To the Point

Prairie Point Staff Newsletter

Volume 3, Issue 3: Friday, September 16, 2016

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Thank you for opening your classroom doors and welcoming me!


I have really enjoyed stopping in classrooms and checking out what is going on. Having a presence in the hallways and in classrooms helps me get to know our students and also gives them an opportunity to get to know me. It also gives me the opportunity to see the AWESOME things that are happening in our classrooms! Sometimes I am just popping in for a minute and other times I am able to stick around for a little longer and ask students what they are learning. Please know that if you ever have something cool planned that you'd like me to come by and see - let me know and I will try to stop by!


You make the difference!


I'm kind of a quote person. I'm the type who would get teary-eyed reading motivational quotes when training for a marathon and always feel inspired when I hear or read something that really speaks to me. I love that many of you share this love for quotes and have even passed inspiring quotes along to your students through activities, bulletin boards and displays in your classrooms and in the hallways.


I shared one of my all time favorite quotes (by Dr. Ginott) at the top of this newsletter. As a teacher and now as an administrator, I am very aware that I have the ability to make a difference. I know that in stressful, uncertain or scary times students, teachers and parents look to me to set the tone. If I look or act freaked out, so will everyone else. The same is true in your classrooms. Students are looking to you to see how to react. When a child is in crisis or someone says something unsettling, children are looking to see what you do. When you respond firmly and with compassion, you are setting a tone that is not only reassuring but also models kindness. One of the analogies that I often think about is the role the flight attendance has on a plane. How many times have you felt some bumps, heard a strange noise or felt turbulence. Who is the first person you look to? I always look right at the flight attendants - if they don't look worried then I figure that there is nothing to worry about. We are the flight attendants in the school and in the classrooms!


The other piece of this quote that I so identify with is that it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child be humanized or de-humanized. This is so true! Yes we need to address inappropriate behaviors and bad choices, but how we do it is our choice. Do we give all children the opportunity to tell us why they did something or how they are feeling - or do we go right into the consequences? In all the times that I have met with students about discipline, I have never regretted listening to "their side". It may not change the consequence, but it does help me better understand a situation and even more importantly, it sends a message to that student that I do care about them, about what they think and about how they feel. There are a million things everyday that our out of our control - the only thing that we can control is how we react to each situation. We all have that power to let students know that we care about them and love them when they are being AWESOME, but even more important, we care about them and love them when they make bad choices.


On a side note...I try to pass this love of quotes on to my kids. I thought I was making an impact with Mattix this last lacrosse season and that we had a few quotes that really helped inspire and set goals. I was patting myself on the back, when (as usual) my kids found a way to humble me. Mattix proudly showed me a new quote he had used as a screen saver on his phone: "Sometimes the wrong decisions take us to the right places". Of all the awesome quotes that we talked about, he found a quote that pretty much told him that bad behavior is okay...because sometimes it all works out. Seriously?????


Parent Communication 2.0


In my last newsletter, I wrote a little about my beliefs on the importance of parent communication. I just wanted to mention how impressed I am with the newsletters and parent communication that some of you have shared with me. I love reading all of the positive things that are happening in your classrooms. Additionally, it is helping me better understand and become familiar with our curriculum!


If you happen to do a newsletter that you email home and you want to add me to the email list - I'd love to see yours too! If you send home a paper copy, you can always drop a copy in box.

Important Information

Panther Challenge

I am really looking forward to my first Panther Fitness Challenge. We did something similar at my previous school, so I am curious to see what works and how we do it here!


It is intimidating knowing all of the cool incentives that have been done in the past - but Jen and I have decided that if we meet our goal, we will move our offices to the roof for a day! We are open to ideas to make our day on the roof extra-fun for the kids...so far tap dancing on the LRC, water balloons and parachutes (made with love by Mrs. Warner's 2nd graders) have been mentioned!


This year's Panther Challenge will be OUTSIDE (weather permitting) on September 30th. We will get the schedule to you ASAP.


Thank you for all that you are doing in your classrooms to promote this AWESOME fundraiser and get the students excited to participate!

2017 - 2018 Schedule

Yes, you read that right!


One of the first administrative tasks that I walked into was the 16-17 schedule. While Jen is primarily tasked with building the schedule, I have the opportunity to learn about our schedule, understand the history (Jen inherited the way we build the schedule) and problem-solve some of the speed bumps that popped up this year.


Here is a little of what I learned: Jen does a tremendous amount of work in planning, collaborating and creating a schedule that meets many, many needs. I am super-impressed with the number of moving parts and the fact that everyone has a place to be every minute of every day! I am also very impressed with the collaborative way that homeroom teachers work in the spring to begin the scheduling process.


From the start, Jen shared with me that she actually inherited the process for building the schedule and that it was one of her goals to improve and hopefully streamline the process for next year.


