Sunday, August 30, 2009

Annual Open House Is A Big Success!

This past Thursday evening, WLMS hosted our annual Open House. In addition to allowing our community members an opportunity to walk through our newly upgraded building and meet our staff, the PTSA held an ice cream social in the cafeteria to introduce me to the Wilde Lake Middle School Community. We had over 400 students, parents, community dignitaries and friends of WLMS attend this important event. I want to thank everyone who was able to visit our school including the HCPSS Superintendent, the school system's Chief Operating Officer, 5 Board of Education Members and one of our State Delegates. Wow, we couldn't have asked for more support.

Looking Back to Move Forward

This past Wednesday, the WLMS staff participated in a "history mapping" activity designed to capture the many success of our school. This activity was led by Tom Payne, Coordinator of the Howard County Public Schools' Advanced Programs and Fine Arts and Razia Kosi who works in our Cultural Proficiency Office. During the hour and half session, staff members were given the opportunity to identify the year they came to the school and were grouped with people of the same era. Once they were grouped, participants were invited to share the highlights and issues that were important the year they began working here at WLMS. Once the staff had a chance to talk in small groups, they were brought back together as a large group to discuss the history from their perspective

As different eras presented, Tom and Razia captured our history on the large map posted on the back of the stage. It was amazing to hear the various stories that were told and how newer staff members began to understand the proud history and traditions of our school.

At the end of the faculty meeting, we talked as a staff about how we will move forward and build on the proud history of WLMS. In addition, staff members were given the opportunity to write a "Dear Me" letter to themselves talking about their goals for the year and how they will help WLMS move forward successfully.

I thought it was an outstanding activity to do this week since I am the new leader of this school. By the end of the meeting, I had a better understanding of where our staff has been, some the of the issues we will need to discuss, and provided me with thoughts and ideas of how we will move forward as a school. I want to thank Tom and Razia for their group facilitation talents and the time they shared with us. I also want to thank the WLMS staff for participating in this powerful activity and creating such a powerful history map of WLMS. The map will be on display at our 40th Anniversary Celebration scheduled for October 15th.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Teachers in the Middle: The Right Stuff!

Without question, middle school teachers are amazing educators. Recently, I was asked to describe the characteristics of the best middle school teachers I know. Sheesh, this was not an easy task. I believe the best middle school teachers are able to:

  • Leap tall buildings in a single bound...
  • Share content in an engaging manner
  • Discuss content with authority because they are content experts
  • Use a variety of teaching strategies
  • Create a positive classroom learning environment
  • Be flexible
  • Employ technology as a tool to engage students
  • Use humor in a positive manner avoiding hurtful sarcasm
  • Demonstrate genuine concern for all students
  • Write exciting lessons
  • Establish positive relationships with parents
  • Constructively communicate with colleagues and administrators
  • Reflect on their own performance and work to improve based on their own self-analysis
  • Receive feedback in an open and gracious manner
Did I miss any characteristics? Please tell me other characteristics
I should add to my list.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Advice from some baseball players

As the baseball season begins to get interesting, or at least so I hear (Since I am both an Oriole and Nationals fan, I can only dream about next year). I thought I would share some great quotes from some famous ball players that can be applied to the upcoming school year.

A life
is not
except in
the impact
it has
on other lives.

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972)
Hall of Fame baseball player

“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again.
That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is.”

Bob Feller
Hall of Fame pitcher

Hitting is timing.

Pitching is upsetting

Warren Spahn (1921-2003)

Hall of Fame pitcher

let the fear
of striking out
in your way.

Babe Ruth (1895-1948)
world’s greatest baseball player

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great Advice for New Teachers

This selection of 18 "Teaching Secrets" articles were written for Teacher Magazine by members of the Teacher Leaders Network eager to support new colleagues. For the price of free registration, novice professionals can take advantage of several hundred years ofaccumulated wisdom. The collection covers the fundamentals of classroom management and discipline, tips for your first parent meetings, and the secrets of student engagement.

Click Here!

Source: MiddleWeb

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Students as Contributors!

In his article entitled Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm, Alan November says, it is essential to restore the dignity and integrity of children as contributors to our communities and society.

In the past, the education futurist says, "children were essential to the very survival of the family... (and) jobs taught children the value of hard work, leading them to become more productive citizens." With the coming of the industrial economy, "students were required to attend school where teachers became central figures and where children took on more passive roles." Some pioneering teachers are now working to help children regain their active involvement in work and learning, says November. He describes six meaningful jobs that students can do as schools seek to achieve this goal. These jobs are:

Tutorial Designers
Official Scribes
Collaboration Coordinators
Contributing to Society
Curriculum Reviewers

Click here for link to the entire article.

What activities do you do with students that help make them contributors?

Source: Middleweb's "Of Particular Interest"