Every Student Needs a “No Matter What” School!

I read this quote by an unknown author recently and it stuck in my head.

Every woman needs a “no matter what” friend

Someone they can call, no matter what
Someone they can vent to, no matter what
Someone she doesn’t have to explain herself to, no matter what

I have been thinking about how the quote has resonated with me and how it relates to the students who will enter or have entered our buildings for this new school year.

Every student needs a “no matter what” school

A community who will be kind to students, no matter what…
A community who makes students feel safe and comfortable in our classrooms, hallways and on our playgrounds no matter what…
A community who welcomes students with warm smiles and high fives, no matter what…
A community who echoes students names each day, no matter what…
A community who takes time to listen to students hopes and dreams, no matter what…
A community who builds students up when they feel like they can’t do it, no matter what…
A community who allows students to take center stage, no matter what…
A community whose classrooms celebrate mistakes as valued learning, no matter what…
A community who will focus first on building relationships with students, no matter what…
A community who will listen, no matter what…
A community who will be innovative and will strive to make school awesome, no matter what…

Imagine what our schools would look like, feel like and sound like if we all planned our year with a focus on what we are willing to do for students, no matter what!

I am sure that many of you could add to this list.  Think about it.  What is your school willing to do for students, no matter what?

 

I Have Shoes, I Can Run #RunLAP

On this day last year I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. Up to that point I had a 74 straight day record of walking or cycling to get back into shape.  I was pretty proud of myself as I was still experiencing many symptoms as a result of the concussion I had sustained from a fall at work.  I was also disappointed that my record would be broken as I had to have a recovery time from the surgery.  Fast forward a year later and 1KM may not sound like a long distance but for a first run in more than two years, it is a start.  It is one run done.  One goal started.  One day of many days ahead.  One day to a better me.

I just finished reading Run Like a Pirate written by the talented Adam Welcome.  To say that his book is motivational is an understatement.  His message push yourself to get more out of life rings loud and clear throughout the book.  If you haven’t read the book, you should!  Adam’s message: you CAN achieve your goals is told through the story of him running twelve marathons in twelve months.  Adam shares his mindset to dig deep and to accomplish those big dreams.

I had company on my first run.  My husband, Steve, runs the opposite way to me on the 1.1KM route that we take around our neighbourhood.  We always say something to one another at the halfway point as we run by each other.  Tonight he said “How are you feeling?”  I just breathed and ran past him.  He had the pleasure of taking our Labradoodle, Murphy, on her first run, too.  I had the pleasure of carrying my cycling flashlight as it gets dark early in August on Southern Vancouver Island.

As I was nearing the end of my run I was thinking about Adam’s book and his motto to smile.  I was just beginning to fall into the rhythm of my breathing and consciously smiled to see if it made a difference…I chuckled to myself, too.  As we walked back to the house on our cool down, I was thinking that I should blog about my first run and the influence Adam’s book has had on my thinking these last few days.  Near the end of his book there are Running Tips From Adam and Friends.  The big take away from the book for me would have to be…

Focus on the big picture rather than the endless details of equipment.
If you have shoes, you can run.
The little stuff is just the little stuff and can weigh you down.

For me this is a metaphor for life.  I have shoes, and I can run.  I continue to learn to focus on the big picture.  I am learning how to do that everyday and am working on the little stuff that does weigh me down.  Thank goodness the only thing weighing me down tonight was my cycling flashlight!  Thanks Adam, your advice is sound.  Happy Trails!!

 

Starbucks and School…Through the Lens of an Educator

Starbucks has coffee.  Starbucks has tea.  Starbucks has a wide variety of drinks.  Starbucks has servers who greet you warmly.  Starbucks has conversation.  Starbucks has music.  Starbucks has people.  And today, Starbucks has me.  I am sitting here working in this environment which is supposed to mimic the busy school environment to which I am gradually returning in September.

