Halfway There

livin-on-a-prayer

Ah- BonJovi, the poet.  It’s hard to believe we are halfway through the year!  In fact, the 100th day is just around the corner, as well.  If we could just get past this crazy round of germs, things would be grand.  I have no doubt that the second half will be even more successful than the first.  The students seem so engaged and energized.  Throughout the building, there is so much evidence of a focus on student-centered goals, and growth and improvement as a result.  Thank you for keeping your eyes and heart on the many aspects of our complex work- it is such a joy to collaborate with all of you.  On the subject of gratitude, below I have copied an article/letter from the January 24th edition of Washington Post from a parent who spent time volunteering in her child’s classroom.  She is shocked by the complexity of what she realizes goes into a day in the classroom-if only everyone learns what this mom did. I added the color emphasis:

washington_post_logo

The letter I had to write to my child’s teacher –

by Kim Mower

I was only in the classroom for 45 minutes, but that was long enough to compel me to write a letter to the teacher once I left.

I’ll be honest, I have zero qualifications as it relates to child education. My only qualification and reason for being in a kindergarten class that day is my oldest child is a kindergartner. He attends a public school and I was in his classroom as a parent volunteer.

His teacher had asked parents to sign up to help during the daily Literacy Center portion of the morning. I was excited to go in, see my son in his classroom, and meet his classmates. When I arrived, the class was sitting on the floor, singing, and drawing the alphabet in the air with their fingers. Mrs. G gave me a quick rundown on how I was to help. She introduced me to the class and then quietly asked the children to go to their first center.

They all scattered about. How they knew where to go, I have no idea. Yet each of them bee-lined for specific centers. Mrs. G worked with a small group off to the side while I was charged with making sure the remaining students at three other centers were doing okay. In one area, students chose books from the classroom library and read to themselves, each other, or had me read aloud. The second center was an alphabet game that required turn-taking and letter sounds. I was to mediate the game if they needed help. The third center was a station of computers and tablets that the kids were to log on to and play letter games.

There was a lot going on. There was coughing (so much coughing, so little mouth covering). There was shoe tying. There was making sure Ava, Asher, Jack, Jackson, Luke and Lucy pronounced U, Y, W, Q, K, C correctly (impossible to explain the differences). There was reading a book about butterflies, while helping someone else sound out a word, while tying another shoe. There was figuring out how to get back to the home screen; explaining the greater-than and less-than symbols. Then it was time to switch centers and start all over with different kids playing the game, different kids reading books, different kids needing to log on the computer.

Most everyone knew just what was expected of them and moved between centers with ease when prompted by the teacher. Considering I can’t get my three children to move from the living room to the kitchen for dinner I was impressed how the teacher had managed to get so many children to independently move and start up a different task.

And although I was smiling, I was also spinning on the inside. So many moving parts and so many little moving bodies. So much talking and questions and coughing and laughing. And yet, it wasn’t chaos. This was controlled, but I was overwhelmed. Giving attention to so many kids left me drained. How could a teacher do this every day?

My 45 minutes were up. All the children had rotated through the four centers and were heading back to their seats. There was never an announcement to do this yet they were zigzagging around like ants in the dirt. My son, whom I had asked seven times that morning to go brush his teeth, hadn’t even been told to put his folder away but there he was, like the 16 other kids, putting his folder in a box.

Frazzled, I took this as my cue to leave. I hugged my son and said goodbye to the class and practically sprinted out the door. After I left I had no other choice but to write a letter to the teacher.

Dear Mrs. G,

It’s been more than a few decades since I’ve spent any length of time in an elementary school classroom. After volunteering for Literacy Centers today I left feeling exhausted and impressed. Exhausted because a few dozen 5-6-year-olds are no joke. Impressed because a few dozen 5-6-year-olds knew exactly what was expected of them and moved around appropriately without more than simple prompts. All the kids were enjoying learning; and though I was there to assist, it appeared that for the most part these children functioned independently and lead themselves in the centers. That’s impressive for humans who can’t yet tie their own shoes and still need to be reminded to share.

Thank you for your hard work. It’s work I could never do let alone do so well. I appreciate your gift and feel lucky that my son has you as a teacher.

Many teachers won’t be shocked to hear how this classroom operated; I’m sure lots of classrooms run by great teachers operate similarly. However, I think many parents like myself have no clue what the day is like in their child’s classroom, the moving parts of coordinating children of varying levels of ability with varying levels of opinions and responsiveness. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to participate in their child’s classroom to do so. See and feel what it is like to be in a classroom.

As schools everywhere approach the 100th day of school, I hope parents find the two minutes it takes to jot a quick note to your child’s teacher, an adult who has spent 100 days with your child, teaching, coordinating, coaching. Express appreciation. Report back what your child has learned that has impressed you. Say thank you.

News

  • Kudos to all on the great gains noted throughout the school on the January Reading Inventory (RI)
  • The collaboration and conversations between grade 2-4 teachers and Grace around math data was complex, but such an important beginning to truly understanding our mathematicians.  You will all have time to dig deeper into the data and info throughout the next few months
  • A huge thank you to Jess Marino for hosting our first lab site- I hope everyone felt there was a benefit to observing a peer deliver small group instruction based on targeted student goals.  Breaking down the walls and getting into one another’s rooms will continue to support your learning in all content areas.
  • Mohegan’s special area classes are alive with creativity and excitement- pay attention to the exceptional learning going on in the gym, library, art and music rooms- funky cycles, recorders, makerspaces, modeling clay!  All inspiring.
  • Check with Lindsay Nardone to ask her about how she is now communicating with her parents digitally-the app HOMEROOM!  So easy and awesome.  We’ll make her share with us on Wednesday, I think. She even cleared it with Dan DiVito.

Reminders

  • Please remember to document any professional learning work that you have done on the Google docs that I shared with you earlier this year
  • Our end of the month PBIS data is needed by Tuesday.  Please make certain all of your student behavior info is posted on the Google docs so we know if anyone will not be on the bulletin board this month
  • Do yourselves a really big favor and go to www.teacherlearningsessions.com You can listen to amazing podcasts, including Ask Jen Serravallo, which last only about 7-10 minutes each.  You can sign up to receive the weekly newsletters via email so you are kept informed about any new content.  It’s such a great and easy way to stay current! DO NOT PASS GO- sign up today.
  • Many of you are interested in tackling the framework introduced in the book Mindset by Carol Dweck.  There are many people who have taken her work and added some important practical elements to using the growth mindset in the classroom.  Gravity Goldberg is one such author – she is giving a workshop at West Conn next month.  Here is a link to a podcast where she discusses the ideas in the  book: http://teacherlearningsessions.com/conversation-gravity-goldberg-kicks-season-2-reteaching-podcast/

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, February 1- Faculty Meeting-7:50 am-Dr. Clouet on the budget

  • I will provide breakfast- please arrive in the library by 7:50 am
  • All of the rest of our Wednesday meetings in February will be dedicated to Collab time

Wednesday, February 1- PBIS Assembly/Global Game Day/Sports Clothing Incentive

  • 2:00 pm Assembly- Reader’s Theater- Mrs. Peruzzi’s class
  • 2:30 -3:00 pm Global Game Day celebrations- students will bring in any non “techy” games/toys – play will take place in classrooms.  Teams can mix students among their classes
  • Staff is welcome to participate- Jeans are allowed!

Friday, February 3rd- Super Bowl lunch-mile long sandwich and pizza

Friday, February 10th- Winter Blues Party- 1757 Restaurant- 4:30 pm

  • Please join us for at least a little while- RSVP to Julianne asap!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s