One Little Word, (OLW) 2020

Something keeps showing up again and again in my life across the past several months. It’s out of place with my status quo.

Why?

  1. It takes place outside even in the heat and in the cold.
  2. It’s active, but it’s not exercising.
  3. It Isn’t education-related.

I have been surprised by how much it has challenged me, moved me to laughter, to tears, to gratitude.  It all started on a John Deere in Iowa and continued on a Kabota in Stallion Springs, California. I know I’m not done learning from these fantastic machines. TRACTORS.

This year’s One Little Word chosen to tuck into my heart and fold over in my mind and journey alongside me this new year:

Image result for tractor tractiont r A c t i o n

So far this OLW, trAction has been filled with fun, family and personal growth.
I’m looking forward to learning more about traction’s “Motive power provided for movement”  and “Grip on a road”, particularly the road of student learning. How can we hit a metaphorical patch of ice – behaviors, home life, cultural misses, learning challenges, lengthy winter & summer breaks and not lose traction?  See that little word inside the word?  Action…
Synonyms for traction include:
adhesion
purchase
resistance
pull
haulage
propulsion
drag
All of these whisper to me of the heavy lifting we do at school sites each day across weeks and months and 180 day school year working to make sure our lessons gain traction, that students are empowered by internal motivation and engaged, gaining purchase that will carry them far along their own journeys. 
Finally, I am looking to support staff as we gain traction toward collective efficacy.  Because I know we can strengthen our work by truly functioning as a team to change children’s trajectories by better meeting their needs, raising their understanding and their agency every step of the way.

 

Posted in blogging, Child Matters, Learning, One Little Word, Principal, thoughts, Truths | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What a Tractor Taught Me About Living, Loving & Learning

8slsiMS7RkGNd7vUdyfwgA_thumb_736c.jpg“That acre needs mowing,” my brother said to no one in particular. He’d been under the weather. I was visiting him at his house in Iowa.  We’re twins but it had been years since we’d spent any real time together. I was fortunate to get to visit him and his wife, Sarah for a week this past Autumn at their home in Iowa.

Next thing I knew an engine fired up and Sarah was off and running on their ride on mower outside the living room window. Wow. Cool. I wonder if I could do that.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_738e.jpgI went outside and took a look. It was cold outside for this California girl. Just about 52 degrees. I grabbed one of Sarah’s jackets and watched, mesmerized as she rode up and down the length of the acre field, grass falling beside the green John Deere. The mower was loud, the air heavy and pregnant with the scent of freshly cut grass.

My brother came over.

“Can I mow something?”  I asked.

“Really?” he replied. “You wanna do that?”

“Yeah. I do,” I said, surprising myself. I haven’t ever mowed anything. Sarah finished up the acre she was mowing and stopped in front of us.

“Dayna wants to mow,” David exclaimed.

“Okay, you can mow lot 11,” he said, nodding toward the front of the house.  “Come on, I’ll show you.” VGuyVE0mTZCflaLoyWGYEg_thumb_7393.jpgDavid showed me how to sit atop the mower. It had two levers in the front that he explained are used for steering. He showed me how to pull the gear to lift up the blades under the body of the mower, how to press the levers forward to go, pull them back to stop. How you pull one back while pressing the other forward to turn.  He drove next to me on his quad out to lot 11, a long straight corner acre near the dirt road at the entrance to his culdesac. There was a bit of a gully at the road where I turned in, the tractor dipped and bumped along.  I stopped. David showed me how to lower the blade and then said, “Leave the hill. I’ll mow that part. Just mow the level section.”  And then he left.  He left. I was on my own sitting atop a tractor in the middle of a field in Iowa.

I sat there a moment on the tractor feeling brave, feeling afraid, feeling excited and wanting to prove to myself, and to my brother that I could do this. I looked straight ahead and pressed both levers forward. The tractor took off beneath me, my hair blowing in the wind. Before me grass fell, grasshoppers jumped and moths flew out from the path I cut. When I got to the end of the long straightaway section I saw the neighbor’s property line. I knew I had to turn. I worried about embarrassing my brother and myself when an Amish carriage powered by a single horse clippity-clopped quietly by.  A single hand rose in greeting. I gathered my courage and pulled back on the right lever making my turn way too fast and far too wide. The tractor and I flew back toward the other end of the field. I worried about not making straight cuts like I saw on other fields and thought about long stretches of grass I was familiar with – golf courses mainly. 

