Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One Word

I recently sat in on a teleseminar presented by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page as they talked about their book One word that will change your life.  The following is my reflection on that teleseminar.
It is that time of the year – that time when people think about their New Year’s Resolutions – exercise more, lose weight, eat healthier, get organized …
A study from the University of Bristol found that 87% of people create resolutions for the new year.  After 30 days, 50% of those resolutions have already failed.  More surprisingly, only 12% of resolutions are successful at the end of one year.
So why are New Year’s resolutions so unsuccessful?  A large part of it has to do with our mentality with resolutions.  We often look at resolutions as something we need to conquer or beat.  Or sometimes we just forget about our resolutions or our goals.  So what can we do to make it “stick”?
The authors advocate for creating a “one word” focus.  This one word will direct your life, both personally and professionally, for the year with a laser-like focus.  Focusing on one word will allow you to focus on your hopes, dreams and aspirations through the year.
This one word is the filter for all 6 dimensions of your life - spiritual, physical, mental, relational, financial, emotional.  This word will help guide you and your decisions over the next year in all aspects of the 6 dimensions.
So how do you go about finding your one word.  In order for this to be a powerful process, you want the word to be memorable and transferable.  For some people, it will come automatically.  For others in can be a bit of a process.  Gordon, Britton and Page recommend examining three elements when trying to decide your word for the year.
·         Look in – This is a time to prepare your heart.  Spend some time getting unplugged from the distractions of life.  Get away and create space, both mentally and emotionally, and contemplate and reflect what you need for the upcoming year.
·         Look up - Discover your word.  Discover when you are open to that word so you can be your best or embrace the challenge you need to face. 
·         Look out - Live the word.  Your word now becomes a living, breathing organism that allows you to be the word.

Power of one word is in its simplicity and its depth.  You own it and personalize it - it is not about winning or conquering your "word" like a resolution.   It is about a focus for the year, those are the things you learn about your word over the course of the year.  You will journey with the word, unpack  and focus your life with the word.

Most important aspect of one word - how we live it and bring it to life.   Keep word in front of us.  One of the authors described how he and his family each paint the word on a canvas and post all their words in the kitchen, since that is where they seem to spend most of their time.  You will want to post your word and revisit it each day.  You can add your word to your screen saver, share your word with your inner circle of friends and family, periodically start conversations about our word "how is it going?  How are you living the word?"  You can even create a word document with your word "All things _____"  and when you experience something to do with your word, you add it to the document so it helps you remain true to that word all year long.

One word can change everything… so what will be your one word for the year?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Village Mentality

You know the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child.”  What exactly does that mean?  Does it mean that we as individual families are incapable of raising our own children by ourselves?  Does it mean that the more people that influence the lives of a child the better?
My answer to those questions would be “no” and “yes”.  Most individual families are capable of raising their own children by themselves.  Does that mean they should?  I don’t think so…
Think of our classrooms.  Are we as teachers capable of caring for and teaching the children in our classrooms?  Absolutely!  But wouldn’t it make more sense to have all hands on deck when you battle a storm?  Each child is part of an individual classroom.  But we cannot be expected to meet the needs of all the children in our classroom by ourselves.  No one is THAT talented.
If we can view the children as ALL OF OUR CHILDREN, it will make it easier to meet their needs because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  If we can view the children as ALL OF OUR CHILDREN, it will make it easier to get to know them because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  If we can view the children as ALL OF OUR CHILDREN, it will make it easier to get to their families because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  If we can view the children as ALL OF OUR CHILDREN, it will make it easier to step in when help is needed because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  If we can view the children as ALL OF OUR CHILDREN, it will make it easier to go that extra degree and rise above and beyond because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.
Along with viewing the children as ALL OF OUR CHILDREN comes some great responsibility.  When you see a child struggling to make good decisions when sharing a toy, you can and should offer assistance because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  When you see a child crying, you can and should comfort that child because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  When you see a child succeeding in a new task, you can and should celebrate with that child because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  When you see a child afraid to try something new, you can and should reassure that child and support him because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.  All of these examples should be done even and especially if a child is not in “your class” because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN.
The key to remember in this “village mentality” is we are all part of the village.  Just because someone steps in to help with that child, does not mean you are any less of a teacher.  Instead, it sends the message to that child that “we ALL care for you and will take care of you.”  We cannot become frustrated when someone helps a child because they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN and we cannot do everything by ourselves.  We need help.  Sometimes we need help and can ask for it.  Other times, we need help and don’t even know it.  This is why the “village mentality” can be so powerful.   The village keeps the focus on the child and can be there for the child at ALL times.  Embrace the power of the village and keep the focus on the child. 
These are OUR children… not your children or my children!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Make Every Day a Holiday

