Today I celebrate and appreciate my staff, and our time to collaborate and support one another. This past week my vice principal, literacy coach, and I had the opportunity to release our five kindergarten teachers to go observe a fellow colleague during her writers workshop time. We divided the students among the three of us and had a blast reading “The Kindness Quilt” to the students followed by a writing assignment. The following are photos of our time together.
I need help with my art work. It’s time for “Smarter Charts”.
Kindness is playing with my friends.
Kindness is playing on the slide.
Kindness is playing with each other.
Today, I want to CELEBRATE Nathaniel. I’ve known Nathaniel since he was in TK. This year he is a kindergartner and, as it sometimes is for boys, school is at times challenging for him. Recently, on one of my walkthroughs, I visited Nathaniel’s class. When he saw me walk into the classroom he quickly greeted me and continued to work on his assignment. I of course was glad to see him on task. During my visit I walked around the room and spoke with many students. By the time I made my way to Nathaniel, he was done with his assignment and was starting to pull out a book box. As I knelt by his side he showed me his popcorn words on a ring and read them to me. I praised his hard work and effort and I pulled out a “little” book from the book box. I asked Nathaniel if he would like to read the book to me; he shrugged his shoulders. I could tell he was a little apprehensive. I assured him I would help. I read the title and then asked him to use his finger to point to the words as he read. Well, to his surprise and mine he did, he read it! The look of total amazement on Nathaniel’s face can only be described as pure JOY. At that moment Nathaniel realized he was a reader. All he kept saying, all day, to all who would listen was, “I’m a great reader.” That day was a great day for Nathaniel and for me!
Reading a Habit of Mind
This year is a BIG year for us, we launched writers workshop K-5 and I am thrilled! As I visit classrooms I can see the changes in children as writers and teachers as teachers of writing. This initiative is close to my heart and one I have waited a long time to implement.
I was excited last year when I became the principal of a K-8 school and I was immediately approached by a first grade teacher, who looked like a student herself, asking to schedule a meeting with me to discuss balance literacy. Well, little did she know that literacy was a passion of mine. That seed grew from some professional development for interested K-3 teachers on a Saturday morning, to fourth and 5th grade teachers wanting to join in, to a K-5 commitment to implement writers workshop. While we are not yet where we want to be we are a whole lot further than we were!
So, I celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! The planning, the launch, the writing, the publishing, and the celebration!
I took this picture during a classroom observation in a Transitional Kindergarten classroom. After hearing and discussing the story “Friends at School” the teacher guided the students through a retelling of the story. Using different color markers the students worked in groups of 3-4 and drew the characters on the bus . In their cooperative groups they used the language of negotiation to take turns, they discussed the characters in the story to add details, and they made revisions to their drawing. The teacher closed the lesson, gave the students feedback, and had the students self assess their work.
The love of books!
While I believe it is never too late to fall in love with books and reading, the earlier children fall in love the better. From the very beginning children begin to make meaning, build vocabulary, and build content knowledge as they look at the pictures, read or listen to the text read to them, and discuss what they see and what they hear.
On a beautiful Saturday morning Brooklyn and I read the classic picture book, Clifford The Big Red Dog. During the picture walk Brooklyn turns the pages. On one of the pages she pauses, looks at me, and says, “she sleeping, she tired”. On another page she yells “lion” and then proceeds to roar like a lion. Each time, I acknowledge her meaning making and when possible I elaborate, adding to her vocabulary and extending her meaning.
No sooner do we come to the end when she gleefully screams, “AGAIN!”
Wow, this is the first year I had a whole three weeks off for winter break! While I loved having the time to spend with my family and friends, I missed the students and the staff. Of course I hit the ground running on Monday morning and I have not stopped since. Many of you know the job of a principal starts the moment you open your car door and doesn’t end until you turn the car on in the evenings to go home. Sometimes, after I turn off the night-light.
I have to say, that first week back was physically challenging. I was exhausted! But, teaching and learning is the work that I have wanted to do my whole life. This is what I’m passionate about. I feel very grateful to be a part of this wonderful learning community.
The students and staff were excited to see me with my new camera, a Christmas gift to myself. They gladly posed and allowed me to play at amateur photographer. I tried to capture a few small moments from our day. Moments that express the importance of our relationships and the secret to success. Enjoy!
Cute in his new hat.