The principal that I have always wanted to be… Inspire our students to feel excited about becoming readers and writers, support teachers in creating a language rich environment where students are intrinsically motivated to read, write, and share!
In my seventh year as an elementary principal, my idealistic view of the principalship is quickly coming to a reality! Early in my career as an educator, my training and graduate work was focused in the area of reading instruction. I was empowered by the implementation of specific instructional routines that frequently led to quotes similar to,
“Mrs. Miller…listen to this! I can read!”
Like is was just yesterday, I can still hear those words and feel the exhilaration of listening to my students read. As teachers share the experience of students embracing the feeling of knowing and performing as readers, they are brought to tears of true happiness. This is the best job in the world! Each day we have the opportunity to lead and celebrate our students to believe in themselves as readers.
After attending Grade Level Collaboratives led by our @ci_elem department and a Reading & Writing Workshop training led by Johnathan from @TCRWP, I see a bright intentional pathway to be the principal that I always wanted to be. I am learning more about the components of the workshop, how to help students see themselves in the books they read, and how to support and celebrate our incredible teachers so they can consistently share the authentic happiness our students own when they see themselves as readers. Thank you @ci_elem and @TCRWP! Below are just a few photos of our readers!
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
The journey is the reward. – Chinese Proverb
I am grateful for the educators in Montana! With their support, nearly 400 hundred teachers and administrators took the time to complete my online survey, while eight also participated in an additional interview protocol that was created for my dissertation research at Montana State University. As I reflect on this journey and my recent Dissertation Defense, I am humbled. When one of my committee members asked me how I felt after my research was complete, I immediately responded with positive tears. I have always respected my colleagues; however, after spending over a year investigating their knowledge about and perceptions of the formative reading assessment process, my respect has increased beyond measure! I was continuously fascinated by their expertise in and passion for reading instruction as well as their commitment to developing trusting relationships with each one of their young scholars.
Our educators are truly dedicated to our students, as both teachers and administrators, they continue to also be students who are engaged in life-long learning about best practices. Our educators have a relentless focus on learning how to most effectively meet students individualized instructional needs! Below is a visual of the conceptual framework for my research. Please click here to view my findings.
As the school year is quickly coming to a close, I am reflective and grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in SAM’s 21 Century Leadership Institute. This year long program enabled me to collaborate and learn with skilled administrators across the state and have the guidance of an expert mentor. Collectively, we were able to learn, celebrate, and support each other in implementing a meaningful project. I chose to focus on improving the framework of our weekly PLCs.
My goals were:
- Use simple weekly protocols for each grade level team to follow throughout the school year (modified from Solution Tree resources and forms shared by colleagues).
- Support teachers in having a structure to collaborate around student data to guide instructional decisions.
- Communicate frequent feedback to grade level teams through Google Docs.
- Each grade level team had their own folder: Click here to view.
- Each week (mostly) I emailed the teams to remind them of the protocol to complete.
- The teams would take notes about their discussions, plans, and instructional decisions made on their protocol and I would follow-up with email communication or face to face meetings.
- I believe creating the protocols with a Google form or spreadsheet would be helpful to add notification rules. This would support me in providing faster feedback…
- I created a folder for our Special Education, Title One, and Para teams; however, the feedback and/or collaboration was not as consistent.
- Modify some of the forms to provide for a little more flexibility.
Other Resources that support our PLCs
- MCCS- Essential Grade Level Standards (Still a work in progress)
- 4 Essential Questions for teachers and students
Our family had the opportunity to visit the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) bases in Tijuana and Ensenada last week. To say this was just an opportunity seems to minimize our experience… This was life changing as the missionaries and families with whom we connected have impacted our lives forever. Our journey to Mexico began with YWAM inviting my husband to share his 10 Words art project. The focus of this incredible art is to share a modern version of the 10 Commandments.
We are grateful to our friend, Jorge Jimenez, at the YWAM Lakeside Base. He has consistently encouraged Treg through the creation and sharing of this project. Thank you, Jimenez family, for your trusted friendship throughout the years and for leading us to this unforgettable experience!!!
A portion of this trip involved our family joining a Homes of Hope Building Team from Tennessee. This team was made up of amazing families who warmly welcomed us to be a part their adventure. As we began, our family was so excited to build a house for a family who desperately needed help. However, we quickly realized that the Garay family was truly helping us! It was a blessing to learn about the perspective of happiness this family maintained before, during, and after the home was built. Thank you YWAM for sharing God’s love over and over again!
A little ocean relaxation after an amazing day!
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.
- What do students need to know, understand, and be able to do? (Learning Goals)
- How will we determine if the outcome has been accomplished? (Assessments – Formative and Summative)
- What strategies will we use to best influence learning?(Strategies, Activities)
- What will we do to support students who don’t learn or reach proficiency before expectation? (Intervention and Enrichment)
- What do I need to know, understand, and be able to do? What is the Learning Goal?
- How am I going to show my learning? What is the assessment?
- What do I need to do as a learner to achieve the learning goal?
- 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.
As I reflect on this school year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the Hedges Team! Thank you for your perseverance, commitment, and collaboration to support our students to achieve high levels of learning. My appreciation for our Hedges Community comes from three perspectives as I have had the opportunity to be a member of this team as a classroom teacher, a parent, and as the principal.
Today my heart is heavy to know my youngest child will spend her last school day at Hedges as an elementary student. While at the same time, I am confident that she is academically and socially prepared for the journey to middle school and beyond. As a teacher, a mom, and an administrator, I thank each of you for individualizing each student’s academic experience and for guiding all of our students to view a growth mindset to continue to achieve increased success! I am deeply grateful to be a member of a team who works together with a respect for each other’s educational knowledge and experience. Our students are incredibly prepared for the next school year because of the time each of you took to develop relationships to know and understand how each of our students learn.
Thank you for your laser like focus and relentless efforts to support our mission and vision:
Learning For ALL…No Excuses, No Limits!
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.
Enjoy a well deserved and rejuvenating summer! I am looking forward to beginning another successful 2015-2016 school year on August 31st. 🙂