Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 24-I guess I'm a Good Girl

This was one of the hardest days I have had as an administrator so far. Keep in mind I have been through a lot in my educational career and had students with situations that would make most people vomit from disgust and heartache. None of those have been easy. There is something to be said, though, of having to have gut wrenching, heart wrenching conversations and trying to be the leader, trying to keep the focus while you watch someone in pain.

I knew coming into this that in order to be effective this job demands personal sacrifice. Communications, decisions, outcomes, support are all up to me. I can see how easy it is for many to fail at this job. You have to spend that extra 30 minutes past when you said you would be home because there are 40 people waiting on information that only you have to give. Not spending that 30 minutes can be the difference in someone having the information they need to make their decisions which ultimately always affects students.

The world is on edge and our community is no different. Parents are struggling in so many ways. All week long, issues that used to be handled at the teacher level are coming straight to my office. Is it that parents feel like the education of their children is the only thing left to control, to hold onto or change? Is it that parents are desperate more than ever for their children to have success that they don't so they don't face the same economic future? Five minute clarity conversations between parents and teachers are turning into 45 minute counseling and support sessions between parents and my and Scott's office. I am happy to do it but it does take a toll.

I started to cry myself to sleep tonight, not out of pity or "woe is me"..please, not my personality...but because I am so tired and sick (can't shake this chest cold) and using every last bit of my energy to get through the days, especially on a day like today. I decided to get up and write about it instead, hoping that would clear my mind enough to let me sleep. After I started this blog, one of my teachers gave me a page from a "quote a day calendar" that said, "good girls keep diaries, bad girls don't have the the time." She crossed out the word diaries and wrote the word "blog". I'm finally starting to feel sleepy...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Give Me an Inch...-Day 15

I am reminded today how important every minute and every interaction is in the field of education. I am thinking of the two girls on the playground today. Both girls were sitting quiet and sullen at opposite ends of the sand box creating designs in the sand with seemingly no end result. I visited with each girl individually and started to walk away when I realized how introducing them to each other and making that initial leap could make a world of difference to both of them. They began working on a sand project together and hopefully made a connection they wouldn't have otherwise had.

Then my thoughts turn to my commitment to being in classrooms 3 days out of 5. This was supposed to be a building day (when I am in classrooms) but I had two crucial meetings today. One was with my Parent Accountability Committee and the other to review my building budget. I spent time in classrooms before I went out to the playground but only made it to 3 grade levels. As I looked at the clock, I saw that there were only 20 minutes left before the bell rang. I almost went in to my office to start planning for our Early Release professional time together and instead decided to spend 10 minutes in one grade level and 10 minutes in another, thus putting me in at least one classroom per grade level today.

They say football is a game of inches... is a commitment of minutes

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sense and Sensability-Day 14

Back after a nice long weekend. Great for the soul and plenty of time to re-energize but it always makes for a harried week upon our return. Coming back to a short week after a long break makes for catch up and even keep up a difficult task. I was able to make a "to-do" list over the long weekend so that I felt organized. The stressor there is on the word felt. I did work until after 6:00 tonight trying to tackle some of that to-do list but was not able to actually scratch off an entire item! I did make progress...

My teachers are feeling frustrated at the amount they are asked to do without much time to do it. I feel like they are in the mode of doing a lot a mile wide and doing nothing with depth. I made a vow to clear their plates but am finding that I am waiting for answers and expectations as well.

I plan on spending all available time in the classrooms tomorrow. I have two meetings scheduled but other than that I should be able to devote a good two hours to being in classrooms. I can't wait!

Having a sense of things can be both a positive and a negative. Feeling organized with my to-do list was a positive for me and feeling overwhelmed at the beginning of the year demands is negative for my teachers. Neither one may be actually grounded in reality. I guess it is time to replace feelings with certainty...


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Data Talks-Day 11

I am feeling a bit muted tonight.

Day 2 of the writing training was good. Sometimes when I am in a training like this, it makes me miss the classroom.

We had our academic conferences today during early release and I am so impressed with my staff. I was only able to make the rounds to 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade but they are all so adept at using data boards and coding to denote all pertinent data for our students. All relevant data is listed on a sticky or index card. All of the data gathered thus far, services received such as ESL, Title I and the like. Based on these needs and these data points, children are grouped for specific small group intervention or extension.

Our Levels testing is well under way and teachers are gobbling up the data as soon as they receive it.

Mr C did a nice job creating our RtI notebooks that are to be used as an intervention and instructional cycle resource. We are well under way towards our goal of walking with purpose in everything we do. Data talks...

...and it can give us answers

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Man's Trash...-Day 10

So I sat in Day 1 of four days worth of training this week. Today was the first of two days with Kid Writing, which is a new district initiative, and on Thursday and Friday we are bringing in a big wig from Solution Tree to do follow up training with the district leadership team on PLC's. This always seems to happen, these instances of bad timing. Four days out of the building is just insane.

Mr C handled the solo responsibility very well. Normal issues but he held down the fort! Way to go Mr C!

Did I mention that I was 30 minutes late to the training today? I had a parent come in to talk with me about an instance that happened in the neighborhood the night before. This allows you to think about all of the thoughts and pressures that children come to school with and then we wonder why they aren't interested in their school work.

On a happier note, I got some used projection screens from another school today and brought them to the teachers who requested them. They were so excited, one of them even got goosebumps (or was it shivers...hmmm?)....

...simple pleasures from simple treasures

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Adorable Duckling-Day8

Mr. C got his first taste of suspensions today. We had an all out fight on the playground today with 4 instigators trying to make it 20. Needless to say, the parents were not thrilled to have a suspension so early into the school year but some offenses are non-negotiable. Other than that, we have had no discipline issues. Our PBS system is working well. Mr. C had his first case of blood shot eyes today. You have a parent screaming at you on one side (because their child could NEVER do such a thing) and on the other you are trying to help a child realize the implications of his actions. Welcome to administration!

My little Annie did not have a great day. She wanted myself or the ESL teacher to stay with her all day. We couldn't, of course, and she did not last very long in class without us. She is so smart. She was making all kinds of deals with me, well at least trying anyway. She kept telling me that if I let her stay home for 5 days with her mom that she would come back to school and be good and nice and do her work. I told her she could have 2 days, Saturday and Sunday. She didn't like that response. Her family just moved into some brand new townhouses and she calls it the "hotel". She is absolutely adorable. I had things to do so she ended up following me all over the school crying the whole way... little duckling

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Robbing Peter to pay Paul-Day 7

We have a severe needs program in our building which is our Level III Special Education program. Students in this program have severe cognitive or physical disabilities. Many of these students require one-on-one paraprofessional support for their entire day. When I came on board this year I asked my Level III Special Ed teacher to add up the required minutes of contact on the IEPs and the total number of minutes of support to see if we were in compliance. Of course, we were short 40 hours which meant we needed another paraprofessional to break even.

We took the hard numbers to the district before school started and have had to wait until today for an answer. We got our needed person. I do not blame the district. We are all in such tight vacuums when it comes to necessary resources. There is never enough money just to do what needs to be done, just to break even. The dance begins...bodies get shifted to other buildings, bodies get split between two or three buildings. In public education we feel like we are always playing catch up. Even with this constant road block, our teachers do amazing things. Robbing Peter to pay Paul...

...why can't we have enough money to pay Paul what he's due?