I worked my way back and forth across that acre field, avoiding the hill, sticking to the long straight flat area, leaving long stretches uncut because of my wide turns. How to get back to those pieces? How would it all look when I finished? I worried. But I persisted, running the mower up one side and down the other again and again. I got a feel for what an acre actually is. I began going back over areas I had missed, and along the small gully of creek water that flowed between the field and the dirt road.

At last, I finished. I sat still on the still roaring tractor. I considered what to do next. I saw the hill. I felt a little braver now, having completed most of the section of land. Maybe I’ll just try a little of the hill, I thought as I turned the mower toward the hilly section. the mower slowed a bit. Could I make it up the hill without stalling, falling, failing? I kept going. As I got to the top of the hill, there was a flat section. It felt familiar now. I ran the mower over it. My brother’s going to be impressed, I thought. I’m doing it. I’m doing the hill.  And a funny thing happened. As I ran the mower up and over down and back up that hill I learned something new about the mower. I learned I had more control than I’d previously realized. I learned to slow it down by pulling the levers closer to me and speed it up by pushing them out. I learned I could make tighter turns by simply pulling one lever close to me and leaving the other pressed out. The more practice I got, the more confidence I gained. The more confidence I gained, the braver I became.

Soon, Sarah came by in the car. I had just finished the hill.  “Hey, I have to go to town. You wanna go?” “Nah, I’m going to finish the gully part,” I told her. “Ah, leave that part for David. But you can do Lot 17 if you want. That needs doing,” she said.

Oh my gosh, I thought, a whole other acre? I didn’t know how long I’d been mowing but it felt like a lifetime.

“Sure,” I said, not wanting to disappoint, and wanting to help out.

“Follow me,” she said. “Don’t forget to lift the blade up.

I raised the blade and turned the tractor up the gully onto the road. I went as fast as the tractor would go, which wasn’t all that fast on a dirt road. Sarah turned onto the main highway. I kept the tractor on the shoulder. Cars passed me by. People really do this?  I drove and drove until Sarah pulled up onto another acre lot. This one was wooded.

“This one is a little trickier,” she said as she got out of the truck. “Just watch out for the trees and there’s a long length of wood at the back. I just run the mower as close by it as I can and kinda push it.” I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Okay, Thanks. Have fun.” She yelled as she drove away.

What was I thinking?  This acre looked daunting. All of my newfound courage wained and the fear returned. One step at a time I thought. I began at the front of the acre, avoiding the one small tree at the west end. As I mowed, though, I had new skills that came in quite handy. I knew how to move the mower slower and faster. My turns got neater and closer together. There were fewer unmown parts. I flew across the flats now, the wind blowing my hair, the smell of freshly mown grass filling my senses with autumn enthusiasm. I got to the small tree. I turned around and completed a circle.  Ha!  Crop circles I thought.  And then I started to mow circle after circle. I tried a figure 8.

I wondered, will I embarrass my brother?  I decided to stop the mower and walk back to the house for some lunch.

“This is fun!” I exclaimed.

“Cool,” David replied.

I made a sandwich, then asked what he thought about crop circles on his land. He laughed and said, “You can do whatever you want.”

Okay, then!  I was ready to go.  When I got back to the mower, I set myself up to listen to music with my new AirPods. As I rounded one of the smaller trees, one of them flew out. Like a flash, I shut down the mower hoping I hadn’t mown over it. Thankfully I hadn’t, but after retrieving the little earbud I couldn’t get the mower started. Not wanting to bother my brother, I did what any California girl thousands of miles from home sitting on a tractor mower would do. I called my Dad.

“Dad,” I said. I’m mowing!”

He laughed.

“I think I’ve killed the mower.  Help?”

“Well, does it have gas?”

“Yes.”

“Have you tried turning the key and pressing on the gas?”

“Yes. Oh man, Dad, did I kill It?”

He laughed again.  “You’re going to have to tell David,” he said.

I hiked back to the house and issued the bad news.

“Agh, that happens all the time,” David said, “Damn battery. I’ll come get it started.”  He drove us over to Lot 17 and got the mower going again.   UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_739d.jpgThis time, when he left and I began again on my second acre lot, I had something new: experience coupled with permission and newfound freedom.  I mowed straight lines, I mowed circles, I mowed with abandon. I felt the wind in my hair and smiled as the grasshoppers, crickets, frogs, and moths moved out of the way of the mower. I listened to music as I mowed. I cried tears of joy. I was in Iowa visiting my twin, and I was mowing!  

