Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hopes & Dreams

It is the greatest time of the year!  I always get excited to welcome our students back to school.  The energy in and around Warner Elementary is contagious.  This summer I bumped into so many of our students and the vast majority were fired up to come back.  This was really cool to me.  This made me believe we were making great progress in our efforts to make school enjoyable.  Which brings me to my thoughts on Hopes and Dreams.

I'm blessed to be a father, and with that being said I gotta walk down memory lane.  I remember the first time I took Drew to school.  It was September 2007.  The day was beautiful, about 70 degrees and the sun was ducking in and out of the clouds.  Drew was so excited to go to school.  He was smiling and happy.  My wife and I bought new school clothes for Drew and got his haircut.  That was the surface stuff...but underneath all that was our Hopes & Dreams for our son.

Amy and I Dreamed of Drew making friends, enjoying school, learning and coming home excited to share what happened during his day.

We also Hoped Drew would develop interests and eventually find a career that he loved.  Our Hopes and Dreams revolved around our son being happy, safe and continuously growing as a person.

Amy and I had and still have Hopes and Dreams for Drew.  Now that Drew is older our Hopes and Dreams have changed slightly, but overall we still want him to love to learn and continuously grow. Our big dream for Drew is that he is a happy, joyful person.  This summer I participated in a book study.  The book was titled, Beyond The Bake Sale.  This book study changed my life.  It all started with the four core beliefs:

1)  All Parents Have Dreams for Their Children and Want the Best for Them -

2)  All Parents Have the Capacity to Support Their Children's Learning -

3)  Parents and School Staff Should Be Equal Partners -

4)  The Responsibility for Building Partnerships Between School and Home Rests Primarily with School Staff, Especially Leaders -

As a parent and principal I believe in the four core beliefs.  I believe that we need to develop a partnership that helps each child be successful.  Will there be bumps in the road?  Yes. Adversity is not a bad thing, it helps us grow, learn and collaborate ways to help children succeed.

I challenge all of you, share your Hopes and Dreams with your child's teacher.  I bet this will help develop the Family-School Partnership.  Ultimately it comes down to communication and attitude.  As adults we have the power of choice.  We all have Hopes and Dreams for our children.  For our kids to meet their potential it takes a village.  This is not a one-person job, this is a partnership to help all kids succeed.  I hope you will choose to walk side-by-side with your child's school and form a true partnership.

Articles Worth Reading:

teach kids game playing etiquette

positive notes for kids

happy first day

5 Things Parents and Teachers Need To Know About the New American Dream

Panthers Podcast Episode 6

Videos Worth Watching:

Wishing every coach had this mentality! (3 min)

Men's brains versus Women's Brains...WORTH THE TIME!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Did you know?

The final week of school is upon us and with that comes Summer.  This word (Summer) brings smiles to kids around the World.  But it isn't all smiles from an educational perspective.  In this post I will share some of the research surrounding Summer Break.

1)  Did you know that students regularly lose 2-3 months of knowledge each summer?  This is fact! The research specifically points to summer knowledge loss.  Check out this website: What is Summer Learning Loss? 

How do we combat this slide?  It is vital to give students opportunities.  
- Summer Camps
- Trail Walks
- Library Visits
- Arts & Crafts
- Build objects out of various materials
- Allow children to help in the kitchen

Research confirms that students desire structure, part of the summer knowledge loss centers around an overall lack of structure.  You can help your child by instilling a layer of structure and consistency.  

2)  Did you know Summer Camps are good for kids?  Over six million kids go off to camp each summer. This is great for encouraging independence and getting kids to exit their comfort zone.  We all know the best learning takes place when we try new things and we don't fear failure.  The research says, parents often site homesickness for not sending kids to camp, when in all honesty it is childsickness on the behalf of the adults. Simply put parents are reluctant to let go.  Check out this article:  Should I be sending my child to camp?

Summer camps are great for kids because they - 
- Learn/Gain Resiliency
- Spend their day being physically active
- Develop Life Skills
- Unplug 
- Learn Social Skills
- Grow more independent

3)  Did you know the best role model during summer is a Parent?  Parents need to be role models for learning.  It's important that parents make learning enjoyable and a life long skill.  Here are some parent tips to help you role model for your kids.

- Read in a visible place
- Reflect on events, what went well and what could be improved
- If you're planning a trip get out a map for the family to study together
- Simply talk to your child about something you are learning at work
- Be open with your child about something you have always wondered, then research together

Check out these two websites:

In just a couple of days students will be off for nearly ten weeks.  It is my hope that we make a conscious effort to not allow students to lose knowledge.  What will you do to help your child during the summer break?  

Articles Worth Reading:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lasting Impact...

I'll be the first to admit I'm not perfect.  As a father, educator, husband...I've made my fair share of mistakes along the way.  I often times wonder if my mistakes have a lasting impact.  This recently came to the forefront when I had a conversation with a friend.

