Tiger Tales - A Principal's Story

The Baker's Dozen - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope you and your family had a fantastic winter break! I know I did...at least until I caught some type of sinus/bronchitis thing...I think there are many out there with the same little bug! I hope it didn't catch you! I did get some wonderful time just relaxing, spending time with all of my family, going to dinner, taking my grandson to the aquarium...I should have counted the times he said, "wow" or "where's Nemo?" (which we did find). I truly thought the rain would never stop!! I hope you had a fantastic time like that too...maybe a little football, sleeping in late, shopping, reading a book, just doing the things you never seem to have time to do during the working part of our year!

In The Oven for Next Week

Luckily, we start off with a nice, slow week! My first reminder is that all parapros - classified employees do not report until Wednesday with the students.

Monday - 7:30 - 3:00

Teachers, grades and roster verifications are due. These must be complete by the end of the day.

Tuesday - 7:30 - 3:00

This is a Fulton County staff development day. Many of us are required to attend training. The rest of the certified staff may sign up for training. I sent this information in an email a while back. Although you are more than welcome to have signed up for a training, I imagine most of you did not as there weren't many spaces available. So, all teams need to plan their Project Based Learning unit. Don't forget to go to bie.org for ideas! They have projects already on there that you could tweak or change to meet your needs! Also, don't forget to plan an engaging entry event...that is how you engage the children! (5th grade did an awesome job!) Don't forget to plan how your students will present their projects (such as how the Kindergarten team, 5th and 2nd grade did!) At the end of the day, please turn in the Project Design: Overview and Student Learning Guide to me. Also, at 1:30 Chris Elm will be sharing the math materials we have received. If you are a math teacher, you will want to be there...you don't have to use the materials, but you certainly want to make an informed decision.

Finally, these are the people who are required to attend training off campus: TAG, Art, Music, PE, Vanguard, METIs, GA Pre-K and Inclusion Teachers, Principals, APs, RtI Chairs, Social Workers, OT, PT, PSE (SNPK)...if you're not sure where you need to be, please let me know!


Students return; Signed papers go home; Leadership Meeting (Leadership Team, please let me know any agenda items by Tuesday at noon.)


Fake Report Cards due.

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

As I was looking for some inspirational thoughts to start our new year, I came across many...too many, really. I think the new year is a time to reset and we, being in education, have the ability to do just that with our long winter break. It's a time to reflect...what went well, what could improve...I also find the break provides some perspective and clarity on events from the previous year. I hope you have been able to carve out some time to be reflective and relaxed throughout these last two weeks. It doesn't matter what your role is at Spalding, we all work together...when you're better, we're better, and that's the truth. So, I'll start the calendar year with the same way we began our school year, with a focus on Little Elliot. Take a moment to reflect on what we are focused on this year as a staff so that we can become an even more amazing school for our students and for us! How did you do so far? How is your team doing? What can you do to make it better? What is the one thing you could work on? What is the one thing you are doing really well??

· It’s alright to be an individual and unique.

· Some things are hard to do alone.

· Helping others gives you a sense of worth.

· If you work together, you can accomplish even the most difficult jobs.

· Sometimes the unintended consequences can be the best!

We're better together!


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The Baker's Dozen - It's Like Taking a Bath (December 13, 2015)

Can you believe it??? This is my last Baker's Dozen for the year 2015? This time next week many of us will be traveling, shopping, sleeping, and hopefully, getting some much needed rest!

Last Week's Treats

We had a lot going on as happens this time of year! Our 4th and 5th graders were wonderful with their choral performance! Ms. B does an amazing job...if you've never taught anywhere else, what Ms. B does with our children is not the norm! She is amazing!! Our Technology Competition was really amazing too...we have some seriously talented children at Spalding! I was so impressed by our students' abilities and I'm excited to see them go to the next level...I think we may have some county-level winners! I was honored to host some of the staff at my house on Saturday night! We had a great time, but there's also a bunch of left over food, so be looking for it in the staff dining room!

In the Oven for Next Week

So much...

Our fun dress events...don't forget, you have to text me - no emails accepted. :-) Person or teams with the most pictures wins...daily winners and an overall winner, I'm basically making up the rules as we go!

Someone asked about jeans...of course you may wear jeans if you want...even if you're not participating, although you'll miss out on the fun!

Monday: Light it up! (not get lit up…but you can after school) – Wear sparkles, lights, anything that shimmers and shines - doesn't have to be holiday related!

Tuesday: Red….White…or Blue day – whatever color you pick – own it. Dress from head to toe in that color.

Wednesday: Peace on Earth – anything “peace” related – or 60’s.

Thursday: Ho, ho, hoedown…be appropriate – I’m talking about country western wear.

