Saturday, January 30, 2016

Be a Successory!

"Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud."
Maya Angelou

"Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
Albert Schwietzer

A few weeks ago, I was trying to think of how I could improve my efficiency at work and home.  I do try to put first things first and begin with the end in mind.  However, since many of the things we deal with at school are reactive, we know this is a constant struggle to live the Habits.  I sent Jon Wennstrom, principal of Rosedale, a message asking him about a method a fellow principal had shared regarding coaching days and office days.  I briefly mentioned that I was struggling to find a balance.  Jon has often served as an accountability partner with technology and Twitter.  He is a strong listener and I always find his feedback and ideas valuable.  Jon told me that he couldn't recall the information I was searching for but would be on the lookout.

The following day was crazy.  Kristi was out of the building and multiple students were suspended in one day.  As I sat in my office and hung up the phone on the last parent call for the night, I opened my email.  There was an email from Jon.  "How was your day?"  I literally laughed out loud and looked around my office.  How could he know what kind of day I had?  Was he watching me?  That email was a small present.  A blessing that reminded me that I was not alone.  

At the beginning of the year, we wrote 5 words that we wished would describe our school.  The top word was fun.  Are we having fun yet?  We know that we have a nice school climate and culture but that we can always improve.  We would like to try a new idea called the "Successory Method."  A Successory is an accessory to success!  Jon has been one of my successory's in blogging, technology, and navigating the principalship.

In your mailboxes,  you will find a stack of successory forms.  On Monday, we will make a PA announcement to introduce this idea to the students.  Students will fill out their forms to thank a staff member who has helped them be successful at school.  Please collect the forms and return them to the office.  We will randomly draw at least one name for a prize!  Hopefully, this can be just one small step to motivate staff and share positive stories with our school and community as we begin another great marking period of learning!

Jon you are a Successory!

Big Rocks:
Report cards go home this Friday, February 5th.  The deadline for completion is midnight on February 1st and they should be in schools on February 3rd.  

Career Day is this Thursday, February 4!  We have another amazing group of people coming to speak to our students!  Thank you to the Career Day team (Judy, Julie, Mary Ann, Ron, Diane, and Robin) for all of their hard work in planning another successful day!

As we enter the 3rd marking period, please review the behavior expectations for the hallway, bathrooms, lunchroom, assemblies, technology and buses.  The posters are hanging around the building.  Thank you to Angie for having nice color printed posters made!  The Lighthouse Team discussed how to support this review of expectations, whether with an assembly, announcements, etc.  Kristi and I are going to be accountability partners for being more visible again in the lunchroom, hallways, etc!  

WIDA testing begins next week on February 8 for our English Language Learners.  They need lab time for this testing.  We have been informed that the WIDA test is the same as M-STEP with regards to protocols, accountability, and importance.  Our ELL teachers give the tests so classroom teachers do not have to do anything other than allow their ELL students to leave to take the tests and be cognizant that they may be tired or stressed from testing.  Thank you for being flexible!

A big thank you to our music teachers, Sandy and Karen, who never cease to amaze me with the wonderful opportunities they bring to Cooper students.  A big thank you to Sandy for organizing the Franklin students that came to speak to our students about band and orchestra on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.  It was wonderful to see former Cooper students.  I was able to share with the Tuesday students that I had many wonderful experiences as a result of band.  I was the Brighton High School Drum Major to over 300 students and played flute throughout middle and high school.  Through band, I had many leadership opportunities and played in Disney World, Thanksgiving Parade, Cedar Point, and West Pointe Military Academy to name a few.  To the few of our boy football players who appeared "too cool for band," I was able to also remind them those high school football games wouldn't be quite as energetic without the band!

Calendar for the Week of February 1:
Monday: 11:15 Student Lighthouse Meeting
               1:00-4:00 OSS(Kristi)
               Report Card Deadline
Tuesday: 8:00 Reading Month Meeting
                3:45-5:00 Lighthouse Meeting
Wednesday: 8:00 IST
                    11:15 PTA Leader Meeting
                    1:00-4:00 DSIT (Kristi)
Thursday: 8:00 Staff Meeting
                 Career Day
Friday: Report Cards Go Home

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Student Centered Leadership

"Cooper is like a bagel and the Leader in Me is the cream cheese."
Martina, 5th grade

Some of our student lighthouse leaders joined us last Tuesday for our Lighthouse meeting.  I took the most notes I have all year.  They spoke with enthusiasm, happy to have their voice heard, and were obviously proud of the leadership roles they held at school.