For those who may not know, I began a gradual return to work this past February.  In December 2017, I had a fall, at work, and sustained a pretty good concussion that has taken me out of commission for almost two years.  During the month of August I am continuing with the same gradual return to work schedule that was in place for me at the end of the school year. Retaining that same schedule will ensure that my brain and body are ready for the busy-ness of September in an elementary school of about 400 students and 56 staff members.

As I was thinking about a blog topic today, I began to wonder if Starbucks could truly challenge my brain and mimic a busy school environment.  As I settled in with my cup of tea, I opened my laptop to begin to write and my 10:00AM appointment showed up.  Yes, I was having a “coffee” date with a friend and she was right on time.  Just like at work, I am keeping to my schedule of appointments, and it never fails that just when you think you have a few moments to start something, your 10:00AM arrives right on time!  We chit chat and catch up on our summer holidays.  Some of the distractions I noticed were people walking by, music playing in the background and various conversations happening all around us.  For the most part, I was able to focus on what was being said even though the music and other conversations were quite loud.  Once our date ended, I decided to switch gears and try reading my book.  I was able to read a few chapters, but couldn’t help being distracted by the group behind me who were enthusiastically engaged in conversation.

So is a Starbucks coffee shop an appropriate place to mimic a school-like environment?  What are the particular Starbucks experiences, and how do they relate to the school environment as we know it?

Just as Starbucks has a wide variety of drink sizes such as Venti, Grande, Tall and Short, we teach a variety of students in our schools who come to us in all sizes and abilities.  Unlike Starbucks, though, we don’t get to pick and choose the students we have in our classes.  Each year, we are blessed to have a group of unique individuals who make our classes and schools awesome!  Just as Starbucks has music playing in the background, our schools are filled with the music of children’s voices, music and choir classes as well as the daily games played during recess times.  Unlike Starbucks where music is playing constantly in the background, there are pockets of time when our hallways and classrooms can be very quiet but, I hope, that is not what we strive for in our schools.  The constant buzz of student voices tells us that children are communicating with one another, children are collaborating and problem solving together.  Hopefully children are not simply sitting in desks and rows trying to focus while the teacher does all of the talking!

Starbucks has people coming and going throughout the day and there are natural rhythms that occur.  The constant morning drive-thru rush of people trying to get to work; oftentimes driving solo in their cars, minds wondering about their work day ahead.  We have these natural ebbs and flows in the school environment, too.  The busy-ness of morning drop off and the feeling of anticipation as students wait to greet their teachers.  This before school time for students is a time for reconnecting with friends and making plans for recess later that morning.  This before school time is a time for parents to drop off their kids, giving them their morning hugs and I love you assurances as they, too, get on with their day.  This before school time is the time when our teachers, too, are doing last minute prep, are anticipating and feeling the excitement of greeting and teaching a group of children they may call, my class, my crew, my 2nd graders!

Starbucks has servers who may greet you with a warm hello and smile, and if you are a regular, you may even be greeted by name as you pay for your morning coffee to get you through the congestion of traffic to your place of work.  Unlike Starbucks, we know the power of greeting each child with a smile, a high five, a hug and by learning their names as quickly as we can at the beginning of the school year.  Unlike Starbucks, we don’t simply send people on their way and move on to the next order.  We are lucky to have a group of students with us for six plus hours a day, to learn about their hopes and dreams and to comfort those who may not be lucky enough to start their days on such happy notes.

So, is Starbucks, as a coffee shop, able to mimic the school environment for me as I progress through my gradual return to work plan for August?  I believe, as I have written above, there are comparisons to be made and it is fun to look at Starbucks through the lens of an educator.  Overall, I found today’s session to have the potential. Starbucks is a place that will definitely stress my brain and an appropriate place to be to try to focus and to complete some work tasks.

What is your place to go to complete your writing and work tasks when you are not at work?  Is it a place in your home, your local coffee shop, or public library?  I would be interested to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for reading!