Friday: Winter theme – however you interpret winter…blue, white, snowflakes, Frozen, ice cubes…be creative!

Actual events:

Monday, Dec. 14 – Milestones Informational Meeting - no one came on Friday, so...

Tuesday, Dec. 15 – Winter Sing A-long (8:45); Short Faculty Meeting (Ms. Shams and Ms. Cortez wanted a few moments of your time)

Wednesday, Dec. 16 – Pot Luck Lunch – We will provide the meat (chicken and ham) and you all can provide a side or dessert! (Staff Lunchroom)

Thursday, Dec. 17 – Free Dress Day for students who bring in 8 canned goods

Friday, Dec. 18 – Parties, spirit day, Gingerbread Kid Caper

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

I love this week before break and I equally dread it...teachers are stressed, children are anxious (don't think they're all excited to leave school for 2 weeks), parents are also stressed, but it's also fun and silly and all the things that make our job one of the best in the world...whether you have to be pulled through the week or you jump in head first, you will make it...we'll make it through together...remember your smile - remember the children - and before you know it, it will be Friday afternoon! Watch the video below...do you recognize yourself?

We're better together!


Dogs just don't want to bath - Funny dog bathing compilation

The Baker's Dozen - Together, we're #awesome! (12-5-15)

Good morning, all! Somehow we have made it December 6! Only 10 short days left until we begin our two week break! Tomorrow (Monday) is our visit from the central learning community team. I'm sure they will see wonderful things happening in the classroom! Of course, I'm sure they'll share their observations and ideas for growth...ultimately, they are here to support me supporting you...it just didn't feel that way last time, but it will tomorrow. So, please don't stress too much...yes, I'd like everyone up and working with students in the morning, but that's what Janet and I see every day! If you're testing, then you're testing...we're not going to put on a show for them - just our everyday, run-of-the-mill, AWESOME teaching!

Last Week's Treats

Our Kindergarteners and 4th grade students went to the High Museum of Art and had a fabulous time! Some children will never get the opportunity to go there, and it's wonderful we have provided that experience for them (even with the naked lady pictures)! On Friday, our 5th graders had an amazing entry event experience thanks to our 5th grade PLC team. Honestly, it is one of the best entry events I have ever seen. The children are about to begin their PBL unit on Ellis Island, so on Friday, unbeknownst to the children, as they arrived at school, they were "corralled" into the cafeteria. Each child was given a new identity from a different country and they had to go through the "stations" just as the newly arriving immigrants did! Some were "detained", some became frustrated, some students got into character and used a different dialect...it was a memorable experience for the children...and just as importantly, how pumped do you think the students are to learn about Ellis Island now after this experience???? I'm so proud of the 5th grade team!! #AWESOME

I, unfortunately, missed a lot of this as I had my Principal's Coffee Chat. The big topic of the day was parents being able to share about their family celebrations in class. I stressed again to parents (and sharing again with you) - if they are going to use instructional time, it must be a standards-based topic. So, discussing family celebrations in Kindergarten and Pre-K is fine since it is in their standards. Taking instructional time in 3rd grade (not that 3rd grade did this, just using them as an example) to discuss family celebrations (Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, etc.) is not appropriate. Now, for the parties, and they are parties - this is NOT instructional time...what you and your room parents decide to do is most likely fine...you still can't teach religion during that time, but I don't think for a minute that is happening. We also discussed redistricting, but that's not something that is affecting us now...perhaps in the future, but certainly not at this point. Last, we discussed how the parents really want to help you - they feel you all are all stressed by the way you act (couldn't get specifics), but they weren't complaining about your stress...just that they REALLY want to help...please send things home to cut out, staple, etc. if you don't have anything at school for them to do. I would definitely take them up on it! :-)

In the Oven for Next Week

I know I sent this in an email, but here it is again...

Monday, Dec. 7: Instructional Rounds – 8 – 11; Signed papers go home; Milestones reports go home with 4th and 5th grade students.

Tuesday, Dec. 8 – Cosco Rep in Lunchroom; PLC meeting

Wednesday, Dec. 9 – PAGE rep in Lunchroom; Holiday Reading in the evening at Slopes

Thursday, Dec. 10 – Technology Competition; Show Choir

Friday, Dec. 11 – Milestones Parent Meeting

Saturday, Dec. 12 - Staff Party at Lynn's - 6:30 p.m. - dress is casual! I'll be in my crop top!