Isn’t it funny where you find inspirations?  It could be something you see, something you hear, something you experience first-hand.  Or it could be from a quote, or a random interaction, or a passing glance.  I was eating a piece of Dove chocolate and on the inside of the wrapper was the quote, “Make every day a holiday.”
The more I reflected upon that quote, the more of an impact it made on me and the more it inspired me.  “Make every day a holiday.”
What is so special about holidays?
The holidays are a time which most people spend with their dearest friends and family.  Those that are closest to us in our lives are the ones we typically spend the holidays with.  Those people that we love, we care for, we cherish the time with, those are the ones we spend the holidays with.  Make every day a holiday.
The holidays are a time when most people reminisce.  They laugh together, cry together, relive the “good times” together.  It is a time to reflect together on the year or years and celebrate together.   These good times are often celebrated over hearty food and drinks, making the occasion more special!   Make every day a holiday.
The holidays are a time when most people put aside their worries, their fears, and their troubles.  The holidays bring out that special moment in us all where we can focus on the positives and “forget” about the negatives – even if it is only for a brief moment.   Make every day a holiday.
The holidays are a time when most people are thankful for what they have, and not worried about what they do not have.  They take the time to think about all the blessings they have in life.  Whether it is good health, a job, a loving family… there are many reasons to be thankful in life.  Make every day a holiday.
So with a series of holidays coming up in the next few months, be sure to think about what is special to you during the holidays.  Be sure to bottle that love, that energy, that spirit and “make every day a holiday”.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Energy Bus


I recently read The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon (there is also a picture book if you want to bring the message to children).  This is a very powerful book with a simple message:  you control the positive energy around you!  Jon Gordon outlines 10 rules to controlling your happiness:  Here are a few of my favorite bits, pieces and thoughts from the book:
Rule #1 – You are the driver of the bus! 
This is the most important rule because you can only control yourself and the path you choose to take.   As the driver, you are the one who must choose your vision of where you want to go.  You have the best seat and the best view of your life so it’s up to you
Rule #2 – Desire, Vision and Focus move your bus in the right direction. 

Focus on your vision each day for 10 minutes and see yourself creating everything you wrote down on that paper.  It is the law of energy, the law of attraction - the more we focus on something, the more we think about something and the more it shows up in our lives.  Thoughts are magnetic.  What we think about, we attract.  What we think about expands and grows.  What we put our energy and attention on starts to show up in our life.  And the energy we project through our thoughts is the energy we receive.  We are winners, not whiners!

Rule #3 – Fuel your ride with Positive Energy!
E + P = O (Events + Perception = Outcome or Events + Positive Energy = Outcome) We can't control the events in our life but we can control how we perceive them and our perception and response to the events determine our outcome.  There will always be potholes or roadblocks in our life.  But it's how we choose to deal with the events in our life that means everything.  Negative energy - Let it go, release it, throw it out, transform it… ex when the work is piled high, be thankful you have a job

One Great Golf Shot Theory - after playing a round of golf, people  usually don't think about all the bad shots they made but rather focus on the one great shot they had that day - which leads them to want to play again.  Be sure to focus on the positives!
Rule #4 – Invite People on your bus and share you vision for the road ahead
Keep asking people to get on the bus.  The worst they can say is "no".  If you don't ask, they won't know to get on.  Plus, the more people you pick up along the way, the more energy you create during your ride.  "I am not bound to win, I am bound to be true.  I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light that I have." - Abraham Lincoln
Rule #5 – Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on the bus
Don't worry about the people that get on your bus.  You can't drive anyone else's bus.  You can only drive your bus.  The more energy you spend worrying about the people who did not get on your bus, the less you will have for the people who are on the bus.  And if you are worrying about the people who didn't get on the bus, you won't have the energy to keep asking new people to get on.

