A skill that we all want for a children is not tested in schools or part of any accountability system. However, it is far more important than anything that is asked on a standardized test. I would much rather have someone in the workplace that is a critical thinker, creative, collaborative, and good communicator than someone that gets a passing rate on a standardized test.
We want our kids to want to be at school. They must feel loved and accepted. The time that they spend in school outweighs the time they are at home. We must include social and character education to help them be productive citizens. This should be the number one priority of schools. If there is a culture of collaboration, connections, and continuous learning the subject matter learning will exceed our expectations.
This doesn't happen with implementing the latest technology or a new academic program. It always goes back to the dedication and commitment of educators building strong relationships to bring out the best in others - that is character education.
The 11 Principles for character education are:
Most classes are doing several of these very well, but there is always room to grow. One area where I see we are often missing the mark is in developing self/intrinsic motivation. Educators tend to rely heavily on individual awards and extrinsic motivators for encouragement. Research shows that extrinsic motivation only produces short term effects (at best). I want my students (and my own children) to make good choices even when no one was watching because that is where true character shows.
Moving to intrinsic motivation takes time and commitment. Kids also learn to be their best selves by watching strong role models (you!) and learning about others exhibiting strong character in difficult situations. Daniel Pink explains the puzzle of motivation in this TED-Talk. The true keys he explains in his book Drive are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Another area where the 11 principles take it to a deeper level is in the opportunity for moral action through service learning. Many campuses do community service projects and that is fine. But service learning empowers students to identify a community need and lead the initiative while integrating academic content within the project. Our Student council impresses me each year when they come to me asking for ways to help others or the school such as a covered area for Kindergarten or even trash cans outside to help keep our school clean!
Service learning is different than community service. It includes student leadership, reflective and academic components. Students reflect on the needs around them and think of ways to help.
As a 21st Century Learner or as we make the District Portrait of a Graduate, we must remember the importance of those character skills, not just the academic skills.
October is one of my favorite months of the year! We have gotten into the swing of school and routines are in place. We start seeing the progress of the kids and they show us how hard they are working each day. We have a holiday to celebrate Columbus, who should teach us all that we should explore the unknown and not give up when others are telling you that your thinking is wrong. We celebrate Red Ribbon Week and making smart choices for healthy living. The month ends with Parent Conferences where we are able to talk about the progress that kids have made so far and set goals for the rest of the year. Of course, we end with special "treats", but in reality each day is a treat! We are getting to see the future in our kids. They are asking questions and extending their thinking in all they do.
November is quickly approaching, which means we will take time to be thankful. I am thankful for what I do each day and how lucky I am to see children each day! They are amazing and will bring a smile to your face with their natural curiosity and excitement. We will honor our Veterans, remembering how they sacrificed so much to protect our country and our freedom. We will elect a new President this month. We will prepare for the holidays and celebrate with our families. It does not cost anything to Thank someone and make them feel special, but it can go a long way in making someone feel better.
I am sure your kids are like mine, when they get home and I ask them "what did you do at school today", they will usually say "nothing". I know this is not ture, they spent the last 7 hours there- they must have done something!
I started asking different questions, and that changed how they responded. Research shows that when parents invest time after school to find out about the day it does have an impact on the education their child receives. Some ideas are:
Look through their work and have them explain to you what they did on the assignment. Have them teach you one thing they learned today or they could pretend to teach you how to do their homework. Ask what book they enjoyed today. This can give you insight to what they like to read. You could have them pick out the story that you are going to read to them for the night. You can both take turns reading pages in books so they practice reading and they also get to hear you as a reading role model. Ask them at the end of the week, what would like to learn more about? This will give you more insight to their interests too.
Some other questions to ask:
What was the coolest thing that happened today?
What made you laugh today?
What was the most creative thing you did today?
Who did you help today? How did you help them?
In a world today where it is easier to send a text or a symbol to express your feelings we need to continue to talk to our kids each day. Most of the time when you get them going they will fill you in on more than the one question you asked.
It usually bugs me when the stores put out Christmas things out the day after Halloween and Valentine's things right after Christmas but I LOVE when they put the school supplies out! There is nothing like a new box of crayons and a notebook that is all organized and ready for the first day. The night before school starts is like waiting for Santa to me, I can't fall asleep because I am too excited!
This year my motto for the school is "One Team One Dream". As the Olympics come to a close I am focused on us being One Team with a goal of Excellence for all kids and all that we do. My favorite part of the Olympics was watching the athletes speak about their determination and their hard work and sacrifice to get to where they are today. That is the true picture of Grit and Perseverance. These are the same characteristics I want for all of the staff and students at Lakeshore.
I wish all of the Lakeshore Leopards a fantastic 2016-17 school year. Now is the perfect time to set a goal for the year and decide how you will reach that goal. Remember to set small goals along the way. It is more important to work hard and keep making progress, never give up! It is sometimes our most difficult moments that make us our best. We have to keep focused on the end result and get up if we fall.
We have many new things for this year to help kids be that critical thinker, problem solver, and curious learner as they work toward their goals.
What is going to be your GOLD medal for this year?
As this school year comes to a close we look back at all of the great adventures we had this year. LSE is a large school with over 1000 students but something I quickly noticed was that it does not feel that big once you are inside. There is a sense of family and closeness with the staff and students that make it have that "small" feel regardless of the numbers. We accomplished so much this year, academically students met their learning goals and they exceeded our expectations on going deeper with their thinking. Our theme this year was "Learning is an Adventure" and we wanted to have that pirate approach to learning. Pirates are not afraid to take risk, they accept challenges and think outside the box. This is what we wanted for our lessons this year. We saw our Library transform into a Learning Center designed by the students. Our National Recognized Student Council took on many projects that helped our school and others. Our amazing PTO purchased our new playground addition and held several family events this year. We had several after school clubs that were successful in helping kids find their passion and get more involved. Classes used technology to dive deeper in their thinking and to produce products that were student centered. Engagement was an all time high with kids and all they were producing using technology.
As summer starts we hope that the students will take some of the lessons they have learned this year to a new destination. We hope they continue to see the love of learning can take you to places they never imagined. Continue to seek out more treasures! Thanks for a great year, can't wait to see you in August!