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)


  1. I feel like I was waiting for this post because I am always in awe when I look at your weekly calendar of events. Oh to be a a kid at your school. And you are exactly right. The coursework is the main course, but it's the extra stuff that is the dessert that makes the meal exciting. Great post!

    1. I like how you put that...the main course and the dessert, and what kid doesn't love dessert!

      There was a point that I tried to clear my plate, I felt stretched or out of balance. What I've discovered is that clearing my plate made me feel average, adequate. I wanted to strive to be my best and to make school better than what I had. I'll continue to be involved and my plate will always be full...because I wouldn't have it any other way.

  2. Great post, Ben! We're living in exciting times! Glad to be on this journey with such a great team.

    1. Super excited to walk along side of you through these times! Keep up the amazing work. You are a Champion for your students!