Monday, Dec. 14 – Milestones Informational Meeting

Tuesday, Dec. 15 – Winter Sing A-long (8:45); Short Faculty Meeting

Wednesday, Dec. 16 – Pot Luck Lunch – We will provide the meat (chicken and ham) and you all can provide a side or dessert! (Staff Lunchroom)

Thursday, Dec. 17 – Free Dress Day for students who bring in 8 canned goods

Friday, Dec. 18 – Parties, spirit day, Gingerbread Kid Caper

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

This video was from the beginning of the year...but, it's good to go back and remember the feeling we had as we started in August...What are you teaching??

Together, we're #awesome! Let's see those tweets of all of the awesomeness taking place in the classroom for the next two weeks! Let's do this, people!


Kid President's Pep Talk to Teachers and Students!

The Baker's Dozen - Taking Time to Enjoy Friends (November 29, 2105)

Did you have a wonderful Thanksgiving? I sure did! Lots of food and spending time with my family! I really hope you did find some time to relax this week! It's hard to think we're in the holiday season with this wonderful weather! Be sure to check your email for the staff holiday party!! (I resent it!)

Last Week's Treats

So much happened before we left for Thanksgiving! The training went well...many people loved the first part! I am so sorry that the 2nd part caused some stress...it was supposed to be a stress-free day! Remember - we're paying them, so if something is not working, please let me know and we will get them to adjust!

Our Thanksgiving feast was delicious! Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen...especially to our two Food Service Workers - that's pretty impressive! They were down two people, but still managed to provide a wonderful two days for us, our children and their families!

We participated in our Personalized Learning Design 1.0 team...it's really great to see we're already doing so many "personalized learning" things - it's really a matter of taking what we're doing, ensuring it's happening school-wide, and getting a little creative!

Our 2nd graders had their PBL trading day, and our Kindergarteners presented their timelines to their parents! I know PBL takes a lot of planning and prep work, so thank you for making learning engaging, fun and meaningful!!!

In the Oven for Next Week

As you can imagine, this is a fun, yet very busy time of the year for all of us! For our new teachers, I highly recommend keeping your schedule and instruction the same as always to minimize student misbehavior and disruptions. So, let the holiday season begin!

Monday - Welcome back!

Tuesday - PLC meetings

Wednesday - Kindergarten Field Trip

Thursday - 4th Grade Field Trip; Grade level RtI meetings

Friday - Principal's Coffee Chat; Volunteer Friday

Holiday Reminders: Although the holiday season is upon a lot of us, we all need to be mindful of the different religions and celebrations we have among our students and staff. To say you will "cover" all religions if you do a Christmas activity is not always do-able. Only Pre-K has standards which discuss family celebrations, so while I'm not forbidding you to display Christmas or Hanukah symbols, I am asking you to be super sensitive to your students - you may have Muslims, Christians, Jews, or Jehovah Witness' in your room, just to name a few. I would personally keep to a winter theme, rather than any holiday. I would also urge you not to have parents come in and discuss their holiday so you are giving "equal time". Again - only Pre-K has standards about sharing family celebrations, so there's really no curriculum based reason to have parents come in and share...it's sometimes just not worth the can of worms it opens, so be very careful. Additionally, we are supposed to uphold the separation between church and state, so I don't want anyone to step over that line and appear to be teaching religion. I really don't want to take the fun out of the season...99.9% of our parents are happy with how little or how much we do at the holidays, so again, I'm not telling you NOT to show a Christmas tree or a menorah, I am just urging common sense and sensitivity.

Recipe for a Delicious Week

Take time to be true friends to each other… not just in bad times, but in good too. Create times to enjoy each other. - Little Elliot

It's been a while since we visited our story of Elliot. How are you doing so far? Have you worked as a team? Do you see that others have unique talents? Have you truly embraced that all students are your students regardless of whether their yours or even if you're not a teacher? During the busy December time, it's even more important to take time to work together, but also to take time to celebrate the friendships (new and old) you have, to slow down for just a moment to be a friend, to give yourself permission to go to dinner with people...it's okay. In the end, everything that needs to get done, will get done.

85 year old best friends, this will make your day

The Baker's Dozen - Being Thankful for What We Have (11/15/15)

Happy Sunday! I hope you've had a nice weekend! Well, we only have five more days until Thanksgiving break! Whew! I told you we'd make it! Before you know it, it will be Winter Break...time really does fly!

Last Week's Treats

Of course, our 2nd graders were delicious! Thanks to such a wonderful music teacher, Ms. Badovinac, and to our awesome 2nd grade teachers! We also had the awesome sidewalk sale and coffee and bagels in the morning thanks to our TAG students (and parents and teacher, Ms. Shams)! Then there was Ms. Hutcherson doing a great job with Jump Rope for Heart! We had our student council classroom elections...so much going on! Oh...I almost forgot our Prospective Parents meeting (thank you Ken, Chris, Ms. Sprinkle and Ms. Cooper for going)...many parents excited about Spalding Drive. Wait! We also had a wonderful lunch and celebration with Tiffany and Ellen as our Teacher of the Year and Professional of Year...it was a wonderful event and it was a pleasure to spend the day with them and their families. Last, but not least, Marcia is a grandmommy again - her first boy! I probably even left something out like the amazing job our 2nd grade team is doing with their PBL or the writing taking place in 5th grade...it's a busy, but awesome school!!

