Friday, January 29, 2016

Be in the Moment!

I just read an article from BuzzFeed about Mindfulness. It is attached to this link.   The article talks about being in the moment, finding just 5 minutes to sit quietly and letting your senses take over. I enjoyed reading this article as I find this time of the year so busy. We have great projects and learning going on in the classrooms. We have egg drops occurring, the planetary awards, science experiments helping us discover a variety of ways our body systems work, and of course our very important work of reading and math.

Another facet of our feeling of being so busy is all of the PTA sponsored events including Thursday's Science/Engineering Fair and Book Fair. We have had the Sock Hop, 4th grade Activity Night and next Friday is a movie night for 4th and 5th graders. Of course, the ABC/25 Windsor School Drawing is running and then there is Valentine's Day parties at school on Friday, February 12th. And... that is only from now until mid-February!  Wait until Spring!

With all of this occurring, it is important for me to just sit in the silence- even for just a few minutes- somewhere during every day.  I find time to reflect everyday, and learn and grow from these reflections. But, being mindful is something different. It really is time to just stop all the "doing" that occurs every day.

Being in moment for me is important. It means that maybe instead of taping or photographing moments that are happening with our children in school, I take the time to truly listen to them, enjoy what they are teaching me and live in that moment. Putting down that cell phone so that I cannot take a picture for Twitter or our website is not an easy choice. I think it is so important for all of our community to "take part" in our school day by tweeting or capturing it in pictures for you all to see. However, there are times that it is more important to BE PRESENT in the moment and let my memories hold that moment forever.

Image result for be in the momentDuring one of our upcoming events, or even this weekend, I encourage you to put down the cell phone and just take it all in. Don't text, post on Facebook or check your email. Just be with your families! It will make quite an impression on you and I promise, you will have the moment in your memory forever to share and talk about with your children.  I have friends who literally take all their phones from their family members during dinner and put them in a drawer. No one at the table is texting, talking or checking their email. There is no choice but to listen to each other, share stories and have fun together. There are so many times, I wish I did not have that cell phone at my ready. I am going to try my best to put it down and focus on the relationships and times that matter and being truly in the moment.

Let me know how BEING PRESENT goes for you or how you find mindfulness!  I cannot wait to hear your stories!

Friday, January 22, 2016

What did teachers do all day on Tuesday?

Tuesday was a busy day in District 25! Teachers spent the day in sessions designed by central office departments and learned about new curricula and prepared for instruction for the remainder of the year. Special education staff across the District met to discuss a variety of issues including Occupational Therapy strategies, new technology supports from the Don Johnston Solo Suite, and supports for students with 504 plans. Staff in Communications and Foundations took time to consider integration for students into general education settings. Across the District, staff took the opportunity to collaborate and think critically about how best to support students.

K-2 and 3-5 classroom teachers split into four groups across the District and spent half of their day reviewing the Schoolwide reading curriculum, discussing instructional strategies such as conferring with students about their reading, and unpacking information about upcoming units. Overall, Schoolwide and the reading workshop approach have been embraced by teachers and administrators as we see the children engage with texts daily. The other half of the day was spent diving into the Science Companion curriculum and taking a look at upcoming units. Trainers from both curriculum companies facilitated the training in conjunction with District central office staff.

Although our teachers would likely always choose to be in their classrooms instead of meetings, these professional development days are crucial to their practice and in supporting them to develop the best settings and instruction for students.

For more information on any of these curricula or learning sessions, please check the District website, or contact a Windsor staff member. We look forward to continuing to share staff learning throughout the rest of the year!

Friday, January 15, 2016

January Worthy Wildcats and the Wildcat Way Update

Congratulations to our January Worthy Wildcats. These are students who were selected by their peers for behavior that represents the Wildcat Way of being Safe, Kind and Responsible because You Matter!  Kindergarten: Jose G., First Grade: Ethan H., Second Grade: Connor F., Third Grade: Elijah M., Fourth Grade: Ryan R. and Fifth Grade: Geoffrey B. Students were selected for being kind by helping peers clean up and being respectful in class, helping others remember the Wildcat Way expectations, being responsible by helping return equipment to the proper classroom, being kind by organizing the boots in the hallway and working closely with buddies, being responsible by working with a peer who was out ill and needed help catching up and finally, demonstrating kindness by going out of his way to pick up a peer's book.

Our students are working in classrooms on writing or drawing ways that they are honoring the Wildcat Way. Below are some samples from our First Graders.  Our Art Club has painted the wall where we do announcements to remind all of us to Honor the Wildcat Way!  Students are beginning to internalize our expectations of being Kind, Safe and Responsible because You Matter!

Teachers started out our return to school in January by going over all the expectations in the school by walking to each location that has expectations posted like the bathrooms, hallways and lunchroom.  We also remind children to be Kind, Safe and Responsible on morning announcements.  Some mornings, Mrs. Fabrizio shares examples of children demonstrating the Wildcat Way during those announcements.  It is a joy to hear students reminding each other about the Wildcat Way.

Beginning next week, the Windsor News Crew will show several videos that our Student Council produced to demonstrate
I am helping a boy up. 

If someone falls I help them get up. 

I am sharing. 

We are quick, quiet and clean in the bathroom. 
the Wildcat Way.  We hope that the students will enjoy and learn from these videos.

Thanks for all of your support in speaking with your children about the Wildcat Way and our expectations. Our goal is to increase appropriate school behavior and good character throughout the school day.

Friday, January 8, 2016

What's your 1 word?

Happy new year to our Wildcat community! We hope you all had restful and enjoyable holidays with your families and friends. After one week back, it already feels like we never left!

With any new year, it's natural to talk about resolutions and goals for the coming months. At Windsor, we always resolve to create the best learning environment for all of our students, to support teachers and students in being creative and innovative, and to encourage collaboration amongst all in our community. We'll continue to focus on these key goals throughout 2016.

That said, in lieu of talking about new resolutions for our school for this year, we have challenged our staff to find one word that captures their focus for 2016. Borrowed from Chris Kennedy, "My One Word," we asked staff to consider "What is that one word that best defines your hopes and goals for the coming year?" In the staff lounge, we have a bulletin board where staff have been adding their words throughout the week. Words like "contentment," "grace," "positivity," "resilience," and even "mommy" have been added to the board. It has been fun to read the different ways that Windsor staff members are framing their year, both personally and professionally. This has been a chance for all of us to recenter ourselves and to stop and think about what we want for this coming year.

Shelley has chosen "possibilities" as her one word and Ginny has chosen "determination"as hers. What's your one word? What do you think your children would choose as their one word? Perhaps this is good dinner table fodder for the coming weeks!

So, rejuvenated from the holiday break, we happily head full steam into the second half of this school year. We look forward to all of the opportunities we'll have to collaborate with all of you. Please feel free to share your one word with us!