Ultimate Rule of Positive Energy - Our positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone's and everyone's negativity.  Your certainty must be greater than everyone's doubt.  Positive energy is like a muscle - the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  Repetition is the key and the more you focus on positive energy the more it becomes your natural state.

Rule #6 – Post a sign that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED on your bus

Meet with the people not on the bus and tell them we need a "positive and supportive team and whoever is negative will be kicked off the bus or left at the station"   You give people a chance to change and they don't get it, then you got to kick them off the bus.  Or else they will ruin your ride

Rule #7 – Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride

Enthusiasm comes from the Greek "entheos" which means "inspired" or "filled with divine".  If you maintain your enthusiasm, more people are likely to get on board your bus!

Rule #8 – Love your passengers!

To really tap the power of your heart and lead with positive, contagious energy, you must love your passengers.  You must be a love magnet.  You become a love magnet by sharing your love generously.  Enthusiasm gets them excited about being on your bus, but love is what keeps them on your bus.  Love takes time.  It is a process, not a goal.  Love is something that needs to be nurtured.  Focus on bringing out the best in each member of your team.  When you love someone, you want the best for them, you want them to shine.  And the best way to do this is to help them discover the value inside them.

5 Ways to Love your passengers
·         Make Time for Them
o    Get to know them as people, not numbers.  Just as you would tend to a garden, you need to cultivate your team with love
·         Listen to them
o    Your employees just want to be heard, so listen to them and hear them.  Empathy is the key
·         Recognize them
o    Honor them for who they are and what they do
o    The more you recognize them for doing things right, the more they will do things right.  Feed the positive dog inside them and watch them grow!
·         Serve them
o    Serve their growth, their career, their future, and their spirits so they work, life and being on your bus
·         Bring out the best in them
o    The best way any leader can bring out the best in someone is to help each person develop his/her strengths and provide an opportunity for him/her to utilize them
o    If you really want to love your team, help them do what they do best

Rule #9 – Drive with purpose

When we drive with purpose, we don't get tired or burned out.  When you fuel up on purpose, you find the excitement in the mundane, the passion in every day, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.  As the driver of the bus, you have the best view and vision so you will need to communicate your vision and purpose to your passengers.

Rule #10 - Have fun and enjoy the ride!
Don't forget - Too blessed to be stressed.  A study was conducted of 95 year olds and when asked what they would do differently if they had to live their life again they responded:
o    Reflect more, enjoy more moments and more moments of joy
o    Take more risks and chances.  Life is too short not to go for it
o    Leave a legacy - something that would live on after they die
Life is a test.  Each adversity helps us grow.  Negative events and people teach us what we don't want so we can focus our energy on what we do want.  Ask yourself, "What can I learn from this challenge?  What is it teaching me?"

REMEMBER, YOU ONLY HAVE ONE RIDE THROUGH LIFE SO GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT AND ENJOY THE RIDE!



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Classrooms lessons from a pedicure


A few weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated our 6-year wedding anniversary.  As part of our celebration, we went to get a pedicure.  I have to admit that this is the first time I have ever received one … and it wasn’t too shabby.  For those who may not have had a pedicure before it is something worth trying.
As I was sitting there relaxing, I couldn’t help think about how my first experience receiving a pedicure is similar to our students first time into new classrooms.  As our children enter our classrooms at the start of the new year, there are many “new” sceneries, expectations, procedures, and other children.  Knowing all of these changes that occur, here are some lessons that I learned from my pedicure that are applicable to our classrooms.
Expectations
As I was sitting there in the chair, the lady giving me the pedicure obviously did not realize this was my first pedicure (or maybe that this is the standard procedure).  When she wanted me to move my feet, she simply tapped them.  I had no idea what she wanted or that I was even supposed to move them.  I did not know the expectations.  I felt lost and somewhat embarrassed because I was unsure of what I needed to do.  I had to ask her what she wanted me to do and that was a bit uncomfortable as I was sitting with at least 10 women also receiving pedicures who just stared at me.
Children moving into a new classroom often times are not aware of the expectations.  We might assume they know what to do, where to go, how to act… however, more often than not, that is not he case.  We need to make sure we take the time to share and teach the expectations from the first day.  But we cannot stop there.  We must reteach and reteach until the expectations are second nature to ALL of our children.