In the Oven for Next Week

Not to be outdone by last week, this week has some special treats too!

Monday - Keisha Duck will be coming as a Principal for the Day. She is from Manheim North America and will be here in the morning, doing announcements, observations, and some classroom visits. At 2:45, Ken Zeff, interim superintendent, will be with all of us. I say the media center for now, but I'm going to see if we can meet in the cafeteria so we can all be sitting and listening. (Stay tuned for more details). Kindergarten students sharing their PBL timelines in the cafeteria (1:30); Signed papers go home.

Tuesday - SGC - 7:15 in the STEM lab; 2nd grade practice for PBL (cafeteria)

Wednesday - Ear Force; Student council election speeches (cafeteria, 9:15 - 9:45); PLC Chair meeting; K, 2nd, 4th grade Thanksgiving feast (other grade levels will eat in their classrooms)

Thursday - 2nd grade PBL trading event in cafeteria (8:30 - 9:45); PK, 1st, 3rd, 5th grade Thanksgiving Feast; Personalized Learning workshop (select staff); Schoolwide Spirit Day

Friday - Full Release Day - Alliance Training (email sent prior) - begins at 8:00, breakfast at 7:30 and lunch will be pizza.

You may wear jeans all week - just remember we have guests on Monday, so think business casual, not "cleaning out my closet Saturday". :-)

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

I was torn again about what to share today, it being my birthday...I could share some wonderful insights as an old grandmommy or I could discuss the things for which I am thankful...I decided to combine them. If you listen to announcements you might have heard the Words of Wisdom on Friday about the Man-With-No-Shoes who was feeling sorry for himself until he heard some wonderful music being played by a man sitting on a blanket. As the Man-With-No-Shoes began to feel the joy of dancing, he called on the music man to join him in dance. However, the music man replied, "I can't, brother - I have no feet"...This story is to remind us to be happy with what we have, and we will have plenty to be happy about. I think about Paris and the fear and sadness which must be pervasive in their city and country right now and think about how our country felt on 9/11. I am thankful to be in a country where we can express ourselves regardless of what we have to say. I am thankful to be in a place where we are free to worship how we like, be with who we like, and love who we want. I am so sad that anyone (country or people) have to live in fear every day or where learning is a privilege and not a right...I am thankful to be here for another birthday, and I am extremely grateful to be working with such dedicated and caring professionals. Make it a thankful week...

We're better together!


The Baker's Dozen - A Mile in Their Shoes (11/8/15)

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

Yes, I'm starting with the bottom first today because I want to make sure everyone reads it! I have two topics that are timely today and I didn't know which one to do, so I decided to do them both.

You never truly know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. –American Adage, Source Unknown

Have you ever envied a person’s job? I know I often get into “discussions” with my husband about how I'd love to do his job for one week! But the truth is, I have no idea what he goes through on a daily basis, nor does he have any idea what I do on a day to day basis. It's easy to judge from afar. We’ve all heard that “perception is reality” and, to some extent, it is. It's easy to look at someone’s job in the school and think their job is so easy…but do you really know what they do all day? Would you like to be the person who watches and listens to students throw up all day? Do you want to be the person who listens for the 100th time that “their child forgot their lunch”? Do you want to be the person who cleans up after the children? What I'm saying is, we all have yucky parts of our jobs that make our jobs difficult and we also have parts of our jobs no one can see. Did you know I receive roughly 200 emails a day? Obviously, I have to respond to most of them, but that's not something a person “sees” as they walk past my office. Our teachers are the backbone to our school…we’re here because of the children, but if we’re not a teacher, then we should be supporting teachers through our roles. It's easy to see what teachers do every day, but more difficult to see the tasks all the support personnel provide. We all make choices in our life including our profession, so before you are tempted to judge another person and how hard they work, assume good will and seek clarity.

