Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gaudy Goals

Principal Ponderings....

This past fall I had the opportunity to attend the ASCD Educational Leadership National Conference.  This past weekend I was going back over some of the notes I took while at the conference.  The keynote speaker the first morning of the conference was Eric Jenson.  His topic for the keynote address was 'Leading with the Brain in Mind.'  Something that he discussed and I have been processing in my brain for a while is an idea he called 'gaudy goals.'  He stressed the importance of not creating wimpy goals for ourselves or for our students.  James Cameron, the director of the movie "Titanic", one of the highest grossing movies of all time, said, "Set your goals ridiculously high and you will fail above everyone else's success."  So what does that type of goal setting look like for our school?

Setting 'gaudy goals' means setting goals so high that you can't achieve them until you grow into someone who can achieve them.  It means looking at your class and saying 100% of my class will meet the benchmark in reading.  Or everyone in my class will demonstrate an understanding of fractions.  We have to be willing to fail, but more importantly, we have to be willing to challenge ourselves and set high expectations.  If you set a goal that is easily achievable...what's the point?  You want to set a goal so high that when you share it with your team members they look at you like you're crazy, their jaws drop, and they say, "Are you out of your mind?"  If you get that response, then you know you have set a gaudy goal.

During Jenson's talk, he showed us some brain research.  The next time you are doubting what you are doing or you think there is no way all of my students can reach a goal, think about this: There have actually been studies done that show structural changes to the brain after only 5 days of intervention!  If instruction from a teacher can change the brain in only 5 days...think of what you can do for your students over the course of a month, a trimester, a year!  If you set high expectations and provide relevant, purposeful instruction...you will change students' brains which will ultimately lead to greater student achievement.

What is your jaw-dropping, brain-changing, gaudy goal going to be?

Currently reading:
I have been reading Touch Blue, a book by Cynthia Lord.  Cynthia Lord is an author who lives in Maine.  We are fortunate that the PTA is paying to have her come visit our school!  In March, she will be coming to speak to our 3rd and 4th graders about the writing process.  I ordered several copies of all of Cynthia's books for our school.  She has written several chapter books as well as several picture books.

Events this week:
Monday - No school, Martin Luther King Day
Tuesday - 3rd grade team meets with Grace and Sharon in pm
Wednesday - SPED teachers at training, 2nd grade team meets with Grace and Sharon in am, 1st grade team meets with Grace and Sharon in the pm,  Grade 4 Chorus concert @9:30 in the PAC, 3rd grade electricity program in classrooms in the afternoon, 4th grade students perform the pledge @ School Committee meeting, 7:00 at the high school
Thursday - 4th grade team meets with Grace and Sharon in the am, Kindergarten team meets with Grace and Sharon in the pm, Grade 4 Chorus concert @7:00 in the PAC
Friday - Breakfast will be provided by Liz, Dianna, Carol, Lorinda and Maureen!  2nd grade field trip to the library (Jacques and McEvoy), Grade 4 Wild about Weather program

Great things I noticed last week:

  • 3rd graders in Mrs. Guernsey's class were experimenting to determine which materials were conductors and which were insulators.
  • Mrs. Riley's first graders were working with Mrs. Wynn to collect data and create their own bar graphs.
  • Mrs. Cragg's first graders were diving into non fiction by sorting some of the books in their classroom library into different topic piles.
  • I also caught some 4th graders reading non fiction in the hallway.  I will be trying to "catch" more readers and post my pictures on our front lobby bulletin board so be on the look out for readers in our building!

Check it out:
Take a look at this video clip...the oldest working teacher...she's 100!
A really great post about 8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong: http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/01/08/8-things-to-remember-when-everything-goes-wrong/

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