Monday, May 2, 2016

Have You Thanked a Teacher Today?

Principal ponderings...

I know we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week a little early, having activities the week before April vacation.  But did you know that this week is technically the official Teacher Appreciation Week?  If you don't believe me, you can read President Obama's Presidential Proclamation here.

Obama states in his proclamation:
"Our future is written in schools across our country. It is likely that the first person who will go to Mars is in a classroom today. Our students are our future teachers, scientists, politicians, public servants, and parents -- a generation that will steer the course we will take as a people and make possible things we have not even imagined yet. We look to the women and men standing in front of classrooms in all corners of our country -- from cities to reservations to rural towns -- to vest America's daughters and sons with the hard skills they will need to put their dreams within reach and to inspire them to dream even bigger. On National Teacher Appreciation Day and during National Teacher Appreciation Week, let us ensure our educators know how much we value their service in the classroom, how much we appreciate all they do for our students and families, and how thankful we are for their contributions to our national progress."

I wonder...have your students let you know how much they appreciate you?  Or have you had students that you have had in the past come back and tell you about their success?  Success that happened because they had you as a teacher?  When I think back over my elementary school days, there are definitely two teachers who made a difference in my life, and I appreciate everything they did for me.

The first one was Mr. Page, my first grade teacher.  It was because of Mr. Page that I fell in love with school.  He did not do anything that different from the rest of the teachers .  But I remember that he took an interest in each of us.  He made sure that we all felt like we could share about our lives in the classroom and that we mattered.  I remember being in the hospital when my brother was born, and I asked my mom, "Can I call Mr. Page and tell him the good news?"  And I did call him!  When I returned to school, he also let me share a poem I had written about my new baby brother.  Mr. Page made us all feel like we had a lot to share.  He also knew how much I loved reading (go figure!), and because I didn't really fit into the colored reading groups, he would let me go to the school library and read.  Not sure if many teachers would have let that happen.  Thank you Mr. Page!

The other teacher who had a big impact on me was Mrs. Simmons.  She was my 6th grade teacher.  We had just moved to a new state, new city, new school.  The elementary school went up to 6th grade so I had one final year in elementary school when we moved.  It was a big move from a farm in a small town in Ohio to the big city of Virginia Beach.  There were two things about Mrs. Simmons that I remember and appreciate.  First, she knew that I liked to write.  So she pushed me to write to the paper.  She pushed me to write letters and share my opinion.  She pushed me to enter into writing contests.  She pushed me to write for our school newsletter.  One of my letters to the paper ended up with a reporter coming to our school and doing a story on an event that we were doing.  And for one of the contest I entered, I actually won!  (Funny, thinking back, I remember that one of the contests was to write what writing in the year 2000 would be like.)  The other thing that I remember about Mrs. Simmons was that she welcomed a special needs student into our class, Damion.  Back then, inclusion was definitely not common place.  But Damion came to our classroom and Mrs. Simmons made sure that he was part of our class community.  He always had the biggest smile on his face.  Mrs. Simmons helped put that smile on his face, and she opened my eyes to the importance of inclusion and just plain kindness to others.  I actually had the opportunity to thank Mrs. Simmons years later.  I was selected to attend a special writing program one summer when I was in high school, and I invited her to a special ceremony to thank her.  I am so appreciative that I had Mrs. Simmons as a teacher.

How about you?  Think back.  Which teachers had the biggest impact on you?  If you were to write them a letter thanking them, what would you tell them?
Currently reading:
I'm excited to start reading two new books that came in the mail last week!  The first one is a professional development book called Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  It is filled with lots of scenarios about dealing with change, and I know it will be helpful as I plan for a summer presentation about change in school.
The other book that I really excited about reading is called The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.  I have heard about this book from some other readers, including Donalyn Miller, and it sounds like it will be a good read.  It is written in verse, as the students share poems about their school since it is closing after they finish the year.  Can't wait to start reading it!

Events this week:
Monday - 3rd grade starts PARCC testing this week - all 3rd grade doing ELA session (90 minutes) @ 9:30, Clark and Roundtree 4th grade canoe trip
Tuesday - Coronis and Mills 4th grade canoe trip
Wednesday - All 3rd grade ELA PARCC session (75 minutes) @ 9:30, Potter/Smith and Nissi 4th grade canoe trip, Eric Carle Enrichment program for K and 1st, Staff Meeting @ 3:30
Thursday - Canoe rain date, Eric Carle Enrichment program for K and 1st, Grade 2 Eyes on Owls program in the am
Friday - Kindergarten chorus practice @ 9:30am, All 3rd grade ELA PARCC session (90 minutes) @9:30, 4th grade Garden Club starts after school

Great things I noticed last week:

  • On Tuesday, many members of our crisis team spent the afternoon taking the refresher course.
  • I was drawn into the music room when I heard lots and lots of drumming.  I saw these 2nd graders trying to read the notes that Mr. Wiesner was challenging them with on Wednesday.
  • I was sad to say goodbye to this 2nd grader on Friday.  She will be attending a new school on Monday. 
  • Our students did an awesome job participating in the Special Olympics on Friday.  Thank you so much to everyone who cheered them on when they returned to school! 

Check it out:
Informative post about integrating technology into writer's workshop:
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Newest MESPA post about making sure to give kids time to have unstructured play:

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