Friday, February 08, 2019

Positivity in School

As a critical thinker, I have to stop myself now and then to list the good happening in my midst, good thanks to incredible efforts by so many colleagues, parents, students, and community members. While sometimes I feel burdened by the potential for betterment and the obstacles that exist, I can't forget how much good happens including the following events:

Mindful Moment Share
A colleague leads children's mindful moment at every school assembly. Children get up and tell a short story about how mindfulness techniques help them to be successful, then, with my colleague, they lead the whole school in a mindful moment. This is such a positive event for our whole school community.

Friday Afternoon Kindergarten Buddies
Fifth graders end the week by spending time reading and writing with their kindergarten buddies. This is a win-win for both the fifth graders and the kindergartners. It is a positive, engaging, and educational way to end the week.

New Science/STEAM Program, Materials, and Collegial Efforts
Our team approach to teaching science as well as the new materials and systemwide focus in this area has been very positive. Students LOVE the projects and direction the program is taking. There is still room for growth, but this is a positive effort.

Reading RTI
Our reading specialist and ELA curriculum director use data well to support positive RTI efforts in reading, efforts that truly help all students learn to read with greater ability and enjoyment.

All Stop and Read
Our grade-level efforts to increase All Stop and Read time has resulted in increased success with reading for all students. Teacher modeling, book share, and encouragement help to make this a successful team effort.

Cultural Celebrations and Experiences
School, systemwide, and community events that help us all to acknowledge, learn about, and celebrate a wide variety of cultural traditions helps to build a happy, welcoming, knowing, and respectful teaching/learning community. This week's focus on the Lunar New Year was a great example of this.

Cultural Proficiency
Systemwide efforts over time focused on anti-racist teaching, cultural celebrations, and explicit teaching related to inclusion, respect, and diversity have helped to make our teaching/learning environment a respectful, safe, and curious teaching/learning community.

Field Studies
Our many wonderful field studies enrich our teaching/learning program. The fact that parents are able to pay online for these studies has helped to streamline the efforts to plan these events.

Team Teaching
Our ability to teach the whole fifth grade as a team has strengthened what we can do and what we can learn from each other. We are able to give our students more as a team than we could as individual classroom teachers. This is positive and the creative ways with which we approach this team teaching helps us to best meet student needs and interests.

Dedicated Colleagues and a Strong Local/State Union
There are always a lot of new, well-researched, and well directed initiatives at play in our school communitiy. These initiatives depend on the talents, dedication, and skill of inspiring colleagues. While there's often debate with regard to these new initiatives, there is also great growth and success. This makes our teaching/learning environment dynamic.

Sufficient Materials, Wonderful Playground
We mostly have what we need to teach well.

Increasing Teacher Leadership, Voice, and Choice
While I believe there is still room for developing process and flattening the hierarchy at school, recent efforts to give educators more ownership and choice of their professional learning time is a step in the right direction. I know that the more the system recognizes the potential that optimal teacher leadership, voice, and choice holds, the better we will be as a learning community.

There is much to be grateful for and there remains much to grow and finesse in the days ahead. While we need to assess and critique our teaching/learning efforts always, we also have to recognize the countless examples of positive, enriching teaching/learning work that's happening too.