The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - The Power of Reflection

Last week, I attended the Indiana Association of School Principals conference. One of the sessions I attended was run by Indiana’s current Teacher of the Year, Kathy Nimmer (@Kathy_Nimmer). The session was entitled: Emphasizing Reflective Practice: How Contemplation Can Foster Excellence. (I decided to attend this session because I believe in the power of reflection. I initially started this blog to not only reflect on a regular basis, but to share my reflective practice and what I learned with others.) Kathy Nimmer, who is blind, shared stories of her highs and lows as she moved into and through her educational career. After a few short minutes listening to her presentation it was easy to see that Kathy is a phenomenal teacher and clearly deserving of her Teacher of the Year recognition.

She shared the following questions during her presentation that she uses as a personal reflective practice to help her improve each lesson:

  • Who provided a moment that defined the lesson for you?

  • What worked or didn’t work with this lesson?

  • When during the lesson did you feel most awesome or most frustrated?

  • Where could you go to seek more information/strategies to make the lesson go even better next time?

  • Why does the lesson belong in your “keep” or “discard” pile?

  • How will you use what you learned here to improve next time?

She also shared similar questions she uses with her students to promote reflection:

  • Who among your peers really sparkled in class today?

  • What was the one, most important, thing you learned today?

  • When during the day did you feel most satisfied or most frustrated?

  • Where could you seek more information about something you are wondering about from today?

  • Why do you feel the way you do about today’s learning?

  • How could you change what you do next time?

The more I thought about these questions, the more I realized that these are the basic questions I ask myself each week when working on my blog posts. Kathy’s presentation helped clarify and organize this information for me. I always greatly appreciate affirming moments like this one; the moments when you realize that what you are doing not only makes sense to you, but also connects you to other people who believe or feel the same way as you.

Asking the common question set of: who, what, when, where, why, and how, has changed my reflective practice greatly over the past couple of years. Each idea for my blog starts by looking at things a little differently during the week. I find myself not just looking directly at situations, experiences, or problems, but looking at the spaces between them. I try and find ways to make meaning out of an ordinary experience by examining many weekly scenarios and what they have to teach me about life and leadership. My question sets that I work through ask questions like:

  • Who (or what) provided a moment this week that can be connected to my personal leadership or learning?

  • What was the most important thing I learned from this moment?

  • When during the moment did I feel inspired, affirmed, frustrated, or confused?

  • Where did I go to look for a connection? Where do I need to go to seek more information about my learning?

  • Why is this important to me? Why did it impact my leadership or learning?

  • How am I going to change/improve? How can I use this moment to inspire others?

It would be easy to even take this post and answer each of those questions about it. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply reflection! I believe reflection is one of the few ways to truly grow in our daily lives and our work. Regularly taking an objective look at what we do each day and finding ways to make it better is the path to true learning. All it takes is the the time, willingness, and commitment to look at things differently, and then create some space to reflect, learn, and grow in our lives.

I know personally there is always a gap between the person I am and the person I want to be. This blog, these reflections, help me to identify the small changes, the tweaks, I need to commit to in my life to close that gap. Reflecting each week helps me move closer to the person I want to become.

So, I challenge you to reflect more. Maybe your new year’s resolution can be to start a journal, start a blog, or just turn off the radio on the ride home every once in awhile and think through these questions. I guarantee it will be time well spent!

Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog

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  • Thank you to Reggie Lockett for 6 years of service to Southport Middle. Today is Reggie's last day. On Monday, he will begin a new position in the township working with students in the alternative program.
  • Thank you to everyone who pitched in this week to help us cover when we were short subs! Student success is a team effort!

Teacher of the Month

Jenny Moore is the November Texas Roadhouse Teacher of the Month. Mrs. Moore was nominated for her leadership in the 8th grade Social Studies department, for her great classroom ideas, and for having perfect attendance in the month of November. Keep up the great work Jenny!


Week 16 Grateful Friday Challenge:

End the semester on a positive note in your classroom. Make at least one positive phone call or send a positive postcard to a student's parents each day until the end of the semester. If everyone takes the challenge we could reach over half our student population with a positive message before the holiday break!



Staff Christmas Party

Saturday, Dec. 5th, 7:30pm

851 Richart Lane

Greenwood, IN

Join us at Mr. Kight's house of our yearly staff Christmas Party. All you need to bring is a dessert, appetizer, or favorite non-carbonated beverage to share!


Each day we share a story of learning taking place at Southport Middle on our 180 Days of Learning Blog. Below are this week's stories of learning.

Chris Robinson

In Mrs. Robinson’s room students were studying the Nile River. Students were using the Nile River to study the different features of rivers along the earth’s surface. Students first studied what happens to the soil at the bottom of a river and what nutrients can be deposited or absent. After doing some reading from the tech book, students completed a simulation of the Nile River using swim noodles cut-in-half and water. Student got to see how much water made it into the pool (body of water) at the end of the river.

Danielle Bentley and Janette Collins

Mrs. Bentley 8th grade Language Arts students are preparing to begin a research project. Students have spent the past few days working in the IMC with our media specialist Ms. Collins. Mrs. Bentley and Ms. Collins have helped the students learn about the research process and identify a topic for research. Most students, after completing a career interest survey, are choosing to research a future career possibility. Today, students were generating who, what, when, where, and why questions they will refine and use to drive their investigation. Over the next couple of weeks, students will complete the research, choose how they will present their findings, and share the final product with their classmates.

Paula Swengel

Mrs. Swengel's 7th grade Language Arts students have started research on four topics to prepare for reading A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Students are researching the selection, the life of Charles Dickens, the impact of his works on society and the Victorian education system. Each student becomes an "expert" on his topic and then teaches with others in the group. During the process the students were able to view several web sites, discover new information. They enjoyed the opportunity to share as the groups "expert" on each topic.

Carrie McDermott

Mrs. McDermott's 7th grade math students are working on calculating gratuity, fees, tax, and commission. Students worked through multiple practice problems on whiteboards. When complete students would share their answer to check for accuracy. When completing these problems, students were consistently asked to focus on the reasonableness of their answer in comparison the the type of calculation.

Craig Ray

Today Mr. Ray's 8th grade physical education class had fun with their fitness. Students learned and played different games that were fun entertaining and got them up and moving. After completing a few different games, students ended class their class time with choice activities. All the activities were amusing ways to keep kids moving and excellent ways to provide important physical fitness on a Friday!
8th Grade PE with Mr. Ray


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