Sunday, November 29, 2015

Transformational Change

A few weeks ago, the Lighthouse Team was meeting to plan for this week's extended staff meeting.  We were talking about Leader in Me, how we were doing, and what support staff needed.  I have to admit that I was frustrated.  I felt like, "Why do we have the same discussion every year?  Why isn't everyone using the 7 Habits language in their classroom on a daily basis?  Why isn't everyone using Leadership Notebooks, having classroom meetings, and trying student-led conferences?"  I left the meeting feeling worse than I did at the beginning.

Then, I attended a District School Improvement Team meeting about the District's new culture and climate goal.  At the meeting, we received an article titled, "How to Beat the Transformation Odds."  (Please read it in preparation for this week's staff meeting.)  As I read it, I had an ah-ha moment.  The research shows that only 26% of organization's successfully sustain transformational change.  There are 24 specific actions that increase the likelihood of success.

Cooper does many of these actions but there are many things we could improve on.  Some of the practices include communicating effectively, leading actively, empowering employees, having employees reflect on how their individual work aligns to the organization's vision, and identifying best practices.  I realized that part of our work in continuing to create an environment of continuous improvement is necessary.  That continuing to talk about the 7 Habits and how we teach and live them at Cooper is imperative.  Telling our "change story" of how we became a Leader in Me school is  important.

This week at our meeting we will spend some time identifying, sharing, and improving upon some of the best practices we use.  Please bring at least one activity, book, video, idea, etc that you love to use to teach or reinforce a habit.  We will be sharing and planning in pods.  It is our school goal that by the end of January, all habits should be taught.  As we move forward, we plan to create a LIM calendar to clearly articulate roles, responsibilities, and expectations in order to "beat the transformation odds" and help the most important people, our staff and students, reach their true potential.

"You have to maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values."
-Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

"The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development.  There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders,  and continually develops them."
-John C Maxwell, author of The 17 Irrefutable Laws of Teamwork


Big Rocks:
Check out Judy's email for the Google Expedition!  

Tamsin using Google Cardboard to go to the moon!

Our Work-a-thon is this Friday.  Please refer to Lauren's email if you would like to volunteer.  She created a sign up and we would love for you to sign up by the end of the day Monday, November 30.

Calendar for the Week of November 30:
Monday: Student Lighthouse 11:45
Tuesday: Livonia Symphony Orchestra Meeting 1:00
               Lighthouse Team 3:45-5:00
               District School Improvement Team (Sarah and Kristi) 5:30-7:30
Wednesday: IST 8:00
                   QAR Meeting (Sarah) 9:30-11:00
                   PTA Leaders 11:15
                   Google Expedition
Thursday: Extended Staff Meeting 3:45-4:45 LMC
Friday: Young Adult Book Club 8:00 Lounge
             LEAD Time 8:45 Assembly ?
             Work-a-thon 4:00-6:00

Friday, November 20, 2015

Writing Across the Curriculum

I had the pleasure of spending the day with some of our sixth grade teachers on Monday.  We had wonderful discussion about creating extensive and intensive writing across the curriculum.  We were able to collaborate on how to merge some of the MAISA writing units into science and/or social studies.  We also had deep discussion about using multiple media sources and technology to increase reading and writing in our school day.

This is a conversation that is going to need to continue to occur.  Our time is so precious and we need to teach intentionally and purposefully.  It's imperative that we think critically about some of the ideas that Kelly Boswell presented to us on our October professional development day.  Have you honored your commitment?  What strategy or new learning from that day have you tried?  We'd love to hear how it's going!

Collaboration in Action

Talking about Writing

Just for Fun!  Look how fast a year goes!!!

Big Rocks:
Thank you to Karen Danke for all of her hard work with the Churchill Vocal Music Concert.  The auditorium, which holds 930, was packed and people were standing in the hallway!  Around 106 students attended.  Thank you to Gina Ervin for attending and helping out!

Some of you may have noticed a new face in the building.  Lynn Powers is our new paraprofessional for one of our autistic students.  She is so excited to be here and has already been a very welcome and positive addition to our staff.  Thanks Lynn!

Thank you to Kathy and Christine for doing iReady make-ups.  They will be calling students down on Monday.  Please make sure your students are on the google doc.

Do you want to wear your Cooper pride?  Check out the new Cooperwear available in the lounge.  Please print off the order form and turn it in by 12/4 if you are interested in ordering new gear.  Thanks Christine for organizing!

Calendar for the Week of November 23: 
Monday: DSIT 1:00-2:30
Tuesday: Lighthouse 3:45-5:00
Wednesday: No School
Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday: No School

A Look Ahead-Week of November 30:
Tuesday: LSO Meeting 1:00
               Lighthouse Meeting 3:45-5:00
Wednesday: IST 8:00
                    QAR 9:30-11:00 (Sarah)
                   Google Expedition
                   MEMSPA Conference (Kristi)
Thursday: MEMSPA Conference (Kristi)
                 Extended Staff Meeting 3:45-4:45
Friday: Young Adult Book Club 8:00
             LEAD Assemblies 8:45
             Shelia Visit with Sarah 9:00
             Work-a-thon 4:00-6:00

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Life's NOT One Big To-Do List

Sometimes life seems like one big to-do list.  Camp is done.  Check.  Walk-a-thon is done.  Check.  Parent Teacher Conferences are done.  Check.  There's a huge sigh of relief when we can check things off of our to-do list.  However, I sometimes have to remind myself that life is not a to-do list.  When it becomes one, it might be a sign that we're too busy and unbalanced.  

