Saturday, March 31, 2018

Inside the Trenches of the Principal: Week 36

It was a crazy final week before spring break! I started my week off in our nation's capital for Get Your Teach On! We had amazing energy and positivity there and I got to meet many great educators from around the country. I consider myself very lucky. Getting to present at Get Your Teach On and Ron Clark Academy throughout the year gives me a chance to get rejuvenated and energized when I need it. I completely understand how there are so many people who are worn down at this point of the year, but have no outlet or opportunities to "fill that tank" back up like I talked about last week. I think it's important for schools, districts, and leaders to find ways to give educators chances to attend quality professional development to get new ideas, meet positive educators, and renew their passion when the tiredness sets in. 

When I returned to school on Tuesday we had our spring learning walk from our central office. This brings in a group of central office folks who walk through the school with the administrative team and collects data on areas we are focusing on as a school. For Moore, we had three areas that I wanted the team to measure: 1) Lesson Plans/Lesson Plan Execution, 2) the Moore Four, and 3) Rigor. I really appreciate these learning walks because it brings in outside eyes into our school. It's easy for anyone to get clouded with successes or weaknesses when you're in it each day, so to have a fresh perspective coming in is much appreciated. The results showed that we have areas to celebrate, particularly where we have dedicated much time and effort into. But we also have much room for growth in other areas, and that is something I'm planning for moving forward into next year.

The week ended with a couple of very special highlights. The first came when my assistant principal and I were walking through our kindergarten classrooms and we walked into Ms. French's room. They were doing literacy centers, and I noticed that two of the girls sitting on the floor were practicing their sight words, which is not uncommon for kindergarten. The difference here was that the girls were using sign language to finger spell the words and then giving the sign for it. The reason I was so touched was that only one of the girls was deaf. Her friend was learning sign language right along with her and is able to communicate without her interpreter. Then I noticed that there were another few students next to them on Chromebooks who were learning sign language as well with videos.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, our sign language program is one of the most special parts of my school. We are not an immersion program or a magnet for sign language, so the teaching of it for typically developing students is not required, but the fact that my teachers have embraced it and are using it to make our deaf and hard of hearing students feel included and a part of our school is heart-warming and important for later life lessons.

The other great moment came when one of my teacher assistant's sons came to visit Moore. He is a Winston-Salem police officer. After he and I chatted for a few minutes, I invited him to come see our end of quarter PBIS celebration in the gym. He gladly accepted and he got to see our kindergarten and 1st grade students dancing in the gym. He jumped right in and was dancing along with them and giving hugs and talking about being a police officer with the students. Then he joined me as we went to watch 2nd grade do a math review game in the front lobby. They were doing a game that involves putting petroleum jelly on your nose, running across the floor, getting a review question stuck to your nose, then running back and solving it. We were encouraged to participate, and once again he joined Ms. Fullerwinder and myself in a round, much to the delight of the students.

It was important for the students to see this officer in a positive light. Many have had negative experiences or perceptions of officers, so for Officer Strange to come out and simply have fun and laugh with the students will hopefully put a positive outlook on their minds as they see police officers moving forward.

It's spring break time now! So there won't be a post next week, but I'll jump back in the following week as we start the 4th and final quarter!




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