My blog is usually a place that I reflect on my school days and try to inspire myself and others to continue the hard work we do for kids and families every day. What I’ve learned through years of blogging is that there really is a lesson to be found in every experience we have. Blogging has taught me to recognize the lesson and search for the positive in even the most difficult situations. So today, as my 40th birthday comes to an end I'd like to share this blog post with all of you!
Today I went outside to go for a run to find this....
Yep a giant sign reminded that today I turn 40. I mean, what?!?! I remember when my mom turned 40. I thought she was really really old.
Today, though, 40 has a different meaning to me. For some, it may be seen as a ticket to middle age or “over the hill,” but to me it means something else. To me 40 means that I have a choice. I can choose to complain that my knees and ankles hurt when I run or that I cannot recover from a night out with friends like I used to; but instead I choose celebrate that I get to continue to do the things I love with the people I love every day. I am going to go running, read books and tell EVERYONE what I learned even if they don’t want to hear about it, be the leader at an amazing place with the most selfless people and most importantly I’m going to continue to learn and grow and be the best version of myself each day.
Growing old is a blessing that I will not take for granted. I will not complain about getting older. One of the most important lessons I've learned in my 40 years is this:
"The most powerful force is the cumulative effect of repeated behavior over time."
In this situation this quote means that if I choose to repeat over and over again that I'm old or that I'm over the hill then I will be. But, if I choose to repeat that I grateful for the wisdom my 40 years have brought me, that I will continue to live my best life, then I will!
WE ARE WHAT WE REPEAT! So, I choose to get better every day. I choose to be grateful for each and every moment. I choose to celebrate the gift of growing older. And I will remember that growing older is a privilege denied to many.
I dedicate this year to two friends. One who lost a battle and one who is fighting one.
Lisa Vroom taught me to live the best life I can no matter the circumstances.
Katie Nicolli is teaching me what strength means as she lives each day to the fullest.
This school year our One Word was PURPOSE.
You saw it every week at the top of our update and I hope you allowed this word to guide you this year. As I begin to reflect on this school year I look back at how we lived our word. It’s funny because for me the word purpose meant something different at the beginning of the school year than it does now. In August and September, when I thought about our word I thought about being purposeful with our meetings, purposeful with decisions and purposeful in how I used my time. As the school year went on and I began to dig into the needs of our kids, our word took on a completely new and more powerful meaning. Purpose began to be about others. I started to think about ways we could help our students find their PURPOSE. I looked at our work with R Factor and JW YOUniversity and thought about how the skills we were teaching our kids and the experiences we were giving them added purpose to their lives. I began to see a deeper purpose in the work we do and realized that we are so much more than teachers of standards and curriculum. And, I remembered that our PURPOSE as educators is to truly make a difference in the lives of kids.
The things we did this year are nothing short of amazing! We did incredible work with R Factor, created 24 courses for our kids to take during JW YOUniversity, expanded our knowledge of phonemic awareness and phonics, learned that love is an intervention, cotaught our ELs, coached each other during JW Grows, had a student become a finalist in a National Competition, took every child on at least one field trip, and welcomed 6 first year teachers into our school.
What’s even more incredible is that at JW Reason we know our purpose is not only to serve our students but to also serve each other. As a staff we covered classes and duties for one another, helped write sub plans for sick teammates, gave up assessment days, made phone calls to parents together, planned field trips together, dreamed big dreams and created awesome opportunities for kids. We built each other up and rooted for each other along the way. We lived our word! We did hard things together with PURPOSE.
Thank you for helping me along my journey this school year. Thank you for showing me what it means to live with PURPOSE each day as you cared for children.
Have a great summer! You deserve it!
I feel like I’ve written a lot of posts about my “rough week” or “rough day” or “hard school year”. This week really took the cake. It started with a broken air conditioner and a hefty price tag to replace it, with an allergic reaction to amoxicillin for Rosa next, followed by a lice infestation which nearly put me over the edge and cost $375 to remedy. And, it continued Thursday evening with yet another trip to Urgent Care for Rosa to get steroids because her hives will not go away. Sprinkle in Rocco’s confirmation on Tuesday, Gino’s end of year 5th grade party on Thursday and Rocco’s 8th grade graduation on Friday at 3:00 PM which is OUR FIELD DAY and it could be time for me to surrender.
