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Teachers and Students Leading Professional Learning

One of the unique ways we have found to support teacher collaboration and growth on our campus this year is through a weekly Staff S’more.  This started out as a one-way communication from admin to teachers, but we quickly discovered that this is the perfect vehicle for teachers to share their ideas, learnings, failures, and risks. It’s also a lot more interesting and has led to many more “conversation starters” than if it’s just admin to teacher. More information on how that came to be can be found in this blog post I wrote a while back.

Teacher Led Professional Learning

So we started off by approaching teachers and inviting them to write the weekly S’More. We were hoping teachers would be willing to share a little bit about what types of things they are doing in the classroom, or want to try, or just what’s on their mind. Soon, teachers began to ask if they could write an upcoming S’More, on a topic that they feel pretty passionate about. For example, next week a teacher will be writing on the topic of teacher burnout.  We are thrilled with the teacher ownership we are seeing in this! Our weekly Staff S’More has enjoyed tremendous success, with lots of views each week and conversations in the hallways that sound something like, “Hey I read your Smore article, can you tell me more about how you...”  It’s one of those rare things that just takes off right from the moment you introduce it and just seems to power itself.

Student Led Professional Learning

This week, one of our fifth grade teachers was working on her S’More feature, which is about Book Clubs.  She had some artifacts, handouts, and descriptions that she wanted to share with teachers along with her article. After a few minutes of discussing the content, she suggested the idea of having her students produce a video, in which they “taught the teachers” about how she implements book clubs. What a fantastically unique idea! Soon, I received the email below, a student-made video explaining to the staff how Book Clubs look in their classroom:

Here is a link to the final S’More for this week, our Book Clubs S’More, which includes the article written by our teacher, the student made video, corresponding instructional ideas from our principal, and additional articles, videos, and other resources that I curated which support the topic.

Throughout this year we have learned alongside each other through this S’More, on topics ranging from formative assessment, differentiation, performance assessments, technology, learning spaces, growth mindset, Genius Hour, math stations, guided reading, and so much more! And now, our plans are to continue to invite students to add to our learning through our weekly Staff S’More.  We are going to ask students to begin sharing their ideas, learnings, failures, and risks…right alongside their teachers. We truly believe that as a learning organization, we can exponentialy grow in our practice by listening to the voices of one another, and that includes our students.  We are very excited for this next phase!

Up Next

In a future S’More edition, our P.E. teacher Mr. Rob will share with the staff about the 21 Days Of Healthy Snacks Challenge, which he launched in his classes this week. He will ask some students to create a corresponding video share to with our staff about how they are engaging with the program. Is the message of healthy eating important to them? Why or why not? How are they implementing this at home, if they are? What challenges have they faced? What solutions can they offer?

I will keep you updated on our teacher and student-led professional learning journey as it continues to unfold this year! What unique ways have you found to infuse teacher and student voice within your learning community? We would love to learn from you!

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Did You Know You Are A Hero?

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Dallas Cowboys stock images.

Today I watched some news highlights of Dallas Cowboys training camp 2014. It reminded me of a day back when my son was 10 years old.  He was attending his first Cowboys training camp. He stood at the fence and watched as the players went through their drills, just waiting for the end of the camp and the chance to get an autograph from one particular player. He was his hero back then. He watched him every week, knew all his stats, and was so thrilled this day to be able to experience a moment with this guy.  It’s hot in July, in Texas. But the discomfort and heat meant little compared to being able to see, and be acknowledged by, his hero. He wanted to grow up to be just like him!

Did you know that to many students, you are a hero? You are who they want to grow up to be like. They watch you, they listen to you. You may be a parental figure to some, or a role model, or a friend.  Each day our students come to school is an opportunity for us to “see” them. To become a part of their lives. To let them know that they are appreciated and that they are important. Because something magical happens for a kid when their hero makes that connection with them.

When my son graduated from high school and joined the Army, he found new heroes. And when he deployed to Iraq in 2009, he found himself being called by that name quite often. Once, in a restaurant while home on R&R, by a stranger who paid for his meal. And I heard him reply,

“Thanks, but I’m not a hero. Heroes change the world – like teachers. I just followed orders”.

Like teachers. It brought a tear to my eye. The man went on to tell him, that he fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. That heroes come in many different forms. And that to some, he did change the world. Their world.

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My son, Brandon, on the left. A “hero” of his on the right, his NCO.

