Wanted: Miracle Worker

For those of you who read regularly, or at least have some sort of personal connection to Jackson, then you know that we have been seeking/receiving services for him the past year or so (mostly for his speech delay/issues, which as an aside have improved immensely over the past year).

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten into detail about Jackson and his “talking,” but tomorrow is a huge step in his process of meeting age appropriate developmental milestones as far as communication. Tomorrow we meet with our towns speech and language program for a battery of assessments that will help us identify what might be a road block in his communication development and also narrow down the specific areas of weakness that need to be addressed.  

I’ve been an educator for close to 18 years both as a teacher and now as a principal. I’ve been part of more evaluations, progress monitoring check-ins and initial identification meetings than most people will in their life time. But this time I’m not doing the evaluations of hearing the results as a leader of an educational system… I’m the helpless parent who has to watch his son be assessed by people who know nothing about him other than his name. I have to sit back and let someone else’s educational and developmental knowledge do the diagnosis and listen to someone else tell me what is best for my child. 

I’m not OK with that, yes I know I have the ability and expertise to collaborate when determining the direction for his individualized education plan. But in all reality I can’t be there in this situation for him… I can’t help him tomorrow when he is being tested by someone he doesn’t know… and I definitely can’t control what the results say.  

I’m nervous and anxious and I don’t really know if I’m going to be ok. I’m not sure if this whole thing is ok. I’ve seen a lot of children with needs, both minor and significant needs receive the support they need through an amazing educator. I’ve seen public school teachers work miracles. I just hope one of those miracle workers comes across my son and works wonders for him too. 

The Value of Student Work 

Entering a new school is something so extremely challenging. “Students First” is a motto that has been at the forefront of my career in education. Effective educators are dedicated individuals, dedicated to one thing first and foremost… their students. Excellent educators are able to effectively build a positive and safe school environment; however, the main goal is to create a learning environment of effective teaching that meets individual students’ needs in order to help them become lifelong learners that are self-motivated and value the effort it takes to be successful.

I have worked tirelessly throughout my entire career to create a positive school culture. I know that entering a new building the first task will be to make sure that I can contribute to that positive culture and climate. As a school leader I know that I will face many challenges in a new building, but supporting a welcoming and positive school culture goes a long way in helping to bridging the gap between the already established school community and myself, “the new guy.”

It will be imperative for me to help create an environment where the entire school community shares the same set of norms, values, and expectations in order to support the emotional, physical and academic well-being of our students.For me this starts with making sure that our students feel that “this is their school.” The best way to foster that belief is by creating an environment where students’ work is valued, appreciated and rewarded through display in the school itself. When I walk through my son’s daycare it feels like a place for kids, by kids (and not just because there are numerous toddlers running a muck). There is art work, (scribbles and master-pieces, writings and photos of children working and having fun posted everywhere). The work depicts the students effort, not just something that shows that they are “smart,” but shows that their hard work, effort and process is valued as well.

This is the type of environment I want to be part of as an educator. An environment that values effort and process, not just the product that is being created by our students. I am excited to begin my new journey as a school principal tomorrow. A journey that will start with a model of what we will value… The work of our children. I’m excited to display some beautiful paintings done by my son.

That is until my new students create their own…

 

Home Bio-Contamination Unit 

Steph and I getting ready to enter Jax bedroom

 
So it’s that time of year again… That time that makes teachers and parents cringe… We’ve got lice going around lately at my school and It makes me want to barf.  

As a teacher I never really was worried about myself, but now as a parent it’s different.  Anytime I see my kid go near his head… It doesn’t even have to be to scratch it, even if he just touches his head I want to take him out in the front yard and shave his head. Just buzz it all off.

I feel like I need to be medically hosed off before I enter my own house these days like in ET. Maybe I can convince Steph to put a hold on the bathroom remodeling project and instal a bio-contamination unit in our garage… I think we’re going to need it.  

The ABCs of Kindergarten

As an elementary school administrator a lot of people ask for advice related to school, especially on how to approach the first few years… I thought it would be helpful to put together a comprehensive list of what to expect/look for…

The’s  ABCs of Kindergarten

A

Allergies:  Always let your child’s teacher know about any allergies that your child may have and if he/she takes medication to treat those allergies.