The two of us were sharing back and forth and the conversation shifted to our kids.  My friend was very open and admitted that his daughter really struggles with bedtime routines.  I was grateful for his openness and honesty. I asked him a pointed question, but I was careful to not be judgmental.  I simply asked, "Have you ever thought back to what you did as a parent when your daughter was younger?"  I then added, "I analyze decisions from the past to see if they impacted the present."  At this point, I didn't want him to think I was being critical, so I shared a story.

A little over twelve years ago my wife and I had our first child.  He was/is a fantastic kid!  As a baby everyone told us how easy we had it. He was smiley, happy and healthy.  As a first time parent I didn't have a handbook or guide.  My wife and I were doing our very best.  We held him all the time, and put him in his crib once he fell asleep in our arms. What I remember about those days is that we loved being parents, but we were absolutely exhausted, and life was a little tougher to balance.

As Drew got older, we found routines that worked and allowed us a bit of sanity.  The best example I can share is bedtime.  Bedtime with babies and toddlers is tough.  As parents, and more specifically me as a father, I resorted to giving Drew a bottle to help him fall asleep.  Looking back I completely blame this for his inability to fall asleep easily as an adolescent.  Holding him and feeding him until he was asleep made things easier back then but made things more difficult later. Our mistakes have a lasting impact.

Now please understand, it's never to late to change.

Eventually Drew grew out of bottles and we wised up.  He stopped falling asleep to the bottle and we adjusted bedtime.  Our routines changed as well. I began reading to Drew on a nightly basis.  We would head to the bedroom and read for 20 or 30 minutes.  It was never about a set time, it was whatever felt right.  I'll openly admit, change didn't happen over night.  We changed the routine and we made it a lifestyle.  Just last night I continued reading Treasure Island to my two boys as they prepared for bed.

What's the big deal?

A few things are at play here.

1)  The sleep patterns of kids directly effect the entire family.  Poor sleeping habits can create a divide in the adult relationship.  This isn't good for anyone.  My belief is that kids should see parents being affectionate and loving each other.  I encourage holding hands, hugging, laughter and affection in front of kids.  Don't we want them to see that we love each other?  Don't we want to model a healthy marriage?

2)  Poor sleep can hurt school performance.  This is a no-brainer, but let me clarify why.  Poor sleep can cause drowsiness during the school day that manifests into being either lethargic or attention-deficit. Really it's simple, without a good night's sleep most people are not at their best.  If you truly want your child to be successful in school, shouldn't you help set them up for success by getting a good night's sleep?

3)  Research says people that don't get an adequate amount of sleep are often less patient.  I, for one, completely agree with this.  When I become tired I become touchy.  When kids are tired they become cranky, inflexible and angry.  I always know when my children are tired because their attitude changes. They become whiny and often display temper tantrums.

I say all of those things because I realize that sleep, sleep patterns and bedtime routines are not easy for many families.  I encourage you to make the necessary changes now...there's no time like today to try and make a positive change for your child and your family.  For many of you still struggling with bedtime issues, I've walked in those shoes.  I'm not judging, I'm trying to let you know that you aren't alone.

If you have a child who still sleeps in your bed, encourage the child to move to his/her bedroom. Ask your son or daughter to pick out new bedding for their room. Talk to them about their fears (my younger son wanted a thicker curtain on his window because "monsters" were outside peeking in). Switch up your bedtime routine with a hot bath or shower, reading, or falling asleep to music. And although it will be difficult at first, stick to it and be firm. Try your best to make the positive change your child- and your family- need. It could be the most important change you make.

Articles Worth Reading:

Sleep For Kids

11 Reasons Why A Good Night's Sleep is so Important

the only thing parents need to know during read-alouds

22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us in 25 Years

Tech N' Taco Night Slideshow

Starfish Story (definitely worth your time)

18 Reasons To Give Up Trying To Live Up to Everyone's Expectations

Videos Worth Watching:

Rockin' Robin! (3 min)

Cool story! (3 min)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Are you proud of our school?

It's that time of year where thoughts and opinions of your child's school are bound to come to the surface.  Most schools have had a second round of conferences, standardized scores are now out and we are three quarters through the school year.  Let's face it, the year has either gone well or not so much.

Recently I overheard a conversation between two parents (conversation took place in a restaurant).  It went like this, the gentleman said, "I've been pleased with our child's school.  We chose the school because the test scores were very good."  Then the second parent chimed in, she said, "I hear you, but I really appreciate how our school has a focus on the whole child."  She then added, "Test scores are just a small piece of what a school truly is.  I like seeing the projects and the activities that the students are able to do."  The gentleman intently listened and then I heard one last remark, he said, "You're right; it's funny that I know about our test scores, but I don't know a whole lot more than that."

This was a snapshot of the conversation and honestly...I was eavesdropping as we waited for a table. Some people may say, why didn't you speak up?  Sometimes a valuable lesson can be learned when you simply listen.

