I apologize for not blogging earlier this school year, but I have been busy learning a lot of new things myself. I have learned how to use Dropbox, Animoto and Vimeo to create and share videos highlighting our week at school. We post these videos on our school website and email them home as links in our weekly school newsletter. Here is an example from our first week of school.
Our Technology Facilitator, Mrs. Breaux, and Assistant Principal, Mrs. Trendel, helped me create an iMovie to share information about our school on Curriculum Night. In past years, all the families met in the commons to hear this speech. Being able to share this video in the classroom helped with the flow of the evening and allowed us to keep most of the evening time focused on student learning.
So now, classroom routines have been established and we have quickly gotten into the groove of learning. This past week, as I visited classrooms, I observed our students deeply immersed in close reading, writing and problem-solving in math.
Watching the children "lose themselves in a book" brings back fond memories of similar reading experiences I was able to enjoy over the summer break. Here is a summary of the professional books I read and how they are inspiring me to continuously improve the way I work and live my life:
Unmistakable Impact by Jim Knight
Our Instructional Leadership Team read this book over the summer. This book serves our team as a guide in strengthening our school's culture of ongoing professional development as well as developing a very focused, action-oriented, streamlined school improvement plan. The Partnership Principles of Equality, Choice, Voice, Reflection, Dialogue, Praxis and Reciprocity were of most value to us, as they are the foundation to all of the work we do in teams at Dryden. We are constantly learning and growing together.
Notice & Note by Kylene Beers & Robert E. Probst
I gained some powerful ideas for teaching Common Core English and Language Arts from this book. Beers and Probst offer instructional strategies to cultivate reading habits that make students more observant, responsive, questioning and analytical of what they read. With "signposts", students learn to become alert to significant parts of texts, read closely and support their interpretations with evidence. Several of our teachers participated in a book study over the summer, and it's exciting to see them applying these practices in the classroom. Even more of our teachers plan to participate in a book study over the course of the school year as well.
It almost felt unnatural to read this book because of my own opinions regarding differences in the corporate world and the education profession. However, I found this book highlighted many positive ways that our society is evolving, and how we can incorporate specific strategies in improve our service to others. This includes being fair and honest, understanding other people's perspectives, being flexible and willing to improvise, communicating a consistent message clearly and through multiple forums, and maintaining an open, optimistic outlook while applying grit.
Mindset by Carol Dweck, Ph. D.
This book was actually on my daughter's high school summer reading list, too! Author Carol Dweck distinguishes a "growth" mindset from a "fixed" mindset, and explains how the mindset you adopt for yourself guides a large part of your life. When we take on a "growth" mindset our potential is unknown and unknowable, so a continuous thirst for learning, effort, grit, and resilience become part of our personalities, which leads to personal motivation, success and happiness. In contrast, a "fixed" mindset focuses on one's abilities, attitudes, etc. as unchangeable, which can lead to negative self-image, feeling stuck in a rut, and needing to protect a perceived status of being "the best" rather than being comfortable with learning from mistakes and striving for continuous improvement. This book inspires me to nurture a growth mindset in our children and ourselves as we confront challenges throughout our lives.