Habit 7 would remind us that balance feels best.  When's the last time you felt balanced across all four dimensions: heart, body, mind, and soul?  We can be unbalanced for a while but not long term.  How would you define a balanced, four dimensional life?  As leaders, how can we help you explore these dimensions to be more successful?  Students often think that this is the easiest habit but that is a misnomer.  Sharpening the Saw takes continual reflection, mindfulness, and practice.  Our hope is this weekend you take some time to Sharpen the Saw.   

Big Rocks:
Thank you to all of the hard work you put into conferences.  Your hard work is appreciated by many!

There is a district-wide vocal festival concert this Thursday, November 19 at Churchill High School. The Livonia music program is trying to boost choir participation, particularly at Frost and Churchill. Vocal students are encouraged to attend.  There will be two Cooper concerts coming in December.

Bill and Sarah are co-chairing Youth Making a Difference again this year.  We will be holding a very short assembly this week to introduce the program and encourage students to participate.  We'll let you know the day and times asap.

We've had some interest from parents in helping with clubs.  Please let us know if you are interested.  We will keep you posted.

Please join us to celebrate Sherry Aronson at Logan's from 4:00-8:00 on November 19th.

Calendar for the Week of November 16:
Monday: 8:00 Career Day Meeting in the LMC
               8:00 Make-up PD for 6th Grade Camp Teachers "The Power of Nonfiction Writing."
               11:45 Student Lighthouse
Tuesday: 6:30 PTA in the LMC 
                3:45 Lighthouse Team
Wednesday: 8:00 IST
                     11:15/12:05 PTA Leaders
Thursday: 8:00 Staff Meeting (Interactive Data Projectors in Bill's Room)
                 11:00-1:00 Curriculum Advisory at CO (Sarah)
                 1:00-4:30 Elementary Principals' Meeting at CO (Sarah and Kristi)
                  4:00-8:00 Sherry Aronson Retirement Party
                 7:00 District-wide Vocal Festival at Churchill High School
Friday:8:00 Farmers Insurance bringing snacks 
           8:45 LEAD Time Meet with Accountability Partners

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Let Them Know You Care

Whether you love them or hate them, the week is here-Parent Teacher Conferences.  Conferences are always filled with both anticipation and anxiety.  Although they were always a bit stressful, I used to enjoy conferences.  I spent more waking minutes with my students than my own children and I wanted to share my observations of my students with the people that loved them best of all.

Now as a parent attending conferences myself, I realize that what I believed then is still true.  Parents want to know you care.  Don't just share grades and data.  That paints one picture of a child but as a teacher you know a child is more than just homework and test scores.  Sharing narratives of of kids behavior as learners and leaders is essential.  Parents want to know that you know their child.  You're paying attention and you value their interests.

At Carys's conference last week, her teacher gave us all the data.  Then he told a story of how he had watched her with a classmate debating an answer to the math problem on the white board.  Both children were passionately explaining their thinking (Carys later described it as arguing).  He said he just sat back amused and fascinated and let them debate.  That narrative provides a deeper picture of her place in her classroom.  It validated his description of Carys as confident, eager to participate, and able to explain her thinking but it did it in a way that proved he was paying attention.  So at conferences this week, address parent concerns, share your observations, and let them know that you care about their child as a learner and a human being.  After all, that's what they really want to know.

Big Rocks:
Thanks to all of your help promoting the Walk-a-thon.  We raised $6,885!  Andrea randomly dropped by for a visit and she really was so impressed by our kiddos during the walk.  

Originally, the PTA was going to provide lunch and dinners both days of conferences.  Unfortunately, it sounds like there was some miscommunication.  The PTA will only be providing dinner on Wednesday night.  The PTA is having a Dine to Donate Fundraiser at Panera Bread from 4:00-8:00 on Thursday night.  We encourage everyone to consider grabbing dinner at Panera instead.

Kristi and I are happy to attend any conferences.  Kristi sent out a google doc if you had a particular conference you want us to attend.  We did have a chance to read over all report cards.  Thank you to everyone for all of the hard work you put into them.  We know it takes more time to write individual comments but once again it shows parents you know their child as individuals.  It's appreciated!

Calendar for the Week of November 9:
Monday: Report cards go home.
               2:30 Visit to Hillel School Makerspace 
               12:30-3:30 DSIT Focus Group @ CO (Kristi )
Tuesday: 9:30 BIP meeting for A.B. 
Wednesday: 5:00-8:00 Parent Teacher Conferences
                     4:00-8:00 PTA Bake Sale
Thursday: 8:00-11:00, 1:00-4:00, 5:00-8:00 Parent Teacher Conferences
                 9:00-8:00 PTA Bake Sale
                 4:00-8:00 Panera Bread Fundraising Night
Friday: WAHOO!! Comp Day!