As educators, we have the opportunity to make someone’s day every day!  Teachers really do change the world – through the lives we impact. The confidence we can help build in students. The sense of importance we can bestow on each and every student. The development of things like grit, and growth mindset, and perseverance – we have the chance to shape these each day.

It might be the daily “hello” you give that student who isn’t even in your class, or it might be daily conversations with those who are in your classroom, but there are students who would go through anything just to have that acknowledgment, that relationship with you. To make you smile, and to matter to you – as you matter to them.

Because whether you know it or not, you are a hero to someone.

Really love it when I write a post that lends itself to a David Bowie tune! Thank you for the many heroic things you do for kids every day. I hope you all have a great new school year!

 

 

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What Will Your Legacy Be?


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I spent some time yesterday watching the History Channel. Featured were extraordinary people who left behind an immeasurable influence on the world. I started thinking about people like Martin Luther King, Jr. John F. Kennedy. Nelson Mandela. Michelangelo. What do these people have in common? They created lasting legacies on the common human experience.

Legacies exist on a continuum. They can be for the good, or not (Hitler comes to mind). But either way they leave a mark on the world, they create and shape the world and the people who come after them. A legacy might be one of hope, or peace, or service. It might be a legacy of possibilities, or perseverance, or creativity. It might be oppression, or intolerance. It might even be a system or structure, such as the Peace Corps or the Vietnam Memorial, that symbolizes a collective legacy. Lasting legacies shape and define people. We might be influenced by legacies of a  widespread scale such as these examples, or a smaller scale, such as the legacy left by one’s grandmother, or dad. A teacher, coach, or pastor.

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One thing that I think is important for us to do from time to time is think about our own future legacies. This is a bigger picture idea; we all want our lives to have mattered. It helps move us out of selfishness and live a life with purpose. It allows us to see beyond ourselves and consider our actions and behaviors as they relate to and help to shape or define that legacy. It forces us to commit to something beyond ourselves. To have an impact on a life, or lives, requires unselfish goals and a steadfast commitment to living a life that matters. It requires human connections and authenticity.

In thinking about my own journey,  I wrote down a few ideas that represent significant values and hold important meaning for me. Values and aspirations that, when pursued passionately and fiercely, will hopefully join forces to create that legacy. Here are three of those thoughts:

I want to encourage dreamers to not only have dreams, but chase them. Pursue them with all their might.

I want to validate. For others to know they are valuable simply because they exist. That their personal worth is not something that is up for debate-not now, or in 10 years, or in 30 years…

I want to inspire someone to create, or invent, or produce, or discover, or write, or spend years trying to solve what once was considered a mathematical impossibility.

And then it hit me:

My own legacy might be seen in the legacies that will be left not by me, but by future generations.

I am an educator. Every day, I have the opportunity to do that fierce pursuing, to live out those aspirations and defining values that I hope will become a part of my own legacy. Maybe even to touch the legacies of people yet to grow into their own aspirations. My legacy just might be that of a Legacy Builder.

And I’ll take that.

Here’s to all my fellow Legacy Builders, as you go about  fiercely pursuing your own passions and shaping the legacies to come. I am honored to be in your company.

What might your legacy be? What steps are you taking each day to reaffirm and build upon it?

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Five Ideas For Creating A Classroom Community

http://vimeo.com/64763494

I love the above video “Have A Seat-Make A Friend”, from Soul Pancake. No matter what type of teaching system we are in, be it self contained, team teaching, or departmentalized, creating a community of learners is one of the most important things we can do. Research has shown again and again that students will not open themselves up to learning, or contributing to the learning community, unless they feel safe, respected, and valued.

Building relationships is the key to our work with students, and we strive to help support strong student-to-student relationships as well. As I continue to think about the importance of students feeling connected to the school community (recent post is here), I wanted to share five simple ideas for building and sustaining an authentic classroom community:

1. Celebrate Uniqueness.

Each student brings unique perspectives and ideas to our classrooms. By getting to know our students, and what intrinsically drives them, we can highlight their individual strengths and perspectives.

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I will sometimes ask my students what things are on their bucket list; it’s a great way I’ve found to not only learn about them, but a good way for them to make connections with other kids. We often watch Kid President videos, and through these we have some great conversations which help to build one very important thing: how each of our unique selves are striving for the same common ground. This is a powerful way to model a love of diversity. By posing questions, inviting unique ideas and asking simple “How do you see it?” questions, we open the door for students to feel valued for who they are, individually.