My School Bag

School bags are unique.  They come in different shapes, sizes, colors and materials.  Some you carry using handles and others using shoulder straps.  Maybe you are a backpack person or like the traditional leather briefcase.  Whatever you choose needs to work for you.  My first briefcase was a gift that was given to me by my mom when I first started teaching.  It was a soft, burgundy-coloured leather bag with a handle and shoulder strap.  I loved that bag!  I liked the way the bag looked, the smell of the leather and the comfort of wearing it on my shoulder.  The bag has been replaced a few times and the one I have now is not leather but it does the job!

Over the years, my school bag has served many purposes.  It has been a portable file cabinet, report card bag, laptop case and carry-all!  Maybe your school bag is your “tool box” or your “repertoire of resources” or your “tool chest”.  Whatever we choose to call it, I have found that there are some things that are always an essential part of the school bag.

The Essentials Of My School Bag…

Mobile Devices

Whether you use a laptop, Chromebook, iPad or some other mobile device, it seems we are all connected.  These are our modern day file cabinets, file folders, lesson plans or units and, for some of us, our journals.  Along with mobile devices come dongles.  You know the gadgets that allow your laptop to connect to Ethernet, the gadgets that allow your iPad or phone to connect to a projector if you happen to forget your Apple TV or Chromecast that day.  As leaders in our buildings, we are out and about in classrooms so mobile devices and wireless connectivity is a necessity.

Paper Journal

I like the physical act of writing so I carry in my bag a paper journal. I have always used one since becoming a vice principal and principal.  For me, this is where my daily to-do lists are laid out in an orderly fashion.  It is also where I keep notes about anything that happened during the day; students I have spoken to in the office, ideas that have sparked my interest in classrooms as well as things that need repairing throughout the school building.  It is the place where I write my thoughts about how the day has gone and what needs to be done tomorrow.  And it is always completed using a black, or preferably purple, uni-ball vision fine pen.

Day Planner

Just as I like a paper journal, I depend on my day planner to organize my appointments and meetings as well as important days.  I also keep these dates in my phone and on a large calendar in my office.  We all know our jobs can be quite busy so the more organized we are, the less we will forget to overlook.  Having the dates in three places happens to be a necessity for me.

Thank You Cards

I carry thank you cards in my school bag.  Thank you cards are my way of spreading kindness and showing appreciation to others for the contributions they are making to our school.  I have given cards with personalized messages after I have gone into classrooms or when I have read with students.  I have left cards in mailboxes, on staffroom tables and have hand delivered many over the years.

One year after reading Lead Like a Pirate, written by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf I decided to create my own version of an Anchor of Appreciation. In their book they describe the Critical Components of Anchors of Appreciation.

  1. Share something the teacher did that you appreciated.  Pick something specific and label it.
  2. Tell them specifically why you appreciated it.
  3.  Link the “why” to best practices, school goal, and/or student learning.
  4.  Smile and use an enthusiastic tone, upbeat word choices, and positive body language.
  5. Say “Thank you!” Thanking people for the work they do is important, and we simply can’t do it often enough! (pps. 151-152 Lead Like a Pirate)

Number 5 is the model for the Anchors of Appreciation.  Shelley and Beth refer to the thanking people piece as “…dropping ANCHORS of Appreciation.”  They challenge each of us to, “Be intentional and take thirty minutes a day to just drop these anchors of appreciation throughout the school.”  This practice is powerful and models the act of kindness and appreciation; something we need to do more of each day in our schools.

This upcoming school year, I will once again, carry in my school bag anchors of appreciation.  They will be the new and improved 2019/2020 model.  I will take up the challenge to carve 30 minutes out of my day to spread kindness and appreciation to the awesome people with whom I am so fortunate to work.

Is there something special that you carry or consider essential to your day?  I would love to hear about the treasures that can be found in your school bag!

 

 

 

Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond…An Overview

I recently read Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond, a former culinary arts teacher and now district tech instructional specialist.  Her book is an inspirational look at how she transformed her classroom into a gamified environment which includes fun, laughter and a healthy dose of competition.  It is an experience that keeps students running into her class to eat it all up!

