Championing the Needs of All Children

Journey

Each year our school calendar provides several early release days for teacher professional development. In fact, we have one coming up this week! These days are critical for our staff to collaborate with one another and to learn from one another to support the day-to-day teaching and learning in our classrooms. A lot has changed in our curriculum over the last five years, and this time allows teachers to continue to refine their practice to meet the needs of our students.

In addition to these half days, teachers meet during the school day periodically to discuss student progress and to plan for how we can best meet the needs of our learners. Over the last two weeks, each grade level came together with our intervention team to do this important work. Student progress for those students not yet meeting benchmarks in reading, writing or math was discussed by their teachers – What were the goals we designed at our last meeting? What has he/she been working on during WINN? During class? How has the child progressed? What are the needs for the next 6-8 weeks? How can we work together to ensure she/he continues to make or to exceed this level of progress?

I can not begin to share how impressed I was with our staff during these meetings. The dedication they have to your children is impressive and deserves to be shouted from the rooftops! Their passion and enthusiasm for meeting the needs of our learners shone through during these meetings as did a deep level of knowledge regarding who each child is as an individual learner. Students who are not yet at benchmark are making progress due to the hard work, dedication and passion of our Intervention Team and our classroom teachers. I know you join me in thanking each of them for their hard work! We are lucky to have such a dedicated group of individuals championing the needs of our children!

When a learner struggles, it is critical for a caring adult to step in to provide guidance and support so that the child does not become discouraged. He/she needs to be skilled in developing targeted goals and designing meaningful intervention so that the child feels success. These small successes breed increased efforts which lead to further success. At RLS, we are lucky to have a staff who is committed to honing our skills in this area through Professional Development and regular collaboration with each other. At RLS we are committed to working together so that all students achieve!

If you are interested in learning more about our WINN block (What I Need Now), I encourage you to read this blog post. Included in the post, is a link to a presentation that outlines this program further.

Believe

RLS Constitution

This past fall, a highlight for our school community was the creation of our RLS Constitution which culminated in our first, student-led Constitution Celebration Community Meeting. This work actually started last spring when the faculty worked to define their ideal image of RLS. Building off our beloved acronymn RLS, they came up with a Respectful Community, a Learning Community and a Safe Community.

This fall our whole school community worked to create rules that would help us to live up to this vision. Each classroom community brainstormed a set of rules and then each grade level worked to agree on a common set for their grade.

One delegate from each classroom attended the Constitutional Convention with me and Mr. Wagner to decide how we would pull all of those rules together to come up with 3-5 for the whole school to follow. It wasn’t easy but we came up with three:

  • Be a positive role model
  • Be a hard worker
  • Be in control of your thoughts and actions

Each classroom voted on the rules and the Constitution passed with a vote of 16 to 1! The delegates then worked to plan a Community Meeting during which we would celebrate its’ passing. We are looking forward to having this Constitution in place for years to come.

We also look forward to future Constitution Celebration Community Meetings during which we can celebrate our efforts to follow it! In November 6th graders worked to design the structure of what the celebrations will look like for the rest of the year and proved to be an amazing group of engaged, dedicated RLS leaders! Their meeting focusing on a Respectful Community consisted of a reading of Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon and a lip synch to Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T! December brought the 5th grade assembly focused on a Learning Community during which we learned about several famous Americans who worked hard to overcome obstacles or achieve great things. They also did a skit that included a new rendition of the Whip and Nae Nae which they performed. We can’t wait to see what the other grades have in store for us during future Constitution Celebrations!

6thRespect

#RLS_Beautiful

RLSBeautifulLupines

Earlier in the year, I visited each classroom to read Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. This is one of my favorite stories about the adventures of a young girl into her adulthood who tries to live up to her grandfather’s mission for her: “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” After reading and discussing the story, community members decorated a lupine and answered the question, “What will you do to make RLS a more beautiful school because you have been in it?”

#RLS_Beautiful was hatched as we took over one of the bulletin boards in the main hallway! Tied into our work to create the RLS Constitution, the question behind this bulletin board  for the entire year will be: What can we do to make RLS a better school because we have been in it? Over the year I hope to visit classrooms to read at least three additional stories each time creating a new bulletin board. During my visits, I am also using this as an opportunity to continue to get to know the children and for them to get to know me. As we read Miss Rumphius they learned about my favorite colors, state and flower.

RLSBeautifulI am finishing my next round of #RLS_Beautiful read alouds reading Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi and Bret Baumgarten. If you have not yet read this book, you must get your hands on it! It is written by a man who, as his children started their day, asked each one, “What will your beautiful hands do today?” The book talks about using your hands to plant ideas, to lift spirits, to touch hearts, to stretch imaginations and to reach for love, for truth, for faith, for hope and for dreams.

After a spirited conversation about the amazing illustrations (as well as the message of course), children each had the opportunity to make a hand print which created our new #RLS_Beautiful bulletin board. Their creativity, thoughtfulness and wisdom is inspirational as you will see below from a sampling of their responses. I encourage you to stop by RLS and travel down the main corridor to see their words of wisdom adorning the wall – it truly is heart warming.

My Beautiful Hands Will…

Help others

Stop bullying

Make friends

Work together

Plant knowledge in my brain

Be kind

Help people

Hug my teachers and my friends

Never give up

Help kindergarteners and 1st graders read

Make my teacher’s day

Help my friend

Be inclusive at recess

BeautifulHandsK

Kindergartner: My beautiful hands will love

BeautifulHands5th

5th grader: My beautiful hands will help others

BeautifulHandspoem

A 4th grader’s poem:

My Beautiful Hands Will

Reach Out

I will reach out

For a better tomorrow

I will reach out

To end the world’s sorrow

I will reach out

For beauty, for friends

I will reach out

Reach out ’till the end