2. Value Mistakes.

The closing of a lesson is a great opportunity to showcase mistakes as valuable learning tools. Often I purposely bring a mistake to our closing sessions. I will ask students to share a mistake they made, and how they worked through it. I identify these instances during the work period and plan them into the closing, so that I am not just highlighting those who got something right, but those who hit a snag! If the mistake hasn’t been worked out, often times that opens the door to rich discussions and collaboration around that mistake. Priceless! This is a simple way to put power behind the words and authentically show the value of mistakes as an important part of the learning process. Being transparent and owning my own mistakes is also a great way to do this. I share mistakes often and freely!

3. Honor Student Voice.

We are wise to give students a voice that matters in our instructional design and assessment processes. Allowing for a variety of ways to show learning is one way to give students a voice in their own learning. Another way is to solicit feedback from students on our own practices. I recently did this here and it was a great learning experience for me! It also solidified to students that their voice mattered, not only by giving me this feedback, but watching me make adjustments based on what I learned from them. Differentiation and allowing for student choice are further ways we can honor student voice in our classrooms. Finally, providing multiple opportunities for students to give feedback to one another builds trust, and trust is a key for a flourishing community. Students celebrate, push, question, and honor each other through each interaction they have. I recently came across this tool from @teachheath and I think it is really useful for strengthening student dialogue (and building a trusting environment):

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4. Identify Experts.

We all have students who excel in different areas; set them up as experts! Our schools are full of students waiting to be dubbed the go-to for all things math, or writing, or football, or technology, or good reads, or….you get the idea. Not only does this allow them to experience the joy of helping others, it also pushes their own thinking. When we can teach someone else, we truly own the learning. Championing our students’ gifts and setting up our classrooms so that those gifts are sought after is a great way to help create an inspiring classroom community. It is also a powerful way to build collaboration within the community; removing me from “knowledge keeper” status and allowing students to truly learn with and through each other. My teaching has taken on greater depth as I have handed over the “expert” hat to my kids, and after all- I am no expert! I enjoy the freedom of being able to listen and learn from them. Maria Montesorri said, “The children are now working as if I did not exist”. I strive for that every day, because the learning is better and the community is stronger when we are all learning from one another.

5. Scaffold Learning.

None of us is ever going to be completely able in all experiences. We continue learning all our life, and don’t we scaffold for ourselves all the time? I know when I am making a new dish, or creating a piece of Mixed Media Art, I am always seeking input and feedback from those around me. I also need scaffolding, such as the recipe, or a picture next to it which is even better! I consult my artist friends for help on something I am trying to create, such as a textured background, and some of my earlier pieces took a great deal of scaffolding. When we honor the learning and maintain the integrity of the lesson, while scaffolding our students’ steps on their mastery journey, we set each other up for successes. And success builds success. By carefully scaffolding to their strengths and needs, we have engaged each student in that lesson. Day after day, this helps build an environment that supports risk-taking and nurtures feelings of being safe, understood, and included.

Creating a community is perhaps the most important thing we can do, not only to support and drive student achievement, but to support the social and emotional needs of the whole child.  But let’s don’t stop there! We can also use these same ideas as we build our staff communities.

What ideas do you have for building a classroom and/or school community? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Engaged And Connected Kids

We all know the value of building relationships with kids. I would say that is the key to all of our other efforts  in schools.  Recently I thought about this as I was watching a news report of yet another recent school tragedy, this time involving a student in Pennsylvania. One common theme that seems to surface is that the student(s) carrying out these acts are often described as “loners”; not appearing to be connected to school, not engaged with the school community. I know this isn’t the case 100% of the time, but it is the majority.

In an article published by ASCD, Robert Blum shares this frightening statistic from Klem and Connell (2004):

By high school, as many as 40 to 60 percent of all students—urban, suburban, and rural—are chronically disengaged from school. (p. 262)

We need to start early! We build relationships with kids—but are they building relationships with others? Are they engaged around, within, and through the school? Here are just a few ideas I wanted to share as we continue the important dialogue about student engagement and relationships:

Developing Resiliency. Adversity and hardships present themselves to all at one time or another, and those who have a strong sense of resiliency have tools to help them deal with and overcome challenges that arise in their lives. Having character programs in school is one avenue toward this. School and classroom culture that promotes problem solving and highlight things like grit and tenacity really align well with this. Supportive, caring adults who watch for and respond to struggles by providing a support network help kids develop a sense of resiliency as well. To further our message of support, we sometimes play a song during our school wide weekly assemblies called “Lean On Me” (Video Above), and the entire school community sings along. The lyrics are important reminders for our young kiddos:

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong. And I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on”.

