Saturday, April 26, 2014

Leadership Day 2014: Everyone Can Be Great...

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When I was thinking about writing the update on Leadership Day, I kept thinking of this quote by Dr. King.  I kept thinking about how Leadership Day really allows all of the students and staff at Cooper to be great.  Leadership Day gives each child and each teacher at Cooper the opportunity to fulfill their potential and lead with greatness. 

I wanted to make sure that I had the quote right so I looked it up and realized I had always missed the part, “because everybody can serve.”  While I understand that Dr. King was specifically talking about serving community and God, I couldn’t help but relate the idea of service to what we do every day.  We serve children every day.  In serving children, we serve our community and our world.  We make passion our life’s work.  In understanding our passion, we understand our purpose; our WHY that Terry has been talking about.  When we allow children to serve, we allow them an opportunity to develop their passions and understand their purpose.

There were several students from Victoria and Wendy’s classes that volunteered to read their personal essays and poems on leadership.  Many of these students were not students you may know well.  Yet, you should.  Their essays and poems were inspiring and thought provoking.  After Eric S read his essay on how leaders influence others, a guest told me, “If I had closed my eyes, I would have sworn that a grown man was speaking.  He was so professional and well spoken.”  After Jasmine R read her poem, “Leadership, Leadership,” she came over to Victoria and I and gasped, “Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to die.”  Yet, she didn’t and she succeeded.  How will taking a risk and being successful at such a young age influence her as she grows?  At Cooper, the opportunities we provide students show them their voice matters. 

Here are some comments from the guest surveys.

“There are already better leaders than some adults.”
“No matter what child I spoke to, they all had something to say. You could feel the good vibes in the school.”
“Choir and band were awesome!”
“I love how the students own the habits-doing them at home and teaching family members.”
“I covered more ground than expected because students stayed on topic with an amazing comprehensive understanding of the 7 Habits.”
“I was most impressed with the question and answer panel.  The students were well versed.”

Congrats everyone on another successful Leadership Day!  A big thank you to everyone!

                                                           Eric reads his essay.
                                                  Students share their leadership notebooks.
                                                              Elizabeth on the panel.
                                                           Mayor Kirksey enjoyed his day!

Big Rocks:

Cooper has been transformed into a beautiful art museum!  The works of art hanging in every hallway are a tribute to Lauren’s and the students’ hard work.  Thank you to Lauren for all of her effort and enthusiasm.  Also, lots of gratitude to everyone who helped Lauren maintain her sanity the last few weeks!  The 5th Grade Art Show will be held Tuesday and the 6th Grade Art Show will be held Thursday.

The PD Day is Wednesday, April 30.  It will start at 8:00.  We do have to stamp you in and out again.  The morning will start with a recap of Leadership Day and a fun activity.  We will then spend the afternoon on School Improvement and have time to explore and take the Smarter Balance practice tests for both Math and ELA.  Breakfast will be provided by the Lighthouse Team. 

May is National Sport and Fitness Month.  On Thursday, May 1st at 10:30, we will participate in "All Children Exercising Simultaneously."  We will use the same walking course that we used for the fall "Walkathon." Please use your respective exit doors to begin the walk. We will walk for 30 minutes. Please do not leave your classrooms until after the ACES announcement.  Students must stay with their class during the walk.  ACES stickers, as well as an exit/walk pattern map, will be placed in your mailboxes Tuesday evening. Teachers, please distribute the stickers to students on Thursday before the walk.

The first Books and Breakfast was a great success!  We will meet again on Friday to discuss the book Belly Up and introduce our next title.  There will be light snacks served.  I have a couple of chapters left.  I better get reading! 

The Spring Book Fair will be held this week.  Judy will be setting up on Monday.  The Book Fair will be open both nights at the Art Fair.  Judy will be doing the Loose Change for Books again this year.  All loose change is due Thursday, May 1st. 

Our Schedule for the week of April 28, 2014:

Monday: 5th Grade Variety Show rehearsal
Tuesday: IST 8:00
               ASSET 9:30
   5th Grade Art Show
               Afterschool Clubs 3:45
               Terry at the NHS Summit
Wednesday: PD Day 8:00-3:30 (lunch on your own from 11:00-12:30)
                    Sarah and Terry to SCHECHS meeting 4:00
Thursday: Staff Meeting 8:00
                 ACES 10:30
                6th Grade Art Fair
               Lighthouse Meeting 3:45
Friday: Books and Breakfast 8:00

            Kidney Assemblies 8:50-9:30 and 9:45-10:30

Friday, April 11, 2014

What's the WHY?

“Your purpose is your why.” Deborah Day

Getting back to WHY
Why do we come to work everyday? When you think about that question, what comes to mind first? I don’t think I’ve ever met a teacher who came to work for the paycheck. Not for the benefits, either. 
So why do you come to work everyday?

We watched Simon Sinek’s TedTalk about the Why at our last PD day. His video speaks to the reasons people develop loyalty, that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” As we work our own 7 Habits and help our accountability partners work theirs, creating an awareness of the real WHY helps us all see that we have our own purposes, real purposes for our work. Realizing the WHY encourages our own gratitude for each other and for the work we do.

