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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The News Challenges Us: What Could We Do?

One great challenge today is how to protect the lives of innocents in peaceful ways.

I don't believe we need war or aggression to make positive change, and I do believe we can use money and people power to positively impact positive change.

Let's think about the Aaron Hernandez case. Here's a case of an individual who appeared to have a lot of strengths, but also faced a lot of challenges. What could have happened during his young life to build more on the strengths so the grave challenges he later faced didn't occur? What could his family, teachers, neighbors, coaches, and others have done to direct him in a better direction? I'm sure everyone of those people have some ideas about this, and perhaps they'll use those ideas to better life for others. There's a lot of young Aaron Hernandez's out there, and perhaps the promise of his demise can be that people will take what they learned and make life better for those young men and women.

Every time a terrorist event occurs, I wonder too--what could we do to encourage those terrorists to use their time and energy for good rather than for destruction? What encourages them to cause such pain and suffering?

How can we change destruction-for-change to positive development-for-change? How can we use what we know already and the good acts that occur throughout the world to promote this?

When we turn a blind eye to any suffering, we only create more. Yet, none of us have the answers in all challenging arenas that we are aware of. I'm aware of arenas of challenge that I've tried to affect to no success, and I hope that others that are aware of those arenas will be able to do a better job there than I can. Then there are arenas that I do have some say over--areas where I can have a positive affect, and it's there that I need to put my energy and knowledge.

It's not a perfect world, but it remains a world with tremendous potential for good. Watching "Hidden Figures" last night provided me with a great example of working for betterment and good--there's so much to learn from that film.

It's important to read up on the world around us and to think about how we might positively affect and/or change what's happening to better promote "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for all people young and old. I believe we can do a better job as a people, and the key is working together toward fulfilling the tremendous promise and potential that exists.

Guessing Games?

I like my planning and research to stay about nine months ahead of implementation. I find that when I'm ahead, I can seize opportunities such as grants, conferences, seminars and more that help to enrich the work I do.

In some cases, this forward movement is hindered by guessing games. Guessing games arise when questions are posed and unanswered. Guessing games arise when information is not forthcoming and plans unshared. Guessing games stand like a wall that hinders forward movement, and guessing games, for the most part, waste a lot of precious time.

Why do guessing games occur?

I'm not sure about this. Perhaps questions are asked before others have thought about the topic. Perhaps people feel that some in the trenches can't handle news of future plans and information. Perhaps there's a worry that if questions are answered, more questions will be asked. I'm not sure.

Now, guessing games don't occur in all parts of my work and learning. The state of Massachusetts and the teachers union for example are very good about sharing information and letting us know what's happening. They invite voice and provide some choice. I don't always agree with the state or union, but I do always appreciate their information share and invitation to take part by sharing ideas and doing what you can. In fact, their share is so good, that I have to prioritize about where I'll get involved and where I'll leave it to others.

In other areas of my work, it's always a guessing game. I pose questions and no one answers. People meet and the information is not shared. I watch the school committee meetings, read the newspaper, and read other memos and information posted and try to piece it all together to see where we might be headed in those arenas. I make my best guesses and try to align my research and work with what I guess to be the direction of effort. I also try to share my research as one way to impact direction, but I rarely receive response, so I have no way of knowing if that research is impactful or not in a transparent way, but again I can guess as I watch efforts take place.

In the best of circumstances, I'd like to replace "guessing games" with good communication, the kind of communication the state and union pride themselves with. They share regularly with the students and teachers in mind. They are open to my questions and suggestions and typically respond in good time with logical answers--answers that help me to understand where my research, questions, and work fit into the bigger picture. This kind of respectful response leads me forward to greater research and effort. It's a win-win in so many ways.

For now though, with regard to the guessing games, I'll tie my work to the information I know and continue to research, study, and work towards betterment and development in the areas where I have the greatest responsibility. Hopefully one day most guessing games will be replaced by terrific communication and share cycles, the kind of communication that empowers people to work collaboratively for truly terrific work and endeavor. Onward.

Bring the Light: Returning to School After Vacation

Tomorrow I'll return to school after a wonderful week's vacation. The theme will be to bring the light to the positivity, challenges, and opportunities that exist during the final nine weeks of the school year. We have a great program planned for the final chapter of school, and the overall focus will be to coach students forward with care, attention, and optimism.

What will that look like?

First Week: April 24 - 
Back to School Reflections

Sometime in the first few days students will reflect on the learning and special events to come. At that time, we'll also revisit student portfolios.

During the first week back, the main focus will be the ELA MCAS. Students will take the practice test, practice using the tools and then take the actual tests. The rest of the learning time will be spent on math practice and review, reading, and specialist subjects.

Spade foot toads
We'll prep the tanks and welcome our spade foot pollywogs.

Second Week: May 1 - 
Math Focus/Biographies
The second week back students will focus in on math review and math MCAS prep primarily. During that week students will also focus on their biography study and fifth grade play practice.

Third Week: May 8 - 
Math MCAS, School Play, and Science Prep
Students will continue their practice of the play, take the Math MCAS, and prep for the science MCAS with a number of special learning events. Students will continue their biography study.

Fourth Week: May 15 
Students will take the science MCAS and focus in on the play. Biography study will also continue.

Fifth Week: May 22
The main focus will be the fifth grade play, and then we'll focus in on the biography project, math practice/learning, and STEAM study.

Sixth Week: May 29
Memorial Day then STEAM study, math, and biography work.

Seventh Week: June 5 - 
Field studies, Field Day, STEAM study, and biography study.

Eighth Week: June 12 - 
More field studies, biography presentations.

Ninth Week:
STEAM study, clean-up, fifth grade celebrations.

In addition to coaching and teaching our students, teachers will be busy with multiple transition activities including the following:

  • Final report cards
  • Move-up letters
  • Move-up supply lists
  • End-of-year record keeping and completion
  • Room clean-up
  • 2017-2018 orders
  • 2017-2018 website
  • Lots of STEAM/math study prep, research, and teaching
What's important now is to teach in ways that are kind, caring, and attentive--ways that you'll use to begin the next year in a positive way.