Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Future Looks Even Brighter

Principal ponderings...

The beautiful sunny Sunday drove home the message that summer really is just around the corner.  It's hard to believe that the school year is almost done.  Even though we only have a few weeks left, for me, the approach of summer means the wheels in my brain are already spinning for next school year.  When I was a classroom teacher, even though this was the time that I was frantically trying to get everything in before the last day, it was also the time that I would think back over the year and jot down ideas and goals for next year.  While I was still in the midst of everything, I felt like I was more likely to plan and visualize what I would do differently.  How would I improve?  What changes would I make?

So this is the time for us all to think about this question: What do I need to work on to be better next year?

On Friday, you may have seen the school leadership team meeting (and yes, painting!) in the library.  Several administrators had participated in a book chat about the book, Mindset.  We talked about how we can apply a growth mindset to teaching, as opposed to a fixed mindset.  If I was an educator with a fixed mindset, then as the year winds down, I would be thinking that I am a great teacher, I don't need to listen to feedback, and I don't need to worry about improving.  I am talented and I will just keep doing the same thing next year.  BUT, if I was an educator with a growth mindset, then I would embrace the challenge of a new year, I would accept feedback, and desire to keep improving because I know that ability is continually developed.
During my weekend blog reading, I came across a post where a teacher had developed a list of 50 end-of-year self-probing questions for educators.  I read through his list and pulled a few out for us to think about.  These questions will help you dig deeper as you think about the big question: What do I need to work on to be better next year?

  • If I were my teacher this year, would I have liked me?
  • How efficiently did I work this year?
  • Did I pay attention and stay connected to my students' interests?
  • Did I build strong relationships with my students?
  • Was our class set up to promote creativity and collaboration or memorization and silence?
  • Was the technology in my classroom used in an authentic manner?
  • Did I balance my personal and professional lives?
  • Did I laugh often with students and colleagues?
  • How many colleagues did I observe in action in their classrooms?
  • Did I participate in a professional learning community outside of my school?
  • Did I share creative ideas and thoughts for school improvement with administration?
  • Did I create the classroom I envisioned and contemplated last summer?
  • Am I a stronger teacher today than when I first stepped into the classroom at the beginning of the school year?
Take some time to ponder the answers to these questions.  And maybe even think of some other questions for yourself.  It is crucial for us to continually self-assess and figure out how we can improve.  Because after you think about how you will improve, then you can let yourself think about an even brighter future when next year's students will reap the reward of your growth mindset!

And be on the lookout...I am working on a survey that I will be sending to all staff to help me self assess.  I know there are many things that I need to work on to be better next year.  I will be counting on all of you to give me some constructive feedback!

Currently reading:
I checked out several books this weekend from our school library.  I read Cynthia Lord's Hot Rod Hamster and the Awesome ATV Adventure!  We have a signed copy from her in our library!
I also read Eric Carle's Have You Seen My Cat?
I read a new addition to the library, Common Ground: The Water, Earth, and Air We Share by Molly Bang.  This small book has big message about our environment.
And I started reading another one of the I Survived series...I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916.  I also took a look at the newest edition of Ask magazine.  Teachers, if you have not looked at these magazines yet, I recommend you do.  It's a magazine with an arts and sciences for kids theme.  If you are looking for some expository writing examples...these magazines have some good, short articles that would be good for models.  I read one titled, "How to Swallow a Crocodile."

Events this week:
**Reminder that it is a PARCC week, see separate schedule from Dianna
Monday - Eric Carle program in kindergarten
Tuesday - Eric Carle program in 1st grade
Wednesday - Grade 3 chorus practice @ 2:25 in the gym, Staff meeting @ 3:30 in the library
Thursday - 3rd grade @ Plimoth Plantation until 3:15, several staff at CPI training at Boutwell
from 12-3
Friday - Para meeting @ 9:00 (Dr. Rodriguez attending and Karen Tuomi), Grade 3 chorus practice @ 2:25 in the gym
Great things I noticed last week:

  • I was invited to a lunch bunch session with some 4th graders.  I had fun playing games like Ned's Head and an emotions card game.
  • I had a great meeting at the high school with Kelly McManus, the high school librarian, Luke Callahan and one of our parents.  We were discussing plans for our library renovation project.  I can share with you that we will be adding lots of new technology to the library this summer...chromebooks, Apple TV, iPads, oh my!  The next exciting meeting before the end of the school year will be with the design committee and a designer whose services were donated by a parent.
  • When I was checking out some books from the library, I found many kindergartners reading.  A bunch of Mrs. Spiczka's students were getting a jump start for this week...checking out Eric Carle books in preparation of the enrichment program happening.
  • When I popped into Mr. Smith's 3rd grade class, I was lucky enough to catch part of their read aloud.  He was reading one of my all time favorites...Wonder!  During independent reading time, students were participating in biography book clubs.
  • Mrs. Cargg's first graders were working on their interactive science journals when I stopped by for a visit.  They were excited to tell me that they were planting!  I hope they are better than me...I definitely don't have a green thumb. :)

Check it out:
Short and simple post: Are you scared of change?
An interview with Cynthia Lord.  So excited to share that we have booked her to return to FloRo in October next year!
Check out this clip...kid letters to Jimmy Fallon.  I guarantee you will laugh out loud or at least crack a smile!

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