Sunday, August 18, 2013

First Student blog topic and the start of school

    The school kicks off for Richland 2 on Wednesday.  We have two more work/meetings as we get ready for the new crop of students.  This past Saturday we had Charger Kick-off for students to pick up their schedules, lockers, and pay fees.  I really enjoy this initial meeting with the parents.  I also enjoy getting to surprise students by how I remember them from our Jumpstart camp that was in July.  Rising 6th graders come for three days to get comfortable with the school, faculty, and expectations of middle school.  We had 150 of our new 230 students.  I value this time with students because I can build a rapport with them, understand their personalities, and help subside their fears of coming to middle school.  This camp is one of the single best events we do to advertise Blythewood Middle and show the family atmosphere our school is.  I love working there.
   Now that school is finally arriving I have most of the start planned.  Some of my work is still big ideas but I have a framework of what I want to do.  Besides the required paperwork and information I have to go over and distribute I plan to do the following activities:
      1.) Team building - We are true teamed this year and my colleagues and I plan to have community activities and PBL lessons throughout the year.  In the beginning we want to get to know how our students think.  To do that we are either doing the "marshmallow" or "egg drop" challenge.  Marshmallow These activities will cause our students to collaborate and show us how they think.  We want them from the start to see our content is not isolated from one another but can be integrated.  We also will use this time together to discuss procedures so we're on the same page.  Lastly, we will have a time where each teacher will talk about themselves and let the students share a "G.L.U.R.P" on who they are.  We want the students on the Charger Team to feel safe, respected, and cared for.
       2.)  Contact Home:  Each year I make a arduous effort to contact every child's parent in the first 2-3 weeks.  I send home a Parent Survey that asks for general information so I can send them my weekly e-mail.  I tell my students their parents have homework before they do.  What I value most on the sheet is the last question that asks, "Tell me anything that I should about your child from your perspective because you know them better than anyone and I want them to have a great year."   I am appreciative of what the parents write because I can know so much more about the child and ensure I implement the best strategies to engage them.  After getting the sheets back I'm able to make the phone blitz and scare parents because sadly most parents have never gotten a positive call from a teacher.  How sad it that?  I can't remember how many I've called and they are terrified that a teacher is already calling.  I'm so glad I can calm their anxiety and tell them my excitement for being their teacher.  Taking this effort is greater than gold in building a strong bond with parents and students.  As a teacher we have to show our parents we want the best for their child because parents are sending their best every day.
       3.)  The last item I wanted to share is my plan for blogging in my class.  As I add this to my teaching I hope that students enjoy the opportunity to write and have others give feedback on what they're thinking.  I'm also pumped that a teacher in my school and outside of D.C. want to join in.  I think this will take it to the next level.  My first topic is going to be on the Ashton Kutcher speech  at the Teen Choice Awards.  Thanks to my awesome wife for telling me about this speech.  He shared some interesting insights that is relevant to today's students.  I love his statement about a lot of times "opportunities" look like hard work.   What a great line for today's children to hear.  I am amazed how surprised students can be that success isn't handed to people but takes hard work.  We don't walk into riches and jobs without ability and effort and I want the students to talk about this speech.  Due to him saying "crap" and "sexy" I may have to create a modified transcript for students to read with key points.  He uses them in a good context but I don't want to cause any riffs with parents at the beginning.  He talks about being sexy as being "generous" and "trustworthy".  Great attributes.  He also said that he never thought he was too good for any job.  I believe this will get lively responses from students and hopefully change some of their thinking since they are listening to a person who has modern day relevance.  Any thought from you as to how I should organize my blogging?
      4.)  The last thing I share as tribute to my late Uncle Mike.  His saying may coming in useful as you hope to do great things this school year.  Remember the 7 Ps and you'll hopefully have nothing but success.  
 Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Until next time.  Always do your best!

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