Relationships
When I entered with my wife, we sat down and were directed to a chair and told to sit down.  The ladies came over and began filling up the water and tapped my legs again (I guess that is how they get you to move your legs/feet).  The ladies said very little and just massaged my feet and legs.  As I sat there in the chair, I watched lady after lady (as I was the only male in the salon) come in and out.  These ladies must be regulars.  As each lady entered the salon, she was greeted by her name and the salon workers struck up a conversation with each lady.  You could tell who the regular customers were based upon who they gave the most attention to when they entered the salon.  I am going to be honest, that did not make me feel the best.  I realize this was my first time at the salon; however, I was a paying customer just like everyone else.  Had they taken the time to strike up a conversation with me, I would have been more at ease and relaxed.  I just did not feel like they put forth the effort to get to know me or build a relationship with me.
When our children enter our classrooms, we first need to show them we care about them by observing, interacting and talking with them.  They do not care how much we know until they know how much we care about them.  The best teachers are the ones that have the best relationships with all of their children.  Whether we have had a child in our class for 5 months or 5 minutes, we owe them the same courtesy and respect and need to continue to build relationships with each and every child to make them feel comfortable and part of our community.
Feedback
As I was sitting there in the chair, the lady working at the salon used a variety of tools, lotions and other “liquids” that I am not quite sure what they were to give the pedicure.  There were times that her methods felt amazing… and other times her methods quite frankly hurt.  I had to provide specific and timely feedback so she could change her methods quickly.
In our classrooms, we are constantly giving feedback to our children.  In order for the feedback to be effective, it needs to be specific and timely.  “Good job” is nice but it is not specific.  Good job doing what?  The more we can provide specific and timely feedback, the better off our children will learn, grow and develop.
 I understand I may be a bit weird… here I am getting a pedicure and I think about how it can be applied to school.  I guess I am just always reflecting and thinking of ways to make our learning center.  If we can keep these three concepts in mind (expectations, relationships, and feedback), our classrooms will allow for creative thinking, amazing growth and development, and powerful bonds within your classroom communities.  It may not sound like it from my post, but I did enjoy the pedicure and may even go back!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pictures are worth a thousand words

#kinderblog2012 Question 5:

Choose 5 objects from around your home (NOT your classroom!) that tell us something about you: as a teacher or as a person. Take pictures of the objects and post them with captions. The real challenge here: the captions should be no longer than a regular tweet-- that is, 140 characters



My 3 lovely kiddos... they keep me young, entertained and inspired to be the best dad!


My beautiful wife... the love of my life!


The endless amount of books in our basement.  The kids love to go to "our library in the basement" to check out new books


Relaxing on a hammock... enough said


Where I spend most of my evenings - grilling out some tasty dinners for the family

Alternate Career

#kinderblog2012 Challenge... Question #4

If you had to quit teaching tomorrow, what would you do instead?


Hmmm... what would I do besides teaching?  Maybe I would be a meterologist?  I mean who would not like to have a no-pressure job, right?  What other profession can you make predictions, sometimes be totally off, and still keep your job?  Just kidding :-)

If I was not going to be a teacher or administrator, I would have to say I would be one of two professions.

1.  a sports commentator.  I LOVE sports... all sports - basketball, football, tennis, golf, baseball, soccer.  I would love to sit courtside and call games, travel all around the country or world, and see the best of the best perform on a regular basis.

2.  take over for Guy Fieri and host "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives".  Love that show and would love to travel all over the country and try some great food, meet some of the most interesting people, and share these experiences with others.

