Friday, May 15, 2015

What a Class Trip Taught Me

For the past two days, I have been with the fifth and sixth grade classes in Cincinnati. We visited the Newport Aquarium, The Science and History Museum and the Cincinnati Zoo. Here are my big take-aways from watching one student closely through the entire trip:

  1. As a principal, I have to ask what standards are being assessed with each field trip. Although this is important, sometimes we have to consider that students need more than standards. The student had many firsts on his trip (escalators, sit down restaurants, aquariums, museums, zoos, staying in a hotel...). When students don't have these experiences, they often do not have enough schema to answer those questions we see in our textbooks and on standardized assessments.   
  2. The student doesn't sit still easily and doesn't retain things well. However, after visiting the museum and aquarium, he spent two days telling me about everything he had learned. It was the hands-on activities and authentic tasks that engaged him. We all know that when a student is interested, he is more likely to learn. 
So, I will keep checking for standards when I approve field trips, but I will always keep these take-aways in mind. 

*For rigorous activities and lessons for your students, click here.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

90% Poverty, 90% English Language Learners & 90% Proficiency

90% Poverty, 90% English Language Learners & 90% Proficiency
How do they do it? Here is what I found:
  1. A Focus on Achievement
    1. laser-like focus on student achievement
    2. students chart data/growth
    3. charts/graphs/tables were displayed in hallways
    4. trophy cases full of exemplary student work
    5. more than three hours a day spent in literacy
    6. intervention time was scheduled
  2. Clear Curriculum Goals
    1. students, parents and staff all knew school vision, mission and goals
    2. every lesson/every day was a new skill or strategy for learning
    3. core time was scheduled for reading, writing and math (other subjects were part of math and literacy)
    1. students tracked their own data
  1. Frequent Common Formative Assessments
    1. students were assessed frequently with common formative assessments
    2. students knew their proficiency goal and were held accountable for reaching that goal (however long it took)
    3. students are given feedback after each common formative assessment
    4. students were never left behind (multiple opportunities to improve performance and didn’t affect grade) **Kids of poverty are unmotivated by D’s and F’ doesn’t bother them!

  1. Heavy Emphasis on Nonfiction Writing
    1. did not accept oral responses as sign of understanding (Students were required to write at the end of every lesson to prove they learned!!)
    2. demanded a written response in every assignment
    3. one rubric - proved that good writing is good writing no matter what genre

  1. Collaborative Scoring of Student Work
    1. Teachers worked together to score written responses (on CFA)

For more information, visit:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Guest Blogger

I was excited I was asked to be a guest blogger on A Better Way to Homeschool! Thank you Bekki for the opportunity.

It should post this morning. Please check it out at

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Top 5 Reasons I Appreciate Teachers

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, here are the top 5 reasons I appreciate the teachers in my building: 

1. They are Generous
Teachers not only give their time generously, but they also give financially. Many teachers pay for classroom supplies, but my teachers (and many others) go beyond classroom supplies to meet the needs of their students. They purchase shoes, clothing and medicine out of the goodness of their heart.

2. They are Flexible and Willing to Change
Teachers have to be flexible because there is always something that comes along that changes the schedule (testing, meetings, assemblies...).

Mine are also willing to change. Instead of waiting until the end of the year, I change things when I see they are not working. My teachers understand when things need to change and will often initiate the change if they see it’s best for their students. I love that I can come to them with ideas and know they will not only be open to them, but will give input to make them even better!

3. They are Patient 
Teachers must be patient! My teachers are patient with me, their students and parents.

4. They are Hardworking
Often people will make comments about teachers sitting in desks for eight hours a day. Those days are gone! Teachers spend many hours on their feet and then spend the evenings coaching, tutoring, grading and planning.

5. They are Inspiring
When I miss the classroom, I go into one of my classrooms and feel rejuvenated and inspired. Just visiting a classroom excites me and reminds me why I have chosen this career.

So, this week I want to thank my teachers for their hard work. I am proud to be your principal.

When you have a stressful day at work, remember that you are appreciated and valued. More importantly, you are making a difference in the lives of your students.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

First Post!

This is my first post as a blogger, so I thought I would introduce myself.  My husband and I have three children ranging from 10 to 17 years old. I have a wide-range of teaching experience.  Many years ago I owned a preschool and was a teacher for 4 and 5 year olds. After selling the preschool, I taught fifth grade at a charter school.  For the last five years, I have taught in a public school in the community in which I live. Within those five years, I taught fifth and sixth grade. 

This year, I was promoted to principal of an elementary school and I am the High Ability Coordinator and Co-Curriculum Director for my school corporation. When I took this new position, I feared I would be out of touch with the classroom and miss my students. What I quickly learned was, now I have an even greater understanding of teaching and learning. Plus, now I don't just have one class of students, I have a whole building! 

I am excited to share the tales of teaching and learning my new positions allow me to experience.