Thursday, February 19, 2015

Talent, Optimism, and Love

Ashley, Bailey, & Ken did a great job with these three topics yesterday! (The nerd in me has to give mad props to the Prezi that was shown as well! Great Job!)




Courage, Play, and Recovery

WOW! What a meeting! Orinda Benbow, Molly Kleine, and Jenny Bredemeier put together a fantastic "stations" approach to our book club meeting last week! Pictures demonstrating our activities can be found in this Google Drive folder.
(You may have to sign in with your account to view the files)
Here are a few samples:









Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Let's Get It Started!

Wow! What an amazing first session! Many, many thanks to Jean Kilpatrick-Ruebner and Jenny Bredemeier for all their help, planning, and leadership!

Our very large group started out with introductions and a brief description of what we wanted to gain from these meetings:

Our Take-Aways (in no particular order - sorry if I missed yours!)
  • New ideas, 
  • Invigoration, 
  • Relax, 
  • Have fun, 
  • Recharge, 
  • Collegiality, 
  • Learn about the Ron Clark Academy, 
  • Warm fuzzies, 
  • Positivity (Is that a word? Well, it is now!) , 
  • Absorb ideas to become more effective, 
  • Inspiration, 
  • Personal growth, 
  • Reflection, 
  • Reignite passion for teaching, 
  • Gather energy

We went through the basic "administrivia" paperwork that is required for such activities. Next we developed a sign-up for group facilitation & treats. I was VERY IMPRESSED with how quickly the "Facilitators" columns filled up! We'll work out treats and what-not later. THANK YOU ALL for getting in there and helping out! 

Our focus this evening was on the first 2 chapters of Crash Course: Chemistry and Magic. Some of the important lessons we learned from these 2 chapters included:
  • Relationship-building is essential - With both students AND with teachers. 
  • Look for ways to inject your personality into classroom activities, AND look for ways to encourage kids to express their personalities (appropriately) into their work & activities, too!
  • NO FEAR! Try new things, ask questions, explore... 
  • Teach respect for both school and others through daily activities.
  • Teach the expectations, reinforce and reteach. Soon these will become second nature, both for kids and for teachers. 
  • Home visits are a great way to establish a foundation for a positive relationship. 
  • It is harder to build relationships as students get older. Shorter-term classes are also a challenge. For middle school kids, know your sports - it helps.
  • Consistency works! Focus on the positives!
  • Every child wants to be seen. Make sure every child in your classroom is seen and recognized as a person as some point. 
  • Some kids respond to hugs. Some respond to a positive message via Chromebook. Find what kids respond to by trying! NO FEAR!
Our next meeting is Wednesday, February 4, 2015. Molly Kleine, Jenny Bredemeier, and Orinda Benbow will lead our session. Orinda and Christinel Cain will provide snacks. As always, we'll meet in the Board Room at Lincoln Education Center from 4-5PM. Committee Pay and Professional Development Hours are available, and all are welcome!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcome to the Dream Big Book Club!

The Dream Big Book Club is beginning Wednesday, January 21 from 4-5:00 at the Board Office.  We will be discussing Kim Bearden's book, Crash Course - The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me.

A schedule of meetings is found at right. For the first session, we'd like you to have read the preface, the introduction, and chapters 1 & 2, Chemistry and Magic.  If you'd like to do the "homework" at the end of each chapter, feel free, but it will NOT be a requirement for the book club members. We want this to be fun and stress free for all of us!

BIG NEWS! Thanks in part to a NEA Learning and Leadership grant, attendance at these hour-long meetings will be paid at committee stipend rate!

Contact Jean Kilpatrick-Ruebner or Matt Jacobson if you'd like to attend! All are welcome - at least until we run out of chairs - but we'd like to know how many to plan for so we bring enough snacks!

We hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Part 4: Reaching Out Beyond the Classroom

79. Teach parents the correct way to tutor their children. 

Clark holds parent-tutoring meetings to help parents understand the assignments that students will be bringing home during the upcoming week/chapter/unit, etc. Is there something similar happening at your school? Would this work for you & the parents you serve? Why or why not? How might you modify this idea to make it work for you and your school?

