Take a Risk This Spring

With only about seven weeks of instruction left your time with these kids is going to fly by!  You’ve established great relationships with your students and built positive learning communities in your classrooms.  As we hit the home stretch there is surely a lot of important content yet to be covered before the end of the year.  All of that adds up to the perfect opportunity for you to try some new things and take some risks with your instruction.

Often times teachers want to try new ideas and test things out at the beginning of the year but find it challenging because they haven’t yet established classroom culture, relationships, or the trust needed to feel comfortable taking a risk.  However, at this point the year there is no doubt in my mind that you have all built a culture that would allow for you to take a chance and see how something new plays out.

Most of you have participated in some great professional development opportunities so far this year (some of you even have masters class this weekend).  I have no doubt that you’ve come across some ideas that have made you consider trying something new in your classroom.  What better time than now to give something a try, revamp it and try again?!?  That way, you can come into the new school year with a fresh new feeling of excitement and confidence knowing that your new strategies will work well!

It’s spring, the trees are budding, the flowers are blooming and it’s time for something fresh in your classroom.  Go ahead and take a risk, try something new, and don’t be afraid.  You’ve got the confidence and support of your colleagues, your students, and the rest of the community behind you!!

Reflecting on Three Quarters of Awesomeness

I recently participated in a Twitter chat about reflective practice.  The questions started out asking about the importance of reflecting and whether or not is was a necessary part of being a teacher.  In my mind, there is no doubt that this is an essential part of teaching and as Kat C said as we chatted this morning, “Is that even a question?  How do you exist as a teacher without reflecting?”

The third quarter is now over and we’re moving into the home stretch.  There was never a better time of year than now to try some new things and take a risk in your classroom.  If you were here last year you may recall that I asked this very same thing of you about a year ago.

With 75% of the school year behind you, take a minute to think back on what has gone well and what hasn’t.  Think about something you’ve wanted to try but, for whatever reason, haven’t yet tried.  Whether you’re staying here or moving on next year here is a perfect opportunity to improve your educational practice.

What will you do to be a better educator over the next few months?  Where can you grow?  How can you help our students be successful in this fourth quarter?

Enjoy your holiday break and come back refreshed, it’s going to be a down hill run to June 🙂

Check 1-2 Cents

I can’t say how much I enjoyed the positive atmosphere that our Middle School faculty meeting had on Wednesday afternoon.  Despite the fact we were on the eve of assessments, the weather has turned cold, and we’re only two weeks from winter break; everyone was still amazingly positive and upbeat.  Thank you for that!  I don’t think we could double, triple, or quadruple down enough on shout-outs to show our appreciation and support of the music department and all that they’ve helped our kids accomplish this semester but I’m going to take this chance to shout them out again 🙂

The way that our music department has banded together as a cohesive group and learned to work so well as a team is impressive.  Bringing five people, who have no common planning time, together to accomplish what they have this semester is amazing!  Looking back on the Middle School Music Festival in October and considering the amount of planning and organization that went into an event like that just blows my mind.  Then to see the shows that this fantastic team put on this week and the amount of growth their students showed, even since October, was inspiring!

There’s little doubt in my mind that music education is extremely beneficial to a student’s growth.  Benefits of music abound; from improved fine motor skills, to improved math and English SAT scores, to improved Executive Function and beyond.  I’m so happy to be a part of a school community that takes music education so seriously and supports the programs the way that we do!

Thank you again (over and over) to Jenny, Sean, Joel, Lee, and Jason for the amazing work they do with our budding (and in some cases, already outstanding) musicians.  Also, a huge thanks to all of you who have made it out to support our students (and their teachers) at the concerts, shows, and events around town.

Your Opportunity is Now

Tomorrow is new family orientation and it will be the first day that we’ll officially have kids on campus, so exciting! I know we’ve been back to business for almost a week now but the time seems to have flown by as we’ve hit the ground running and we’re ready for a new year. The sheer amount of opportunities we have before us this school year is tremendous and it sets my mind racing just to think about it. Whether you’re new to teaching, new to SCIS, or you’ve been here long enough to be considered a Golden Dragon the opportunities for you are incredible.

Those of you who are just getting started in your time at SCIS come from a variety of backgrounds; some of you are veteran international schoolteachers and others are just embarking on what could be a lifetime in this small world that we call the international education community. Some of you have been around the world and will be making your first stay in Asia; enjoy it, explore it, and take in all that this amazing place has to offer. For those who are entering this nomadic life for the first time, welcome, you may never look back!

As new students and families begin to arrive over the next few days we all have the opportunity to make a first impression. The smiles and excited conversations we have with these new students will set the tone and help them feel at ease as they make a the transition into our community. A lot of times it’s the first happy face through the door that these kids remember ten years down the road; the person who helped them find their math class or who carried their uniform bag when the handles broke. It’s these small and seemingly mundane moments that often times define a student’s first, and lasting, memories of their new school. What an opportunity we have over the next few days!!

Our returning students will surely return with a mixture of emotions as well; some will be excited and others longing for the beach where they spent the summer. Opportunity lies within these students too. Seeing former teachers, meeting the new, and walking the halls where they’ve had so many great memories with their friends is sure to be exciting for our returning students. However, with those happy moments, come the not-so-happy memories of best friends and favorite teachers who’ve moved on to new schools and exciting adventures. The opportunity is yours to be their new inspiration, welcome them back and make them feel like they never want to leave again. Those smiles we see every morning as students get off the bus aren’t there because they love 7:30 AM, they happen because our students truly enjoy coming to SCIS each morning! Start building and strengthening your connections now and embrace the opportunity to inspire our students every single day.

Being our best every day for our kids and embracing the short-term opportunities before us will continue to make this the warm and welcoming school we’ve become. Let’s not forget about what I see as our greatest opportunity…the chance to reflect and continue down the growth process with two new leaders. As the year commences we begin down a long, and potentially winding, path toward the future. Over the last four years this Middle School has become a special place but the opportunity we have now is to push our school and ourselves forward to be even better. Challenge yourself to be better every day you wake up, every day you enter the classroom with students, every day you work with your colleagues; challenge yourself to be better, make it the best day yet, each and every day! Take the opportunity to be amazing!!


To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time

by Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven the sun,

The higher he’s a-getting,

The sooner will his race be run,

And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,

And, while ye may, go marry;

For, having lost but once your prime,

You may forever tarry.

Mr. John Keating – Dead Poets Society – encourages you to seize the day!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veYR3ZC9wMQ (VPN required)