states, "When we don't tell our story someone else will.  When we don't tell our story 9 out of 10 times it's not the story we want told."

Think about your classroom or your school, what do parents and community members say about your classroom?  What is the perception of the school?  If we sit back and believe our school or classroom is not a topic of discussion we are being naive.  Community members and parents constantly talk.  They talk on Social Media and they talk Face 2 Face.  Is this the true story?  

We have an opportunity to share what is happening in schools and classrooms more now than at any other time in history.  I take tremendous pride in our school and I want to share it with the World!  Just this past week we had so many phenomenal things happen at Warner.

First, @julieoliver333 and her students @JOliver3rdgrade were featured in an article on +CNN You can read the article - Genius Hour: What Kids Can Learn From Failure

You might ask, how did this happen.  +Julie Oliver has been sharing #GeniusHour activities on Twitter for months and @CNN has noticed!  The power of POSITIVE social media.

Second, last week we had @gibbychip attend our Annual Doughnuts with Dad event.  Leanne then went back and shared the positives in this article - Sweet Morning at Warner Elementary kicks off Reading Month

Third, we are fortunate to have not one, but two ladies presenting at MAJOR Michigan Conferences.  @studiobree just presented twice at #macul14 and @Suz_Gibbs is presenting in three sessions at the #MRA14 conference.  Both of these ladies stepped out of their comfort zones and submitted proposals. I'm extremely proud!

Fourth, just recently our own +Melissa Moffitt was named Jackson Area Teacher of the Year by @JacksonMagazine

My point is, look at all the things to celebrate!  What does our community focus on?  Standardized Test scores or the amazing things happening in our school.  Are we telling our story?  If you're not I have a few suggestions to help you get started.

First, share the good news EVERY DAY!  Think about it, each day our kids go home and each day parents ask, "What did you do today?"  Instead of having this be the routine, we should have parents connected.  Parents should have an inside look into the learning.  This would be powerful, kids would then get home and parents would say, "I saw what you did today, tell me more about it."  This would be truly meaningful.  

How can we share every day?  There are lots of ways.  Teachers can have a Classroom Twitter account, Classroom Facebook account, Daily emails, Animoto...the possibilities are endless. Basically the tools are out there, it's just a matter of using them.  If you aren't telling your story someone else is.  My advice, parents want to connect. Parents want to know their child's teacher.  You're with their pride and joy for 6+ hours a day.  When you reach out they want to feel your passion and pride for what you do.  Parents don't want simple facts and regurgitation.  They want to connect!  When you share, are your parents getting to know you better, are they feeling connected?

Second, get your students excited about learning.  The best storytellers are the kids...period.  If the kids dread school this is a bad thing.  We need students to engage and want to come to school.  Then when they get home they will share the positives of the classroom.  This POSITIVE story will reach farther than any of us can.

Third, get involved in some way.  I encourage educators to attend an extracurricular event of your students.  If you have a student that you struggle to connect with, go to the event.  I bet your relationship with the student will turn around pretty quickly.  Think about the message that would send to the child and to the parents.  That's POWERFUL!

Times have changed, if we are aloof and simply believe the Status Quo is acceptable we are wrong. Now is the time to rethink learning.  Are we getting students engaged?  Are we giving students a global voice?  Are we connecting with parents on a personal level?  Are we telling our story?

This Week's Big Question(s):  What story is being told about your classroom/school?  If you don't know how to begin to tell your classroom story are you willing to ask for help?

Next Week At A Glance:

Sunday, March 16th:  Happy BDay to Becky Holton
Monday, March 17th:  1:1 Tech Leadership Meeting in Boardroom at 3:45
Monday, March 17th:  Preschool Visits to Cherubs AM and PM
Monday, March 17th:  Minecraft Club 4-5pm
Tuesday, March 18th:  Linda Urban Author Visit
Tuesday, March 18th:  Wear your class shirts day!
Tuesday, March 18th:  Minecraft Club 4-5pm
Wednesday, March 19th:  Assembly with K-2 (make-up for the snow day last week)
Wednesday, March 19th: 3:30 - 4:30 Tech PD with Brad Wilson at Warner (topic is Video Discussion Board and Student Responses)  HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
Wednesday, March 19th:  Minecraft Club 3-4pm
Wednesday, March 19th:  After School String Team
Thursday, March 20th:  Doughnuts with Mom at 7:45am
Thursday, March 20th:  Turn in reading logs
Thursday, March 20th:  Tornado Drill in the ready in the lunchroom...hint, hint.
Friday, March 21st:  2nd Grade to the Air Zoo and 4th Grade to Lansing
Friday, March 21st:  Dress-Up like an Everyday Hero
Saturday, March 22nd:  2nd Annual Warner 5K 9am for 5K run/walk and 10am for Kids run
Saturday, March 22nd:  Thought1 Basketball Game at Western HS 7pm.