As I rode over the last section of Lot 17, my heart flooded with delight. I thought about how seldom I do anything just for the fun of it. I vowed to change that. What excellent teachers my brother and Sarah had been. They gave me tips, got me started and let me practice. When I got stuck, they encouraged and gave me permission to try and to fail.  They let me know I could do it and they stayed out of my way until I needed them.

I got an idea. I finished Lot 17 and went back to mow the gully section of Lot 11.  By now I was stronger, more experienced and more courageous. I still felt afraid, awkward and out of place. I still worried I might embarrass myself or my brother. But I did it anyway. I rode the mower to Lot 11 and began.

Up and down the gully, fanning out with a different pattern now. This was for me. This was for my brother, This was the culmination of the day’s lessons.

Those acres in Iowa, two caring people, a tractor and some time reminded me of all I know of learning, love, and life. Give someone time, motivation and a few tips then set them off to practice. Be there when they falter. Encourage missteps and approximations. Love them up. That is how learning occurs. That, too, is the stuff life and love are made of.  giv2zLLZRcSXVFadEOa9ug_thumb_73a7.jpgI mowed a whole lotta love into that acre, and it showed me a whole lotta love right back.

 

 

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for a place to share this experience, and my writing. Thank you, Chris, for providing the possibility of this time with David.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Garden rocks 2018So many exciting things happen on a school campus.  It’s hard to keep everyone “in the loop”.

One of the most exciting things happening on our campus this school year so far is the garden which is taking shape.  The garden is on a part of our campus which wraps around the rear of the school’s property.  It’s been an unsightly space for decades, a true eyesore in a neighborhood where beautiful views abound. Our school sits at the mouth of Los Angeles harbor. We can see cruise ships, container ships, sail boats and tug boats come and go all day from our campus. We look out on Angel’s Gate Lighthouse from the front and with a quick walk, we see Catalina Island.  It’s a glorious place, with an ugly back side.  That is until this year.

This year, one person decided to make a difference.

He set out to change the back of our school. He set out to create something beautiful where there were only rocks and weeds, broken bottles, trash, and some dead ivy before.

garden sept 2018

Here is a snapshot into what it is taking to make this happen:

  • Working with facilities to get the water lines repaired and functioning to water the area until the native plants are well established.
  • Months of hot, back-breaking work tearing out all of the weeds.
  • Coming back again and again.
  • Digging out the path
  • Provide funding, look for funding, secure funding.
    •     Donations for the garden welcomed!
  • Getting the decomposed granite (DG) ordered & delivered.
  • Unloading the DG and packing it into the path.
  • Marking places to dig for the native plants to go in.
  • Digging out all the holes.
  • Getting help with digging out all the holes.
  • Clearing away trash that accumulates over the weekends or evenings.
  • Weeding again.
  • There’s more to be done.
  • Include the teachers.
  • Include the staff.
  • Let parents know what’s happening.
  • Plan for a Saturday work day to get the plants in before winter comes.

Parents have started coming to help dig the holes where the plants will go in. Soon children will be helping to plant some of the small native flowers and shrubs.  Even now, children can watch the progress of this once wasteland space transform into a fully beautiful urban garden.

Truly one person can make a beautiful difference.

Image result for Lausd garden, esperanza

Click here to see one school’s vision for a bird & butterfly garden where students can study and learn in nature! 

How do you add beauty to your world?

How does your school community celebrate nature?

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for a place to share our stories.

SOL with website

Click here for more shared stories on all sorts of topics. 

Posted in Garden, Learning, make a difference, Principal, San Pedro, Story, video text | Tagged | 3 Comments

How Can I Help My Child Improve in Reading?

Image result for mom and dad reading a story togetherPhoto courtesy of Dads Read, Public Library Services

How can I, as a parent, affect my child’s reading life?

If you look on the internet you might come away with the idea that you need to heavily scaffold the reading your child is doing. That you need to set them up with questioning techniques, that you must teach your child to sound out difficult words, or to ask a lot of questions to check their comprehension.  But you don’t.

No. You really don’t.

Creating a genuine love of reading, which is what we aim for when building new people, is done as most anything is done. One step at a time. Gently. Carefully. Tended to with a heap of kindness, a pinch of reverence with lots of FUN!

