Bare Walls

As I grabbed the paintings and photos off the walls of my office at Hedges School, my mind was flooded with the incredible memories from the last nine years.

When you make the decision and commitment to become an educator, you make a way of life choice…it takes your heart and fills your mind with thoughts of continuous improvement.

*How can I make that lesson better?
*Did my students understand the success criteria?
*Do the parents of my students feel connected to my classroom or school?
*How can our team support all of our students in making greater academic gains?

It has been an honor to work with a team of educators who believe in and feel this congruent commitment! Kalispell’s School District #5 has provided me with an extended family who consistently supported me and authentically believed in me before I believe in myself. Throughout the last nine years, I have been provided with the skills, guidance, and the foundation to lead and inspire others to have the ultimate grit to ensure a positive impact for students to strive for academic, behavioral, and social success!

As I close the doors of Hedges School, I pause, take a deep breath, and feel extreme gratitude. Thank you to:
*Casey Bertram for taking a chance on me and mentoring my growth as an educational leader.
*Dan Zorn and Darlene Schottle for nurturing my growth as a leader and seeing my potential beyond the classroom.
*Merisa Murray for believing in and hiring me for my first administrator position as your Assistant Principal. Edgerton School welcomed me with open arms and overwhelmingly supporting my growth!
*Glenda Armstrong, Bill Sullivan, Jen Stein, and Rick Anfenson for your unconditional support, teamwork, and friendship.
*Mark Flatau and Andrea Johnson for your continued guidance through the ups and downs of leading an elementary school.
*Each member of my Hedges Team and Community for providing me with the opportunities to be a classroom teacher, a parent, and your principal. I smile and celebrate our laughs, disagreements, challenges, and successes! My life has been forever changed for the better because of each of you.

Ultimately, thank you to my family. I am grateful for your unconditional love and patience during the long days and filled weekends. You positively joined in the fun for so many of our school events. As we leave the Montana Mountains for the Big State of Texas, I am blessed that we can enjoy this journey together.

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30 Days of Summer

Grit = Courage and resolve; strength of character.

It has been 30 days since we played Schools Out for Summer! It always amazes me how this time of year begins to zip along so quickly. As I reflect on student progress during the 2015-2016 school year, GRIT describes it. I am so proud of each one of our students and the continued effort they demonstrated to maintain a positive attitude when learning new concepts that were challenging. Our students supported each other in taking risks with their learning and applied an alternative definition to the word fail = Forever Acquiring Important Lessons.

Click here to view a short Flipagram of our school year.

In honor of our 2016 fabulous Fifth Grade Class, click here to view a short Flipagram made just for you.

Enjoy these beautiful days of summer! As I plan for the 2016-2017 school year, I look forward to seeing the smiling faces of our Hedges students in just 54 days!

 

Positive Planning

 

It is summer and our Hedges Team is still working hard! Last week, our behavior and academic teams met to reflect on school wide student behavior expectations, communication, and celebrations.The keys to success are communication, reflection, and colla-2

Click here to view on Periscope!

After discussing what we learned at the MBI/PBIS Summer Institute/ MTSS training and reflecting on the 2016-2017 school year, we split into decision-making groups and divided up revising and enhancing current expectations. It was empowering to hear teacher leaders discussing and planning how to improve our practices for our students.

We began:

  1. Updating our Behavior Expectation T-Charts by adding visuals to provide a clearer understanding for our younger students. When school begins in August, we will add photos of our current students positively modeling the expectations.
  2. A collaborative plan for our Tier 1 (all students) classroom instruction. This will enable our teachers and our behavior support team to collectively communicate school wide behavior expectations, positive friendship strategies, and maintain a framework of instruction that prevents bullying.
  3. Developing a schedule to intentionally celebrate positive behavior and academic success. We will post our celebrations on our site each month!

As we look forward to the 2016-2017 school year, our team continues to be student-centered while reflecting on continuing and implementing best practices!

Silver Success!

Positive relationships are the foundation for leading students toward academic, behavioral, and social success.

During the last three years our team has dedicated a significant amount of time and effort into implementing the MBI/PBIS (Montana Behavior Initiative/ Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports) framework.  Our goals throughout this intentional endeavor have been to be proactive in meeting the needs of our students and to collectively and consistently increase positive school wide behavior. Yesterday, our team was recognized by the state of Montana as earning Silver MBI Status! It was an honor to be recognized by the Office of Public Instruction and our State Superintendent, Denise Juneau.