However, I know I would miss the kids, the teachers, and all the "little joys" we receive each and every day!  I am happy where I am and wouldn't trade it for anything!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mosquitos

#Kinderblog 2012  Question numero trois!
Tell us about your pet peeves. Do it however you want: write a list of 50 things that drive you crazy, or an essay about just one thing, or story combining several things, or write a song, or some limericks, or an epic poem. A photo essay! A slideshow! Video journalism! Stand up comedy! The sky is the limit, just tell us what grinds your teeth as a teacher (or an administrator, or a program director, or in whatever capacity you are joining this challenge.) (Yeah, parentheses again. I think I need an intervention.) Be careful: your blog is public, and you never know who is reading. Be positive and professional, but tell the truth. You can do it.

So this question was a bit of a challenge for me to write about.  I am a very positive, laid back person and I rarely get my "feathers ruffled".  So it was a bit of a stretch for me to think about things that drive me crazy.  I like to think that I am in control of myself and my actions and can only hope to influence others through our interactions.  But, I have to be honest with myself.  There are a few little "mosquitos" that pester me from time to time.  So here goes:

1.  It bugs me when people are labeled, especially children.  I cringe when people say "that ADHD boy" or that "Sped girl".  First and foremost, they are people.  That boy may have ADHD, but that is not all that child is.  Let's remember that fact and keep the person in mind - not simply the label.

2.  It bugs me when I ask someone how their day is going and they respond "I am tired".  I am sorry you are tired, but there is not much I can do for you.  Please don't let it affect your day.  Find a way to power through and do the best you can with you have in your tank that day - I just don't need to know you are tired.  Trust me, with 3 kids (one is 10 weeks old), odds are I am probably tired as well but I am not going to let it show and neither should you.

3.  It bugs me when people use developmentally appropriate practices as a crutch.  During my first year as a principal, a teacher came to me and said "I don't think that is developmentally appropriate for kindergarten."  After talking it over with her, my response was "so you are telling me that not one child can benefit from that?"  Often times, people throw the phrase "developmentally appropriate" around and use it to refer to an entire group.  If we are truly working to educate each and every child, then we have to be willing to look at each child and know what he/she needs to be successful.  Just because it might not be a DAP for all the children, does not mean that it could not benefit one child so don't just discard the idea.

4.  It bugs me when people say "two thousand and twelve".  Maybe that is the math nerd in me but there is no "and" in the number.  It is simply "two thousand twelve".  I know, I know - that is weird but it just bugs me for some strange reason!

That is all because I don't want to go on and on... like I said, I am really easy going and laid back.  However, these are my "final four"  of mosquitos that pester me. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Our Learning Space

When I think of our classroom over the years, a few aspects stand out in my mind.  First and foremost, it is the children's classroom.  I  have never referred to it as "my room"; rather, it is "our room".  This perception is evident in almost every way the room is designed, constructed and run.  Our classroom was not your "typical" kindergarten classroom but I am proud of the ways our classroom was set up.

The layout of the room: I loved taking everybody's "leftovers".  You know those odd shaped tables that no body wanted because they were old and did not match the rest of the furniture?  Well, those are the ones I loved and wanted for our classroom.  Our classroom had a hodge podge, a mix-match of random tables - circle, trapezoid, rectangle, square.  I did not want the long rectangular tables that 6 children sat around that were colorful and uniform.  I wanted a variety of tables.  Some tables had chairs, others did not which allowed for children to stand and move around if they wanted to.  Some tables were lowered so children could sit on their pillows and knees.  Other tables had balance balls for children to sit on, wiggle on, and learn on.  We also had a full set of clipboards for those children that wanted to spread out, lay down and learn on their stomachs or backs.  Our room did not have a teacher's desk because it took away space from their room (and it helped me keep my piles of paperwork down!)  Our room configuration changed from year to year and quite frequently throughout the year when we needed to better meet our needs.  Needless to say, each year our room looked different.  It met the needs of our class and took on the personality of our class!

