September 11: Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
Yes, I know that January 1 is officially when the calendar changes, But, if you are in school, work in a school, or have kids in school, September 1 seems more like the New Year. When school starts, everything changes. The alarm bell rings a little earlier (teens have to get up before noon). Lunches get made (before breakfast is finished). Drop-off and pick-up times become critical. Schedules fill up with clubs, sports, and other activities. New classes. New teachers. Homework begins. School supplies. School uniforms. School calendar. And so on. It is Labor Day, not New Year’s Day that marks the transition of time.
And so, as you begin this New Year – might I suggest a few New Year’s Resolutions:
- Grit matters more than grades, so work hard. Grades are a snapshot of someone’s level of understanding of a set material at a given moment. No more. No less. Grades do not tell you how successful you will be. They say nothing about who you are as a person. What matters more than grades is your grit. Did you give your full effort? Did you keep working to improve your understanding? Did you see setbacks as opportunities to get better? This year, do not set “good grades” as your goal – set “good grit” as your goal. It is grit, more than grades, that will set the course of one’s life. After all, value lies when you meet a challenge, not when you do something that required little effort. Grades are a moment. Grit lasts a lifetime.
- Look up, look down. SSCA is a unique place – with students from Preschool to Grade 12. This means for the vast majority of students, there are students younger and there are students older. Therefore, consider the students younger than you. Set the good example. Be the type of student that younger ones should emulate. Likewise, consider those older than you and the pace they are setting. Be willing to follow them as they set the example for you. Care about those in your charge and follow those who have come before you.
- Be kind to one another. Each morning, SSCA ends morning announcements with a simple phrase “Be kind to each other.” When we are kind, we are a blessing to others. Being kind requires muscular acts. To be kind, one needs to be aware, holding our gaze long enough to see who is having a tough day and how we can help. To be kind, one needs to insert themselves into situations – such as sitting by someone at lunch, walking with them to class, inviting them to be part of a “chat group,” picking up dropped books, holding the door, smiling, saying hello, asking about their day (and waiting for the answer), and so on. Being unkind is easy and lazy. Being kind (and unkind) reflects character. Realize it isn’t all about you (because, it isn’t). Every moment, each of us has a choice to be kind or unkind. Parents, when you ask your student about his/her day, consider asking: Who was kind to you today? To whom did you show kindness? This year, choose kindness.
- Breathe. Sleep. No Drama. There are very few things that occur during the course of a day that require immediate attention. Some things do – medical emergencies, for example. Most of the time, for both students and adults, a situation is improved by just chilling out for a bit. The immediate email or text sent back in frustration or anger rarely works out. Life will throw several curveballs at each of us this year – that is part of living. SSCA isn’t perfect – because it is full of people. If we take time to breathe before we act, we are much more likely to reduce the drama, rather than escalate it. There are those who are “fire extinguishers” and those who are “fire starters.” The former have wonderful memories, the latter – not so much.
God is good. He is good all the time. May He bless you this upcoming year!
Happy New Year!
September 25: God's Creation
October 9: A Starbucks Classroom
October 9, 2019
A Starbucks Classroom: Adapting to the 21st Century
By Mrs. Gina Leary
For as long as I can remember my favorite place to get some work done has been Starbucks. It has slowly become my dream as a teacher to make my classroom look more like a Starbucks for kids and less like a traditional classroom.
Let’s think about when we walk into Starbucks to order our favorite beverage and get some work done. Why do we choose to get work done at Starbucks? For me, it is the freedom. I get to choose where I sit and how I work. What type of seating do you gravitate towards in Starbucks? Is it the comfy armchair by the fireplace? Maybe you focus best on the small sofa near the window? Some still gravitate towards the traditional table and chairs. Regardless, when you walk into Starbucks to get some work done, you have a choice. Nobody directs you to one spot, telling you that you must sit there for the remainder of the day in a certain position to get your work done. If you need to get up and walk around, or change your seating, you have the option to do that. As I sat in Starbucks a few years back, I decided to create a 21st century Starbucks classroom model, where my students had freedom and choice to learn in a position that brought them the utmost success.
Some may have heard of the trend sweeping our educational nation called “flexible seating.” In brief, flexible seating is allowing students to learn in a variety of positions. This may include standing, sitting, rocking, or even bouncing. When we bring flexible seating into our classrooms, we think about the learning needs of our students. Some popular flexible seating tools are wobble stools, lap desks, or even exercise balls. All of the items prompt students to learn and explore in different ways. Flexible seating has a variety of benefits.
Flexible seating allows students to have choice in their learning. When we give students choice, we empower them. We empower them to be passionate about what they are learning. Flexible seating allows students to understand their own learning style. Allowing students to choose how they sit while focusing is huge in getting students to be excited to learn.
When a student walks into my classroom, I want them to feel empowered, comfortable, and in charge of their learning. I want my students to OWN how they learn best. I want them to celebrate their learning differences. If one child learns best on a wobble stool, one at a lap desk, and another on a traditional chair, let’s celebrate this! It is time to diversify our classrooms into a place where learning looks interactive, student centered, and student directed. If it is right for the students, it is right!