Articles Worth Reading:

Would You Want To Be a Teacher In Your Classroom? by +George Couros @gcouros

Thank You and a quick thought #MACUL14 +Nicholas Provenzano @thenerdyteacher

50 Crazy Ideas To Change Education (I love this!) +TeachThought @TeachThought

There Should Be No Invisible Children +Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

Things That Have Me Thinking... +Steven Anderson @web20classroom

10 Tips for engaging all students @edutopia

Dear Students: You are so much more than a test score +Angela Watson @Angela_Watson

What Do We Do When Genius Hour Fails... +A.J. Juliani @ajjuliani

40 Things I know about education +Tony Sinanis @TonySinanis

Take it easy on them... +Joe Sanfelippo @Joesanfelippofc

8 Things You Should Never Give Up For A Relationship +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

8 Raunchy Things Runners Do and Why @ShutUpRun

Videos Worth Watching:

Powerful!  This is student created!  We must be thinking big when it comes to what our students accomplish. (3 min)

Be More Dog!  Are you more dog or cat?  Check this out... (1 min)

Spread the word!  This is fantastic! (8 min)

Password Rant!  Sure to make you laugh out loud. (3 min)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Meat & Potatoes

Today our district had a great opportunity to take differentiation to new heights.  As I sat in on the morning presentation I listened and I agreed with many things John shared.  He talked about the need for a "Growth Mindset", he talked about "Student Engagement", he talked about "High Quality, Tier 1 Instruction" and he talked about "Relationships".  I agree with ALL of this!  As I walked away I had a feeling that he turned the rest of the job over to us.  We all understand the importance of differentiation, but now we need to figure out the "Meat & Potatoes" of how that looks in the classroom.

Let's put our cards on the table right away...Differentiation is not a BUZZ word.  Differentiation is here to stay.  

I believe educators want to differentiate and meet students' needs.  I just don't think all educators know how.  So this is my follow-up to John Sougstad's presentation on the need to differentiate.

First, as an educator you need to be willing to fail.  You will have days when you miss the target, but you can learn from those mistakes and improve.

Second, start small.  If you attempt to overhaul you will feel overwhelmed. 

Third, truly understand your students!  What makes them tick? What are their triggers? What are their passions? To find this out give your students surveys, conference with them one-on-one, go to their extracurricular events, pay close attention to the books they read, and analyze their body language.

Fourth, review the data.  It's vital to have a clear picture of your students' strengths and weaknesses. Analyze test scores, formative assess daily, conference and pay close attention to student confidence.

Fifth, give students choices.  Choices allow for independence and ownership.  This includes book choices, writing topics and flexibility to work with others or solo.

Sixth, as I've mentioned, differentiation can occur in your delivery methods or how students show what they know.  This greatly depends on your comfort level.  You can adjust the content for students.  You can also adjust the activities the students do.  As far as students showing what they know, the options are infinite.  My suggestion is to think about the multiple intelligences.  I tried to give suggestions to students based on the multiple intelligences.  My suggestions were always designed to encourage, not enable.

Seventh, collaborate with others.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they were busy...let's just say I'd be running on the beaches of Maui!  Resources are all around us.  They could be across the hall, on twitter, checking out blogs, looking at iTunesU and that is only scratching the surface.  If you think you're the only one that is dealing with differentiation you're wrong.  Every educator is trying to meet student needs.

Eighth, ask for feedback.  Student engagement will tell you "most" of what you need to know.  I also think it would be beneficial to ask colleagues, parents, students and administrators for constructive feedback on how differentiation looks in your classroom.  If you have a willingness to ask that shows a "Growth" Mindset.

Ninth, enjoy your planning and preparation.  Differentiation takes time and a passion to plan.  The days of a ONE-SIZE LESSON are gone.  Years ago you may have been able to complete lesson plans in a short amount of time.  It you are intent on meeting students at their instructional level, the planning will take time.  The Boy Scout motto is - Be Prepared!