Creating Opportunities For Relationships. Extracurricular activities provide ways to develop and highlight student strengths, build confidence and nurturing a feeling of involvement. As well, student clubs are a great way for kids to seek out those with common interests and develop relationships with peers whom they may not have contact with in their classroom settings. Making connections. Whether we are talking about clubs, classroom activities, after-school programs or elective offerings, variety is important. Getting to know students as individuals and engaging in casual conversations, even a quick 5 minute interaction in the hall between passing periods or by chatting them up at lunch,  we can evaluate needs and interests and provide a greater variety of opportunities for student involvement.

Family Engagement. This can have many facets. Inviting families into the school, arranging and hosting after school events, harnessing social media to reach out to parents and encourage their partnership, the possibilities are many for making family connections. And when families are connected, it’s likely their child will also feel a connection. If you have limited attendance at after  hours events, consider how your staff might bring the activity to them. We have a “Reading Posse” that periodically drives through neighborhoods in our community to “catch kids reading” and hand out books to kids. We advertise the locations and times so that families know when and where we will be. I think this is a great way to engage with the community and build connections. It doesn’t always have to take place at school (effectively excluding those who may not be able to come due to family obligations, work or transportation issues).

Team Togetherness. In small schools, everyone knows everyone else. But in larger environments, and even within small schools, some students can still feel invisible. One way for us to help promote a sense of belonging is to create teams within schools, and special identifiers for those teams. For example, some grade levels have their own shirts, or slogans, or a particular experience that is reserved only for that grade level (at my school, 4th graders always put on the Poetry Slam). These milestone events are a way to create something special about each grade level, and the students who are part of it can feel a sense of purpose and belonging – even through something small like their team shirt. Don’t we all feel connected to our favorite sports team when we wear their gear? They become “our team” and we proudly identify. We can do the same in school.

Peer Groups. I like the idea of peer mediation groups who help students work through differences or difficulties. Leadership clubs are also a great way to develop school ambassadors who can then reach out to other kids. When my daughter was a new student at a junior high in my current district, she was welcomed by a group of students who were the designated “welcoming committee” on campus. This really helped her feel like she belonged and navigate a new school and system. She also had immediate “friends” who were glad she was there, and introduced her to other students and potential friends. This was a huge benefit! It’s a very good way of getting kids connected and plugged in—from their first day of arrival.

Mentoring. Community connections are important in helping students feel a sense of belonging. Bringing in adults to act as mentors and having groups like Watch Dogs  are some ways of introducing students to other adults who they can make connections with. Here is a video about that program:

Teachers who mentor students who are not their own is another way we can reach out to kids. Administrators and support staff play a huge role in providing another pathway for students to connect with someone. I know for a fact there are things my principal knows about a kid or two in my own class that I was not even aware of, because that student felt a special connection there and shared something with her.  It takes a village!

These are just a few of the ways we can help kids feel connected, contributing, and valued.  We all need to feel a sense of belonging. What other ideas do you have for engaging kids and helping them avoid isolation? What creative ways has your school found for doing this? Please share!

My thoughts and prayers go out to the community of Murrysville, PA.

 

 

 

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Self-Contained Classrooms: Day Designers

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I am a self-contained teacher. Although I don’t really like the term self-contained. It sounds too much like working all alone, shut off from the rest of the world.  I actually prefer the term “Day Designer”.  I design days, through each content area. Much cooler. Teachers who teach one subject often tell me they would never want to be self-contained, for a variety of reasons. Some of them are:

I have 6 subjects and 3 STAAR tests. Three out of five days, I am either at grade-level PLC, Math planning with the math team, or LA planning with the LA team.  Teaching all subjects requires one to be a sort of Jack (or Jill) of all trades; having a firm grasp on each content area and the state assessments that align with them. So why do I prefer this? It’s simple. I don’t teach content, I teach kids. For me, this is the best way to do that.