Sometimes our jobs and daily lives become so busy that we fail to remember what really matters.  We confuse busyness with progress.  We fail to stop and listen.  Our students have things to say.  Important things.  Often, what they have to say is displayed through behavior and not words.  We need to listen then too.

During the LEAD time assembly in the Cafe, my heart was racing and my stomach was in knots.  The new video and projector would not work.  Judy was hastily trying to help and the new technology that worked the day before was being uncooperative again.  Five minutes went by.  Ten minutes went by.  I began to introduce the video and talk about the 7 Habits.  The students were restless.  Few were raising their hands to participate and the answers they did give were flat and uninspiring.  I'm not going to lie.  I was mad and disappointed.

What I realized, however, was that I was not as mad at the students as I was at us.  If the students don't know the habits, that's on us.  If they don't want leadership roles, that's on us.  It's our job to teach, model, and inspire our students.  That's a hard job.  I feel the difficulty and stress of that lately too.

I'm placing an article about increasing student voice in mailboxes this week from Principal magazine's January/February 2016 titled "Turn Up the Volume."  Please read it.  According to the article, "only 47 percent of students think they have a voice in decision-making at their school" and "only 52% of students believe teachers are willing to learn from them."  What would our students say?

The last paragraph of the article resonated with me.  Authors Quaglia and Corso state, "After all the emails have been sent, all the data poured over, all the central office meetings attended, and all the paperwork filled out, you may wonder why you became a principal.  Why you remain a principal is to make a difference for kids.  The bottom-line questions will not be about test scores or budgets or adequate yearly progress, but about whether you have listened to, learned from, and led with your students."  Are you with me?

Student Leaders at our Lighthouse Meeting

Big Rocks:
IOWA/CoGAT finished Friday.  We have to deliver them to Central Office on Monday.

I-Ready testing begins on Monday.  The window ends on Friday, February 19.  A big thank you to Robin for having both tests ready to go and a Google doc to sign up for lab time.

There have been some changes to the M-Step.  MDE is saying that the ELA and Math portions are computer adaptive this year.  Science and Social Studies are still fixed form tests.  There is a lot of changes with timing with more flexibility.  Schools can now determine the appropriate amount of time to spend in a single testing session.  A student can exit their test at any time and resume testing in another scheduled session at any time during the 3 week period.  A worrying new development is that recent legislation taking effect in the 2016-2017 school year requires students in grades K, 1, 2 to be administered assessments in ELA and Math.  I cannot make this stuff up.

Our PTA Leaders will be selling Anti-Bullying bracelets.  We will have an anti-bullying assembly with Rodney Page on Monday, March 7.  My daughters had this assembly at their school and couldn't stop talking about it.  Rodney is a talented musician that combines music, d.j, and motivational messages about bullying and finding your voice.

If you are looking for an easy dinner on Tuesday night, come and support Cooper and our PTA at the MOD Pizza fundraiser from 5:00-9:00.  You do need a flyer.  Those will be in your mailbox this week and are available as an attachment on the Peek of the Week.

Thank you to the Enthusiasm team for organizing the Soup Luncheon on Thursday.  It sounds delicious!

This is the last time to let us know if you are interested in attending the Michigan Reading Association Conference, The Leader in Me symposium, or the Teach Like a Pirate conference.  Let us know by Tuesday.  If we have too many people, we'll pick out of a hat.

The Friday Work Day is building optional for teachers.  Enjoy!!

Calendar for the Week of January 25, 2016:
Monday: IReady Testing Begins
               Drop off Iowa/CoGAT
               11:00 Noon Monitor Meeting
               11:15 Student Lighthouse
Tuesday: MOD Pizza Fundraiser 5:00-9:00
               3:45-5:00 Lighthouse Meeting

Wednesday: 11:15 PTA Leaders
                     8:00-11:00 Data Analysis Sessions at Riley

Thursday: 8:00 Staff Meeting
                 8:00-12:00 M-Step meeting C.O. (Sarah and Kristi)
                Soup Luncheon
                End of Marking Period

Friday: Teacher Work Day-Optional in Building
            LEAD PD 8:00-12:00 (Kristi and Sarah)

Saturday: Schoolcraft EdCamp

Monday, January 18, 2016

Celebrating Dr. King

"Our lives began to end, the day we become silent about things that matter."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Nineteen years ago, I won the University of Michigan Martin Luther King Jr Essay Contest.  I believe the topic was Affirmative Action.  (I had to a make a claim and cite evidence to support my argument.)  My friends and family came to watch me give my speech in a small room in the Michigan League.  The piece was later published in the Alumni magazine.  