Putting it all together: each year when the children walked into our room, it was empty.  Nothing was on the walls or on the shelves.  Putting our room together was our first task as a class on the first day.  I had everything (toys, manipulatives, books...) in boxes.  The children would then "unpack" the room.  They had to decide which items went on each of the shelves (this helped with cleaning up at the end of each day because they knew where everything belonged because THEY put it there).  They helped to create everything on the walls.  I no longer had to buy fancy little posters and signs.  THEY made everything (colors, number charts, letter charts... everything) and then determined where it would go up on the walls so they could use that information.  This created ownership and pride in our classroom and our work since we all needed to use the work on the walls to help us all learn. 

Obviously, this takes a great deal of trust and letting go on my part or any teacher's part.  But ultimately, it did not matter to me where things went on the walls or on the shelves.  It was their room and the children determined what was going to work best for them (even at the young age of 5)!  Our learning started by creating our learning environment - a learning that went beyond standards, curriculum and assessments.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Choices


What do you choose to do with your time?  I like to mow the yard on the weekend, lay in the hammock and play with the kiddos.  My wife likes to clean the house (weird, I know).  My oldest daughter, right now, loves to ride her bicycle, play school and put on dance recitals.  My son, he loves to be a boy - dig in the dirt, wrestle, water the yard, mow the yard…  My youngest daughter who happens to be 7 weeks old, well she loves to sleep, eat and just hang out.

It is amazing how motivated we are when we have choices.  When I am asked to do something and have choices on how I can do it, I am more likely to do it the way I want and am more likely to do a better job when I have choices.  Think of our students.  When we ask students to do something, how often do we give them choices?  Are we giving them choices along the way to give them a sense of ownership?

Often times, if we give students choices along the way they will be more motivated and more engaged in the process.  If we are focusing on the process of learning and not necessarily the end product, the choices along the way will lead students down different paths.  It is important for us to be comfortable as teachers to allow our students to have choices in their learning.  Whether it be in their cognitive learning, gross motor learning, fine motor learning, social/emotional learning, giving students choices for learning will further their engagement and their motivation to learn.

One of the core Montessori tenants revolves around choice.  Children are able to choose their work and do their work as long as their interest and focus is there.  That is so powerful but the choices we offer can go beyond work.

What choices will you give your kids today?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Monday Memo

This past week, I started a Monday Memo (thanks to @PrincipalJ and @teachingwthsoul for the ideas).  I want to highlight the great things that are happening each week at our school while reinforcing best practices to our teachers.  I always think a little public praise helps :-)

How do you spell T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?
Each week, I will try to highlight a few of the many wonderful things I notice while I am out and about in the classrooms, outside on the play areas, or in the hall.  These are just a few of the many wonderful things that occurred last week at Innovation Kids.  Thank you for engaging in the best practices and doing what it best for each other and the children!
T is for Trusting
Emily, Toddler B float teacher, allows her children to trust her. She is patient, kind and the children trust her.  I noticed this past week when I was in the classrooms that Emily was helping instill responsibility in her children.  She encouraged the ducklings to take care of the classroom and one another.  There was some trash on the floor and Emily encouraged her friend to help keep the room clean by using a positive, soft tone.  Regardless of a new challenge, her children trust her and will do what she asks (as much as an 18 month old will listen J).  Emily always uses kind words, has a caring smile, and encourages every child to continue to grow and learn.
E is for Enthusiastic
Sara, Belugas teacher, is full of enthusiasm.  Simply walk into the Belugas classroom and you will notice that she is always smiling, laughing and enthusiastic about her day.  She is enthusiastic about all her children’s learning as well as her own learning.  Whether she is buggying around, changing diapers, feeding children, or playing with the Belugas, Sara is enthusiastic in everything she does.
A is for Amazing
Sakinah, Toddler A float, has a sense of calmness about her.  She is amazing in that, no matter the issue or dilemma, from a biting incident to broken heart, Sakinah always keeps her cool. Her kind, caring demeanor allows her to be loved by all. The other day as I was walking around, I noticed that Sakinah was outside on the playground, moving around and interacting with the children.  She was taking the time to play with the children and getting to know them on a different level – a characteristic of what amazing teachers do!   
C is for Charisma
You know those people who appear in your life and -- no matter what they say or do -- everyone loves them? That is Becky, Ladybugs teacher.  She is beloved by all her children for her firm, fair and consistent manner.  She has amazing charisma and can keep her children engaged for what seems like hours (which is no small task when working with two year olds).  Her genuine caring for her students, teachers, parents and school community has won the hearts of many.  I observed two ladybugs disagreeing over the dinosaurs last week (I know, disagreeing never happens with two year olds J) and she calmly reminded them to use their words.  She never once raised her voice but helped them work out the disagreement between them in a respectful, nurturing way!  The most powerful part was a few minutes later, one of the children had another disagreement over the dinosaurs and he was able to solve the problem all on his own!  Kuddos to Becky and allowing her students to be problem solvers with just the right amount of guidance!
 H is for Helpful
Dolores, part-time teacher, is a wonderful example of a person who is helpful.  Dolores comes in each and every morning and is a great help to everyone.  There are times when classrooms can cover their own breaks and we don’t need a part-time teacher in those classrooms.  Dolores is always the first one approached to move and she always does so with a smile!  She even mentioned to me this past week that although she loves the babies, she has enjoyed being with the summer program, preprimary and primary students.  Dolores epitomizes the true definition of a helping hand.   

