Saturday, February 2, 2013

Welcome Back to Blogging

It has been over a year since I posted a Blog.  To be honest, it's been a whirlwind year for me.  Shortly after my last post, I enjoyed the holidays with my family.  Then, it was time to start assessment season with my fourth graders.  We took the FCAT Writes test in February followed by FCAT Reading and Math in April.  With the numerous changes to FCAT Writes this past school year, I was disheartened to see that four of my students did not meet the proficiency goal set by the state of Florida.  This was the first year in my four years of teaching fourth grade that I had a student not considered proficient in writing.  My students continued to persevere, and it showed in their reading and math scores!  Learning gains were substantial!  Two of my students made the most growth in reading across our school, and one of my students made the most growth in math across the school!  Way to go!  My school operates under a School Improvement Grant (SIG), and in order for instructional staff members to be rehired for the next school year, 65% of our students must show learning gains in reading or math.  Luckily, my students achieved more than 65%, and I was asked to come back to the school for the 2012-2013 school year.

The summer of 2012 was full of change!  First of all, I agreed to move from fourth to third grade to help provide stability to the grade level as we went through several staff changes in the 2011-2012 school year.  One teacher moved to a school closer to her home in October, one teacher resigned in January, the teacher that replaced her just decided never to come back in March, and another teacher took a position in the private child care center sector in May.  Needless to say, it was quite an upheaval!  I began the summer by moving all of my classroom belongings across campus to set up my new room.  I was excited about the change because I had always wanted to teach third, and I was joining two great teachers who I knew I would make great changes with.

After moving my classroom belongings to my new room, I set out to lead the third grade summer reading camp for students that scored level one on the FCAT reading assessment.  I led a staff of nine teachers, one para educator, an AmeriCorp volunteer, and a summer clerk.  We worked together for eight weeks providing breakfast, lunch, instruction, and enrichment from 8:00 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.  It was a wonderful experience that led to new friendships, immense learning opportunities, and a nice additional paycheck during the summer.

On the last day of summer camp, after the staff went home, I received a call from my senior director of elementary education telling me that my principal had been asked to move to a middle school in another town to help guide the school back from a "D" letter grade to higher achievement.  I was told that my current assistant principal was being moved into the principal's position.  She then asked if I would be interested in being the next assistant principal of my school.  What?  Wait.  Pinch me.  You seriously just asked me if I wanted to fulfill my lifelong dream?  Tears streamed down my face, and as I tried to regain my composure, I thought of my dear grandmother, "Nanny", and I knew she she must have had something to do with this.  She always said that I would "do it" one day, and I knew in this moment, she was smiling down at me from Heaven.

After accepting the position, I was told that it would be considered "acting" because there was no time to advertise for the job, interview candidates, and select a new AP.  That would all have to be completed at a later date.  I had two days vacation between the end of summer reading camp and my new position as Acting Assistant Principal of Oscar J. Pope Elementary School.  Despite knowing that I could be moved back to the classroom at any time due to the "acting" status, I met with my new principal and we set forth our plan for continuing to increase student achievement at OJP.

With all of that being said, I've been able to spread my knowledge and excitement about Whole Brain Teaching across the entire campus.  When I enter a classroom, I gain students' attention by calling out class to which they respond yes!  Several teachers utilize the WBT method of classroom procedures, management, and instruction.  During a recent visit to another school, I observed a teacher as part of my certification process for the new teacher evaluation system.  Although the teacher's classroom was decorated nicely and was welcoming, I felt her overuse of the WBT system impeded the students' learning.  When I meet with my teachers about WBT, we talk about finding that correct balance of instruction with WBT.

So, that is how my life has dramatically changed since my last post.  I continue to learn new things in my position that they never teach when obtaining your Educational Leadership degree.  Luckily, my school district has set up a new assistant principal mentoring and professional development program that allows veteran AP's a chance to work with new AP's.  It's a great system of support which is so desperately needed these days.

Here's to continued learnings and journeys!