Essentially that conversation made me think, it made me reflect.  My own son goes to our school.  I share the role of dad and principal.  Do I feel pride as a parent?  What do I want our school to be known for?

What I believe is that "most" parents are looking for a few "major" things.

1)  Parents want a safe environment for their kids.

2)  Parents want their child to be happy and successful.  This is the whole child.  I believe parents expect their children to learn, but they also want their children to be happy and become better citizens during the entire school experience.

3)  Parents value connections and communication.  What I see is that a partnership works best.  When parents and teachers are on the same page and working together, the outcomes are almost guaranteed to be successful.

When it is all said and done some parents will look very close at test scores.  Some will compare buildings and districts, but the parents that are involved and partnering with the school will look at the whole child.  Test scores won't be the deciding factor.

I guess a better question is this, since test scores reflect 6 days of testing in October, is this more important than the other 174 days throughout the year?

My 2 cents are this, rate a school on the everyday things...Is it safe?  Is it inviting?  Are the students showing growth?  Does the school communicate well?  Do you feel as though you have a partnership with your child's teacher?

To me this is the mark of a good school.

So in the near future you may see news articles about how schools are either succeeding or failing...please don't put all your eggs in the testing basket.  Looking at the school as a whole, is it meeting the needs of your child?

Articles Worth Reading:

Genius Hour: What Kids Can Learn from Failure

9 Fun Activities for Spring Break

We'll Be Counting Stars

28 Ways To Uncomplicate Your Relationships

Identifying the Best School Stories From the Best School Storytellers

Doughnuts with Dad at Warner Elementary

Videos Worth Watching:

Did You Know...

Merritt Baker at #iCreate

Troy Gilpin at #iCreate

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bella & Maddie's post on Thursday, February 27, 2014

Easy Blog Photo
Reading month happens every March of every year. This years theme is Reading is my Superpower. Linda Urban, author of the book Center of Everything, is coming and so is the Rosequeen. One day we are even going to be able to dress up as a superhero. Also, the teachers are going to put on a Readers Theater for the whole school to see! We are also going to have weekly prizes like superhero masks, finger puppets, and superhero gliders. And you can also get a new bike, or a limo ride around town and the go to McDonalds. We can't wait to see how the school is going to be decorated!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far

Let me begin with a simple question.  If your child has a problem how do you hope they will handle it?
Do you want them to talk it out?  Do you want them to communicate?

If this is what many of us want from our children then why do we not model this?  Why do adults jump on Facebook and bash?  Why do adults meet up and gossip?  Why do so many adults feel confrontational rather than constructive & collaborative?

I'm a parent and for years when my kids were little I didn't believe they were watching and listening. Boy was I wrong!  When I would laugh at a joke on the radio or say something on the phone to a friend my kids would then repeat or ask questions.  This was my first tip that they were watching (even when I didn't think they were watching).

Next came a time of code.  I remember my wife and I spelling things out in the car.  We would say things like, "On Saturday let's go S..H..O..P..P..I..N..G for D..R..E..W. "  Moments later Drew would say, "What are you going to get me?"  Our goose was cooked!  Talking in code didn't last long and now we have decided that we need to keep it clean, positive and kid friendly all the time.

When the boys are playing a sport we don't yell from the stands.  We cheer and encourage.  When the boys come home upset with something at school or practice, we problem solve, role play and talk it out. We don't angrily call the teacher, coach or post something on social media.

Our kids watch us more than we can imagine.  The way we react becomes their "norm".  I challenge all adults to take a good hard look in the mirror.  Are you setting the example you want your child to follow?  Are you listening to all sides of the story before you pass judgement?  Wouldn't we want our own kids to do these things?

I'm a believer in the power of positive attitude.  When my son is a grump at 8am I try my best to snap him out of it.  I take pride in my positive attitude, I know on any given day I have no less than 800 eyes on me.  Some may see this as pressure...I see this as opportunity.  "Be the change you wish to see in the World." -Gandhi

Next time you're frustrated, annoyed or simply angry...think about the example you are setting for your child.  What we model seems to repeat, please remember, The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...

Articles Worth Reading:

Kindergarten is the new first grade

Our inability to see ahead

Adreian Payne Story (Fantastic Read!)

27 Ways To Check Students Prior Knowledge

Distracted Parenting

Videos Worth Watching:

Speak-Life Project by a Middle School student.  Very powerful and inspiring! (7 min)

Ashton Kutcher has a message for all kids...hard work makes a difference!  This really amazed me. (5 min)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Carter Inosencio's post on Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Easy Blog Photo
The best thing about being a kid is... ...that you can be involved in lots of things, ... and your parents support you even if it may be the craziest most unrealistic thing they've ever heard. ( Even if it may involve some begging. ) This is something I had to save up for but it was all worth it and it's really cool! 😃 Check out this very (emphasis on the very) recent video should help you figure out what cool thing I'm talking about. I hope you can tell that being a kid is all about trying new things and staying involved!