Here is my recipe for creating readers who genuinely LOVE to read:

  1.  Children who are read to become readers. So,read to them often and regularly.  They learn the language of stories, the language of informational text. They learn that reading can show them the world.  So, set aside that extra 10 minutes each evening and read to your kid!  This is 10 minutes you will never regret investing in them.
  2. If they struggle with reading a text or with words, help them!  Let them know you know they can do it (read it!) but help them!  Compliment and lift them up. Let them know how proud you are of how they keep on trying. Everyone grows from hearing a compliment!  Give your child a compliment based on what it is they are trying. For example, “Christine, I hear you trying to figure out that word using what you see in the pictures! That’s such a great way of understanding this story. And you’re right. It could be that Gerald is ‘stopping’ Piggy!”  And then, if it makes sense…keep on going! This is how real readers read. They work things out as they go, making sure it makes sense as they continue to read.
  3. Talk with them about the things you are reading.  “I read the most interesting article today. It was about Fortnight. Have you heard of that game, honey? Oh, you have?  Well, the article was talking about how dangerous the game can be.  What do you think about that? ” What a great way to open up a conversation with your child AND show the power of reading as a strong adult reader!
  4. Introduce them to many kinds of literature. Start with a library, bookstore or yard sale that is selling used children’s books. Remember that you read all kinds of things from texts to magazines to emails to the latest best seller on the New York Times reading list to the informational insert that helps you set up your new appliance or device.  Sometimes you read for pleasure, sometimes for work, sometimes because you have to learn something.  Yes, youtube counts as reading at times! We call this visual text, and it too takes important reading skills.
  5. Let them catch you reading. And talking about books, articles, essays, whatever you’re reading!  “Did you see that article about XYZ today?  What did you think about it?  I was interested in the idea that….. ” This is a great thing for children to hear the adults in their lives discussing.  Can they get involved too?  Why not?  Everyone needs to think, consider and discuss important new information. This is a great way to involve your child as they grow up and help them become good citizens who have an understanding of issues facing our world.
  6. Make sure there are plenty of good book choices available for them. Don’t have a large home library?  That’s okay.  Visit the public library, local bookstore, yard sales, book giveaways.  Ask people for their old books.  Children flourish when they have a choice of what to read, and people to talk about what they are reading with.
  7. Make sure there is time carved out in each and every day for them to read and to be read to. Sometimes you’ll be too busy, or too tired or too done for this. But for the most part, five to six of every seven days, be sure you pull your child up in your lap, or next to you on the couch, and let them choose a story for you to read to them before bed.  Read the same loved story again and again. Children are learning so much when you do this for them. You may be completely tired of Goodnight Moon, Mrs. Pigglewiggle or Dogman, but read it one more time. Children want this repeated reading because they are learning the language of story, understanding the story in a different or deeper way, connecting to you and to the time of being close in meaningful and important ways.  I cannot overestimate the importance of this time spent in communion with your child.
  8. Show how important you believe reading to be.  (And if you don’t… think about the reading you actually do every day… is it email? texts? recipes? directions? … that’s reading too and you can bet its important!)  We could scarcely get through a day without reading.  Try it sometime!

So, to every over-worked, sleep deprived, amazingly loving and caring parent who wants to help develop a love of reading in your child.  Please don’t worry about creating a graphic organizer or asking all the right questions about your child’s choice of reading material.  Instead, pull them up in your lap and read them a story. Share a laugh over a comic strip or learn something new as you read directions on how to assemble something or learn to play a new game together.  Enjoy it! Have fun. Your child deserves it and so do you. And reading opens the world to you both.

Posted in Books, Child Matters, close reading, Family, Home, libraries, reading | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Courageous Kids

Image result for thomas the train backpack on a child

Image courtesy of melinda365 photography

 

We welcomed a new student to school today, on the eleventh day of school.

A kindergartener, who walked straight down the big front steps, into the two story building toward his classroom.  How he knew where he was headed I’m not sure.  He was way ahead of his momma and me.

In his uniform shorts and polo shirt, he strode across campus ready for the day.

“He’s not shy at all,” mom remarked as we followed along behind him.

His backpack looked empty. But he gave an air of confidence wearing it.  Thomas the Train I believe.  It is important to wear a backpack to school.  One simply must.

Suddenly his steps slowed.  We caught up to him. Turning his five-year-old body toward his mom, he folded in on her legs. And started to cry.

“I don’t want to stay at this school.”

“Come on, sweetheart, just take a look.”

Mom encouraged. I encouraged. We coaxed. He didn’t budge.

Mom took him outside the classroom and sat with him on the steps.  Do you want to go in and sit with him?” I asked.

“Oh no. He’ll be fine.” she replied. “Goodbye, honey. See you after school.” mom said as she kissed her son on top of his head and then headed down the hallway.

He continued to cry, but he did not run. He did not give chase.

