Lance's Ledger

May 16 - 20 at Central Elementary

Learning Excitement Abounds

Despite the fact that may has become a month filled with formal assessments such as M-STEP, DIBELS, DRA and STAR Math, there continues to be a strong focus on interactive teacher/student learning. During visits to classrooms I have been fortunate to witness discussion of learning targets and find students eager to involve me in their class activities. I chuckle as it is becoming the norm that students will not just let me visit and passively observe. Many times they engage me and share their ideas and invite me to visit their work stations to "see for myself." This tells me a great deal about how much teachers develop their classroom learning environment.

Students grasp the joy of learning more than we sometimes realize. They are excited to share what they know and sport wide smiles when we adults express wonderment at how much they know. All you have to do is "thank" a student for "teaching" us something and you see their eyes light up with pride and accomplishment. That interaction is why true educators can't be replaced by computers!

Visits to classrooms confirms the fact that Central Elementary is fortunate to have the services of many dedicated teachers and even more inspiring human beings. It is through the magic of human interaction that new ideas are born. Excitement about learning does not have predetermined limits except those which we allow to create artificial boundaries for students. Throughout the hustle-bustle of the end of the school year I hope all of you have an opportunity to reflect on the difference you make in the lives of children. Your call to service is a charge to help develop free thinkers as the basis of self-determined individuals. Continue to model how one can "reach for the stars" and think big thoughts. Cherish, protect and be positive with the time you use to influence future generations!

PD Time

Teacher feedback has been very positive regarding May 11th's Guided Reading PD with Melissa Wing. Melissa is returning to the 4th grade PLC on May 24 for some additional follow-up. Melissa's no-nonsense can-do strategies and advice seemed to hit home. As a"teacher's teacher" she shared the "how-to get 'er done" wisdom of a master teacher. She visits many districts and shared one common concern among teachers always revolves around how to fit in groups and maximize teaching time for students learning. One of the points Melissa continues to stress is the importance of solid classroom management from the start. Without it, a teacher's job becomes so much harder to do.

This PD theme was part of our school improvement plan. Judging by the comments after the inservice regarding the power of the presentation I surmise our team will look for more of this type of inservice. Melissa's inservice was based in best practice, the reality of the classroom teaching experience and offered a lot of opportunity for teachers to ask questions. All that is left is for teachers, as individuals, to reflect and put applicable ideas into practice in their own classrooms. Go for it!

This Week at Central

Monday, May 16

  • M-STEP Grade 4
  • ACC meeting @ Cardinal Center from 4:15 - 6:15 PM (Monica, Melissa, Lance)

Tuesday, May 17

  • M-STEP Grade 4
  • PTO Meeting @ 6 PM in the Library (last meeting of the year)

Wednesday, May 18

  • Staff Meeting: Agenda items include, touching base on end of year check-out lists; room inventories; behavior data update; Grade 4, May 31 trip update (Tim, Wendy, Lori)
  • M-STEP Grade 4
  • ELA PD at Gates for Grade 4 (4:15-6:15)

Thursday, May 19

  • M-STEP Grade 4
  • Lance @ prin. mtg. (9:30 - Noon)

Friday, May 20

  • M-STEP Grade 4
  • Table of Honor (all lunch hours)
  • Teacher participation form due to Lance (c/o Lyn)
  • Box-Top/Soup Label contest ends
  • AAA Seat-belt Survey in parking lot after school

Looking Ahead

May 2016

  • May 23 - June 3...DRA Assessment 1-4 with subs; STAR Math Assessment Grades 2-4; CST Meeting
  • May 24... PLC/Placement Input (CAP teachers will join grade level PLC)
  • May 26...Bldg. Rep. mtg. 7:30-8:10; CST Meeting
  • May 27...Lance out of building for PM
  • May 30...Memorial Day/ No School for Students or Staff
  • May 31...Grade 4 (music, phys. ed., and classroom) Trip to Williams Property; STAR Math Assessment continues to June 3