My second topic is part of the first…it's about the wall we’re all hitting. Everyone is exhausted, tired, irritated, overworked, overwhelmed, and more. I've noticed when we get to this point, we start blaming others, taking our frustrations out on each other, and generally becoming unhappy. Certainly this is because you're working hard, but it's also in part because of the time of year and we need a break. I'll pause for a moment to remind us (me included) that we're lucky enough to be in a job that has a week off at Thanksgiving and winter holidays and spring break - that's definitely more vacation time than companies give out! We have two more weeks before we get a week off…it's not really a choice if we’re going to make it – we have to. I think about where we were as a school this time last year, and I can't say this enough- I'm so proud of everyone and their growth. Even if you weren't here, think about your growth and know it is noticed and appreciated. I know that to get to this spot has required a lot of work on your part. I don't think I could ever give out enough jeans passes or thank you’s where you would genuinely feel appreciated. All I can say is that with every part of my being, I am so appreciative of what you do on a daily basis (because I DO know what you do) , regardless of your position, and I am so thankful to be here with you as we navigate these waters. Hang in there…we WILL make it.

Last Week's Treats

Well, for me, my treat was the GaETC conference, and I think those who had the opportunity to go, would agree! I learned a lot, and so did they! They will be sharing what they learned on our January release day. The Principal's Coffee chat was pretty non-eventful. One parent asked about something specific to a teacher and about AR (which I checked with Jimmy), so nothing else to report. However, I have gotten a couple of emails from parents about students not watching the morning news - they didn't know about something or didn't hear their birthday announced. All teachers now have projectors. The expectation is that the announcements are on each and every day. If you're having a problem with your projector or the news show, please let Jimmy or me know immediately - we will help!

P.S. - I sent a Save the Date for the Staff Holiday party - it probably went to your clutter email, so please check! It's December 12 at 6:00 and free! I hope you will be there!

In the Oven for Next Week

Monday - Kindergarten Field Trip (9:30 - 10:30); T2O (Office 365)

Tuesday - PLC meetings

Wednesday - Ear Force; club meetings

Thursday - (no grade level meetings); Gail Dean Community Meeting (9:30 - 11:30) - media center - do not send students during this time.

Friday - Spaced Out - cafeteria - 8:45 - 10:15; Spirit Day for Tiger Trot participants - staff too!; Legacy of Excellence Awards Ceremony (for Tiffany and Ellen)

Have a great week!

Remember, we ARE better together!


The Baker's Dozen - Accepting Help (11-1-15)

Good morning! Did you remember to set your clock back an hour? I loved the extra hour of sleep! What, you say?! Then, you must have children or pets that still go by their internal clock and setting a clock forward or back has no effect on wake-up time! I don't say this to rub it in, just that you should either enjoy it while you're young or there is a light at the end of the tunnel - your time will come too when you can sleep an extra hour! (quicker than you think!)

Last Week's Treats

It was certainly a busy week, ending with Fall Centers and Book Character Day! Wow! The children had a blast and I'm not sure I have recovered from the delicious junk food binge in the media center! I apologize again for the cancellation of the Instructional Rounds. I can't believe Dr. LaCava would do so on a whim, but I know it was impactful and disappointing to us all! He has rescheduled for the 7th of December, not the 3rd as they originally said! The 5th graders had a great experience at The Alliance Theatre! Our 2nd and 4th graders had a great learning experience, too, with the visit of a Native American (sponsored by the PTO)! I heard it was amazing! There's always so much happening at Spalding and that is such a testament to everyone (I do mean everyone!) who works at our school!

In the Oven for Next Week

There's a lot going on...be sure to ask if you're not clear on what's happening! :-)

Monday: Signed papers go home, along with Progress Skills Checklists, Thanksgiving invitation, and a Milestone letter for 3rd and 5th grade students. 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers will meet during their planning with Marybeth Mulligan, CLC Data Program Specialist to review WriteScore data. (It's pretty rockin' if you haven't heard!) 1st grade has a field trip to the Teaching Museum North. Tech 2 Order: 2:45

Tuesday: PLC meetings

Wednesday: Statewide Tornado Drill (weather permitting); Select staff at GaETC (Wednesday - Friday). Leadership Meeting

Thursday: Select staff at GaETC; RtI for K - 2; no meetings for 3rd - 5th

Friday: Select staff at GaETC; Principal's Coffee Chat; Volunteer Friday (please have your materials in the media center for our volunteers!)

Recipe for a Delicious Week

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” ―Maya Angelou

Is it harder for you to accept than give? I can tell you without a doubt it is for me! People will often offer to help and I decline...why is that? I guess you could say it's a "control thing" and perhaps it is. At the very core, though, it's that I don't want to burden someone else with something I think I should be doing. So, when I think of Elliott's lessons this year about helping others and how helping makes you feel better, I forgot to think about the other side of that...accepting help! This week, when someone offers to help, take it! It doesn't make you "less than" or "helpless"; it just means you can accept help gratefully! When you accept, it makes others feel helpFUL, so accept help and it will be a win/win!

We're better together!