Soon, he followed the staff member we lovingly call the “kindergarten whisperer” out to see the new playground and into his new class.

After recess I stopped by and he smiled a huge eye sparkling smile right up at me as he said, “I like this school.”

I do too, honey. And I’m so very glad you’ve come.

 

 

 

 

 

slice of life_individual

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Tuesday’s Slice of Life. For more check here.  

Posted in celebration, Child Matters, Small Moment | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Seriously Terrific Energizing Activities that Matter: STEAM Education at one elementary school in Los Angeles

AltaSea is a gem of a place located in the heart of  Los Angeles Harbor.  Here, professionals in the business world mix with educators and service providers and all sorts of folks invested in the marine environment and the “blue economy”.  This place and our little school came together lighting a spark that allowed for some magical learning with children.  Check it out here.

Students collaborate around their STEAM project. 

AltaSea guest blog

If you’d like to learn more about AltaSea, check out their OPEN HOUSE this September.

Click here to learn more about the Journey Project.

Be you. No one else can.

 

Posted in Learning, Principal, San Pedro, STEAM, Story, Students First, Teaching, Teaching Strategies | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Howie

He was the kind of guy who leaned down and hugged you a little longer than you were comfortable with. He had big puppy brown eyes with lashes that every girl in high school was jealous of.  He was younger than my brother and I and one of my brother’s nicest friends. He was kind and generous. And he was passionate.

His wife, also a childhood friend was beaming and beautiful today. The picture of a woman at peace with what life has delivered. When she spoke, she honored him for exactly who he was to her, their family, and to the world. My favorite story she shared was of when he wandered off one day as they were at the gas station after she’d gone into the store for a soda. She looked and looked for him and finally found him, back behind the filling station sitting on the curb with a homeless man. He already had his shoes off and was putting them on the homeless man’s feet. Next, he took off his jacket and put it around the man’s shoulders.  Then he handed him twenty dollars and said,  “God loves you.”

Michael lived out loud.  He shouted his passionate beliefs from his Facebook page and everywhere he went.

Today he brought us back together again. People who knew us before we became us.  We searched each others’ faces looking for familiarity that after decades tends to fade. But the connection, the knowledge of one another remains, even after such a long time. Hugs were exchanged, words of affinity and remembering. People who knew you growing up are part and fiber of your being forever.

What a gift you were to all who knew you, Michael.  God speed my brother, my childhood friend.

 

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Posted in celebration, Family, Home, Random Acts of Kindness, Truths | 3 Comments

THAT child

children-on-slide

I read this blog post a couple of years ago  when it was first written.  I understood it then from a teachers’ point of view.

Today it was shared with me again and I realized I have a whole new understanding of it.  As acting principal I am in the unique place of being the last stop when parents find themselves completely upset and angry because one too many times their child has come home talking about an event at school.  They want to know what I’m doing about it. They want to know why nothing is being done. They want to SEE a change.

This post points out, from a teacher’s perspective some of the myriad things public educators DO when there’s a child who struggles. Truly, most children face a struggle at some point in their lives. Whether seen or unseen, publicly or privately, each and every one is struggling with something. I hope for each of our students that they are resilient learners. I hope that each child knows how very special and unique they are. I hope and believe that every child can learn and grow and excel. I know some get there more quickly. I know some walk through life more gracefully than others.

We are educators. We believe in the potential of every child. Even THAT one. My hope for each of the parents we serve is that their child is well served to the best of our capabilities. None of us show up to do anything less. Schools get terrible press. But we shouldn’t. The miracles that occur within our walls on a daily basis would surprise and delight even the most cynical among us. Often times the miracles are very personal to a child, to a family. We can’t always share the small miracles. We can’t always share the strides made. But we celebrate each and every one.

This evening I celebrate THAT child. And I lift up and hold EVERY child, YOURS, THEIRS, and OURS with the compassionate passionate belief that each one can and will thrive.

 

This is a favorite song, a sort of an anthem for this post. Truly, we are how we treat each other and nothing more.  

 

Note:  Amy, who wrote the blog post titled THAT child wrote a follow up for those who want to help. She was a kindergarten teacher who is now a principal at a school in Canada. Just thought you might like to know her ideas on how to help THAT child.

Thanks to Amy of MissNight’sMarbles for sharing her beautiful post and allowing me to link to it here.

