Sunday, June 15, 2014

Taking risks and growing

Principal ponderings...

You made it!  How did we get to this day?  It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming students off the bus on the very first day of school.  It is truly amazing how time flies!  Once again, I am amazed by your dedication to our students.  Your enthusiasm and love of all children is inspiring.  I know some of you will be taking courses over the summer, possibly teaching summer school or working other jobs, but I do hope you take some time to relax and take a break.  You all deserve time to put your feet up.

I want to thank you for all of the hard work you put into continuing to grow as educators this year.  You accepted the challenge of trying to provide a truly standards-based math curriculum for your students, complete with appropriate common assessments.  You all worked hard to learn a new educator evaluation system, including understanding how to best utilize Evernote.  You helped us become a school who believes that every student needs lots of time in front of books.  You began the difficult task of looking at your classroom libraries, reorganizing, leveling books, re-evaluating how you use the library with your students.  I am so excited about the massive amount of work that the lab teachers and Grace did this year in terms of reader's workshop.  I am so impressed with how our reading coach and your peers took on the challenge of being lab teachers and then went way over and beyond what was expected.  We will all benefit from their commitment.  The students in their classes have already begun to reap the rewards.  I am excited about the possibility of having instructional leaders in our building with classrooms that will be open for everyone to visit and learn from them as you all begin to implement the reader's workshop model in more depth next year.  You have become innovative teachers who have been integrating technology into your classrooms.  Looking forward to more new and interesting ways that we will help our students become 21st century learners who are ready to be part of a global education.

There is a poem that I have given out in the past called "The Hand Holders."  The first line is so true: "There is no job more important than yours."  You have all excelled at being the "keepers of the future."  I know that in the next few days you will say goodbye to your class and send them on to the next grade and the next teacher, for some of you, even onto the next building.  You should be proud of the amazing foundation you have given them.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite little inspirational stories:
Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile spring soil.

The first seed said, "I want to grow!  I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth's crust above me...I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring...I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!"  And so she grew.

The second seed said, "I am afraid.  If I send my roots into the ground below, I don't know what I will encounter in the dark.  If I push my way through the hard soil above me, I may damage my delicate sprouts...what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them?  And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground.  No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe."  And so she waited.

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

Moral of the story: Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life.

Thank you for creating classrooms that encouraged our students to take risks, to get dirty, to think, to solve problems, to build friendships, to help others, to play, to inquire.  And thank you for taking risks as educators this year, thank you for trying new ways of teaching, trying new assessments, trying new classroom environments.  It has been a true pleasure to watch you and your students grow!

Enjoy this last week.  Enjoy your summer.  I look forward to working with you next year!

Currently reading:
My summer reading list is growing and growing and growing!  Here are just a few of the books that I hope to read this summer:
What books are on your summer reading list?

Events this week:
Monday - Kindergarten Meet Your Teacher @ 4:00-4:30, Multi-age play performance @ 9:30 and 4:45
Tuesday - Report cards should be completed and teachers will be conducting a final check, Mr. Coronis and class field trip to SU at 9:30, Meet and Greet with new assistant superintendent, Katie Novak, 3:30 in the FloRo library
Wednesday - 4th grade moving up ceremony in the PAC @ 9:30, school-wide end of the year assembly in the afternoon (more info to come), Staff gathering at Maureen's house
Thursday - Last day!  Step up day to meet new teachers and classmates @ 9:30, Dismissal at 12:15, no lunch served
Friday - Summer vacation begins!!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • We had a special presentation on Monday for two of our students.  Anthony and Kaiden were recognized as young heroes because one morning this past winter when their mom fell at home, they were the ones to call 911 and make sure that she was taken care of.  They knew exactly what to do, and as a result, mom received care right away and is fine.  Anthony and Kaiden were recognized by lots of special guests, and they got to have a very special ride home in a fire truck!

  • Students had lots of fun singing along with Mr. Wiesner during field day.
  • Our half day K students got the chance to spend the full day with us.  It was very exciting to get to eat lunch in the cafeteria!
  • Mrs. Goddard ordered lots and lots of awesome beads so that all of the students got to make cool necklaces during the art station of field day.
  • Mrs. Kineen created lots of fun stations on the back field, and thankfully, we had no rain!  I watched 4th grade using their muscles during tug-of-war.
  • The dunk tank was a very popular station on the playground.  I have to say...we have lots of kids with really good aim!  Thanks to Mr. Dave, Mrs. Cahill and Mrs. Fulreader...the brave souls who joined me in being dunked.  Here is the princess seconds before being dropped into the water...

And I have to say....seeing the smiles on the kids' faces every time one of us got dunked...priceless!
Check it out:
A great post about how one teacher figured out how to make more authentic book clubs:
Another book list for you!

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