4.23.2014

Seeds Of Greatness

I love this because it's clever and it's comprehensive.


Purpose, presence, promptness, preparation and perseverance.
Squash gossip, indifference, criticism, negativism.

Lettuce: Be true to ourselves,
be loyal and unselfish,
be faithful to our purpose.

Turnips: Turn up your enthusiasm,
conviction and determination. 

How do you grow seeds of greatness in the garden of your mind?





What A Teacher Wants

I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating; one of my favorite things to do is outreach and training. That's why I'm excited about tomorrow evening, a chance to talk school climate with 30 aspiring administrators and six principals.

Source: The Whole Child Blog - click graphic for post

So ... what does a teacher want his/her principal to do
that'll help create a positive school climate and keep morale up?

Since nothing happens in isolation, I decided to take that question to a group of teachers whom I respect and here's what they said:

*Be in the classroom, getting to know students and connecting with us.
*Make room for a Brag Board so we can appreciate one another.
*Show gratitude: A simple "thank you" goes a long way.
*Put random notes of encouragement in our box.
*Back us up with parents; we need your support.
*Affirm us when you catch us doing something good.
*Keep us in the loop with ongoing and open communication.
*Look for positive things to share after an observation.
*Engage us in fun gatherings to bond us as a staff.
*Trust our competence and value our opinion.
*Give us freedom to try new things.
*Treat us to frequent jeans days!
*Know that we'll choose wisely.
*Believe in our judgement.
*Be kid-centered.
*Ask for our input.
*Give us early-release coupons.
*Surprise us and cover our duty now and again.
-One principal gives out a KitKat candy bar with her "Give Me A Break" duty-free time treat.

How much fun will this riveting game of Jeopardy be?




Michelle over at Teach 1-2-3 shared this post. 
And Rachel from Minds in Bloom sent along these ideas.
A few other links I'll share about positive school climate include:



What are your principal's promising practices
to create a climate of caring and a culture of character?





4.22.2014

Testing, Testing

Today I'm excited to wish my Father a happy birthday.
Birthday blessings, Dad!

I'd also like to wish you a happy Earth Day.
Click {here} for some creative ideas for being kind 
to the earth from my friend Jennifer at All Done Monkey.

I'll be spending the day monitoring
our state-mandated STAAR testing.
{I know, it's misspelled. Weird, right?}


I woke up in the middle of the night thinking that we could give our shining third-graders each a stress star (cut from a pool noodle) to celebrate successfully making it to - and crossing! - the finish line of their first official state testing session.

I figured we could attach a note that looks something like this:

Squeeze Me - I'm A
Smart Student,
           Trustworthy Test-Taker,
  And A                    
       Responsible Reader!

Sometimes the thought of testing
eight-year-olds keeps me awake at night.

Does your school do anything special
to help students skate through the rigor
of your state assessments?
How about to celebrate Earth Day?




4.20.2014

Losing To Gain

On a list of things we could do to show kindnessthe suggestion to give away something that you really like jumped out at me. 
Just give it away. 
To someone else. 
So you no longer have it. 
And they do.

came an opportunity for me to try the suggestion out.
A cyberspace colleague was collecting things that she would be delivering to a family whose loved one battling cancer is anticipating an extended post-op recovery time.
Food, mostly, I think.
And items to fill Easter eggs.
So I sent off a Pappa's Gift Card I'd been waiting to use.
And it felt so amazing to share.


Now, I'm not saying it was a sacrifice, really, though that card would have meant a really nice dinner for John and me, for sure. But I remember what a blessing it was to have dinner delivered when that wreck slowed me way down and, when I picture the relief it will bring to someone whose needs are greater, much greater, than ours right now, I'm filled with a beautiful peace and joy to have been able to pass it on, 
to pay it forward.

Mitch Albom's thought reminds me of the sacrifice bunt in softball. I used to love to just swing away as pitches crossed the plate, so I was content never learning how to bunt. But there is typically a batter on a team's roster whose job it will be to put down a bunt perfectly enough to force the defense to make a play at first, whereby allowing the runner at second to advance.
She'll be out, but the team will be a base closer to scoring.
So sacrificing something isn't really about losing at all, 
but rather about gaining.
Sometimes it's personal.
Sometimes it's for the team.
Sometimes it's for a stranger.
It could even be for {gasp} someone you don't like very much.

'Cause when all is said and done,
we're called to love one another,
to help one another,
to encourage one another,
to serve one another,
to be a light in someone's darkness,
for the greater good.

What would you be willing to part with 
in order to carry out a kindness this week?