With the guidance of the MBI expectations, below are some of the protocols we have developed to support our school wide focus of effectively communicating, teaching, and maintaining a positive, safe, and nurturing environment.  Our team collaboration in following these protocols enables us to support our students in reaching high academic, behavioral, and social success.

School Wide Behavior Expectation Matrix

Classroom Lesson T-Charts

I Caught You Cards

Guidelines for Success, Bully Rules, Playground Expectations, and Games

Behavior Flow Chart

It was incredibly motivating to learn that over seventy schools received recognition yesterday. We are excited to implement what we learned from other schools and at the Summer Institute to continue to lead and grow in this process.

Academic Focus: Essential Questions

Asking the Four Essential Questions guides us to have an authentic focus on our students’ learning. At Hedges School this year, we are deliberately sharing our academic focus with our students. It seems so simple; however, many times we leave our students out of our planning. We follow manuals, pacing guides, or stick with what we have always taught. Focusing on the Four Essential Questions guides us to reflect and to plan more effectively.

For Teachers:

  1. What do students need to know, understand, and be able to do? (Learning Goals)
  2. How will we determine if the outcome has been accomplished? (Assessments – Formative and Summative)
  3. What strategies will we use to best influence learning?(Strategies, Activities)
  4. What will we do to support students who don’t learn or reach proficiency before expectation? (Intervention and Enrichment)

For Students:

  1. What do I need to know, understand, and be able to do? What is the Learning Goal?
  2. How am I going to show my learning? What is the assessment?
  3. What do I need to do as a learner to achieve the learning goal?
  4. Thinking about my learning…..
    • How am I doing?
    • Have I reached my learning goal?
    • What do I already know?
    • What do I need to work on?

As a team, we have worked diligently to truly understand the common core standards and what the student expectations are for learning. Each grade level has developed essential standards for students. These standards answer question number one and describe what our students need to know and be able to do.  These are not the only learning goals for our students; however, as our students meet proficiency with these standards, they are guaranteed to be well-prepared to succeed in the next trimester and/or the next school year.

Our essential standards are a living document that is revised and updated at the end of each trimester. This has been challenging and worthwhile work for our team! I am grateful for their efforts and dedication to student learning. I am also thankful to one of my favorite mentors, Mike Mattos, for his guidance as we began this endeavor. His passion for students consistently learning at high levels is contagious!

During the next few weeks, our team will increase our focus on question number two. Below is a video of a teacher guiding her students to clearly understand how to show their learning. Learning Goals & Scales. I look forward to sharing our progress toward creating success criteria.

A Great First Week…GRIT Tested

As I reflect on our first week of school, I cannot remember a time that I began the first week with students with five full days. Collectively, students’ and teachers’ GRIT was tested… and all achieved successfully! This year, Hedges School will focus on a GRIT trait each month.

I was first inspired to understand and motivate our students to become grittier after watching Angela Lee Duckworth’s Ted Talk and reading Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed. Our Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) team was inspired during our summer MBI training to share these traits school wide. I am so proud of this team as they have worked tirelessly to increase positive behavioral interventions and support!

A New School Year…Linking Together For Success!

In just seven short days, Cornelius Hedges School will be once again filled with 400 bright-eyed students excited and eager to begin a new school year.  Our team will be ready! We maintain a laser-like focus to fulfill our mission: Learning For All…No Excuses, No Limits! and to live out our vision: Our vision is to foster and maintain contagiously positive, collaborative, and mission-focused relationships. Together we guide, support, and encourage all students to reach high levels of learning and individualized success.  Our students and their families are confident that we will team together to support each student to achieve academic, social, and behavioral success way beyond their expectations. To continue to lead our students toward excellent success, our school theme for 2015-2016 school year is Linking Together For Success. Below are the #hedgeshappenings from our 2015 summer.

Montana Behavior Initiative Training at Montana State University : This five day training supports our school wide system of positive behavior support. We are now recognized by the state of Montana as a Bronze School and as a Response to Intervention (RTI) Sustaining School!  RTI is an academic multi-tiered school wide system of support and response to all students’ academic needs. These systems of support at Hedges School establish our foundation that guides teaching and learning.

MSU: MBI Training  CorneliusHedgesElementary

Upgrades to our campus: Thank you to our district facility team and Hedges custodians! Our campus looks beautiful and ready for our students!

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Hedges Academic Camp: Our students had a blast learning with our Hedges teachers and Alumni Volunteers!

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Thank you teachers and Hedges Alumni Volunteers!

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I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead Cornelius Hedges School! Stay tuned to our #hedgeshappenings!