Make Learning MAGICAL…

Magical is an acronym which is all about:

Memorable beginnings that build excitement and relationships
Authenticity and Agency that empowers students
Gamified experiences to engage learning on a higher level
Innovation that makes learning exciting and relevant
Creation, collaboration, and curiosity to equip learners for real life
Authentic audiences to bring out your students’ best work
Legacy built through meaningful experiences

Memorable Beginnings (Excitement and Relationships)

Tisha is a great story teller and brings these stories into each of the elements of the acronym MAGICAL.  During the first part of the book she speaks about the magic of hospitality beginning with a warm welcome, an entertaining hook as well as passion and enthusiasm.  In creating a hospitable environment she brings in the elements of décor and the importance of colour and the effects colour has on students.  She touches on some of the specific elements that she has in her own classroom…a coffee bar, music, aroma and how she, the teacher, can make a huge impact on the students she teaches through simple things like greeting students and making everyone feel special and welcome.

I especially liked the “Favorite Things” activity explained in chapter 2.  Like Tisha, my favorite movie of all time is The Sound of Music.  As this is one of the first activities of the school year, it has an impact on the students in her classroom.  During this activity students are asked to write down three of their favorite things and discuss them with their neighbor.  Once that activity is complete, Tisha then shares with them her favorite things; her “passions” through the use of a slide show.  She then takes her cue from Dave Burgess’ book Teach Like a Pirate and has her class sculpt one of their favorite things from homemade playdough.  This example is a great way to start off the school year with a hook rather than with the typical “rules” and a course outline. And, of course, she includes a recipe to make your own playdough!

 Authenticity and Agency

Being authentic and getting to know those we serve is the idea behind this chapter.  Once we get to know our students, we begin to see the light that radiates from within them.  Finding their inner beauty and sharing it with others is the focus Tisha has for her students.

This part of the book also talks about the “Magic Attitude” which Tisha describes as more than just a habit.  She describes it as a mindset or an attitude of gratitude!  Gratitude is looked at in depth and #Gratitudesnaps are described as well as the cultivating of a culture of kindness.  You really get the sense that Tisha creates a classroom environment, where we share our fails, where students can shine and where students have agency over their work.

Gamified Experiences

Throughout this next chapter, Tisha talks about gamification deconstructed where one “takes the most motivational techniques of games and applies them to non-game settings like classrooms.” (M. Matera)  Once you have found a game or game category that appeals to you Tisha encourages you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I enjoy about those games?
  • What can I learn from them?
  • What are the motivational aspects of the games that get people hooked and
    make us want to play again and again?

This how-to chapter is quite in depth and provides plenty of explanation as well as gamified examples Tisha has used in her classrooms.  It ends with the assurance that games and gamification go beyond just the playing of the games.  Challenge, collaboration, creativity as well as critical thinking are outlined in this chapter and bring a complexity to the game that goes much deeper than scores, badges, points and winners.

Innovation

Tisha states that “thinking about things differently, shaking up the status quo, and devising new and better ways of teaching–is how we make learning magical.”  She says “to get there, we have to have the mindset of an innovator.”  She then talks about George Couros’ eight characteristics of an innovator’s mindset in terms of herself as an educator.  You can find the eight characteristics and much more in George’s book  The Innovator’s Mindset.

  1. Empathetic
  2. Problem Finders/Solvers
  3. Risk Takers
  4. Networked
  5. Observant
  6. Creators
  7. Resilient
  8. Reflective
Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity

Throughout this chapter Tisha provides examples of opportunities that her students have been engaged in to go above and beyond the classroom experience.  She elaborates on creativity through the following topics:

  • Bakery Missions
  • Video Creation
  • Stop-Motion Animation
  • Sketchnoting and Reflection

The point she is making in this chapter is importance for educators to model what it looks like to try new things.  Tisha says that students appreciate a teacher who is continuously trying new things; being creative in their teaching and learning.