4.19.2014

Climate Changers 6

Happy Easter!
I woke up to some beautiful blooms inside and outside my window.
 I just love my Easter foliage!


I also woke up wondering who today's Climate Changer would be.
 You see, the more I look for Climate Changers, 
the more Climate Changers I realize I'm blessed with in my world. 

Since I spent a lot of time with high schoolers at my former stomping ground this week, I've selected one of Friendswood High School's finest teachers, Melissa Victorick. Kaitlyn and Joshua both had the privilege of being under her mentorship in Professional Communications (Speech) class and I've had the opportunity to get to know her well through our Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) program, a course she's taught the last six years.

Mrs. Victorick is the kind of teacher that every child deserves.
 She's pleasant, warm and welcoming. 
She's firm but fair. 
And she's fun to be around. 
It's likely that the poster with this thought was printed 
with Melissa in mind: 
People may not remember what you did or said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

This is a teacher, mentor, coach, guide, and friend who is always giving. So one day a few weeks back, we wanted to give back. Joshua took a little loaf of our zucchini bread to her and just a few class periods later, this note was delivered to him:


He said that at first he thought he might be in trouble because he couldn't understand why there was a note being delivered to him.
 {Kind of tells you how rare this is, right?} 
But then he opened it up and her thoughtfulness made him feel so special. A thank-you note for a thank-you treat ... who does that?
And kind affirmations to boot.
Melissa Victorick clearly has the gift of encouragement.
I cherish my every interaction with her and look forward to the next one as I reluctantly move away from our time together.
She's thoughtful,
trustworthy,
generous and 
gregarious.
And that's why she's this week's Climate Changer.

May there always be a Mrs. Victorick available
for tomorrow's leaders to lean on and go to
for advice or an embrace,
loving kindness or mentorship,
some encouragement,
some compassion,
some understanding,
and limitless unconditional love.

Thank you, Melissa, for being somebunny special 
{I couldn't resist!} in my children's lives 
and a Climate Changer in mine.






4.17.2014

Taking The Wheel

This week has been an emotionally-loaded one for me. 
In a very healing, therapeutic way.
I spent the last two days at Friendswood High School helping with Shattered Dreams. I've been on hand all four times they've done this drinking-and-driving prevention program to read the obituaries of the living dead who are pulled from classrooms to represent drunk-driving fatality stats on any given day. Four years ago, I also participated as the mom of one of the mock-car-crash victims. 
It was intense, to be sure.

Scene from the mock car crash - Friendswood High School 2014
Click {here} to experience the 2012 Shattered Dreams production. That one was difficult for me because I had to read the obituary of my son's girlfriend as she was removed from the junior English class they were both in together. Tears filled my eyes as I imagined what it must be like for Jacob to sit there and hear me read about her life and death.

This year, not only was I there as a counselor, but I was also there as the victim of an intoxication assault. First, I was asked to speak at the parents' meeting. Then I was invited to address the participating students at their all-night retreat. Yesterday, I was approached about speaking to the thousand juniors and seniors at today's mock Memorial Service celebrating the lives of those two who passed away in the mock crash in front of school yesterday.
 Of course I said yes to all three opportunities.

Using a slideshow of the pictures that my husband took at the junk yard when he went to retrieve my personal effects from our totaled vehicle, I started by inviting participants to take the wheel of the car that I was driving when 
I was hit head-on 15 months ago.



Then I shared my story from the wreck ... 
the sights, 
the sounds, 
the smells,
the sensations ...


... to recovery.
I talked about stakeholders and how that,
even though this wasn't a fatality collision,
my life was forever changed for me and my family that day.

And, like the splintered glass of that shatter-proof windshield,



there were a lot of broken shards to try to
piece {and peace} back together.
With ortho appointments.
Physical therapy.
Treating doctor visits.
Trauma counseling.
Anxiety meds and more.

And I ended with how it was 
friends,
family, 
gratitude and God 
that kept me going,
even when the going was grueling.



Some drunk-driving victims aren't as fortunate.
They die or they're left paralyzed.
Lives needlessly lost,
negatively impacted,
and forever changed. 

My hope is that this experience might help deter
someone from taking the wheel and 
driving under the influence ... or 
from making the mistake of
jumping into a car with someone who is.
I encouraged them to plan ahead,
to find a designated driver {or be one!},
to sharpen their refusal skills 
in the event that they'd rather not drink at all
and to drink responsibly once they're of age.

I reminded them that every day they get a choice.
They can do something helpful or something hurtful.
And I encouraged them to commit to helping someone
who might be impaired from making one of those
life-changing mistakes from which they won't get a do over.
Because nothing happens in isolation.
And the effects of our choices ripple out and back.
Every day.






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