Recently though, I’ve been trying to be exceptionally intentional as I practice my R Factor skills. It started with the broken air conditioner. I felt myself begin to get all amped up about it and instead I forced myself to choose an intentional response. I instantly calmed down and realized that not having air conditioning was really not that bad. Fast forward to the lice. This was a real test. Lisa, Anna and Karen can attest to the fact that I freaked but when I got home to get my family ready to head to visit The Dublin Lice Nanny, I put on a calm face which helped everyone else remain calm too. And, in the end, it was really not a big deal. As I was searching for some inspiration for tonight’s post, I came across this statement from Tim and Brian Kight-
“Doesn’t Matter, Get Better.”
This week I was faced with hard stuff. It doesn’t matter how hard the stuff was, I chose to try to get better. I didn’t always succeed, but in the events for which my response was intentional and on purpose, I did get a better outcome. I realized that I can press pause easily but then I usually still freak, so I focused on getting my mind right and stepping up.
I am going to get my reps in on R2 and R3 this summer.
Doesn’t Matter. Get Better.
I often equate the school year to running a marathon….I’ve never run a marathon, but if I did I think it would feel like a whole school year! We’ve reached the part of the year when the finish line is in sight and, we’re sprinting….FAST!
We’ve got a lot to do and it feels like there just isn’t enough time to get it all done. But, here is the thing about going FAST-we stop paying attention the little things, to the fine details and we get sloppy. I know that when I try to do too much too fast, I mess up, I slide into autopilot which means that my actions are below the line. I end up lacking PATIENCE, PRECISION and PERSPECTIVE for the events I encounter.
Take two minutes to watch this message from Tim Kight about disruptive emotion, which can happen easily this time of year. It is up to us to recognize our actions and respond to events skillfully and intentionally with PATIENCE, PRECISION and PERSPECTIVE. And remember, we don't control our outcomes we earn them.
I LOVE the time I spent with grade level teams on Wednesday. We had some amazing discussions around Mental Health and Wellness AND Social Emotional Learning. We were able to take some time to look at PANORAMA data. As all great data does, it left us with more questions than answers. And you KNOW I LOVE QUESTIONS!
We have work to do and we know it. Now it's time to do what we do best which is figure out how to get the results we want! One big take away I had from our meetings on Wednesday was that we actually are doing A LOT of GREAT things! A LOT!!!! In fact, we might do TOO MANY great things! What I mean by that is that sometimes in out attempt to plan lots of great lessons we forget to spend time GETTING OUR REPS IN! We need to give our kids time to practice the behaviors that we want them to begin doing independently....deep breathing, positive self-talk, compassion for others. We don't need to create lots of big elaborate lessons do to this. Less is more and reps help us build skill. Because we don't control our outcomes, we EARN them. And we earn our outcomes by getting our reps in.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
"The most powerful force is the cumulative effect of repeated behavior over time."
Let's help our kids get their reps in!
I love school! I really do. No matter how crazy it gets, it's seems that I just can't get enough. Over the years I've learned that I'll never be fooled into believing that I've seen it all. And, I've said it before but I'll say it again, I LOVE spending my days with all of you.
No matter how long I've been at this, the month of May always surprises me. I forget the intense sense of crazy that is the month of May in elementary school. This week May slapped me in the face and I just had to laugh at how soon I forget about what this time of year brings. The only way I can describe it is kind of like being on a merry-go-round with someone pushing me faster and faster. And as I spin, things are being thrown at me. I try to dodge them but it's nearly impossible.
Then Thursday happened and I realized that school isn't exactly like a merry-go-round but instead like Mark Jensen's family Christmas Special on SNL....you know, the one when Will Ferrell is on a rotating stage that spins him around and around as he sings and then he throws up everyhwere?...yep, that's what this time of year reminds me of.
But, I still love it. Every. Minute. Of. It.
Maybe we're spinning and throwing up but it's just so awesome!
