Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Parent Hopping and Teacher Hopping?



If you are more fortunate than others, 
it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence.

Parent Hopping! AND Teacher Hopping!
The act of asking the other parent when the first parent gave the “wrong” answer. If Dad said “NO,” go ask Mom. At school, we are aware of our consistent follow through and how our students are sensitive to the differences. We may be agreeing just to agree, even if it is not exactly what we think is important. For instance, hats in the building. We ALL will ask a student to take his hat off in the building but does that really have a MAJOR impact on the learning in itself? Can a student learn with a hat on?  Regardless of our personal interpretation, we all agree that consistency is more important and a unified front displayed by the teachers is far more important.
Planners are another factor that may or may not be important to an individual teacher. Yet, we as a team agree to use planners in our classrooms to help student organize as they work their way through their middle years. Do we need them?  DO STUDENTS NEED THEM?  Schools are student centered even though they are teacher led! Therefore, planners it is!
Teacher Hopping, for instance, in the middle school takes on a familiar look as well. A student asked me, “Can I go to my locker?” I was not sure why a student would ask me that question, so I paused. Coach came up and I deferred the question to him. Then, it was clear that the student was trying to “Teacher Hop” and bypass the rule by asking another Staff member! Sounds like at home. If mom says NO, ask DAD. Together, the letter of the rule is not as important as the need for us to be unified and together in our enforcement! We agree to remain individuals but serve students as a team!

An Argument strives to prove WHO is right.
A Discussion strives to prove WHAT is right.
Let's not confuse the two.
Stay on the same page and convey a truly unified front, knowing agreement to serve children is better than proving who is right.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

How do we measure stamina or persistence?

What is the difference between a SETBACK and a DEFEAT?
Think baseball! 
A SETBACK might be related to a pitch called a strike but the batter just stood there. It sets us back, behind or in a weaker position, but it does not mean things are done, completed or finished! An opportunity for success still exists and things could still work out! The SETBACK just makes it harder. A big part of education is working to get over this hurdle and overcome.
A DEFEAT might be the end of the inning, the end of the “at bat” or the end of the game. Regardless, there is a sense of finality in the DEFEAT but a sense of hope in the SETBACK.
School must teach how to overcome SETBACKS.
These window decals mapped out the last few weeks of our school year. We want to sprint to the future but not kick too early. We must finish strong and carry our load all the way to the end. Here, events and special activities are aligned to motivate any and every student in our building. WHO might we be missing? Who is not served in this group of activities? Who are we leaving out? For example, our DodgeBall Tournament pulled in anybody and everybody.
Meet: The Enforcers

At School, we strive to develop the full person, the academics, the discipline, social and emotional intelligence, executive function, financial awareness and exercise. These are just a few of the parameters we deal with on a a daily and nearly continuous basis.  All while students have cell phones, worry about their fashion risks and attend classes on time, while getting homework done, permission slips signed and turned in, and lunch accounts paid up.  But this is the middle school and that is what we do!

Setbacks happen continuously but defeat is never accepted.  Setbacks demonstrate trying, attempting something new and taking educational risks.  Setbacks are expected.  Defeat is not.

Every person who has met success, also met failure!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Was it worth it?

Was it worth it?
Last Saturday night, at 10:30pm, we traveled to the Missouri Botanical Garden to take in the rare blooming of the amorphophallus titanum commonly called the Corpse flower due to the odor and size.  
(Seldom do I see 2:00 am these days anyway.)

After driving an hour, waiting in line for another half hour, then seeing the flower for less than 5 minutes, it makes me wonder…  Was it worth it? YES. Unabashedly Yes. How often would I actually get to see and smell it in "Real Life?" I heard a student say the "Grand Canyon? I will just Google it!" (Imagine the limits in understanding after seeing pictures of the Grand Canyon, and thinking you have really experienced the presence!?) How many other things do I miss because I am in a hurry, on my way someplace else or not paying attention.  I really must take time to smell the roses.  I see these 8th grade students in our building and it does seem like they were just in 6th grade last month. They are growing with leaps and bounds right now and it is amazing the maturity they are showing. Let’s continue to provide them opportunities for leadership.  We were even thinking about having them assist during the first day of school while everyone is trying to get things together, there are still new students, lockers, classes and teachers to find. Mentoring and peer leadership roles are wonderful motivators at getting those students engaged.

It is ALWAYS worth it.

Tom McCracken