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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Happy New Year! It's such a pleasure to share this beautiful story as we kick off 2018. I think we all need to grab tissue, then go buy some neckties! 

 

"Something somewhat extraordinary happened last month at Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas.

The school — with a student population of nearly 900, about 90 percent from low-income families — planned to host its first “Breakfast with Dads,” according to the Dallas Morning News. About 150 male students, ages 11 to 13, signed up. But event organizers were concerned that some would attend without a male figure at their side, so they put out a call for volunteers who could serve as mentors.

“When a young person sees someone other than their teacher take interest in them, it inspires them. That’s what we want to see happen,” the Rev. Donald Parish Jr., pastor of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church and the event organizer, told the Morning News.

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Posted by on in General

statue of liberty

I headed to the District office for the usual Tuesday morning Leadership meeting. I had just heard about the first Tower attack. Like most people across the country, I was in shock.

A television newscast in the board room was replaying the first plane’s assault. A few minutes after my arrival, the Superintendent entered and asked us all to go back to our campuses immediately and bring some semblance of calmness and order to our school community.

At my office, I summoned the counselor and together we sketched out a plan for communicating with and consoling the staff, students and parents. TVs were ordered turned off. Teachers and I spoke only of what we knew and avoided speculation. Parents fearful of other attacks in the country were reassured. Above all, I made sure that I was in every classroom, in the cafeteria and outside at release time.

Students at every age were frightened. But it was the children who made the biggest difference overall during those first few days.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning
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We have some time before the ferry departure, so we stop at a little cafe on Captiva Island to fuel up. We get our orders and sit at the shabby table outside. Next to us, headset on and phone in hand, a tanned local man in his 50's is making one business phone call after another. How nice must it be to live in paradise, own a business, and do office at a coffee shop located just down the road from the spacious house you live in I thought.

As we're sipping our cappuccinos brainstorming ways to fend off any alligators we might encounter on Kayo Costa, the man stands up, walks toward, and rejoins his wife and two teenage Yankee cap wearing daughters eating breakfast at the restaurant next door, and I realize he's not a local at all. He's a husband and a father on vacation in Florida with his family.

"Wow," I say to my wife. "That guy's on vacation with his family making business phone call after phone call while they eat breakfast without him."

"I've seen several such families already," replies Kasia in her unsurprised psychologist voice.

"Damn. That's pretty sad," I conclude and I take another sip of the frothy milk topped bliss.

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Posted by on in School Culture

 stencil.twitter post 56

Spring is a time for rebirth and new beginnings. As we pull the weeds of winter, we reflect on our learning successes, assess, plan and hope for the next year. Gardens are a grand way to teach children sequence of life, planting, tending and watching that garden grow, just like learning. Tending the garden of the heart.

Teaching is cyclic and routines offer us continuity. We share our rituals and routines with the children in our care, offering much needed stability and a gentle kind of love and nurturing wherever it's needed. And that's pretty much everywhere, one child at a time, for various reasons.

I love class or morning meetings, circles or whatever name you use. The time is well spent. Even five minutes sets the tone for the day, with a quick review of prior learning (especially helpful to an absentee) and transition to the next activity. This is time worth spending. More than time on task, definitely engaged. Engaged in emotional safety and sense of class belonging and visibility. Tending the garden of the heart.

Lately I've seen some really cool school gardens. When I was Principal, a garden was already at the school, a good beginning. We added a wildlife compound and accomplished many project based learning activities, at the time not putting a name to it.

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Posted by on in What If?

handsglobe

In this excerpt from The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide, you’ll learn the significant impact that the daily interactions that you have with your students can have on the classroom community that you want to establish. Using classroom immediacy to create a positive relationship with each student is one of the most successful approaches that you can take to relate well to all students on an individual level as well as to the group as a whole.

“Classroom immediacy is a broad term that refers to the different ways that teachers can lessen the emotional distance between themselves and their students. Behaviors that create classroom immediacy tend to engender positive attitudes in students because they believe that their teachers like them. And it’s only common sense that students will be much more willing to cooperate with those teachers who clearly like them and are interested in their welfare. Let your actions reveal that you are a teacher who is approachable and enthusiastic about your students. Although there are many, many different ways to relate well in a classroom, in the list that follows you will find ways to create a sense of immediacy and connectedness with your students that you can adapt to fit your needs.

Don’t forget that the class is about your students and not about you. Be careful not to overpower your students with your knowledge or authority. Instead, be gentle and inclusive in your approach.

Smile. As simple as it may seem, this is one of the most important ways that you can relate well to your students.

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