On Thursday morning, Lisa and I had a meeting for all new administrators and their mentors. We have been attending these meetings all school year. Each time we meet we are reminded of the importance of being in the moment, being where our feet are, and what I love best, is that we are usually asked to celebrate our accomplishments.
At J.W. Reason we are so good at reflecting and revising and working to get better every day. We must remember to take time to celebrate. So today, I challenge you to take two minutes to make of list of your accomplishments from this year. CELEBRATE the greatness that has occurred!
On Friday there will be a place in the workroom for you to post some of your celebrations! We all need to share in each others accomplishments.
This time of year can be exciting and stressful; happy and sad; exhilarating and disappointing all wrapped up into one. Wednesday was a mix of emotions for me and many of you. I was so happy to welcome Samantha Denman to our 2nd grade team and Fred Neuhausal as our Spanish teacher. Then, I had to tell Amy and Cheri that they were moving to other buildings.
As I reflect on this day, I realize that often times endings and beginnings happen at the exact same time. For Samantha it's the end of stressing out about getting a full time position and the beginning of her dream of having her own classroom. For Fred, it's the end of being a high school Spanish teacher in a place where he certainly feels comfortable and knows what to do and the beginning of a new program at an elementary school where his son attends! These are exciting endings and beginnings. For Cheri and Amy it seems a little different. They're ending many years at a school they love, in a place where their friends are and where they feel comfortable to embark on new adventures in new buildings.
Endings and beginnings-they can be bitter sweet; they can be so many different things to different people. One thing that is the same about the endings and beginnings that I experienced today is that each person graciously accepted their ending and greeted their beginning with a positive mindset and a desire to serve children.
What a team we have here. I could not be more excited to see what the future holds for us. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes and I encourage you to consider how you look at endings and beginnings. What if this is not the end. What if it is not even the beginning of the end. What if, perhaps it is simply the end of the beginning.
We're on a journey this is not the destination.
After 7 years at JW Reason, I truly feel like I've seen the increase in poverty right before my eyes. We see more and more students struggling with food insecurity, housing insecurity, lacking basic health care needs and more.
Did you know that the fight against poverty began in 1964 but today more than 51 percent of students in United States public schools are eligible for free and reduced lunches?
The question I've been asking myself this year is, are we doing enough? What are we missing? What else is out there to help our kids? Can we make a difference?
Then, I stumbled across the book Disrupting Poverty! This book is giving me hope. This book is affirming. If you are looking for a read that connects directly to our lives, I think this book is it.
I love it when things are organized and in rows! And if you add labels then I love it even more. But, to me, what’s even better than those organized, labeled rows is the mess that has to first be created in order to achieve such a level of pristine neatness. That’s right, I love tearing everything out of closets, cupboards, drawers, basements or anywhere that “stuff” exists. I love picking through the stuff, throwing things away, donating things and then organizing the left over items so they all have a proper place. Oh and of course after everything is sorted, I get to go find new things to fill up the empty space!
My love of messes makes being a principal the perfect career choice for me. Think of all of the messes we get to encounter every day. Now, most of them are not created by our choosing, but some of them are. Right now, our kindergarten, first, second grade teachers and me are voluntarily making a mess. The “closet” we’re cleaning out is our word study practices and boy are we messy! We’ve analyzed data, recognized deficit areas and started digging in to sort through the things that need thrown away or put back into the closet. And, we’re shopping for new things to fill in the empty space.
Think about it like this: What would happen if you never cleaned out your closet? I’m sure there would lots of things that are no longer in style and things that no longer fit (too big, of course). And, eventually, your closet would be so full that you would no longer have room to add anything new and you’d have to stay satisfied with the outdated and ill-fitting things you had in it. It’s the same for our educational practices. We need to continue to take inventory on the work we do. We need to look at current trend data and ensure that the things in our educational “closets” are working for our current needs. When they’re not, then we need to start cleaning out.
I challenge you to think about things that are in your educational “closet”. Do they still fit? Is there a need that you are unable to address because you need to clean out and make room for something new? Take inventory and make a mess! You’ll be happy with the result.