I know several teachers who are currently considering a move to self-contained classrooms, or their administrators are.  So I wanted to share my experiences and some of the good stuff you can find in this type of arrangement:

Relationships

I get to know my students much better when I have them all day. We develop a close bond, and I am keenly aware of their strengths and weaknesses. And I don’t just mean academically. I know personal strengths. Learning strengths. Learning struggles. I get to know them in their entirety rather than just “as a math student” or “as a reader”. I know them as learners. We just happen to learn all subjects. Because of this, I am able to design extensions and interventions that provide just the right support each of my student’s need. Because I am so aware of their needs, I am better able to target, manage, and follow them. Learning is much more personal.  The students develop a very close knit community, and truly form a classroom family.  They freely question, commend, and challenge each other-without prodding or prompting from me-and a sense of safety and inclusion is felt not only by us, but visitors to our classroom as well. I have supported the development of this type of climate in departmentalized and team-teaching systems as well, but I would have to say it seems to be just a little bit different-more pronounced- in the SC class.

Flexibility

I am able to adjust my schedule in such a way that learning isn’t bound to a clock. At any given time, you might see a group of students engaged in a writing conference, another group collaborating on a challenging math problem, a small group with me engaged in a reading mini-lesson, a few students blogging about their science lesson yesterday, a book club in the back of the room…We learn throughout the day in a way that makes the content meaningful, relevant, and connected. Just because it is a certain time doesn’t mean we are all engaged in the same content. Such a time fixation is a system for departmentalization and I’m not sure it’s relevant for the self-contained classroom.

This is usually the point where departmentalized teachers become very nervous. In fact, it does require me to do more follow up and individual check-ins. It also requires a good set of rituals, routines, and procedures in place to make sure student’s are staying engaged and on task. There are times when they are not, and then we have to address it. But most of the time, we are.

Integration

Some say that there is no way they would want to plan for all the different subjects. Even with good, strong team planning, one still must tinker with and tailor the plan to capture the “how” for their own classroom and students. But really, it is much easier for me than you think! I am able to fully integrate content. We engage in writing and reading during math and science. We engage in PBL units or projects that encompass multiple subject areas and actually spend less time on some things than otherwise. Integrated content helps to reinforce concepts and helps children retain material. Cross-curricular units are much easier to design and facilitate because I know exactly what we are doing in each content area.  More importantly, I know where each student is in each content area. I can use this to front load or spiral back. I am able to bring to departmental meetings an awareness of current units of study in the other content areas and ideas for time-savers and cross-curricular connections.

Time and Tool Management Skills

We are now fully 1:1 in my classroom; each student has their own device and it resides on their desk or in their own charging area. They have customized their desktop, built their bookmarks, and are completely free to use their device to facilitate their learning throughout the day. I specifically did not establish any control over this, other than our digital citizenship lessons that we have. I wanted them to make mistakes so that we could learn from them how to best manage our time and tools. And yes, they did!

Now, my students will power up when they need to look up additional information or decide to present their essay using a form of technology…This is not controlled by me, and I think it has really empowered them to become independent learners. Many times I have students finish their writing assignment early, only to go get on their device to continue working on a lesson for math. That’s difficult in departmentalized situations. We have established norms, and we revisit and revise those as we go along and learning opportunities present themselves, but as a general rule, they are encouraged to be self-driven. An important goal for me is that my students come to recognize when- and how- to take advantages of both time and available tools to support their learning. They won’t develop those skills if I am the one dictating what, when, where and how to use them. And so the self-contained setting affords us the freedom to experiment, make mistakes, and learn how we as individuals can best manage our tools and time.

Classroom Ownership

The desks are “theirs”, the lockers, the anchor charts, the reading nooks, the tables…all theirs. My students feel an ownership over the physical space, which I think helps build an ownership over their own learning and how they go about it. Radically different from just “visiting” my room for an hour and a half. I think this subtle shift in thinking is important. The physical space is often an area we overlook, but I think it really helps build ownership when they are not sharing it with another class. At least, that seems to have been my experience when it comes to elementary students.

Some other bonuses: We don’t lose time packing up and switching classes; I am able to arrange for extra learning opportunities designed to enhance their critical thinking, motivation, and “connectedness” to the global community. For example, this year my students have participated in an Hour of Code, Genius Hour, and even a Google Hangout with some computer designers. We’ve read about the start up of Khan Academy and generated a list of traits that were instrumental in seeing this creation flourish, including visionary thinking, problem solving, patience, and service to others. We make connections with and highlight these traits often in our classroom. Now, we are reading biographies and generating our own list of “Habits of Successful People”, employing these throughout our day, in whatever content area we are working in. Because I have the opportunity to design learning experiences within each subject area, I can make sure to highlight, reinforce and include opportunity for the development of these habits.  If I were not the math teacher, would I have even had reason to explore an online learning startup company with them? Not likely. Would they have recognized the same “innovative” mindset in both “Mr. Khan” and “Pa”, the father in a historical fiction book we are currently reading? Making it a point to spend time on such things in one area just seems to make things so much more meaningful and real to them in other areas. I have found the self-contained setting to be a great opportunity to do this.