80. Build strong bonds with parents. 

Clark invites parents to Field Days and asks them to participate in some interesting ways. Could this work in your school? In what other ways might you engage parents to build strong bonds with staff?

81. Ask the hard questions - "What do you want this school to be?" 

What would your "dream school" be like, in terms of culture, community, policies, and performance? What do you think your parents want your school to be? Do these ideas mesh? How could you find out?

82. Join parents, teachers and community members together to create "theme days" for the school. 

How does your school bring parents in as helpers in the classroom or in the school in general? Do you find the presence of parents helpful and supportive, or does it feel like "something else"? How might you use Clark's ideas in your classroom to engage parents more deeply into their children's education?

83. Accept the fact that if kids like you all the time, then you're doing something wrong. 

"Set your expectations high, hold kids accountable, and show them that you won't take less than their best." (p. 268)
How do you feel about this quote? Are you loved by your students? Are you also respected by your students? How do you know this?

84. Recognize that the heart of the school is the teacher. Hire the best and never settle.

 "...the best indication of the success of a teacher's lesson is the students' body language and attentiveness." (p. 270)
I think this is good advice. How about you?

85. Always observe a teacher applicant teaching a lesson before offering him or her a job. 

Do you have a lesson you wish you could have videotapes to show to your administrator or a potential employer? Just one, or are there more? So, why haven't you already recorded it? Could you prepare every day's lesson as though you were going to be videotaped? Why, or more importantly, Why not?

86. Teach children the history and symbolism of their home and school.

The research project suggestion on page 277 is a wonderful idea. Talk this over with others at your school, including your building administrator. I'll bet you'll be surprised by what kids find - even if it's an annual project.

87. Remember that children are literal thinkers and, as adults, we really have to spell out what we mean.

Have you ever had that moment when you thought you explained things clearly but found that your message to students was not as clear as you had intended? Tell us about it.

88. Remember that the little things can make all the difference. 

Self-explanatory, isn't it?

89. Provide lessons in life that will become lessons for life.

Kids really are the same everywhere, but something happens that helps some set themselves apart from others. How do you teach life-lessons - ones that may or may not be directly associated with your curriculum - to help your ordinary kids become extraordinary? What could you do differently next year?

90. Uplift the students who have the furthest to go. 

It's fun to work with the kids who "get it." It's fun to find them and help them go even farther. Working with the struggling learner is hard. Often we move beyond the role of content-learning-specialist and into the realm of Mentor and Advocate. How have you seen teachers in your school give that extra effort to help make sure kids felt like they belong, made sure kids' basic needs are met, and built kids up so they could succeed?

91. Allow teachers the freedom to make their rooms reflect their personalities - allow them to use color! 

How does your room reflect "you"? What sort of creative things would you like to try to help students understand "who you are"?

92. Let the students shine. 

How do students display pride and ownership in your classroom community? In your school?

93. Leave the jealousy at the door.

Can you identify the nay-sayers in your building? (Not out loud, of course) How do you handle your interactions with them?

94. Realize that you never truly know all that is going on in the life of a child. 

'Nuff said.

95. Raise our children to be global citizens.

How do you help children understand and connect with the global community?

96. Recognize the big cost of the big dreams.   

Have you found any success in getting donations of time, resources, or money to your classroom? How did you do it? Do you work with anyone who has?

97. Reach out to the community to build a powerful network. 

How do you engage the larger community - beyond just the parents of your students - into your activities & classroom? What could you do to get started? 

98. Once you have donors, work hard to keep them!

See above. How do you show your appreciation for the time and resources donated to your classroom? 

99. Send thank-you letters that are hand-drawn, colorful, and grammatically correct. 

Misspellings may be cute, but do they send the message you want others to receive? Besides Clark's ideas, how else might you show your students' appreciation and creativity?

100. If you need advice, ask for money. If you need money, ask for advice. 

Is asking for help is always better than telling people exactly what you need?

101. Make your goodbyes mean something. 

When students leave your classroom in a few weeks, what will you want them to say about their experiences with you? Have you been able to live up to that every day, all year long? 

Here's a challenge: Start the year off by imagining what students will say in May about their time with you. Write it down. Revisit it often. Plan every day according to what those things say about how you run your classroom. It's hard work, but it will be worth it!