Three questions up front:
That being said, if you are one to make resolutions, consider the following:
I don't make formal resolutions, but I think and pray about these things every day. These suggestions, and others, guide me in my very serious task of parenting (Of course, I have a number of similar thoughts concerning the children I teach.).
May the new year bring with it new desires to improve, learn from mistakes,
and of course wonder, explore, and discover!
I've just updated our Math League page with the dates of our competitions for 2016. If you are on our team (or a parent of a team member), please make note of these dates:
Our first qualifying contest is in Bolivar, Missouri. This competition is on Saturday, January 30.
Our second qualifying contest will be on Saturday, February 20, at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin.
Each of these contests give participants the opportunity to qualify for the regional competition on March 5 - also to be held in Bolivar - and high scorers there will be invited to the state contest.
The state math competition will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2016, at Columbia College, in Columbia, Missouri.
One of our interim superintendent's main themes is to empowering stakeholders. He rightfully agrees that success comes when parents, students, and teachers have direct ownership of their tasks. The official definition, for our purposes, follows:
Empowerment means giving people the authority and responsibility to make decisions and take actions. Empowerment results in decisions being made closest to the front line, where work-related knowledge and understanding reside.
Reading this, I am reminded of the term Tip of the Spear. It is a term that describes the front line, the part first confronted by an enemy. While the military comparison may not be the best metaphor for teaching, it does describe important aspects of the empowerment of teachers.
It makes sense that the people closest to the "action" be the ones to make the local decisions. The "generals" in administration and legislation may provide overall guidance and leadership, and they can even make sure we have all of the supplies we need to do our jobs, but they must not interfere with the daily workings of our battle against ignorance.
At the same time, there is talk of empowering students, a matter that it entirely consistent with making students more and more responsible for their own educations. This speaks to the motivation of students - creating learners who want to attend, learn, and improve.
We know empowerment works for workers who conscientiously approach their duties.
It's history. Actual history. And this time of the year, it's one of my favorite stories.
During the Great War - the first World War - British and German soldiers met on the battlefield. On Christmas, the German soldiers began singing Stille Nacht - Silent Night. The British soldiers joined them, singing in English from their own trenches.
Eventually someone raising their arms and standing up, and an extemporaneous truce was declared.
This is a remarkable story of courage and camaraderie - opposing soldiers meeting in the middle to celebrate commonalities. It's hard to believe that it really happened. If only we could always meet in the middle like these brave men, share our stories, and celebrate the human spirit!
It kind of makes me want one of those chocolate bars they're advertising.
Here's the latest of the Mark Twain Award nominees I've read. The book has an odd title: Navigating Early. The cover even displays a review quote that says the book feels like Huckleberry Finn. Reading the book, I understand the comparison, but I cannot agree. Outside some of the obvious similarities within the plot, Clare Vanderpool's novel simply does not have the same quaint honesty.
In fact, Vanderpool appears to be trying too hard to make a complex story:
Students were given the task of creating a map, using specific geometric parameters. People might be surprised to see the length of time they worked on this project without issues of discipline or episodes of boredom. I actually saw people assisting others in such ways that they became nurturers and tutors - not just answer givers, and not mean critics. For example, one student audibly told another, "I know you can do this; don't give up!" A teacher wants to leap for joy when something like that is said.
This week, Cecil Floyd learned some news that we did not want to hear. Gayle Hennessey, our principal of the last three and half years has made the decision that it is time to retire. Ms. Hennessey has been in public education for almost 30 years. Her tenure here at Cecil Floyd set us on a road to recovery and established a positive trajectory for our building. More will be written about her departure at a later date. The transcript of her official announcement letter follows:
December 18, 2015
During our party, Hoggatteers made their own hot chocolate reindeer, ate their pizza lunches, and raced to complete a word search. Principal Hennessey remarked that we had the quietest Christmas party in the building.
Thanks to all who were involved with our little half-day, event-filled, last day of 2015 (even big-sister, former-Hoggatteer TOSHA, who is always welcome). We can't wait to see what the new year will bring!
The rails have been polished.
The bells have been shined.
The engine's been stoked.
The conductor is well-rested.
The hot chocolate is steaming.
And the tickets are ready to be punched for tomorrow's Polar Express Positive Behavior Celebration for December.
We will be legally viewing the classic movie The Polar Express in class, tomorrow, complete with surround sound...and in French. Absolument!
And all of this will occur before our Christmas party and we dismiss at 11:45.
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