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Giving Thanks

November 30, 2010

Traditionally people give thanks for their family, health, friends, colleagues and jobs. I too am thankful for these things.

Looking back at the events of the past week I can honestly say that I am thankful for my students. I often tell my friends and colleagues what great middle school students I have in my building, as most are middle school-phobic.

The most amazing thing happened last week to solidify my beliefs.

Last week was the birthday of a special needs student in my building. This student is one of the sweetest children in my building, however he does not have a “group” of friends, due to his disability.

As I was wandering the halls, I ventured upon a group of eighth graders putting a birthday sign on one of the lockers. This custom allows students to write polite birthday notes and wishes to that student.

This sign was marvelous, it was by and large one of the most creative and decorative signs I have seen. There was student art work on it as well as some color prints, all congratulating this child.

Every word written was positive and pleasant.

To add to the reason for my being thankful, the entire cafeteria sang this child Happy Birthday during lunch. It was touching.

The most gratifying thing came at the end of the day as the child carefully folded the sign up to bring home. A memory to cherish.

I am thankful for my students, they reflect the best that kids of this age can be.

Me, a writer?

November 17, 2010

I never really considered myself as a writer, but I always wanted to write. I have always felt that I had a story to write, and even publish.

As I look back I guess I am a writer because I do write almost every day.

I have moved beyond the research papers of my college days (which I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed doing) to writing for the purposes of communication. In my job as a Middle School Principal I mostly write memo’s, business letters, and friendly letters.  If it wasn’t for computers-email and word processing-I would struggle, as pen and paper writing is not pleasant to me.

Creative writing is daunting for me, I even took a course in college in order to improve this style of writing.  It was harder than Calculus!  I still dabble in the creative realm, writing a poem or two, but I don’t share those pieces.  The technical end of writing is what I enjoy the most.  Give me a research paper any day.

In the past couple of years I have begun to write in a different manner, which came about when a friend of mine introduced me to blogging.  I enjoy writing blog entries but always wonder if what I have to say has an audience, and moreover if I am presenting my thoughts well.

Despite my reservations I continue to blog, and to my surprise there are people who read my words and even a few who comment on my writings.  I would like to develop a better sense of voice but that takes time.  This blogging challenge has been my inspiration and has given me a reason and topics to right on (thank you for that).  It seems I am always late, as I struggle with the deadlines.

Me, a writer?

Yes, I think I am.

The littlest thing makes the biggest difference

November 10, 2010

I was going to write this last week but for some reason I procrastinated. Perhaps there was a good reason.

When, as a middle school principal, I have one of those days and they do happen there is a place I love to go to get that pick me up.

Believe it or not, it’s my cafeteria during lunches. I know it sounds crazy but lunch duty is a smile maker and a stress breaker.

Walking around and chatting with any number of the sixth through eighth graders, about almost anything does my soul wonders. Perhaps it is the sixth graders who still have a sense of elementary innocence and talk about everything. Maybe it’s the seventh graders and their silly, playful nature. Then again the eighth graders have a more sophisticated sense of humor and converse in a manner that foreshadows their transition to adulthood.

Either way I love the energy, the joyous noise and just being with the young adults in my building.

Lunch duty is the little thing I need to just make my day!

Me, a writer?

October 25, 2010

As I meandered the halls over the past couple of weeks I have noticed so many great things going on in the classrooms…

  • I walked into a classroom Friday and noticed the students doing some sort of theatrical play in short takes. I was so intrigued I went back today and learned it is called a Frozen Tableau. This class of Middle School Social Studies students were working from a summary of text and information and doing still life plays with a narrator. Every one was engaged, even those students who are not regularly involved. It was amazing.
  • Further down the hall a group of Middle School ELA students were learning using IPADS, guided by a Literacy Coach working in collaboration with 2 teachers. The students were eager to use this cutting edge technology, and were quick to adapt. This was all taking place in a classroom where, only three years ago, the teacher preferred not to employ technology. Truly uplifting.
  • As I moved upstairs I found groups of students sitting in the hallway reading books and working on tasks within their literature circles. Inside the room the teacher was just finishing her conference with one group of students who were deeply involved with their discussion. Reading for enjoyment and yet working on a series of comprehension and writing activities.
  • One of the Social Studies classed were making Pop up books to help them summarize their learning. It turned out to be a great hands on way to incorporate writing, and images to solidify students learning of the big concepts.

My life as a Mathematician–really!

October 21, 2010

I am a mathematician, really I am.

I went to college and received a degree in Mathematics, so that makes me a mathematician.

For 15 years I shared my knowledge and love of math with students, as I taught math (and loved everyday of it). Now that my time as a math teacher is done I still use mathematics.

  • I use logic and problem solving strategies when I write the master schedule for my school. These same skills come into play whenever I need to plan events that alter the normal schedule.
  • I use math (mostly arithmetic) when I develop and manage my yearly budget. This actually takes up a great deal of my time during the middle and end of the school year.
  • Given the large amounts of data and statistics I get from the piles of tests we are required to give the students, I use my knowledge of statistics, analysis and prediction a lot. I have to understand what the numbers are saying and how to develop plans to improve the learning and achievement in my school.

There is more….I use math at home as well. When I do home projects I usually rely on some geometry (imagine using something that is 3000 years old to solve a problem today!). I also use arithmetic and a bit of algebra now and then as well.

A question—> for my readers

October 17, 2010

I no longer have a class to poll, although I do have a school full of kids and teachers.  I thought it would be a good idea to poll the people who read this blog….


As I begin another school year I ask my staff to set professional learning goals and I set a few for myself.

My goals are:

  1. To utilize technology to enhance collaboration and communication among the staff in my building.
  2. To learn more about Content Area Literacy in order to lead the change in my building to have a culture where it is in the forefront.

The Question:

Regardless of your profession, career path or education–What are your goals?  What are do you hope to learn this year?

I read!

October 13, 2010

I love to read, I can read most anything and get a thrill from it. It is the one way I can constantly expand myself, and learn. Reading sends me to a serene place and has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I can read anywhere and anytime.

I really enjoy Science Fiction and Fantasy. I have read nearly everything Issac Asimov has written, loved Dune by Frank Herbert and enjoy almost everything Terry Brooks has written.

As a balance I read professionally as well. Most recently it is blogs, I probably follow too many! I read Educational Leadership and try to read a book on education each month or two. Currently I am becoming more fluent in my understanding of Literacy in both the tradition sense and in the sense of 21st Century Literacy.

I cannot imagine not reading.  In my building (I am a middle school principal) I enjoy talking to the kids about books they read and offer titles.  They also offer titles to me, which of course I read and enjoy.  I have found that I have immense power and influence over their reading habits, by simply chatting about books.  I mentions Maximum Ride, by James Patterson, and the books flew off of the library shelves, no pun intended.