Sunday, September 4, 2011

Our 2011 Classroom Set Up!

Room 5 has a Pirate Theme this year!

Here is our classroom space as it was set up for the first day of school...

Although, we've already made some major changes...

This is the Circle time/ Play Area.

We've gotten rid of our ball chairs this year, for safety purposes.  We loaned them out to other classrooms until we can reintroduce them.  We have also covered the play area with chart paper and curtains.  This way, during circle time, students are not staring at toys.

 This is our computer area, where we have 4 desk tops that were purchased with grant money.

 This is the gross motor area.  We can change the platform swing into a net swing.

 This is the independent work station.

The Pirate House, used as a "safe space" for one of the students in Kindergarten.  It has since lost it's roof.  Also, the cute inflatable pirate next to the house has found a new home.  The little banner also has been removed as have the pictures of cartoon pirates that we Velcro'd to the door.

 SMART board and small group table.  Alphabet Chant above.  Visual schedule icon storage to the right.

Calendar and weather area.  iPad station in the right corner.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dear Superintendent... AND his Response...

Aug. 2011

Dear Superintendent,

I wanted to write you a quick email to let you know how much I enjoyed the meeting this morning.  I felt motivated and positive, after having laughed with you, to go back to school and get to work.  As you know, I love the students I work with and can't wait for them to get here on Wednesday.

I want to share something with you however, and it is, in NO WAY, meant to criticize or offend you.  I want to share something that I truly hope with you, my "dream" if you will...

Someday I hope that, at a district staff meeting, we will hear the true accomplishments of the students, teachers, and staff here. 

Here's what I mean...

Sure, I am proud of the kids who took AP classes and received scholarships.  I am proud to have been one of those students who learned and flourished at our High School and I am proud to say I had great teachers.  I am proud to say that most of our students are high achievers, have great families, get scholarships, and are part of the National Honor Society as I was.  I am proud to think that most of our students "pass the test." 

But someday, I hope that you will talk about the real accomplishments of the district.

I hope you will talk about the kids with "disabilities" who can be serviced by our Schools and who don't need to be sent to a "private school" to learn.

I hope you will talk about the Kindergartener with autism who came to school completely nonverbal and, in one short school year, learned how to communicate using an iPad.

How about the kids who come to school speaking another language only, who somehow, with the help of that preschool, kindergarten, or first grade teacher, learn and communicate in English in such a short time?

I hope you will talk about that kiddo with Down syndrome who came to school as a Kindergartener throwing shoes, but who left for Central being fully included in his Science and Social Studies class with his "neurotypical peers," the girl who used to jump off of tables in the hopes of reaching the candy on the highest shelf who can now sit and wait her turn to get her birthday treat, the boy who read an entire decodable reader on his own when some doctor told his parents he never would...

Someday I hope you will talk about the students who bring smiles to our faces just because they are alive and thriving in PUBLIC school.

I know that these are not the things the "public" wants to hear, but they are the things that keep many of us in our schools, working hard, every single day.

Just my two cents...

Here's his response... to the WHOLE district... :)  THANK YOU!

Congratulations on another great start! 
As I traveled from building to building this week I witnessed true professionals relay high expectations for learning in many, many ways.  Whether during Chippewa’s parent night, Hilton’s preschool transition efforts, individual kindergarten assessments being conducted at Highland, or through personal first day conversations about student needs with teachers at the middle school, it is all very impressive.  I observed high school class meetings and study halls facilitated with clarity of information and direction and I enjoyed standing in the halls at Central as teachers gently conducted fourth grade first day of school tours.
“You guys” don’t get the pleasure of watching “you guys” work.  It is truly inspiring.  PLC questions are posted in rooms throughout the district. “I Can” statements are visible on chalk boards and bulletin boards in easy to understand student terms.  Parents are buzzing around assisting with start-up needs, while cafeteria, maintenance, custodial, secretarial, and transportation personnel work diligently behind the scenes to adjust schedules and processes to accommodate students and staff.  And don’t forget the changes that BeeKeeper staff members are incorporating with half-day kindergarten schedule changes. 
We aren’t operating on all eight cylinders yet but; it’s just around the corner.  Thank you all for all that you contribute!
After convocation, I thought about a portion of our student population that I wish I would have more fully included in my remarks regarding academic performance.  It didn’t hit me until I received an email from a staff member followed by a visit to the middle school cafeteria. 
Special needs students in our district are part and parcel to our excellent rating.  Advances gained at our middle school last year as a result of an entire staff’s work to incorporate learning labs and to maintain laser-like focus on instruction and intervention necessary to increase capacity for success helped us regain our excellent status. 
Special education teachers, instructional aides, intervention specialists and regular education teachers working together district-wide are making a difference. Successes like the Kindergartener with autism who came to school completely nonverbal who, in one short school year, learned how to communicate using an iPad or the child with Down syndrome who came to school as a Kindergartener throwing shoes, but who left for Central being fully included in his Science and Social Studies classes with his "neurotypical peers," are examples of seldom heard accomplishments. 
High school students who earn scholarships to college and tearful IEP meetings where parents and teachers share personal, incremental success occur year after year in our district. These and countless other stories like them bring smiles to our faces just because special needs students are alive and thriving in our district.  Again, there is much to be done.  But, you can stand with pride knowing you are connected with this type of efficacy and excellence.
Our first three day weekend of the year is here.  Enjoy the reprieve.  You’ve earned it.  As stated earlier in this submission, we enjoyed a great start.  Please visit the District’s website and view the “First Day” video. I hope you find it entertaining.  It provides a three minute representation of the fun I enjoy when I take advantage of opportunities to be with you and students.  Have a WONDERFUL WEEKEND. 
Thanks again for all that you do!