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The Baker's Dozen - Speak the Truth (10/25/15)

Happy Sunday!! I hope you had a great weekend! I want to thank all of the folks who stayed on Friday to help with the Fall Fun Fest! It's always a fun event, but a long day! I know many of you stayed to help, so thank you! We have a lot going on next week, so please read all the way through The Baker's Dozen!

Last Week's Treats

Thank you to everyone for doing such a great job with ITBS testing! It went off without a single hitch! The writing Professional Developments with Chris have been great and we are really seeing the results in all of our students, but we have the data for our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. Our Write Score data came back and the students are doing great! Keep up the good work!

In the Oven for Next Week

Red Ribbon Week

Monday - Dr. LaCava and team will be here to do Instructional Rounds...thank you, everyone, for really being thoughtful about the lessons and activities they will see. I have the utmost faith they will be very impressed!! Super Star Party for select students in the cafeteria at 1:20. T2O - air server and iPad docks. Crazy Sock Day!

Tuesday - PLC's - Be Healthy Day (wear your favorite team shirt)

Wednesday - Fifth Grade Trip to Alliance Theatre; Ear Force, CPR training after school, Put a Cap on Drugs (wear your favorite cap or hat)

Thursday - K - 2 - Data Meeting on I-Ready/STAR; 3 - 5 - RtI meeting; Smartie treat for students

Friday - Book Character Day or wear red. Fall Center day; Staff goodies in the media conference room (I'll bring plates and paper goods). Please, please be mindful of students who don't celebrate Halloween or any allergies in your class. If you are getting the students a "treat", I would much rather it be an object than candy. Students who go home on the bus with candy can choke!

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

Exaggeration is truth that has lost its temper. ~ Khalil Gibran

There's story telling and then there's embellishment...I've been known to embellish a bit myself. :-) If you're telling a story, stretching the truth often makes for good entertainment. However, if you're relaying information about a situation, student, or event, stretching the truth is often misleading. I'm on a campaign to myself to only speak the truth when relaying information...not to embellish to make a point or sway a decision. The TRUTH is - the truth is almost always enough. I challenge you to speak to truth too!!

Speaking of truth...this picture below is no lie or exaggeration...it is a little dancing Arias. That's right - Janet is pregnant (She's due the beginning of May). And that's the truth.

We're better together!


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A Baker's Dozen - Counting Your Blessings (10/18/15)

Good morning! I hope you are enjoying the chilly weekend! I admit, I had to turn on the heat this morning...so chilly!! Of course, it is the middle of October! Can you believe it?

Last Week's Treats

While it was our normal busy four-day week, I participated in a couple of things you should know about...

1. The Fulton County Principals' Meetings: For those of you who were here last year, you know I sent out the minutes to the meetings. There is really nothing to send this year. Twice, I've listened remotely to the meeting, so I'm not even there. :-) They are doing a different format for the meetings and after the interim superintendent speaks, we break up into our Personalized Learning groups. MY Personalized Learning group activity was to be at school for our Listening Tour (more on that in a moment.) The Director of Assessment did speak about the Milestones tests and that we will still be receiving the data soon.

2. Our School Governance Council meeting - As Janet shared with the leadership team on Wednesday, we are going forward with a STEAM Coach. Our vision is to have a person for a transition in the lab - meaning next year, teachers will teach the lessons with the support of this person, rather than how it is now. The Coach will do just that: coach. They will model lessons in your classroom, observe you teaching, provide important feedback, and support you through professional development on our release days or other opportunities.

3. Personalized Learning! I know I've mentioned this before, so please don't hate me for repeating myself - I know I have to read something multiple times before it makes sense! We are in Group 3. A Launch group, Group 1 and Group 2 have gone before us. What is personalized learning? Just what it sounds like...we are ensuring each child receives instruction in the manner and timeliness they need to be successful. Does it involve technology? Yes. The county recognizes "personalizing" for all students can't be done effectively with one teacher for a whole class. Technology will become part of the teaching and student work rather than just a practice opportunity. As we go down this path, we will examine what is right for our school. I have selected a core group who represent the different aspects of the school: Tiffany, Chip, Giuliani, Chris, and Jimmy. This is a long process, so don't worry that it will happen tomorrow or even next month...we have a lot of planning to do prior to implementation. As you hear about it, I urge you to not think, "oh no, another thing", but rather how it will support what we are already doing.

In the Oven for Next Week

All Week - ITBS Testing

Monday- Signed papers, Report cards, and student compacts go home - parents need to return the report card envelope and the top sheet for the compact. We are required to have a signed form from each parent for the compact. T2O - in Ms. Baker's room (Interactive Projectors) - update for those who don't have them: they will be here shortly (maybe this week). If you have an older Promethean or if you get a new one, the expectation is for you to be using this in an interactive manner in your room. I often see it being used as a projector or not at all...this would be a good T2O to go to!!!