E is for Extraordinary
Andrea, “combo” float teacher, puts the E in extraordinary. Andrea works with three different classrooms in three different units (Crocodiles, Llamas and Zebras).  Each classroom has its own personality, challenges and rewards.  Andrea is able to connect to each set of children (Toddler A, Preprimary and Primary) in a way that demonstrates extraordinary brilliance. When I see her interact with the children, I am always in awe of her teaching and passionate spirit and her ability to “switch” from unit to unit with grace, determination, and drive.   This past week, it was fantastic to see how Andrea gives very specific and timely feedback.  Instead of just saying “good job”, Andrea is very deliberate with her feedback. For instance, I overheard her say “I really like how you cleaned off your plate.  You scraped off all your food into the trash can.  Thank you for taking the time to scrape your food off.”  What great feedback!
R is for Resonate
Amy, Elephants Teacher, has a passion for Montessori philosophy and methodology.  She has completed her Montessori Certification through NCME (the National Center for Montessori Education). Her manner of teaching with Montessori’s phiolosphy and her message of grace and courtesy always resonates with her students. I love popping into the Elephant classroom and seeing her steadfast commitment to living a life filled with seeking her passion and teaching the children to find their own passion for learning.  This past week, I saw her talking with a child and discussing the importance of being courteous to our friends and taking turns.   

That is a terrific way to spell TEACHER!  Thank you Emily, Sara, Sakinah, Becky, Dolores, Andrea and Amy!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Power of a Smile


I am sure you have all heard the old saying “It takes 33 muscles to frown and 13 to smile - so why overwork?”  Have you ever noticed when you are feeling down that the best way to cheer yourself up is to make someone else smile?  It’s true - try it!

While I was attending college, there was a guy who I would see almost everyday as I walked to class.  He was somewhat of a hippie.  He had a long, scraggly beard, wore the same shirt, never wore any shoes (no matter the weather - sun, rain, snow… never wore shoes)and ALWAYS wore a sign around his neck that read “SMILE!” I could not walk by this guy without smiling.  No matter the kind of day I was having, no matter what exam or paper I had due, no matter how I felt, this guy always brought a smile to my face.  Just seeing that simple word “SMILE!” made me forget about my worries for a moment and enjoy a smile.

With summer approaching, the days will be longer and we can have lots to do outside.  Sometimes the long days can make it a challenge to always be on our game.  Those are the times that our children need us the most.  They are so perceptive and know when we are up or when we are down.  Those are the times that we need a smile. 

Now I can’t guarantee you that I will walk around barefooted holding a SMILE sign.  However, I know that all it takes is one person to make another person smile and it catches on faster than "summer fever". 

I challenge you to make each child smile at least 3 times a day and make each adult you come in contact with smile at least once a day...  If you do that, you will be smiling as well ALL DAY LONG!