I have tried to find research into the effectiveness of self-contained vs. departmentalized settings in the elementary classroom, in which areas, and to what extent. I found exactly none.   At least none since 1965.  I immediately think of the following quote by Toni Morrison, “If there is something you want to read, and it isn’t yet written, you must write it yourself”. And so, that’s a current “hmmm” I have.

There are positives around being departmentalized, teaming, and being self-contained, and each has merit. I have been a teacher in all three types of classrooms, and I would say that without a doubt, this design has been the most rewarding.  I think my fourth graders would agree!

What about you? Are you departmentalized or self-contained? Which type of structure do you prefer, and why?

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Creating Moments of Joy

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There is a need within each of us that is often overlooked in the day to day hustle and bustle of our lives. Overlooking this need can have such a major impact on us all. Indeed, when we don’t tend to this need, we often feel the energy drain from our schools, our spirits, and our progress. One of the most important things we can do for each other, and ourselves, is to find ways to develop a state of peace, of happiness.

  To create moments of joy.

Here are a few ways we try to do that in my school:

We notice kindness.

Our students do this by leaving these sticky notes on a bulletin board in our main hall. They let everyone know about an act of kindness they witnessed. Raising awareness fuels others to want to participate, notice, and be recognized! We purposely highlight kindness on a special, physical display reserved only for that…right in the center of the building.blog1 The staff notices kindness by emailing Thankful Thursdays (a little like a “Friday Follow”– but just for us)! We give a shout out to those whom we appreciate and want to thank for a specific act. Purposeful and Simple. Another way is to give each other a special note, hole-punched-to place on our “Blessing Rings”. We each have one, and we let each other know when they have been a blessing to us! photo

We celebrate each other’s successes.

We do this by having our weekly assemblies, where we recognize our students for many different accomplishment, including extracurricular, or having GRIT, or exceeding a standard:

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We sing, we dance, we shake pompoms. We have a song we play sometimes called “Everybody’s So Happy”. You can’t help but smile during this brief but beneficial time when we all gather together to be joyful.

We celebrate each other.

We celebrate our kids: blog7

And we celebrate our parents:

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By taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate the time and efforts of all our stakeholders, we create moments of joy which, over time, create a culture of joyful giving. It helps make those “extra duties” seem more like “extra opportunities to give”. Extra opportunities to spread a little joy to so many other lives.

We make special time for each other.

It might be our counselor, who every month invites a different class in the building to have daily lunch with her (5-6 kids per day). Through this activity, she is building relationships and creating opportunity for future dialogue should a student need to talk through something. Paving the way for students to seek out help when needed and creating moments of joy while doing it!

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It might be “us”, having another of our monthly lunches, this time Italian!

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This gift of special time we give each other monthly. A lot of love and care goes into feeding others; this type of welcoming and joyful activity just makes us feel good. The day is full of high spirits and we like to share the recipes we’ve used to create a certain dish. We are building community and taking time to create something good for one another. Food is  a universal “welcome” sign.

We all pitch in.

Many times, I have left something in the copy room to be cut, or copied, or laminated, and return later to find someone has already done it for me. No name or “claim to fame”, just a job complete. It’s wonderful when that happens! I have returned the favor and it just makes me feel good to do something for someone who is likely running short on time. Teamwork builds many moments of joy.

We share what our students are doing with other faculty.

Many times, teachers will send students up to the office to share their great work with whoever is there! They return to the classroom smiling from ear to ear because someone took the time to give them a pat on the back and a kind word. By modeling this, our students learn the value of acknowledging the gifts in others and they begin to compliment each other on work they are doing in class. Compliments are contagious.

Finally, we make sure that we never forget the joy that comes from just being goofy.

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Creating moments of joy, even small  ones, is a way to build a larger feeling of happiness throughout the organization, which fuels our day to day activities. It is a place where students, staff, and parents want to be. And when you want to be somewhere, you approach each task with a vibrant energy and peaceful, happy spirit.

How do you spread moments of joy in your school? I’d love to share ideas as we continue to seek ways to engage all our stakeholders in the joy of learning and living. Thanks to my principal, students, parents and school team for filling the days with moments of joy. .