Tuesday – Mini grant meeting; Faculty meeting: for everyone! We have a lot to discuss and do! If you have a laptop or iPad, please bring it. We will be: Taking our Staff photo (wear your green cupcake shirt with khaki's or colored pants); Tiffany will be discussing compensation; We will be taking our school climate survey (not the admins survey, but the survey used in CCRPI); Marcia will be sharing information about benefits and charitable fund.

Wednesday – PLC Chair meeting

Thursday – Writing grade level with Chris

Friday – Fall Fun Fest (I'm checking to see if they need volunteers)

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." Willie Nelson

Oh, Willie Nelson, I imagine he counts a lot of things, but the statement is true...we have to think of the things we have and be thankful for what we have. When we dwell on what we don't have or can't do, either personally or professionally, it's hard to be happy. When I think about my job, I think about my blessings at Spalding: a great AP, a wonderful front office staff who know their jobs, people around me who are willing to work hard, amazing students, helpful (although very involved) parents, and most importantly, teachers who have been running uphill since August. I know we have "taken" on a lot...my goal is to continue to maintain these initiatives without adding anything else. From writing, to PBL, to PLC, to STEAM, teachers have a lot on their plates - I know this. I count you as MY blessing every day, but really, you are the students' blessings...thank you for all you do for the children and our school! Today, take a moment and think of your blessings, whether at home or school, and try to keep that happy feeling for the rest of the week!

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The Baker's Dozen - Focused on Solutions (10/11/15)

Good afternoon! I hope you are enjoying your much deserved and much needed three day weekend! (4 days for some of you!) I'm glad we have some sun today - I'm tired of the dreary rain even though that's typical for this time of year!

Last Week's Treats

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in thinking "short" weeks are the longest! We had a lot going on from PBL planning to Rock Eagle to parent conferences to State of the School...it was a lot! It definitely added some stress to everyone's tired brain. I remember when Dr. Avossa approved this year's (and last) calendar...he knew it would difficult without a real break until Thanksgiving, but we will have an entire week off in less than six weeks. I know it's easy to become negative about the state of education, our county, or our school, but "this" is the state of education now. I sat with some principals at my last principal's meeting and they were not positive at all...one even was crying because she was so overwhelmed. Sound familiar? We ALL feel it, even if it's about different things. So, how do we get through it?

Let's remember Elliot's message...we have to work together! You might have just said, "We have PLC's three weeks out of four; what else could you ask for?!" Well, it's not what I'm asking for, but what is good for you...I've heard some concerns from teachers that they can't plan together...that is not true! Of course you can! When you look at the 4 guiding questions for PLC's (What do we want students to learn? How will we know if they have learned it? What will we do if they don't learn it? What will we do if they already know it?), the question about what do we want students to learn absolutely includes planning that instruction after you've unpacked the standards!!! So, while you may be focused on Tiger Time, there is no reason not to discuss other subjects and discuss how to teach those standards! As an FYI - there are grade levels who are doing this VERY well, and I would imagine (at least in this area), their stress is much lower.

In the Oven for Next Week

Monday - No School - enjoy!

Tuesday - PLC Meeting

Wednesday - Club Meetings; Ear Force

Thursday - SGC (Public Comment) in STEM Lab; Listening Tour for Personalized Learning (12-2) - I'm not sure who all will be involved...more to come. RtI grade level meetings

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

Criticism is always easier than constructive solutions. - Jaron Lanier (artist)

Whether it's in your work or in your personal life, it is always easier to find fault with something and focus on what's wrong than to look for solutions. Imagine the power (and time) we would have if we turned the time we spent complaining about a problem into finding a solution to the problem! I'm not immune to a "venting session" - it's healthy and we all need it from time to time. However, when it's where you "live", it's not healthy for you or those around you! When we're stuck with a problem, let's try to focus on solutions and not the problem!

We're better together!


The Baker's Dozen - What Every Kid Needs (10/4/15)

Good morning! I hope you're taking advantage of a rainy weekend to get some rest or just take it easy! We have a four-day week with students and then we have a three-day weekend! Woohoo! Before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving and we will have a whole week off! I know we're all tired, and your hard work has not gone unnoticed by me or by the parents! In the end, it's always for the children...hang in there!

Last Week's Treats

We had a couple of technology trainings that were great: Safari Montage by Jimmy and Nearpod by Nearpod. Safari Montage is a platform where you can design personalized learning experiences for students or you can just search for and use the digital content...once we receive our "devices" next year, wouldn't it be cool to have each child log on to something like Safari Montage where you have created their personalized learning experience?! Like anything new, it may take a while to create the "units", but once done, it's done for all students! Sound overwhelming? What about starting with one subject and using the iPads? As for Nearpod, it's also very useful for Personalized Learning! It was a basic class, but I learned a LOT! Thank you ALL of the people who came to learn. Sometimes, it's overwhelming, so pick one thing and try it!