The University of Michigan has always put on a wonderful symposium.  As a student, I attended every year and have spent most years since seeking out some of the wonderful events in the area.  I was lucky enough to see Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, and other speakers, authors, and artists.

As a young, white girl from Brighton, the University was diverse and exciting.  I had friends from all over the country and world on my hall.  I met my first Jewish friend and was naive enough to ask him why he didn't have a Christmas tree!  My world became larger and wiser, from my time spent there.

As a mom, I have strived to teach my girls about the world, to have tough conversations about inequities and injustice, and to purposely put them in an extremely diverse school environment.  The last few weeks, I have felt unsettled.  Are we doing enough?  Are we doing what's right for kids?  We talk about the obvious issues of standards and testing.  However, what about the lack of exercise students get?  What about the fact that more boys are suspended than girls?  What's our purpose for giving homework?  How do we help students manage the stress that transpires from living in poverty?

I urge you to reflect on your mission.  We set some priorities for the beginning of the school year: Leader in Me, Culture and Climate goals, and Collaboration.  How are we doing?  What do we need to continue to work on?  As Dr. King said, 

"If you can't fly, then run.  
If you can't run, then walk.
If you can't walk, then crawl.
But whatever you do, you have 
to keep moving forward."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

In Rosa's Seat on the Bus

Great Job Cooper Leaders!

Big Rocks:
Iowas/CogAT ends on 1/22/16.  How are you doing?  What help do you need?  Thank you to our 6th grade teachers for working so diligently to get this done!

We have a School Mall fundraiser starting tomorrow, January 19 and running through January 26.  There will be mini-assemblies at lunch tomorrow.

Our Clubs are up and running!  Knitting, Robotics, Drawing, Pokemon, and Harry Potter have all been meeting.  Thank you to our Student Lighthouse for advocating for student clubs and being proactive in getting parent and staff volunteers.  Thank you to Karen Danke who is leading a new Leadership Choir after two of our sixth grade students presented her with a proposal.  

The Webster Wildcats invited some student leaders to speak to them regarding the Leader in Me and how they live the 7 Habits last Friday.  Four of our Student Lighthouse Leaders (Nura A, Martina R, Quentin P, and Kailyn B) and two of our PTA Leaders (Connor C and Emily W) did a fantastic job!

LEAD time this Friday will have students meeting in their new leadership roles.  Please refer to the email that Robin sent out.  Kristi and I will have a leadership video to show in the Cafe for students who are not meeting.

Calendar for the Week of January 18:
Monday: No School MLK Day
Tuesday: Lighthouse Meeting 3:45-5:00
               PTA Meeting 6:00
Wednesday: IST 8:00
                     PTA Leaders Meeting 11:15
Thursday: Staff Meeting on SnapRead in Computer Lab 8:00
                 Elementary Principals' Meeting 1:00-4:30
Friday: IOWA/CoGAT Ends
            LEAD Time 8:45
            Curriculum Advisory (Sarah) 1:00-4:00


Sunday, January 10, 2016


"Our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths.  We make decisions based on what we think we know."  -Simon Sinek

We make a lot of assumptions in education.  We know we shouldn't and yet often our past experiences influence our thoughts and decisions.  This past week I was reminded about how important is to not make assumptions about our students or families.  Sometimes we think that parents don't want to hear about their child's academic or behavior challenges.  We surmise that difficulty in getting ahold of a parent means that they don't want to communicate with the school.  Or perhaps, we view a parents involvement in the school as evidence that they support us and think the way we think.

When we make incorrect assumptions, it hampers our effectiveness as teachers and impedes the progress of our students.  Students want to do well.  Parents want their children to be successful.  If students are struggling, let's get them the support and teach them the skills that will allow them to thrive.  Communicate early and often with parents.  Generally, the times I have failed to call parents are the times I have regretted it later.  Never let a child inform a parent of an incident that would have been preferable coming from you.