Arrival:  The beginning of the day is so important, morning meetings and greetings take place and expectations are set make sure your child arrives on time each day.

Attendance:  Attendance is very important in Kindergarten.  Each day is essential to your child’s overall academic success and social development.  Please make every effort to have your child at school each day.

B

Birthdays:  Your child may celebrate his/her birthday with the class by having a “special snack”.  For health and safety reasons schools ask that anything shared at school be store-bought with the ingredients label still attached.

Book bags:  Your child will need to bring his/her book bag to school EVERYDAY.  Book bags help children stay organized.  Please check your child’s book bag nightly for important information and completed projects.

C

Change of Clothes: Please send a complete change of seasonal clothing for your child to leave at school should your child have a spill or an accident.

Cooking:  Occasionally we may complete a recipe as a class.  Donations of cooking items are always appreciated.

Conferences: Parent teacher conferences are vital to communicating about your child’s academic, social and behavioral progress.  Make every attempt to attend the conferences in person.

Contact Information: Always update all contact information for your child.  Please make us aware of any changes as soon as possible, including phone numbers, addresses or pick up and/or emergency pick ups.

D

Dismissal:  Dismissal for students can be hectic.  Make sure to let your child’s teacher know if you are picking up early.

E-F

Field Trips:  Let your child’s teacher know if you can chaperone field trips.

Folder:  Identify a folder for home school communication.  This is a folder that should be checked every day and will help you and your child stay organized.

G-H

Hand washing:   Please remind your child to wash his/her hand upon entering the classroom each day.

I-L

Independence: Independence is an important concept in K.  Help your child build his/her independence by having them practice the following skills:  buttoning and zipping clothing and outerwear; tying shoes; writing his/her name; blowing/wiping his/her nose; sneezing and coughing into their elbows.

Labels: Please label EVERYTHING your child wears to school. Many children have the same lunch bags, backpacks and sweaters. It is easier to identify your child’s belongings if they are labeled.

Lunch:  Your child may bring a lunchbox to school or sign up for a school lunch. All schools have a lunch program which also includes free and reduces lunch.  Check in with your child’s school to see if you qualify for any of these programs.  Please send in any lunch money in a sealed envelope labeled with your child’s name and how many lunches you will purchase.

M

Medication: The school nurse or designee will administer all medications. Please see the nurse if you have any questions.  DO NOT EVER send medication in with you child.

 

N-P

Newsletters:  Many teachers will send home a Class Newsletter; if they do not, check to see if the school sends out a Whole School Newsletter.  The newsletter informs you of what we are learning in our classroom, special events, volunteer opportunities and school news.

Parent Teacher Communication Log:  This is helpful to send in with your child, usually putting in the home school folder is a good idea.  The Communication Log will be used to send small notes to and from school.

Q-R

Rules:  Classroom rules are put in place to keep everyone safe. Please help your child understand these common kindergarten rules by reviewing them at home.

  • Raise your hand and wait for a teacher to call on you. This prevents everybody from talking at once and allows you to be heard.
  • Stay in your seat unless you have permission from a teacher. This keeps you safe and organized.
  • Keep your body parts to yourself. Even “play” touching can bother somebody.
  • You are in charge of your things! This will help you develop organizational skills and personal responsibility.

S-T

Snack:  Many schools are doing away with “unhealthy” snacks.  Healthy snacks include fruit, fruit snacks, graham crackers and animal crackers.  Please make sure the fruit is pre-peeled or sliced.  Allergies are much more common now than ever.  Please do not send in food with nuts of any kind or chocolate as some students may be allergic to them.

U-V

Volunteers: Classroom volunteers are always welcome in schools; however with schools focusing on safety more than ever, it is always necessary to contact the teacher and/or main office to arrange your visit.

W-Z

Website:  All schools will have some sort of website, whether it’s school or district based.  Use these sites to help familiarize yourself with the basics of the school.

Winter Gear:  Make sure your child to school with appropriate winter gear (hats, gloves, snow pants and boots). We will go outdoors daily – even in cold weather!

 

All schools and classrooms will differ, but this A-Z list of basics should help guide you and your child as you ready for the amazing adventure in front of you… Kindergarten!