The Data Chats were awesome - I hope you use the Record Book for grouping students for Tiger Time even if you use different data...Chris and Robyn fixed it so everyone can see the math for their grade level. Let them know if you can't see it.

Our 3rd graders did a wonderful job with "Dig It" - thank you to Ms. B - she is amazing! Thank you, too, to our 3rd grade teachers and their help to make sure this was super adorable!

Thank you to everyone who provided material for our volunteers on Volunteer Friday! They love to feel helpful and you did a great job...win/win! You might have noticed my Principal's Coffee Chat was very full...that's because Chuck Gardner, the Sandy Springs Middle School principal, joined us! We had many 5th grade parents, and I truly think they were impressed by him and feel much better about the children going to middle school. We will have some more opportunities to connect with Mr. Gardner!

General Reminders

Agendas - For grades 2 - 5, they should be used daily. This is so parents have accurate communication, but also so students learn organizational skills that will support them their entire lives.

Passwords - If you haven't already, please communicate with parents about iXL, I-ready, and any other technology passwords students can use at home. You may have shared this information on your website, but you might want to make a sticker and put it in each child's agenda (with their passwords).

Hand Sanitizer - I'm sure we've all seen the recent negative uses of hand sanitizer...here's another: when children put it on their hands in massive quantities, it drips on the floor and ruins the wax. Please make sure students are either: A. doing it over the sink or B. use less so it doesn't drip on the floor.

In the Oven for Next Week

Monday - 2nd grade, then 5th grade PBL Planning (I would recommend using the basement so you can spread out.) Signed papers go home. T2O: Safari Montage training (2:45)

Tuesday - Walk to School Day; Doughnuts for Dads (cafeteria); State of the School (media Center); Kindergarten, then 1st grade PBL Planning; PLC Meetings

Wednesday - 4th grade, then 3rd grade PBL Planning; 5th grade Rock Eagle trip

Thursday - RtI grade levels with Ken (be sure to bring data); 5th grade Rock Eagle trip

Friday - Conference Day (regular professional dress if you're meeting with parents); Flu shots (2 - 4);

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

Rather than text, I have a link for a TED video from Rita Pierson. I was lucky enough to have her visit my old school many years ago, and she is an amazing person! It's about a 7 minute video, but worth it if you've never seen it...but even if you have, it's a wonderful reminder for why we do what we do regardless of our job title...please take a moment to watch.

We're better together!


Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

The Baker's Dozen - Practicing Forgiveness (9/27/15)

We met with our School Governance Council on Tuesday. This week, we are having Leadership, and believe or not, we need to be thinking about SEED Fund money for next year. Right now, SEED Fund money funds Ms. Waller's position and our partnership with The Woodruff Arts Center and some professional learning. What would you like for next year that supports our Strategic Plan? Be sure to tell your Leadership rep if you have any ideas or suggestions!

Last Week's Treats

Whew! What a busy week last week! I loved the feedback from the writing trainings...I'm so glad to hear we're all on the right path! What about the Trot-a-thon? Pretty amazing that our parents organize this so their children, through you, can get the benefits! The collection of shoes was awesome, and I guess the news stations liked it too! The PTO gift cards were a nice final touch, and I'm sure they would appreciate a nice thank you for their gift/donation! Be on the look out for information about classroom grants...they're easy, and often funded!

In the Oven for Next Week

Monday - Picture Day, T2O (media center) - 2:45

Tuesday - PLC (not Committee Meeting) - The majority of grade levels indicated Committees were meeting on their own and would rather have another day for PLC meetings

Wednesday - Leadership Meeting

Thursday - STAR Data review grade levels (more info to come)

Friday - Volunteer Friday, Principal Coffee Chat, 3rd Grade Dig It - 8:45 (after Tiger Time)

A Recipe for a Delicious Week

A life lived without forgiveness is a prison. ~ William Arthur Ward

Who hasn't laid awake at night stewing over something said that didn't sit well? Or moped around feeling hurt about some perceived infraction? That's a lot of energy spent mulling over hurt feelings. The real enemy is often the negative self-talk, drumming up old insecurities and fears. Imagine if that much energy was spent on forgiveness and perspective. Sure, we don't always hear what we want. Feelings get hurt. People get angry. It's rotten when it happens, but life can and does move forward. Carrying the weight of a grudge is a self-imposed prison from which only you can release yourself. And that will make you a better person and a better educator.

We're Better Together!