Collaboration has always been a part of the culinary classes that Tisha has taught and the most important piece of this is to create powerful teams and building relationships.  This building of relationships allows the students to develop trust and because of this, they feel safe to take risks and the result is a deeper learning.

Tisha wants her students to become excited about the possibility to create something amazing in her classes.  She states that “When we tap into curiosity, we experience the sheer joy of discovery.  Creating an atmosphere of curiosity where students feel safe to explore and play is vital to building confidence and ownership of learning.  The magical classroom is one where students are safe, valued, immersed and empowered.  There is curiosity and wonder.  [A]ll it takes is a little mystery and wonder to take a lesson from ordinary to amazing.”  These are just a few of the quotes that spoke to me throughout this part of her book.

Authentic Audience

Through connections with community partners, Tisha creates relevancy for her students.  She states that “Creating learning experiences that are meaningful and relevant is essential for keeping the integrity of our programs.”

Tisha talks about how the power of reflection and that making time and building reflection into her class time has been one of the best decisions she has made as a teacher.  She highlights #Foodsnaps and Flipgrid as two platforms for reflection and leaves the reader with the question: How can you use reflection to enhance your students’ learning experiences?

Legacy

We are making a difference and leaving a legacy with every interaction we have with students.  Tisha states that she will continue to shine her light bright because she is going to make an impact on students one way or another!  This chapter highlights examples and stories of ways you can leave a legacy and how these examples have the power to transform students’ lives.  The important question Tisha leaves us with is: What kind of a legacy will you leave?  She is a hard act to follow with her stories and examples, but her humbleness gives agency to every reader to…GO MAKE LEARNING MAGICAL!

Make Magic Happen…My Little Bit of Magic

Two years ago, I happened to write a blog post “Make Magic Happen.”  In it I have my own acronym for the word MAGIC.  If you are interested in reading it, please click on the link Make Magic Happen.

Beyond the Ripples…

Soon school will be over for another year.  The hall ways become still and the classrooms will rest.  Teachers and educational staff will take a much needed break after a year of learning, wonder and amazing adventures.

Our students aren’t always happy about having two months off…heck, some of us aren’t either; two full months of being away from the consistency of routines we all know and depend upon, 5 days per week.  How do we prepare ourselves and our students for summer holidays?  How do we prepare to walk beyond the ripples of school and into the ebb and flow of summer?

In this day of technology and lightening fast responses from our devices and social media, it appears, at times, too difficult to slow down.  What ever happened to stopping and smelling the roses or living out the words to the old Simon and Garfunkel tune “Slow down!  You move too fast.  You gotta make the morning last…”?  

Although we live in an age of speed, I believe there are things we can do to prepare ourselves and our students to walk beyond the ripples and enjoy a dip into the wonder of summer.

1. Disconnect or set your device to silent.  I did this over a year ago after sustaining a concussion and it lowered my anxiety a fair bit.  Encourage your students to disconnect, to take a break, to look up, to see the wonders around them.  It is amazing how much you miss when you are looking down and not up to the stars!

2. Get outside.  Whether you are a child or adult, being out in nature everyday has a positive effect on our well-being.  Go for a hike, spend time at the beach or walk the dog around the neighborhood.  The activity doesn’t matter, but getting out into nature does…and leave your phone at home!

3. Have an old fashioned play date or picnic.  Reach out to a friend you may not have connected with in a while.  Suggest a picnic in the park or near the local river.  Start a ripple effect with an old friend.  The feeling you get from a good conversation and connection is priceless.

4. Read a book…or two!

5. Plan random acts of kindness throughout the summer.  A good friend and I meet frequently for breakfast.  Our conversations ebb and flow between work as educators and life outside of school.  It is always a time that we both look forward to.  During our breakfasts, we always have the same awesome server…you know the one?  She brings you your coffee and tea, with milk, without having to ask and always accompanies it by wearing a big morning smile.  