While this would be an easy thing to back-burner and start talking about next spring, we both felt that if we started the discussions now, while some of the speed bumps are fresh, we would be in a much better place come spring.


We have had the opportunity to talk to many teachers about how we can improve the process. We've also started the process to look at how we can best schedule related services and push-in/pull-out supports. We have started having those conversations with our related service providers and support staff about how we can improve scheduling for everyone. I am grateful for all of the information and feedback that you have shared with us over the past few weeks.


If you have not had a chance to talk with us and have feedback or ideas for how we can improve the process, please let us know. Please also know that we are continuing to problem solve and will be putting together a needs assessment that will give you the opportunity to provide more feedback and prioritize your needs.

PT Literacy Steering Committee

Thank you, Maureen, for facilitating our first Literacy Steering Committee of the year. Thank you, as well, to all of our teachers who were able to attend and participate in that meeting. For the most part, I was able to sit back and listen to the good works that this committee has done, as well as get an idea of where we are going. It is really great stuff!


One of the ideas that came up during that meeting was providing teachers with opportunities to observe other teachers and classrooms as a form of professional development. I think we often think about visiting other schools or buildings where they have implemented a new program or initiative - however, there is a wealth of knowledge, talent and skills within our walls. If there is something that you hear one of your peers talking about (strategies/Kagan work/implementing Chromebooks into guided reading or math, etc.) and you would like to observe this, please come and talk with me so that we can make that happen. As one of us shared, I believe we can all learn from one another!


If you haven't already, please take time to read through the agenda/notes from this meeting - we covered quite a bit!

In Every Issue...

Wednesday Meetings

TEAM

TEAM is up and running for the year. As you may recall from last year, RTI is now called MTSS - Multi-tiered Systems of Support.


As we reviewed during the August Institute, we will be updating the process and paperwork a bit midyear. Please don't stress about this - there will be time and training that is given for this transition.


In the meantime, if you need to bring a student up to TEAM, please complete the same paperwork we've had in the past. You can find that at our building TEAM website. Link is below. If you're unsure about how to bring a student up for support, or have other questions about the problem-solving process, please don't hesitate to visit a member of TEAM.


One little adjustment, that will hopefully streamline the process, is that if you have a student who is on the TEAM calendar you will receive an invite to the meeting on your Google Calendar. Not everyone has full access to the weebly calendar, so you should rely on receiving those email invites through Google Calendar.

Wednesday Morning Meeting Schedule

The file below contains all of the Building, PLC, and SIP day meetings for the year. It will be updated regularly as the plans or schedule changes.

WEDNESDAY AM MEETING

Next Wednesday is a PLC Meeting. Please be ready to meet from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.


Please know that any specialist, Jen, or I can join your meetings to discuss important topics or answer questions. If you'd like one of us to come to your meetings, don't hesitate to ask. I love to see all the great work that your teams are doing. Go Prairie Point!!!


  • Please remember to share your agenda and notes with me and others who need the information.
  • Before the meeting ends, decide what you will discuss and address at your next collaborative meeting which will take place next week.
  • Enjoy this time with one another.

PLC Agenda Options

The link below contains files for 3 different templates for PLC agendas/notes. Please utilize them for your team meetings and share them with Jennifer/Jen and any specialists that you have working with your team.


The video below shows you how to save the agenda templates to your own Google Drive.

SD 308 PLC Agenda Video

News and Info

Pumpkin Spice Fluff Dip Recipe

Both of my kids are pumpkin-spice-anything junkies. I found this recipe last year and it is seriously the easiest thing that I make. Mattix asked for it earlier this week and I thought that we could use a little Friday pick me up (especially if you were up late waiting for the final score from the Cardinals/Giants game last night).


Pumpkin Spice Fluff Dip

1 (16oz) container of Cool Whip

1 (15oz) can of pumpkin

1 (5oz) package of instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (tsp) pumpkin pie spice


I literally put it all in my mixer and mix it up. The dip needs to be refrigerated until you serve it.


I like it with graham crackers...but we've been know to put it on bagels or English muffins in our house. For a festive look, I also clean out a pumpkin pie pumpkin and put the dip right in it!


Happy Pumpkin Spice season!


PS - So far, I've kept my kids off the pumpkin spice lattes...but Mattix keeps asking :)

#FlyTheW

Now I'm not looking to pick sides or anything...especially during my first year as principal. However, in case you missed it: The Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central Title last night!!!! The first time since 2008 (during which I was pregnant with Molly...so I was kind of a bore when it came to celebrating that year!).


Having lived just 5 blocks south of Wrigley Field for 5 years and coming from a long line of Cubs fans - I am so excited for what the next month will hold!!!!


Yes, yes, I know that they kind of backed their way in...but when you are a Cubs fan you take what you can get!


Go Cubs!

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