Beautiful Sunrise

    Light streaming from two classrooms lit a North Oakview Elementary school hallway. The light fell on three educators discussing the progress made by a student over the past year. One child, now a first grade student, is able to state to an adult that “he misses his dad” instead of acting out in the classroom. The same child was seen later in the day helping another student on the playground. He also professed that he loves math. Small and large miracles happening every day.

    Posted outside a 4th grade classroom: Reading Goal for the year – Building a Reading Life, Read for 45 minutes. Writing Goal for the year – Raising Level of Personal Narrative Writing, Write 6 pages.

    As I wandered out to the “drop-off” line I noticed a kindergarten boy walking backwards. When I asked why he was walking backwards he replied “just because it’s fun to walk backwards.” He was passed by several other kids who were running down the sidewalk. When I asked them why they were running they said “because it is fun to run and we get to school faster.” I usually pose the question “are you ready to learn today” to at least ten kids. Every one smiles and makes the comment of “yes.” When asked why are your ready to learn they all say “because it is fun.” I wonder if they have seen the goals posted outside that 4th grade classroom? Small and large miracles.

    Travis shared two things with me on Thursday. First was that his flag football team never wins
    but that is okay because playing is so much fun. The second stumped me for a little while. He asked if I ever had a double birthday celebration. Come to find out this means that you celebrate two years for one. So if you are five, you get to move to six and then seven. He said his mom an dad made up the celebration. I told Travis that since I am 64 I plan to go down two years at each birthday so that when I turn 65, I am going to double celebrate down to 63. Travis said “why, are you worried about growing so big that you hit the lights?”

    First grade kids equate getting older with getting bigger.

    What do Dot Week, Book Shopping, and Center Time have in common? Dot Day/Week helps kids have a “can-do” attitude and is reinforced across all areas of the elementary curriculum – even in gym class. Book Shopping is a strategy used by the teacher/librarian to help individual kids find books they are able to read and want to read. Center Time is a learned skill, especially in kindergarten – think, “how do you help 21 five-year old kids move to five different centers in a timely and orderly fashion?” Small and large miracles every day is what they have in common.

    Meanwhile Back at East Oakview…….

    “Dot Day” was in full swing in the library. The teacher librarian was using a new app – Augmented Reality or AR – to make the student produced “dots” become animated. The “oohs and aahs” told the story of how the technology bond revenue is making a difference in our classrooms. If you are wondering about “Dot Day/Week” I suggest you read The Dot by Peter Reynolds. It is an easy read since it is a children’s book. It could be part of your personal quest to “build a reading life.”

    I enjoyed the discussion being held in a fourth grade classroom about the question “how do I learn?” The teacher informed her students that you don’t always see the hard work people do to learn something new. Hard work pays off! Struggle is okay. Students were asked to think about how parents let a baby struggle to roll over or how a little one learns to walk by falling down and getting up again. All of this was part of a lesson on “exclamatory, declarative, and fragmented” sentences. Small and large miracles every day.

    Another classroom of students was learning to “read myself awake.” The teacher pushed students to higher levels of thinking by asking high quality questions. She modeled the expected behavior of “writing down your questions as you think about what you are reading.”

    A first grade teacher helped two students learn how to navigate a social issue while kids were lining up for recess. Not a minute is wasted throughout the day. Small and large miracles.

    …..final thoughts

    I usually make the time to write my reflections before the end of the day on Thursdays. That didn’t happen yesterday and my reflections are written on Friday morning. However, this allowed for three things to happen:

    The idea of small and large miracles happening right before my eyes carried on for the rest of the day. I didn’t even have to look hard. They are always right in plain sight.

    I kept thinking about how the struggles in life have made me a better person and a better educator. I am thankful for the people who helped me be strong enough to face the struggles.

    If Travis was right about equating growing bigger with each year of life, I am going to need bigger clothing. Wait a minute…..my pant size is bigger in the waist.

    Maybe I will take a little time to walk backwards today!

    Sincerely and With Great Respect,

    Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent

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