The Cougar Connection
A Corporation Wide Newsletter
*From Mr. Gaff's Desk*
It Starts With Why
As a new teacher, I began my career with many non-traditional, innovative ideas. I imagined how I could change the preconceptions that junior high and high school students had toward mathematics. The varied techniques that I had read about in textbooks or had seen in videos were going to revolutionize the math world. Unfortunately, what looked good on paper did not necessarily play out in the classroom. The textbook did not talk about the students who would disrupt class and make it difficult for others to learn. It did not talk about the student with no parental support or the kid who did not complete any of the work I assigned, but could still pass every assessment I gave. The textbook did not talk about the kids that were difficult to like because of their little quirks. The university had given me a very skewed, unrealistic view of the classroom.
After realizing that education was not all rainbows and unicorns, I began to rethink my classroom. Unfortunately for the students, that meant that I fell back on the techniques that I had experienced as a student. I began to stand in front of the class like a robot teaching from the chalkboard, dealing out meaningless assignments and worksheets. I became engulfed in the process of school, rather than focusing on student learning. It became important for me to complete lesson 6.1 or page 55 simply because it was the next lesson in the book, not because the students had exhibited mastery. I was teaching the same way as the other veteran teachers in my department. If they have done it for 20 years, it must be what is best for kids…or not.
At the completion of my first year teaching, I quickly realized how I had failed my students. I became obsessed with checking off standards or lessons that needed to be taught, rather than focusing on building relationships and utilizing student mastery to guide instruction. The process of school became more important than the students. This would not ever happen again. Needless to say, my classroom changed significantly in year two.
Here is why I tell this story. This past weekend I saw two of my former students leaving church. We began to reflect on their experiences in my classroom. Neither of them could recall any of the wonderful lessons that I taught, but both remembered the “Fun Friday” hallway pranks and the terrible puns I used in class to add humor to the monotony of math. They remembered how I greeted every student by name everyday as they entered and gave high fives as they exited my class. They also remembered how I made math more than numbers. At the conclusion of the conversation one of them said, “Thanks for being different than the other teachers.” I quickly asked what he meant. He replied, “You worked hard to get to know us and make us better people.”
Conversations like this help me remember why I became an educator. It was not for the pay, benefits, or job security, but rather for the lasting impact I could make on the lives of kids. I encourage you to look at ways to make that lasting impact in your daily routine. If your instruction is focused on checking boxes, completing a textbook, and completing the process of school, I suggest that you should rethink why you are here. Remember without relationships, instruction cannot happen. Even the best teachers become ineffective if they have not built relationships with their students.
Make a positive difference today.
The goal of the Student Spotlight is to shine light on those students who may not otherwise receive recognition for all they are doing in and out of the classroom. Nominations should be for students who are making big improvements, have had a major accomplishments in the classroom, are going above and beyond to help others succeed, etc...
Once winners are selected, both the student and nominator will receive notice with an invitation to attend the school board meeting where they will be recognized and receive a small token of appreciation. Those nominated, but not selected as a winner will also receive a #cnproud notecard in the mail.
Please be sure to take note and nominate your students!
*Trick or Treat with a Bus*
**Costumed volunteers to be on the "haunted bus" passing out treats
**Volunteers to assist with a Witch Hat Ring Toss game
**Volunteers to help pass out candy
If you're able to volunteer or donate candy, please do so by 10/23 to Jamie @Central Office!
The event itself is Tuesday, October 31 from 5-7pm.
Thanks in advance!
*Lily Endowment Scholarship*
Be sure to congratulate them on their achievement!
Interested in becoming a bus driver? Talk with Officer Worman or Jamie on what it takes!
We are currently offering a referral reward of $200 to any staff member who refers to us a new driver who Completes their licensing AND drives a route for us. We are also offering a $250 Sign-On Bonus to any new driver once they complete 10 routes in the school year.
If you, or anyone you know would be interested in pursuing this, please reach out to us!
*Tech Work Order*
Submitting work orders will help the Tech Department prioritize and see to your issues more efficiently. Thanks for your understanding!
*We care Clinic*
*Friday, October 13: Senior Night & Mini Cheer @Football Game
*Monday, October 16: School Board Meeting
*Wednesday, October 18: Fall Break Begins!
*Monday, October 31: Trick or Treat with a Bus
*June 3, 2018: Graduation