 

 

 

Posted in Child Matters, Learning, parenting, Passion for teaching, perceptions, Principal, Teaching, thoughts, Truths | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Real vs. Fake News

fake-news
Tonight I’m joining with Margaret Simon and the #digilit community to consider real vs. fake news and how we can educate our children to decipher the difference.

digilit sunday

 

The task is daunting.  It really is.

The Oxford English Dictionary  named the 2016 word of the year. “Post Truth”.  No joke.

As an educated adult with a master’s degree, and credentials, I struggled over the past six months to live my life, do the important work of school and students and teachers and parents, stay connected to family, and keep up with the media coverage of the recent election. It was unusual at best. It wasn’t until the dust settled that the idea of fake news began to rise to the fore. Many were duped. News stories flew. We trusted them as we used to trust Ted Koppel, and our parents or grandparents trusted Walter Cronkite to deliver fact-checked stories. Stories that were true.

But today, January 15th, 2017, we know better.

If you’ve ever been involved in a news story. You’ve ever been part of a story written and published by a credible news source, you understand the inconvenience and sometimes pain of inaccuracy. Errors in reported news stories are frustrating and disappointing. We depend upon our media to deliver. To deliver the best rendition of fact and evidence and truth they can. But they fall short.

stanford-fake-news-example

SHEG works to help teachers teach students to determine fake news

Stanford History Education Group’s (SHEG’s) Sam Weinburg and Sarah McGrew published this article citing their research on how susceptible high school and college students are to fake news. It’s too easy, given current technology, to create websites and “studies” that purport news or statistics to support an agenda, but are not really “truth.”  SHEG has some great ideas about how to help students learn to question media to determine the credibility of the source, and accuracy of the information shared.

Think quote .png

Our institutions of learning cannot afford to do anything but jump head-long into the fray. We must learn, post haste, how to determine the credibility of a website, page, article or post. We must teach our children from the earliest of ages to question, inquire, and to think critically about what they read, see,  or hear.

This has always been the case, but somehow today it seems even more critical. It begins with educating ourselves about how to question. What more can we do? Here are a few tips:

  1. Read like a fact checker.
  2. Commit to checking the source of information before sharing online or in conversation as “truth”.
  3. Think about who the author is and why they are writing (filming, sharing) the information.
  4. Remember SNOPES?
  5. Including something we read on Facebook, or on a less than legitimate news source as truth in our small circles of conversation and growing body of beliefs can have serious implications. (Think Pizzagate.)  How about we decide to do better?  How about we decide to keep an open mind, check sources and slants?
  6. Check this NPR article on best practices for reading online.

How are you reading in the era of “fake” news?

 

 

 

Posted in close reading, digilit sunday, Truths | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Celebrate: Books!

I believe there is always something to celebrate.  Today I join with Ruth Ayers and her commuity of writers who celebrate each weekend to celebrate the arrival of new books at our school.  celebrate-this-week-new

 

img_3012The first boxes arrived the last instructional day in December, right before our three-week winter break.

In the flurry of a holiday celebration on the last school day of the calendar year, the boxes were just one more thing. But after the last school bell rang out, and most of the children had gone off to their homes or afterschool care providers, a strange quiet began to settle over our central office.

“The books arrived,” declared the office manager.

“Really?  Which books are they?”

“I think they’re the libraries.”

“Oh?” I responded, not looking up from the report I was working to finish before heading out to the staff dinner.  But then… a few sentences later …it hit me.

“Wait! Did you say the libraries?” I queried.

“Yes.”

“How many boxes?”

“There’s a lot,” she replied.

And so it was. Boxes and boxes of beautiful books had arrived for kindergarten hands and first-grade fingers and second-grade book baggies.  These are no regular libraries!  These are the new Heinemann leveled classroom libraries.  Here they were. Bright and beautiful, tiny treasures and crisp clean picture books for reading aloud sitting there so proud in their shiny new jackets.

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…fast forward three weeks…

Tuesday afternoon, early dismissal for teachers to have professional development.  And on this particular afternoon, teachers came together for a book check-in party.  They stamped the books with the school’s name, laughed, shared stories and talked about the libraries.

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“Can I take them back to my room?” one teacher asked.

“Are these for OUR classrooms?” inquired another.

Our resource teacher just stopped to read one of the books, Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. “What a great story!  I can’t wait to share it with my kids.”

Teachers know the power of a book in a child’s hands.

Now at the end of the first week of our bright and promising new school year, the building is breathing in and breathing out with libraries that are growing, becoming, building to support the important work each of our students do every day.

 

 

 

Posted in Books, celebrate, libraries, Passion for teaching, Principal, reading, Students First | Tagged , , | 9 Comments