Tenth, don't give up if it doesn't work!  Anything worth doing is worth doing well. The best things in life take hard work.  My favorite is - F.A.I.L. - First Attempt In Learning  

Some examples of differentiation include Project Based Learning, Genius Hour, Open-Ended Science Projects, Free Writing (open topic), reading by interest/passion.

Differentiation in the classroom takes time.  Let's not lose sight of the goal which is, What's Best for Kids.  I'm positive that we all can admit that meeting students at their level is what is best for kids!

If nothing else I hope that differentiation has you thinking...has you reflecting.  Are you meeting all student needs?  I remember my first couple years in the classroom.  I remember believing that the mark of a good teacher was to have grades ranging from A's to D's.  This range showed that I was challenging, it proved I wasn't a pushover in the classroom.  How wrong I was!  Shouldn't my goal have been to have all students succeed?  Every classroom has a wide variety of academic levels, but this isn't about equal, this is about helping all students be successful.

What are your thoughts?  Did I miss something?  I'd love to hear feedback on how you differentiate the learning in your classroom.

This Week's Big Question:  What does differentiation look like in your classroom/school?


Saturday, March 8th:  Happy BDay to Jen Reed
Sunday, March 9th:  Happy BDay to Micki Archer
Monday, March 10th:  1:1 Tech Meeting at 1:15pm
Monday, March 10th: Minecraft Club 4pm-5pm
Tuesday, March 11th: Lockdown in the PM (last week's was cancelled because of the assembly)
Tuesday, March 11th:  Minecraft Club 4pm-5pm
Wednesday, March 12th:  Assembly grades K-2
Wednesday, March 12th:  Minecraft Club 3pm-4pm
Wednesday, March 12th:  String Team after school
Thursday, March 13th:  Reading Logs Due
Thursday, March 13th:  Happy BDay to Lisa Prichard
Friday, March 14th:  SportsWear/College Gear dress-up day
Friday, March 14th:  Emily Sioma our Jackson Rosequeen Visits in the PM

Articles Worth Reading:

We'll Be Counting Stars @Jonharper70bd

How are you telling your classroom or school story? @BrandEDPodcast @Joesanfelippofc @TonySinanis

Videos Worth Watching:

Did You Know 2014! Powerful...just watch! (8 min)

Brotherly Love!  If you want to see a touching story of love, determination and teamwork this is it! (10 min)

Need some inspiration?  Check this 4 min clip out!

Troy Gilpin's #iCreate song (2 min)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Monkeys can teach good kids

Throughout life we have events that stick with us and mold us into who we are.  

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was a student at Tri-State University and I was assigned a 7 week assignment in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  When my professor informed me of the assignment I took it in stride and was very excited to get started.  Two days later I was pulling into the parking lot of a school in downtown Fort Wayne.  The locked gates and endless concrete were very new to me.  I had always grown up in a rural community and this was different.  I met the Principal upon entering the building. She informed me of my placement and then spoke with me about the procedures and expectations.  I was going to spend the first couple hours in shop class and then I would switch to history.  As we walked to the shop class I noticed the students were wearing uniforms.  She informed me that this was a new procedure and it had drastically reduced gangs and violence in the school.  Needless to say, my eyes were WIDE open.

As I entered into the shop class I quickly felt a buzz in the room.  There were roughly 40 students in the classroom and they all were busy working on something.  The atmosphere was fantastic, but the weird thing was I couldn't find the teacher.  Then I noticed a small gathering around a desk.  I walked over to check it out and I found an older gentleman kneeling by a desk.  He looked up and introduced himself as Mr. Scott.  After about five minutes he finished helping a student and came over to talk with me.  I asked him how many students he had, he said 38.  I then told him I was impressed, every student was engaged with something.  I then told him that his room was the first one I had ever entered where the teacher was not the "central" figure.  He chuckled and told me that he empowers the students to problem solve.  I was in awe of his classroom.  It had a constant noise...but it was a very productive noise.  Students were working hard on projects of all sorts.

Over the course of the seven weeks I learned a lot. Some of the best lessons I learned happened when my professor came to visit.  I'll never forget when we sat down and conferenced about one of my lead lessons.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, "Monkeys can teach good kids!"  I gave him an odd look and scrunched my forehead.  He continued, "Think about it and you'll understand."  At first I wasn't sure if I should be confused or offended.  Then I looked at him and said, "I think I get it. A true teacher teaches anyone that walks through the door."  He nodded his head in approval and then added, "Too often teachers play the blame game.  What separates teachers isn't how you do with the good's how you make a difference with the students no one wants."  

