Monday, October 5, 2015

If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you

Principal ponderings...
It's that time again.  Time to do some self assessments and decide on our goals.  Some of you will be starting a new one year or two year cycle for educator evaluation.  Some of you are in the middle of a two year cycle and will either continue with your goals you set last year or decide to make adjustments.  I want us all to think about the title of this post...if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you.  Maybe some of you are saying 'I don't want to change, everything is good just the way it is.'  If you are thinking that way, then you might be stuck in a fixed mindset.  We want our students to have a growth mindset, and that means we all need to work to make sure we are challenging ourselves and moving from a fixed to a growth mindset.  And fortunately, our goals can help us with that!

You have a lot to consider when you begin to plan and write down your goals.  First, you might want to think about our school improvement plan.  I just had our first school council meeting last week and began the discussion with the council about our new SIP goals, as well as what we accomplished last year.  While we are still writing the new plan, I will share with you some of my initial thoughts about what I plan to take on as challenges this year in order to bring about more positive change.  One goal is an easy one because we wrote it last year as a two year goal.  This goal will focus on technology integration and taking a closer look at how exactly technology is spread throughout the standards, along with beginning to develop a plan on how to improve our technology integration in classrooms.  Last year, one of my goals was to develop a communication plan that focused on communication between the school as a whole and families.  Now that we have that plan developed and have been making improvements with how we communicate between the office and parents, I would like to begin to look at developing a communication plan for teacher/parent communication.  As far as academic goals, our school goals will focus on how we begin to improve our writing instruction and how we transition students to a new math curriculum.  Those are just my beginning thoughts about school improvement plan goals; you might think about how your goals will tie into the school goals.

You might also think about how your goals can be team goals.  Maybe there is an area that your team wants to focus on.  The work put into team goals, the collaboration that happens throughout the cycle,  the potential peer observations, and the great discussions can be very powerful and lead to a lot of growth.  Check out this video clip that is part of the ed eval clips create by DESE last year.  Click the link to hear about the value of team goals from teachers around MA.

You are also most likely going to think about your year last year.  Was there an academic area that you feel you need to improve in?  Did your student assessments point to one particular focus area?  I have the same conversation with many people that I evaluate.  They are worried that they will set a goal and they won't achieve it.  I want to remind everyone that by setting a goal that challenges you to make changes in your teaching practice and working towards your action steps, then you will have taken the first step towards achieving quite a bit.  Just like we are looking for growth in our students, I am looking for growth in our staff.  Setting goals and working together towards them ensures that there will be growth.  Even if you don't hit the mark, you will certainly be moving in the right direction to the target!  

What will your goals be this year?  Will they challenge you and change you?

Currently reading:
After a week of visits to the book fair, my book purchases pile was quite large!  One of the books that I bought and read right away was This Book Just Ate My Dog.  This is a very cute picture book that will be a great read aloud for K and 1.  Students will definitely want to interact with this book!
Another sweet, simple book that I purchased was called I Wish You More.  I love this book!  I can definitely see teachers using this book to do a writing extension with or simply using this book to engage in a great conversation with students.  It is a book that could help with discussion about growth mindset! 
I started reading a book that I have heard great things about and was even recommended to me by one of our 4th graders this summer.  It's a graphic novel called El Deafo.  This is actually a graphic novel memoir where the author shares the story of growing up and going to school with a hearing aid called The Phonic Ear.

Events this week:
Monday - Dianna out of the building at a training, after school Mandarin class in ELL room 3:30-4:30, after school Latin class in the library 3:30-4:30
Tuesday - Dr. Rodriguez visits FR in the am
Wednesday - Picture Day! Grade 2 chorus practice in the gym @ 2:25, Staff meeting @ 3:30
Friday - Cynthia Lord visits FR! (Gr 3/4 @ 9:30, Gr 2 @ 10:30, Gr K/1 @ 1:00), Dianna and Liz at SLT meeting @ Prescott in the am

Great things I noticed last week:
  • Mrs. Kavanagh's class was showing her that they could read color words.
  • Students enjoyed visiting the book fair during library time.  There were so many good book purchases!

  • Thank you to the PTA and the volunteers who helped run the book fair this past week!
  • This 3rd grader was very proud of his hard work paying off on his spelling test.  Love that happy face!

Check it out:
I love this guided reflection that uses metaphor to reflect on learning in a meaningful way!
If you are on Twitter, check out #MathMindset...I'm working on a future post about this topic.
Came across this list and I love it!  60 ways to help students think for many are you doing with your class?

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