Ask yourself.  What assumptions am I making about my students' families?  What assumptions am I making about my students' values?  Their experiences?  What assumptions am I making about what my students do or do not know?  We are responsible for the success or failure of our students in our classrooms.  Let's assume best intentions.  Be brave enough to ask questions.  Don't limit yourself or your students by your perceptions.

Big Rocks:
M-Step: The M-Step Parent Reports were mailed home Friday.  The District Data Analysis session will be held January 27 from 8:00-11:00.  If you receive parent questions, it is absolutely okay to be honest that this is a new process for all of us and answer questions as best you can.  Kristi and I are happy to answer any questions as well.  Pam will be placing a letter from the State entitled "Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress-Spring 2016" in your mailbox.  Central Office would like you to send it home with report cards.
Good News-The classroom activities have been eliminated from the 2016 Performance Tasks.

I-Ready: The I-Ready testing window has been moved one week earlier-January 25-February 19.  This is to try to accommodate some Title building requests that will use Winter data for Title reports for Report Cards.  We will do our best as Report Cards go home February 5.

Iowa/CogAT: Please continue to remind your students to be quiet in the hall, as most 6th grade students are still testing.  We will continue to monitor make-ups.

Emergency Sub Plans: Please turn in a day's worth of emergency sub plans to the office.  We will keep them in folders in the office.

Learning Walks: Our next Learning Walk is scheduled for Monday, February 8th.  Unfortunately, we had to move our December date due to a last minute professional development day for principals and January is difficult with IOWA/CogAT.  We will send out more information soon.

Parent Lighthouse: The Parent Lighthouse Team met last week.  They are eager to have a family movie night that reflects the 7 Habits.  We need a license to show movies and are looking into the cost.  They are working on the first monthly newsletter. Thank you to Lynn for leading the meeting and for Shawn's support at the meeting.  There was a lot of positive energy!

Calendar for the Week of January 11, 2016:
Monday: 8:00 CCSS Planning (Ron, Wendy, Sally) 
               9:00 DSIT (Sarah)
               11:15 Student Lighthouse
               12:00 Curriculum Advisory (Sarah)
Tuesday: 3:45-5:00 Lighthouse Meeting
Wednesday: 9:10 Lockdown
                    9:30-11:00 QAR (Sarah)
                    11:15 PTA Leaders
                    1:00 New Video Camera System Meeting at Cooper (Sarah and Kristi) 
Thursday: 3:45-4:45 Extended Staff Meeting on CCSS
                  Hopefully, Kristi will be with Ian in Orlando at ESPN for a senior challenge.  Best wishe to Ian!!
Friday: 8:45 LEAD Time
            Some student leaders will be heading to Webster on Friday to speak with their students about the Leader in Me.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

One Word

Happy New Year!  As we enter a new year, many people will choose to make a New Year's resolution.  A new idea that has been all over Twitter is #ONEWORD365.  What if instead of creating a long list of goals you chose one word to define your year?  Jon Wennstrom, principal of Rosedale, wrote a great post recently entitled, One Word 2016, about the impact of choosing one word to guide his year.  Last year, he choose the word "Inspire" and this year he's focusing on "Gratitude."  My daughter's principal has rallied the entire school community to be "Carpenter READY" in 2015-2016.  

My word for 2016 is "Intentional."  It's my promise to myself to be intentional in my words, actions, behavior, relationships, time, etc.  I can intentionally put down my phone to be more present with my family.  Eating healthy foods and setting aside time to run become an intentional act.  It's a reminder to intentionally say yes to the people and things that matter most and saying no to matters of lesser importance.  To fits with my family's mission to "Live simply, Be Present, and Love Much."  What word would you choose?  

Photo credit:

"The price of anything is the amount of life that is exchanged for it."  Henry David Thoreau

"Guard your time fiercely.  Be generous with it but be intentional about it."  David duChemin

"Change is inevitable.  Growth is intentional."  Glenda Cloud

Hope your break was MAGICAL!

Calendar for the Week of January 4, 2016:
Monday: Welcome Back!
                Student Lighthouse 11:15
               Curriculum Advisory 1:00-4:00 (Sarah)
Tuesday: IOWA/CogAT begins
                Lighthouse Team 3:45-5:00
Wednesday: Parent Lighthouse 6:00
                     PTA leaders 11:15
Thursday: Staff Meeting 8:00
                 Elementary Principal's Meeting 1:00-4:30
                  Title Budget Amendments Due
Friday: Young Adult Book Club 8:00 (Read The Night Divided)