Tomorrow we shall gift her with a Thank You card and some handmade dishcloths that I have knit.  We will also include a tip in the card as our way of saying thank you for your kindness.  We appreciate the effort you put into making our breakfasts enjoyable.  This small random act of kindness is simple but I am so excited about it happening…I hope the ripples of this small act spread throughout her day and into her weekend because she deserves it!

Whatever we do to encourage and prepare our students and staff to walk beyond the ripples will have a positive effect.  Hopefully it will be a summer of wonder, reconnecting with friends and memories of beautiful sunsets.  

Being Positively Positive

Choose Positive

As educational leaders we spend hours doing our best to develop positive cultures in our classrooms, hallways, playgrounds and throughout the larger school community.  Some days we may feel like we are spinning our wheels and that no matter what we do, the power of negativity brings us down.  What can we do when we feel the negativity creeping into our jobs?  We can choose to be positively positive.

Make the decision to be positive, every day and in every way.  What we say and do has an impact on those around us and being positive feels great.  “If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your path.” Buddha

As leaders, we are always “on”.  Every minute of everyday, we have little people looking to us for a smile, a high-five or a kind word, and it is our job to provide these things.  As leaders, we are also guiding, encouraging and empowering the adults around us to be the best they can be for all children…what better way to model this is by being positively positive.

How To Be Positively Positive?

1.  Be optimistic as you make your way to work.  Remember that being positive everyday is a journey…and not a destination.

2.  Smile and high-five each child you meet today, tomorrow and everyday.  This will not only brighten your day, it will brighten their day, too!

3.  Remember, you are in charge of how you feel and how you feel and act affects those around you.  Spreading positives will change the culture of your school…watch and see what happens!

4.  Write a note, send a compliment or say something positive to a colleague or member of your crew.  Your kind words and supportive actions may be just what was needed at that moment!

5.  Help children to see the “I Can” in their work, day and mindset.  Show children that being positive can change their lives.  Be Positively Positive!

 

Source: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

 

Gotcha! Finally! Hook me up! Connections…

Gotcha! Finally! Hook me up!

These 5 words showed up in my Facebook Messenger window on December 30th at 10:16AM. To my shock and delight, an old friend, Phil, was sending me a message!

My immediate response was to accept his request…

“Hello!”

…and then I send him my New Year’s Bitmoji:

…and this one…

…with the caption…

“Can this really be you?”

And then…

A few moments later I receive the following message:

“Lol”

To which I reply:

Is that all I get? Lol????

…and then I receive this text:

I’m all teary eyed…my hubby
is laughing at me!  I’ve missed
you and think of you so often!

Our texting went on for about 35 minutes with lots of funny messages back and forth and then we had to have a real conversation via phone as this mode of communication was too slow for Phil.  The next 1.5 hours flew by and when I hung up the phone I immediately texted Phil again via Messenger:

You know you have a good
friend when you can just pick
up where you left off in an hour
long conversation!  Happy
New Year to you both.

…to which he replied…

Right back atchya kiddo! I’m
still smiling! Love ya! Happy
New Year to you all! XOs

We hadn’t spoken to each other in about 17 years!  Crazy, I know…life happens and time went by.  But here we were…picking up the conversation like it was yesterday…now that is a CONNECTION.

Imagine if our students came back to school after Christmas holidays and connected with one another in such deep ways…a connection to one person in the building be it adult or child!

Take the time to CONNECT with all students:

  • say their name out loud
  • smile
  • look them in the eye
  • pat them on the shoulder
  • high-fives in the hallway
  • greet them at the door
  • let them know that you have missed them
  • tell them you are excited to see them

Do whatever it takes to make that CONNECTION…

I know I am still smiling about mine…and so is Phil and that makes my heart happy!

 

Beginnings…

 

I finished my #oneword post very late on January 1, 2018.  The beginning of the new year.  The beginning of 2018.  The beginning of my commitment to live out my purpose.  The beginning!

