Weekly Staff Memo – September 14, 2013

Curriculum Night was WONDERFUL!

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to each of you for the hard work you put into making this evening a huge success.   I know it made for a long night and an even longer week, but trust me when I say – it was worth it!  Some comments I heard from parents as they walked out of your presentations:

“Wow.  All I can say is – WOW!  Our kids are so lucky to have such outstanding teachers.”
“They are a hoot!  It’s so neat to see teachers who enjoy working together so much.  I’m sure their classroom must be a blast!”
“Now I get it!  No wonder my kid loves coming to school so much.  We are so grateful to be a part of CSD.”
“I am truly blown away by how much thought and energy these teachers put into classroom instruction.  And that just barely scrapes the surface.  In addition to creating awesome lessons and units, these teachers really care about my kid as a person – not just as a student.  I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.”
“How inspiring!  I wish I could have gone to middle school here!”
“Nobody ever wants to relive their middle school years, but I would do it again if I could have these teachers!”

Other Great Things I Noticed This Week:

Students working together in harmony through the use of interactive games to review for an upcoming test

Teachers teaching teachers….and…..teachers learning from other teachers – I LOVE this!

Teachers taking a risk to write a grant in hopes of obtaining more technology for their classroom

Teachers noticing students who are struggling and taking immediate steps to advocate for them

Teachers and students focused on solutions – not problems.

Upcoming Events

Monday:
11:15-12:15 p.m. – Grade Level Team Meetings; Juli and Dana will join 8th Grade this week.
6:30-8:30 p.m. – CSD Board Meeting

Tuesday:
7:15-8:15 a.m. – Beginning Teacher Training/Orientation on TNL (True North Logic Software) in Shane/Mimi’s room

Wednesday:
11:30-12:15 p.m. – Science Vertical Team Meeting in Juli’s office
3:30-4:45 p.m. – Staff Meeting in Sarah and Krista’s Room – Childcare provided – Click here for schedule.

Thursday:
Beth Knight is “Admin on Call” all day.  Goooo, Beth!
Juli has DPI meeting beginning at 1:00, so I will be out for the afternoon.

Friday:
6th Grade Ropes Course (4 Advisories only)

Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips:

I want to take this opportunity to give a HUGE shout-out to Kirk Bleavins for helping us work through our multiple technology issues in MS.  His workload has been very demanding, so if you see him, be sure to let him know how grateful we are for all that he does.  I sent out an email earlier in the week, but in case you missed it… We are working on moving some wifi access points internally so that the core classrooms will (hopefully) have more reliable internet access.  I apologize for any frustration caused by this situation and appreciate your understanding as we diligently work on a solution.

Professional Development Corner – Revisiting the Positive Discipline Model

At CSD, we do not take a one-size-fits-all approach to discipline (or anything for that matter).  But we have found that the tenets of Positive Discipline tend to align closely with our philosophical beliefs.  From time to time, I like to revisit these big ideas and think about ways I can do a better a job of making my disciplinary interactions with kids more positive.  When I first studied this approach early in my teaching career, I remember having a HUGE aha moment.  All my life, whenever someone was in trouble, in my mind the “person” was synonymous with the “behavior.”  So if the behavior was “bad,” then the person must be “bad,” right?  The Positive Discipline approach allowed me to free myself from this false way of thinking.  Let’s face it – whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we all do “bad” things.  If we’re not willing to admit it, chances are we, too, have been trained from early on that bad choices are synonymous with bad people because nobody sets out to be bad!  Nobody gets out of bed in the morning saying, “Today I’m going to see how just how awful I can be to those people and things around me!” The truth of the matter is that good people sometimes make bad choices.  This is especially true of inexperienced, smaller people – otherwise known as children.  They make mistakes.  Simple as that.  That’s how they learn.  Mistakes are opportunities for them to develop into the people they were born to be.  So where on earth did we ever get the crazy idea that in order for people to do better we must first make them feel worse?  That’s nuts!  But as I said, when I reflect back on my youth, this was pretty much the mindset of everyone I knew.  In the moment a student misbehaves, our goal should not just be to stop the behavior.  Our bigger goal should be to prevent the behavior from happening again.  And the only way to get to that point is to get at the heart of why the behavior is occurring in the first place.  This shifts the focus from blame and shame to problem-solving and solutions.  The other beautiful thing about this approach is that students can be empowered to help with the solutions which ultimately puts them back in control.  Isn’t this what we want?

So here’s the deal.  It’s really pretty simple.  I’ve decided that we can’t have too much nice in our world.  One of our most important tasks as teachers is to model appropriate behavior.  Middle school kids can certainly push us to our limits – they are wired to do it!  Hopefully our goal is not to just do lip service to what is right, but to show them what is right by leading through example.  Treat people like they are good.  Inspire them to do better by helping them to feel better.  I remember working with a teacher once who used to become very frustrated with our principal because when she sent students to the office, “nothing happened.”  After talking with her a bit further, it became obvious to me that the problem didn’t lie in the principal’s effectiveness, but rather in the teacher’s expectations of what should happen once the kid arrived at the office.  You see, even though she never really admitted it, she was looking more for revenge than for a solution to the problem.

So to end this post, I wanted to give you access to some Positive Discipline Guidelines.  Some of these are written with the younger child in mind, but they can certainly be adapted to older children as well.  You can view these guidelines by clicking here.

Thought to Ponder:

Treat-people-as-if-they-were-what-they-ought-to-be-and-you-will-help-them-become-what-they-are-capable-of-becoming

In closing, I want to share one of my all-time favorite quotes:

May we all go into this week treating people as if they were good!

Much love,

Juli

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