Newtown Another Perspective~from a Reader and Resident

A reader asked me to post this perspective of Newtown, Conn.  It is a town the residents love and cherish.  A town that is working through finding an identity that links the past and the present with grace. This will be my last post on the Sandy Hook Anniversary.

 

Hectic Crazy Days What about you?

It seems that everyone has the holiday crazies right now and if you have looked up into the same night sky we all share something else is about to happen…a full moon. Just about every teacher and everyone who works in a hospital can tell you what happens during a full moon. Why even my student teacher said “I don’t even have to look at the sky to know when the moon is full!” Smart girl…she catches on quick. Lord help and let’s hope the creek don’t rise (means hoping things don’t get much worse) What could be worse you say?? Rain!! There better not be any triple plays here in North Carolina!!! How are things where you are?? Is that Elf on the Shelf working for you? Are the holiday crazies wearing you out? My bucket of chicken I picked up sure made me feel better this evening and so did that hug I got right at the end of the school day. Little things can make a big difference!!
Cheers,
Sarah

Sandy Hook Evil Did Not Win~ Words from Emilie’s Mom

The first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Shooting is December 14th.  I think this video is worth sharing.  It is sad but in Emilie’s Mom’s own words, “Evil did not win.”  I think we all need to remember that children are dying everyday from gun violence in our country. Children are dying on street corners and in their own strollers.  We need to take a stand against gun violence.  I also remember the teachers who gave their lives that day to protect children. We have the power to keep evil from winning~let’s make sure that we protect all children and those that love them.

 

I Can Statements in the Classroom

Let me start out by saying I use I can statements in my classroom but I’m not totally convinced of their value in the classroom.  Initially I loved the idea behind I can statements.  Several years ago some colleagues and I were trained on using Formative Assessment in the Classroom.  The presenter talked about using I can statements as motivators and affirmations for individual learners.  We were told that each student could have several personal I can statements.

I thought this was truly great because because it seems that over the past few years some educational settings have spent more time focusing on what students can’t do rather than what they can do!  I thought how cool…Each of my darlings can have a little notebook and they can record their successes and then set learning goals for the themselves.  It seemed doable.  It seemed like an idea that was on the right track.  Affirming student success and effort while encouraging goal setting.  Well most of us know how this story ends.

School districts across the country took the idea and homogenized the I can statement.  Districts grappling with the Common Core made it worse. They created lists of I can statements.  You can find products with I can statements written in beautiful fonts with all the colors and themes your can desire. There are lists for every grade level and every subject.  This is so far from the original idea that I loved so much.  I have yet to buy any products and I’m not knocking anyone who does.  Most districts require them now. You can find a ton of variations on Pinterest.  It shows you the great extent that teachers will go to to meet district requirements.  I think also shows you how teachers just want to teach students in a meaningful way.  We will put the I can statements up but we know that there is a lot more to learning than placing the statements on the wall.

Ican1

Example of the many I can statement products available to teachers. I’m sure these are great products and are meant to help teachers.

For now my I can statements are written in dry erase maker on the board.  I try to personalize them for our class and where we are in a unit of study.  We have been told we must have them up in the classroom.  It doesn’t really matter if they add value to the instruction they just need to be on display.  I do use them with my students.  I try to turn them into manifestations of success.  “Yes you can!” I say.  I said that anyway before I can statements became fashionable in educational circles.

I know many of you believe in the power of the I can statement. I would love from all of you about I can statements.  Are they adding educational value in your classroom?  Are you posting them because you must?  Have you learned to love the I can statements you have to work with?  Please comment. I look forward to the discussion.

All the best,

Sarah

Hearts and Minds..One more Open House

I just got back from Open House for my 28th year of teaching. Who would have thought there would have been that many? My Mom taught and was an administrator for 30 years. When I started this journey I was sure that I would never be in the classroom for that long. Well here I am looking forward to a new year. This year I am teaching a Kindergarten/First Grade Multi-Age class.  I have taught Kindergarten or First Grade for all of my 28 years. I have looped, taught a First Grade with 29 children in it, taught very poor children and taught children from affluent backgrounds.

It is easy to make judgements about folks just by what you see. Sometimes it is hard to look past the physical things and see into the heart of the matter.  Open House is mostly a meeting of minds and hearts.  Parents or other care givers are looking at the teacher to see if that person has an open heart.  They wonder if this person can love my child and teach my child.  This is the one constant in the minds of parents. My husband and I wondered the same thing  year after year at Open House and Back to School Night.  We would wonder if the teacher could see into the heart of our child and help our child learn. We would wonder if the teacher could love our child.  When a teacher and a parent connect at during the first meeting at Open House one of the major barriers to educating that child has been removed.

I talk to people and let them know that I am excited about teaching their child. I hug the children and I hug the parents.  I let them know they should tell me their concerns and to always ask questions if they need to. School years have their ups and downs mainly because they mimic real life but one thing is for sure we can always get through it together. I tell the parents we will work together and we will help each other.

I can’t do it any other way because the most important person in all of this is the child. I have had my ups and downs with parents just like any other teacher. During the 28 years I have had many more ups than downs because I simply refuse to accept the downs as permanent I keep working at parent relationships throughout the year. I phone, I write and I always have a positive before I give any concerns. When the hearts and minds of parents and teachers can connect the children are the winners. The first meeting whether at Open House or some other time is critical. Make the most of it so you can be the teacher that connects with parents and children. A child’s educational success depends on it. Game on!