Whoa.  I now understood why I was sent to inner city Fort Wayne.  My professor wanted me to embrace any student that walked through my door.  

During the last week of my practicum, I met with Mr. Scott.  We sat in his room and had lunch.  I began asking him for advice.  His words will forever stick in my head.

Q: What advice can you give me about classroom management?

A (from Mr. Scott): Your best form of classroom management is an engaging lesson...PERIOD.

Q:  You have 38 students in class, do you find this challenging?

A (from Mr. Scott):  Nope.  I invest in my students.  I know them on a personal level and because of this we have a high level of respect for each other.  Every student wants to know their teacher cares...and I'm not talking academics, students want to know that you care about them as a person.

Q:  Isn't it tough to create a lesson that all students learn from?

A (from Mr. Scott):  My rule is the 85% rule.  I fully expect 85% of my students to understand and learn from my teachings.  I also expect 15% will not always understand.  This is when I get a chance to re-teach, get creative or utilize my lunch hour to meet with the students.

Q:  What happens if more than 15% don't understand the concept?

A (from Mr. Scott):  If more than 15% of my kids don't understand my teachings I simply...GO LOOK IN THE MIRROR!  I take responsibility that my teachings didn't hit the target.

Mr. Scott then told me that too often he enters the teachers lounge and he hears excuse after excuse.  He told me to be my students' champion.  He said, "Ben, if you are student-centered and genuine, your kids will love you and learn from you...students need to know you care first and foremost."

This experience impacted me far more than Mr. Scott can ever understand.

Everyday I try my best to connect with students.  I see students that are hurting and I see students that love life.  

If every student that walked through our door was happy, above grade level and had involved parents, our roles would be fairly easy.  What makes teachers special is our willingness to teach anyone that comes into our classroom.  No excuses.  That's what truly defines a teacher...a teacher connects, cares and is a champion for their students.

This Week's Big Question:  Are you your students' champion?


Monday, March 3rd:  Reading Month begins (Poster Contest kicks-off)
Monday, March 3rd:  1:1 Tech Meeting at 1:15pm
Monday, March 3rd:  Minecraft Club 4-5pm
Monday, March 3rd:  Conferences
Tuesday, March 4th:  Admin meeting 9:30am
Tuesday, March 4th:  Minecraft Club 4-5pm
Tuesday, March 4th:  Conferences
Wednesday, March 5th:  Assembly for grades 3-5
Wednesday, March 5th:  Minecraft Club 3-4pm
Wednesday, March 5th:  String Team 3-4:30pm
Wednesday, March 5th:  iCreate Poetry Celebration at the Michigan Theatre (6:30pm)
Wednesday, March 5th:  Conferences
Thursday, March 6th:  Conferences
Thursday, March 6th:  Lockdown in the PM
Friday, March 7th:  NO SCHOOL, Professional Development begins at Bean 8:30am

*  Most people have met with me for Mid-Year Evaluations.  If you have not scheduled a time please do so this week.  (note...this is all staff, not just teachers)

Articles Worth Reading:

This is why you should do #20Time in your school +Nicholas Provenzano @thenerdyteacher

Small Moment PD or How To Be a PD Ninja +Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

Are you teaching Content or teaching Thought? +Terry Heick @TeachThought

100 of the BEST educational games for the iPad +TeachThought @TeachThought

10 images to get you thinking +Justin Tarte @justintarte

5 Tips to Foster a Love for Reading @teachingwthsoul

8 Things To Look For In Today's Classroom +George Couros @gcouros

Life's Toughest Tests Don't Require A Pencil @Jonharper70bd

Teacher Leadership Doesn't "Just Happen" +Daisy Dyer Duerr @daisydyerduerr

Broadcasting School Events +Jessica Johnson @PrincipalJ

3 Emotions That Drive Deeper Learning +A.J. Juliani @ajjuliani

4 Ways To Live Today, and Not Merely Exist +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Battle of the Kids' Books #nerdybookclub

Best School Stories from the Best School Storytellers @BodyMindChild

Videos Worth Watching:

Attitude Reflects Leadership... (1 min)

This is a classic...sure to make you smile! (6 min)

Sacrifice...touching story. (13 min)

Lessons from the Mental Hospital...authentic...powerful. (17 min)

Congratulations Melissa - @MoffittMelissa on receiving Top Teacher recognition!  I'm a very proud principal and friend!