June 2016

  • June 1...Staff Meeting
  • June 2...Tornado Drill; Team Leader Meeting
  • June 3... DRA ends (enter in illuminate by June 13); PTO Color Walk
  • June 6...B. Smith and McDunnah to ForMar (9-2); Grade 4 to Hahn orientation from 9-10:30 AM; Field Day Grade 4 in PM; DHS Graduation in evening
  • June 7...Field Day Grade 1 in PM; Inservice on Everyday Math - Grade 1 AM/Grade 3 PM; 5th Grade Parent Orientation (current 4th grade parents) at 6PM in Hahn Cafeteria/Gym
  • June 8...Lane & Long to ForMar from 9-2; Field Day Grade Grade 3 in PM; Inservice on Everyday Math - Grade 2 AM/ Grade 4 PM; Grade 1 ELA PD at Central from 4:15 - 6:15)
  • June 9...T. Smith & Parrott to ForMar from 9-2; Field Day Grade 2 in PM; ELA PD at Central for Grade 2 from 4:15-6:15 PM
  • June 10...Lance out of building for PM; Grade cut-offs, report card assembly begins
  • June 13...DPA CMC (4:15 - 6:15 PM); Report Grades and comments in by 9 PM; Board of Education Meeting @ 7 PM
  • June 14...Report Cards printed
  • June 15...Staff Meeting
  • June 16...1/2 student day with dismissal @ 11:35 AM; End of Year Luncheon @ 12:15 PM
  • June 17...Student 1/2 day with dismissal @ 11:35 AM / Last student day* (*teachers may check out if finished on June 17 by 4:30 PM: Checkout will begin at 2:30 PM)
  • June 20...1/2 teacher day/Last Teacher Day; Report Cards mailed home at noon
  • June 23...Building closes to public for summer at 4 PM

August 2016

  • August 8...Office re-opens to the public
  • August 15...Teacher Report Day, Opening Staff Meeting & Work Day for Teachers and parapros
  • August 16...Teacher Evaluation Inservice
  • August 17...Everyday Math Inservice; Open House 5-6:30 PM
  • August 22...First Day for Students

A Thought from a Great Teacher

"I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the

conditions in which they can learn.”

—Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein once claimed that if he was presented with a problem and given one hour to solve it, he’d spend 5 minutes on the solution and the other 55 minutes defining the problem. He was born to be a teacher, and lived his life and work with a healthy mix of compassion and curiosity. This is one of his lesser known quotes, but it fits the bill for sharing in this post.

The message: The best environments we can provide for our students are the ones that lead them to taking responsibility for their learning. What a difference it makes in a student’s mind knowing that they’ve discovered the answer for themselves, or been able to create it if it wasn’t there.

Humor Lifts Spirits

On a recent visit to a restaurant in Michigan's Thumb my family noticed the unique additions to the decor. Now, this is a rustic inn featuring open log rafters and hunting regalia all over the walls, a mini-arcade off to the side and an area for nightly musical group performances. However, glancing among the rafters there were hand-crafted signs featuring humorous "play-on-word" sayings such as:

  • I used to be addicted to the Hokey Pokey but then I turned myself around; and
  • A day without sunshine is know...NIGHT!

I had a chance to speak with the inn's owner (a retired City of Detroit Police Officer) who shared he decided to craft the signs after his staff noticed more and more people coming in to the restaurant in crabby and hurried moods. He said, "Imagine, you come into a restaurant to have a relaxing time but you're already stressed out. It doesn't make for a good time! My staff talked about what they could do as a team (interestingly, the wait staff wears shirts that proudly display the Inn TEAM on the back). The signs are silly but a lot of people start chuckling and their mood changes. We (the wait staff) get a lot of laughs too. You don't know how funny it is to watch everyone looking up in the rafters to read the signs."

My experience at the inn got me thinking that it is easy to take ourselves too seriously at times. We want to do our best job but get weighed down in the details, start to worry and then develop the "why me" attitude. It's obvious that the staff at the Inn was committed to each other and took the initiative to creatively solve the perceived problem. It seems that whether you are a member of a restaurant team or a school team stress will be a challenge to address. One link to to relieving that stress, and serving the organization's respective public, may be to look UP to see the humor and the good and then go about "solving" the problem. My eat-INN experience definitely has me thinking!

Speaking of Humor

I was chatting with Stephanie Thomas in her room when in walks Ashley Romine with a terrarium in her hands. Ashley was all excited and said, "Well this was a first for me! I was walking around my room and see'll never guess what." Stephanie and I break out in big smiles (just seeing Ashley so excited tends to do this!) and almost in unison respond, "What!"

Ashley proudly displays the terrarium and reports, "It's a turtle!" I saw it walking across the floor and then (________) one of my most animal loving kids pulls his legs up on his chair and says 'And its head just moved!" Well, you can imagine that Stephanie and I are in stitches at this moment while Ashley goes on to explain that one of her students brought it to school in his backpack and then put it in his desk for the day. Of course, the turtle escaped from the desk. Quickly thinking that she needed to find a spot for this small two-inch painted turtle Ashley thought, "Where can I find something to keep this in so it doesn't get out again and get stepped on? BEN! You know... Ben will just have to have something!"

At that point I sensed a Kodak moment and Ashley instantly posed, with terrarium in hand, as only Ashley can. Her excitement and humor was contagious and she was living and sharing in a moment the same as you often see students do. Ashley, thanks for sharing your excitement and humor over an out of the routine event. You made my day and I am sure your bright outlook touched many other as well!

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Wishing you continued success as you provide opportunities for students to learn and grow!