Knowing the WHY also helps us place the proper emphasis each week in scheduling for the roles that enable us to reach our goals. The WHAT and the HOW seem so planned and dictated to us, but no one can take away our WHY without our permission. We choose the WHY. Once we know the WHY, we can work on the WHAT and the HOW that support our WHY.

With the various departments of education and Title I people, as well as our own curriculum department, enforcing edicts that aren’t supported by research, not supported by the bulk of our experience as educators, we are losing our WHY.

So often lately I lose mine. I raised my voice at a friend and staff member here at Cooper. That’s just not okay, no matter the stress or the concerns. I am so embarrassed and angry with myself. I can make lots of excuses why it happened: the long winter, the late spring break, all the evaluations coming up, and more. None of those are good enough. I need to find my WHY and make it my focus.

Next week we have Leadership Day. It’s a time to celebrate the good work the students have accomplished, and gives them a chance to shine! Part of the WHY we are missing is the great work the kids will show us on Leadership Day. The WHY is the learning and the opportunities we give students to become what they can be. We are a leadership school, so we provide leadership opportunities. Cooper is a great place with lots of wonderful students who will show us next week that our hard work is appreciated, that we are making a huge difference in the lives of these children. They will lead us back to our WHY.

Then it will be spring break at long last.

We have a chance to consider our WHY, to renew and sharpen the saw, to come back ready to pack up, evaluate, camp, orient new students, enjoy the Variety Show, create a wonderful Field Day experience, final field trips, send off the sixth grade, and more. These events are all about the WHY. Our focus can be all the wonderful students who make this job so rewarding.

If we don’t, what is the alternative? What will be the result for us? If we don’t take back our purpose, what will we become? If Sinek is correct and people don’t care what we do but why we do it, then we need to articulate our why.

The 7 Habits can help us achieve the goal of finding the WHY. We can choose to be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and then put first things first. That will help us be ready to help each other think win-win, seek first to understand, and synergize. Of course we need to sharpen the saw, and we need to help each other take care of ourselves.

There is no better place than Cooper to fight this fight, to grow and heal. This is the best staff anywhere, and we can help each other find our WHY.

What do you think?

“The only purpose of our lives consists in waking each other up and being there for each other.” Johanna Paungger, Moon Time: The Art of Harmony with Nature and Lunar Cycles

Evaluations are coming up fast!
You can look at your evaluation guidebook that you got during the first PD day of this school year. Look at pages 8-11 to see what we are looking for. What evidence would you like us to consider? Where do you think you rate on the measures outlined there? We will be asking for your opinions, your self-assessment for your evaluation. Let us know if you have questions.

At the end of the evaluation for teachers, we need to set two goals for each person. It’s not too soon to start thinking of goals. We are not looking for SMART goals, just instructional goals such as creating effective learning targets or creating more effective lesson plans. Think of these as “growth goals” rather than operational goals. The goals will be part of next year’s evaluation, and will give your evaluator a starting place to observe in the fall.

Renovations issues:
Our friends are continuing their night work to prepare the building for renovations this summer. They sometimes make a bit of racket at night. If you have a parent meeting after school, please let the office know. We can help find a place for you to meet if your room will not work that night.
 It’s not too early to being packing your room, even though we still have a great deal of learning to go. As you pack boxes, remember to label them and to create a list of what’s in which boxes. If you need more labels, please let me (Terry) know.

Big Rocks:
Leadership Day practice is Tuesday morning. We will be trying our new schedule for Leadership Day. As you see or experience the practice, let us know what’s not working in your area. Our teams have all synergized so well that this Leadership Day is sure to be a success. Thanks to the Lighthouse Team and all the committees that contributed to our students showing their best form. We really can be proud of all we do that makes Cooper so special!

Our schedule for the week of April 14, 2014 includes:

Monday:           Breakfast with Randy, 7:00, Terry

Tuesday:           TAX DAY
IST 8:00 (Many of us will be working on Leadership Day practice)
Leadership Day Practice begins at 8:45. Many parents will be here early. We expect to be finished by 11:30
                           After School Clubs, 3:45

 Wednesday:    LLL Meeting at Brimingham (Terry), 8-10 am
Center EPT 8:00
Planning Team, 3:45
LPS PTSA Meeting at Cooper! 6:00 in LMC (Terry)
 Thursday:        LEADERSHIP DAY!!!
 Friday:             Spring Break Begins!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Books, Books, Books

Sally and I had the pleasure of attending MRA a few weeks ago.  Sally had won a MEEMIC conference grant and I took the whole family up to Grand Rapids for the weekend.  We both had the joy of seeing R.J. Palacio, Penny Kittle, Smokey Daniels, Cris Tovani, and Donalynn Miller.  In addition, Sally attended a session on student led book clubs and I attended a session on Lit-Hop: Hip Hop and Poetry. 