Sitting here at the beginning of January 2nd, I, once again need to trust the magic of beginnings.  You see our son, Oliver, heads back to university for the beginning of his second semester and the feelings of missing him at home each day are beginning to surface.  These past 4 months have been the start of a year of beginnings for Oliver, and for us, his family.  For Oliver these beginnings have included leaving home and living in residence and experiencing the beginning of his university career.  For us, his family, it has been the beginning of letting our eldest child grow up, leave the nest and learn to soar on his own.  Beginnings are both exciting and bittersweet!

As we head back to school on January 8th there will be many beginnings but there will also be an ‘ending’ that will also be a different kind of a beginning.  We have a well-loved teacher retiring on January 15th, and for that particular teacher, retirement is the beginning of something she has worked toward for many years.  Mrs. Oxley wishes to begin her adventures sailing to Alaska with her husband  and completing volunteer work overseas.   Beginnings come from exciting endings!

It is not without tears and lots of emotion that Mrs. Oxley leaves a job she truly loves.
As a Kindergarten teacher she has enriched the ‘beginning’ career of many students who have run through her classroom doors.  She has been the ‘beginning’ teacher for many students. Parents will cherish the memories that their children were fortunate enough to begin school with Mrs. Oxley as their teacher! Beginnings are moments to remember.

As I head into 2018 and as I am becoming more comfortable with my #oneword choice, I look forward to my journey of beginnings…

  • beginning each day with purpose
  • beginning each day with reflection
  • beginning each day with positives
  • beginning each day with relationships
  • beginning each day with intention
  • beginning each day with focus

These are goals that I believe are achievable!  These are goals that will make me accountable!  These are the goals that will guide me toward living my purpose!  I believe I am beginning to like the journey ahead!

Trust the Magic of Beginnings…My #oneword 2018

 

Start 2018 off right!
Offer Extended!
Last Chance to Save!
Wrap Up your Holidays!

As 2017 drew to a close it seemed like we were being inundated with messages.  Everything from The Best Top 10 Lists to 17 Tweets That Sum Up 2017.  The final days of 2017 felt somewhat familiar…like the final days of the school year.  The excitement gradually building up before Christmas Holidays.

Being educators, we try to recharge over the holidays. It is blessing that we get to have some quiet reflection time before we head into the second half of the school year.

Thinking ahead to 2018, my thoughts naturally go to the students for whom we serve.  Those students who needed us the most and displayed this in the only way they knew how…

  • those students who pushed us a little too much
  • those students who spoke to us a little too harshly
  • those students who kept their distance and pretended that they were okay

I wonder how these same students will view 2018?  Will 2018 feel like a new beginning for them or will they follow a similar script from 2017?  As a leader, I want to be that someone who helps to change the script for these students.  I want to be part of that new script.  A positive script; a script of new beginnings.  I wish for all students to trust the magic of beginnings.

For our students a new or positive script can mean…

  • starting the year off with a clean slate
  • knowing that each day is a fresh start
  • trusting that mistakes made are part of learning and growing
  • being back in a familiar place that feels safe
  • connecting to someone or something

I have been thinking about my #oneword for 2018 and it has proven to be a challenging task.  Through this process I have gone back and forth with what I think my word will be and why.  I have had many conversations in my head about this.  I have reflected on last year’s word and I was happy with it.  The word was believe.  It was and continues to be a word that instills in me, hope.  The word believe keeps the kindness message at the forefront of everything I do because kindness is what I live and model for my school community daily.

As I head into 2018 I have decided  that I, too, need to trust the magic of beginnings.  I, therefore, have chosen the word Beginning as my #oneword.  I am excited to start my journey…

  • beginning each day with a purpose in mind
  • beginning each day with time to put my thoughts into a journal or post
  • beginning each day with positive messages to teachers, students and parents
  • beginning each day working on relationships with all students
  • beginning each day intentionally in classrooms with students and teachers
  • beginning each day with a plan to focus on less and to do it really well

I wish you all a Happy New Year and encourage you to reflect upon the ‘magic of beginnings’ as you make your way through 2018!

 

 

 

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