Monday, November 7, 2016

Leave, leaves and more leaves!

Principal ponderings...
It's that time of year.  All of those beautiful, colorful leaves in the trees that we loved to watch on a Sunday drive are now on the ground.  They just aren't as pretty when they are covering your yard, walkways, driveway, gutters...

It's also that time of year for...parent conferences.  As I was spending time this weekend raking up leaves, leaves and more leaves, I couldn't help but think that there are a lot of similarities between raking leaves and parent conferences.  Yes, raking leaves is a tiring process, just like how meeting with every parent individually can be tiring, but that was not the connection I want to make.

I feel like the leaves are all of the little nuggets of information that you know about a child.  All of the nuggets that families know about their kids.  All of the nuggets that the school has come to know about a student.  At a parent conference, teachers have this urge to rake up all of those leaves and get them into a nice pile or load up the tarp or bag with every single leaf.  But here's the reality.  You are not going to be able to rake up every single leaf.  And if your pile gets too large, you are going to have a hard time sharing all of that information with the parents.  

We raked a ton of leaves this weekend.  We used the leafblower.  We dragged full tarps to dump in the woods.  And this morning when I looked out at my yard, do you know what I saw?  Leaves.   We will need to rake more on a different weekend.  We will need to clean leaves out of the gutters.  We will not get every single leaf.  

You have a ton of information about each child that you can share with parents next week at conferences.  But you do not have a lot of time.  And besides you sharing information with parents, you might actually want to gather more info from the parents about their child.  You will not be able to share every single piece of information with the parents.  And that's ok.  Just like I will be spending another weekend raking and another weekend cleaning out have all year to communicate with parents.  And you should be communicating throughout the year.  At this point, you have already been talking with parents, sharing newsletters or blog posts, talking on the phone, or maybe even already meeting face to face.  We definitely need to be keeping parents informed, and parent conferences is one way to share information.  But know that it is not the only way and the only time to communicate.

I gave some suggestions last year in this blog post about preparing for conferences.  Feel free to check back on that post.  Whether we are talking about raking leaves or conferring with parents, they are both physically demanding tasks that can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed.  There will always be leaves to rake up and there will always be nuggets of information to share with parents.

Don't let your leaf pile get too big!  There are so many leaves and never enough time to get to all of them.  The important part is that you are taking the time to rake, to gather information, to share, to communicate.

Currently reading:
I am excited to start reading a new book called The 5 Love Languages of Children.  I am going to participate in an online book study that will start Nov. 14.  We will read a chapter a week and discuss it on Voxer.  Let me know if you are interested in joining in.
I am also enjoying reading the book Booked by Kwame Alexander.  It is a novel told in verse so it's a quick read, but it's definitely heartfelt and always interesting to see an author use fewer words to convey a message.
Since we have Grace Lin coming at the end of the month...I will be delivering lots of her books to classrooms this week.  She has written picture books, easy reader chapter books and chapter books.  Here's one of her picture books that you may have heard of: The Ugly Vegetables

Events this week:
Monday - Para meeting @ 9:00, School Council Meeting @ 3:30
Tuesday - Picture Make-up Day, Election Day
Wednesday - Workout Wednesday! Building Leadership Team Meeting @ 8:30, 1st grade chorus @ 2:25
Thursday - Thankful Thursday! Kindergarten Nashua River in house enrichment program, Hoops for Fun begins @ 3:15
Friday - Veterans Day, No School!

Great things I noticed last week:

  • 2nd graders from Ms. Johnson and Ms. Hoke's class were explaining to me how they were using their knowledge of place value. 
  • Kindergarten had fun doing different Halloween activities. 
  • 2nd grade enjoyed a special music enrichment program on Friday; they were singing and signing!  
  • Dr. Novak thought that filling my shoes for a day would mean putting her feet up and relaxing...oh boy was she wrong! 
  • I enjoyed presenting about UDL at the MESPA Fall Conference on Thursday.  I also really enjoyed hearing the keynote speaker, Alan November talk about being a connected educator and making sure to connect our students.  Check out his site here.  I also attended a great session all about implementing data teams, improving the SST process, providing strong intervention and how to organize all of this through Google drive. 
Check it out:
Interesting article to challenge our thinking about timed math facts tests:
Here is a post that is part of a new series about assessment in writing:
Great video about "famous failures"...

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