I know for some people it is work.  Yet for me, talking about books and literacy gets me so excited!  Listening to Donalynn Miller give book-talks on Sunday morning with a warm cup of coffee was just like heaven.   Sally and I have contemplated having staff book-clubs for a while but listening to Donalynn Miller was just the inspiration we needed. 

This is what we would like to propose.  We would like to hold a monthly voluntary staff book club where we read young adult literature.  We know that one of the best things we can do as teachers is to get good books into the hands of kids.  As Donalynn says, “children like what we bless.”  This would allow staff the opportunity to read at least 9 new young adult books a year.  We are still figuring out the logistics but are hoping to find a way to put this idea in the School Improvement Plan and Title budget in order to supply staff with the books.  For now, we are going to try out Books and Breakfast using battle books for May and June.  Our first meeting will be Friday, April 11 at 8:10 in the lounge to discuss the structure of our book club and hand out Belly Up.   Our next meeting will be Friday, May 2.  Of course we will come away with good ways to use books with students but most importantly we hope to find time to enjoy each other and the pleasure of a good book.  Finally, look for a new blog coming soon on book reviews by several Cooper staff.  Make a comment if you are interested and look for more information to come!

Donalynn Miller did give some great sites for finding good books.
  • The Nerdy Book Club
  • Title Talk
  • Classroombookshelf.blogspot

I have 5 pages of notes about the books she recommended which anyone is welcome to copy.  The following are just some of the great books she talked about.
Graphic Novels:
Comics Squad Recess! A graphic novel anthology by the best names in the genre
Sisters by Raina Telgemeler, author of Drama and Smile
Picture Books:
Aviary Wonders, Inc Spring Catalog 2031 by Kate Samworth.  This book is a commentary on ecology where all birds are extinct and you can only order one from this catalog.
Weasels by Elys Dolan.  Weasels plot world domination.

The Griffin and the Dinosaur by Marc Aronson, Adrienne Mayor, and Chris Muller.  The myth of the griffin compared to dinosaurs.  Great for the Rick Riordan fans.
Ken Jennings Junior Genius Guides by Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame.  Apparently, Donalynn can’t keep these on her shelf.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin, author of Bomb.  Depicts the prejudice black men and women in the armed forces faced during WWII.
Firefly July: A Year of Short Poems by Paul B Janeczko and Melissa Sweet
Middle Grade Fiction 4-6 grade:
Loki’s Wolves (The Blackwell Pages) by K.L. Armstrong.  What Riordan has down for Greek Mythology, Armstrong is doing for Norse Mythology.
The Night Gardener by Jonathon Auxler.  Two Irish siblings travel to work as servants in an old English Manor but the house is not quite what it seems.  Scary but not too scary Victorian ghost story.
Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin.  A homage to Hans Christian Anderson.  When the girl sings, wound are healed.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  Cicero

Thank you to…
Melodie, Karen, and Sandy for their hard work at the String Fling.  Cooper students sounded wonderful on Wednesday night!

Melodie for presenting the 6th grade music curriculum on Tuesday night.

Sally for her hard work in leading the upper elementary Guide Reading Learning Lab.  Also, a big thank you to Sue Krekeler, Michelle Kopacko, Victoria Estes, and Tara Daraskavich for participating this year.

Big Rocks:
Livonia is being visited by the external review team for AdvancED.  Cooper is not being visited but Sarah does have to provide transportation for the members on Monday and Tuesday.  The following schools are being visited on Tuesday: Churchill, Johnson, Holmes, Riley, Emerson, Hayes, Roosevelt, Buchanan, Garfield, and Kennedy.

Teams are continuing to meet and plan for Leadership Day.  Thank you for all of your hard work.  There is synergy in action and everything is really coming together. 

There will be another storage container delivered in the west lot next week for the team working on the beginning renovations. 

Sarah placed an article on the difference between Rude, Mean, and Bullying in everyone’s box this week.  I personally think it’s an excellent read that I would love to share with parents. 

For the Week of April 7, 2014…

Monday:  7:45 Sarah transports External Review Team from the Holiday Inn to Central  
                 7:45 Terry at FHS for LEADS meeting
Tuesday: 7:45 Sarah transports External Review Team from the Holiday Inn to
                 8:00 IST
                 9:15 ASSET
                12:50 Sarah transports ERT from Roosevelt to Buchanan
                3:45 Clubs
                3:45 5th Grade Variety Show practice
                4:10 Sarah transports ERT from Buchanan to Holiday Inn
Wednesday: 8:00 EPT
                     Emerson RCR Meetings at Cooper in conference room
                     Kopacko and Lorenz to Cobo Hall
                    3:00-3:30 Sarah at CO for ERT Exit Report
                    3:45 6th Grade Variety Show practice
                    3:45 Planning Team
Thursday: 8:15-3:45 CCSS meeting at CO (Sarah and Wendy)
                   12:00-4:30 EPM (Sarah and Terry)
                   3:45-4:45 Extended Staff Meeting
                   6:00 PTA Meeting
Friday: 8:00 Books and Breakfast
              Sports Day and Board Game Day