International Dot Day

Dot (1)

As I turned down the hall to read The Dot by Peter Reynolds to the first class of the day, I looked up and where I once saw a gorgeous window, I saw a dot! I continued down the hall and saw Mrs. Ellis’ bulletin board welcoming “A New Batch of First Graders!” More dots! The cookies were dots! The chocolate chips on the cookies were dots! The Os were no longer Os but were dots! The next bulletin board Wel-gum to First Grade was full of dots instead of gum balls too! I then walked in to Mrs. Cranston’s room and there were dots everywhere! Throughout the day I was amazed at how, because it was International Dot Day, because my perspective changed, I saw dots everywhere!

I shared this with students as I opened my interactive read aloud of The Dot. I went on to share that one of the reasons I wanted to celebrate International Dot Day at Ruggles this year is because it gave me an opportunity to share with students one my favorite books written by one of my favorite authors. The Dot is a story that shares the power we all have to influence someone’s life. In this story it is a teacher who impacts her student allowing her to find the artist inside her. The child then influenced another child creating a chain reaction that each class predicted would continue.

I shared with children that, growing up, I was very fortunate to go away to sleep away camp in Maine. The most enduring lesson I learned there was that it is my job to make the world a better place because I have been it. I take this lesson very seriously and try to live up to it every day. It is why I chose to become a teacher, why I chose to become a Principal, and one of the many reasons why I chose to join this community of learners. I shared with them that each day I think to myself, how can I make the world a better place today because I have been it. I think of one thing that I am going to do that day to live up to this credo and work to make it happen. This past week for example, I had a lunch with a student who had a difficult the day before. I also worked to make a new student feel welcome at Ruggles Lane.

I challenged the students to do the same and asked for their help to make Ruggles Lane the best school on the planet. Each student was challenged to answer this question – How will you make your mark at Ruggles Lane this year? Everyone worked to decorate a dot that has the answer to the question on it. All of the dots will be displayed in the front hallway and students are encouraged to read others ideas. Hopefully, just like in The Dot, we will create a chain reaction at Ruggles too!

Pictures of our bulletin board are coming soon. In the meantime, check out some of the responses to our question:

“I will help the new kid in my class.”

“I will work together with my classmates to improve in our work and get good grades.”

“I will be friends with the new kids.”

“I will make my mark by making good choices and doing well in all my classes.”

“I will greet the new kids with a smile.”

“I will help people when they are stuck.”

“I will help others.”

“I will do a good deed for someone. They can then do a good deed for someone else.”

“I will help the teachers.”

“I will be nice to everyone.”

“I will be a good friend.”

“Being a good friend and helping others.”

“I will be nice to others and make new friends.”

“I will make my mark by working hard.”

“I want to be as kind as I can be.”

“I will stop bullying if I see it.”

“I will help friends if they are struggling.”

“I think I will do National Be Nice to Your Teacher Day.”

I will try my hardest to make people smile each and every day.”

“I am going to behave, be respectful, don’t hit or smack and not argue.”

“We should have a monthly food drive.”

“I will pick up the trash at lunch.”

“I will help little kids and new kids.”

“I will make my mark by helping bullies be better people.”

“I will mark my spot by recycling.”

“I am going to raise money for the school.”

“I am going to get everyone to say please and thank you.”

“I will tell people about friendship and what’s right.”

“I will be friendly to everyone and not exclude anyone.”

“I will share a smile with everyone.”

“I will try to always do my best.”

“I am collecting Box Tops.”

“I will make pictures for everyone.”

“I will donate books to the library.”

“I will work hard every day.”

“I will read to the younger kids.”

“I am not going to litter at the playground.”

“I will sit next to her at lunch and talk.”

“This year I will come up with some fun ideas for my class’ Student Council rep!”

“I will spread peace and kindness throughout my years at RLS and beyond. Stand up and speak up!

They have great ideas and I am looking forward to seeing each and every student “make their mark!”

Teacher as Lead Learner

Throughout my educational journey, I have come across many authors who influenced my ongoing development as a teacher and a principal. By far, one of the most influential is Michael Fullan. Not only is he an expert on education reform, he and I share a deep and abiding commitment to the idea that all children can learn. Because of this, I was excited to hear him speak in person this summer at the BLC Conference in Boston.

While familiar with his concept of Principal as Lead Learner, I was struck by the passion with which he spoke of the importance of this role that day. In his book The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact, he describes this role as the most central of the principalship. He describes a Lead Learner Principal as “one who models learning, but also shapes the conditions for all to learn on a continuous basis.” (p.9) I was struck when he elaborated saying that a principal with five years of experience on his/her resume with no new learning during those years, is five years behind the teachers he/she serves.

This past week, as I sat alongside Quabbin’s 3rd-6th grade teachers learning about Writer’s Workshop, I was struck by the power and importance of teacher as Lead Learner as well. In each small learning community, teachers are the Lead Learner with their role being to model this for their students and instill in each child a commitment to life-long learning.

In addition to modeling this core value, it is so important for educators (teachers and principals) to remember what it feels like to learn something for the first time and work to apply it. Whether it is the K-2 teachers learning how to teach phonics with Fundations or lifting their Writer’s Workshop lessons, or it is the 3-6 teachers learning to implement Writer’s Workshop for the first time, teachers are faced with learning something new. When applying their learning in the classroom, they will make mistakes along the way, but, just like a student struggling to learn how to multiply two digit numbers for the first time, they reflect on what happened, persevere and learn more about their teaching each and every day.

This weekend, a friend of mine shared that her school’s motto is “When teachers learn more, students learn more!” I am excited to work in a district that holds this belief supporting our learning with 10 early dismissals for Professional Development as the research shows that student learning and teacher efficacy are enhanced with increased time for teachers to learn about and collaborate on their practice. I am greatly looking forward to learning alongside Ruggles teachers this year and am confident we will see a return on this time in the classroom, with the children.

Celebration!

spirit days

Good evening,

Can you believe that today is day ten of the 2014-2015 school year? To celebrate the completion of our first five day week, Friday will be our first spirit day of the school year. Teachers, staff and students worked hard this week and I am confident this celebration will be well deserved. Students and staff are encouraged to wear Ruggles Lane spirit wear, QRSD spirit wear or the colors blue, white and gold. This will be a great way for us to celebrate our accomplishments this past week! 

I look forward to seeing the children tomorrow for another engaging day of learning!

~Ms. V