Bright Future Campaign – Week 4 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 4 Rewind 

This past summer I read something about pressure and the pressure we face as educators to nurture, instruct, grow…and the list goes on. Within the article it referenced everyday we come to work as Game 7 of the championship game. Do or die, win or go home and I cannot shake that from my mind. Each day we enter the doors of Sigler Elementary it is game 7. We must execute, we must improve and with every game 7, you must win. In this case, our winning translates into student success and bright futures. Are you up for the challenge to win game 7 and impact the future of the students we serve?

Each year begins and we set goals. We set goals as individuals, we set goals as teams and we set goals as a building to annually strengthen programs already in place. This past week our Site Based Improvement Committee met to share our building goals with parents, community members as well as staff. Thank you, Patricia Hempstead and Kim Peake for organizing the meeting and thank you Alicia, Scott, Kari and Lauren for sharing your specific content areas with those in attendance. 

Two of our goals are listed below and following each one, is an example of how I saw these goals being achieved within the past week. 

Study and use the district written curriculum 

On the surface this sounds really easy and straightforward, but the staff at Sigler is taking it a step farther and making sure the depth of knowledge necessary for students to grow is being addressed. This past Wednesday, Kindergarten was kind enough to allow me to sit in on their afternoon planning session so I could witness just how our teams are studying and using the written curriculum. Kindergarten teachers discussed how students at the young age of 5 can make connections with the settings in a story and how that can be translated to their own experiences. They discussed the importance of character development and sharing with students how characters can change in a story or how their feelings may change just as the feelings of KN students can change over the course of a school day. 

It was pretty awesome to hear our KN teachers discussing such high level reasoning when it comes to reading when lets face it, not all of the students are reading! They may not be reading yet…but they are learning how to think about their reading which will pay dividends down the road. Keep it up Kindergarten! 

While preparing for our SBIC Meeting, I came across this reflective question:

Does the activity/strategy you are planning directly support the desired learning outcome (learning target)? As you study and use our district curriculum, please reflect on that question with each activity/strategy you use. 

Model and promote substantive collaboration to foster a learning community 

Collaboration is something we are focused on this year at Sigler and I see examples of this daily. Specifically this past week, I was able to see this first hand through the observation of an ELD lesson again, in KN. Our teachers worked hand in hand to make sure this group of bilingual students were able to have a conversation back and forth, introducing each other and sharing the name of their teacher in KN. I am excited to follow the language development of this group of students over the course of the school year. 

(In highlighting KN this week, I will aim to highlight 1st grade next week and work my way through the various grade levels/departments) 

Our first early release was scheduled for this past Friday and staff had an opportunity to work together, study some student data and develop a plan based on their findings. Specifically, I wanted to thank 2nd grade for joining the conversation with 3rd-5th as they are working hard to collaborate with our “STAAR” grades so they can strengthen the support they are giving students as they are preparing them for 3rd grade. I’m excited to see 2nd grade flourish and soar as we involve them in more vertically aligned conversations.

In closing, I wanted to highlight a few statements made in the documentary “TEACH”, which the staff was able to view Friday. Our staff works tirelessly for our students and every now and then, taking a moment to watch a move such as “TEACH” allows for the battery to be charged, reignites the passion, or simply allows your fire to burn brighter. Your reflections may lead you a difference direction, but these statements below, made me personally reflect and I hope there was at least one moment during “TEACH” that caused you to reflect. 

“To teach is to question, and sometimes you have to begin by questioning yourself.” 

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” – Julie Andrews

Bright Future Campaign Week 3 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign Week 3 Rewind

The past week at Sigler presented itself as the first full week at Sigler Elementary where instruction was at the top of everyone’s list. The first week serves as the important “relationship week” as students and teachers are working together to get to know one another. Week two is shortened by the Labor Day weekend while teachers begin to focus on instruction while still setting classroom expectations, but week three, the focus completely shifts to what can we do to instruct these students at a high level so they can be prepared for a bright future.

Teachers at Sigler have been collaborating on a weekly basis, specifically after the students go home on Wednesdays to grow their knowledge of what students need and what they can provide to ensure students are, as I stated above, prepared for a bright future. Teachers KN-5th have been involved in conversations about what they can do to address students specifically in their classrooms and I hope they would agree, have each become better educators with this investment of time. I know the administrators at Sigler appreciate their efforts, preparedness, and dialogue during these planning sessions.

Another component I’ve appreciated our teachers participating in this fall are the one-on-one “kid-talks” we are having during their planning times. It’s obvious the teachers I have met with thus far, know their students and the discussions we have had, have shown just how passionate they are about meeting students right where they are and how they can meet their individual needs. We are looking forward to the remaining talks for those who have yet to have theirs.

This past Friday the administrators at Sigler were able to take a team of teachers to learn more about how we can use data to drive instruction and again, prepare students for a bright future. Teachers were able to sit with other grade level teachers from their respected teams across the district and discuss STAAR data and how we can use what we have to better prepare, instruct and assess our students. Thank you Kari, Wendy, Ben, Scott, Dina, Lauren & Jennifer for coming with an open mind and transferring what we learned to positive impact our students. I know the staff who was not present will appreciate hearing the message. Those who were back at Sigler on Friday, thank you for holding down the fort and for the teachers in 3rd and 4th thank you for taking on some additional students for those that were off campus with out a substitute. I know it’s a sacrifice you may not have been prepared for.

This week grants us another opportunity to make a big impact at Sigler Elementary. You are prepared and ready and I know the students will be direct recipients of the fruits of your labor!

Keep doing all you do to as we continue on our Bright Future Campaign!

Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary

The Bright Future Campaign – Week 2 Rewind

The Bright Future Campaign – Week 2 Rewind
The beginning of the year is full of potential and high expectations. Administrators have high expectations for teachers, while teachers have high expectations for students and for themselves. With the high expectations that exist for all parties, this word “potential” is the motivating force behind everything we do. We know ALL students are capable of learning and its the potential the posses that drives the excitement of the first weeks of school.

Students are at the center of everything we do at Sigler and this past week, teachers in grades 4th and 5th met with our administrative team to review student performances and what their academic focus will be for specific students within the classrooms. While these conversations could easily turn to “these students can’t” the teachers in 4th and 5th embraced the challenge ahead and openly accepted the responsibility to tap into their students’ full potential.

Another grade level we met with last week is taking responsibility to ensure students are working to their full potential. 2nd grade was the first grade level in the building to hold their 1:1 Kid Talks with administrators. In talking with 2nd grade, it’s clear they are heading in a direction with their students that will better prepare them for success after 2nd grade.

The accolades to pass out after just two weeks exceed what can be focused on in just a single email, but our KN team is working together to ensure the safety of each student. Our first grade team is working hard to turn our first graders into blooming readers& writers. The third grade team is coming together as a group to support each other and their students as instruction gets dialed up a notch to unlock student potential. The support team has been a true support team to any and all who have needed it over the first two weeks as they have been wherever they have been needed (cafeteria, carpool, in classrooms or studying data to drive instruction. The staff that makes up our special education team has worked hard as a team and is working together to help each other and meet the varied needs of each of their students. Staff in the AELC have enjoyed working with new students and continue to rely in one another to meet the needs of their students. Finally, the front office staff has survived the inundation of paperwork, requests, new students and withdrawing students and still thrives in maintaining e daily operations of the school office and creating a welcoming environment for any who enter the front doors of Sigler Elementary.

There is so much to acknowledge and I hope I captured at least a piece of what each of you are doing to contribute to The Bright Future Campaign at Sigler Elementary.

You never know just how much of an impact you are making and may not know until years later. The link below is a testimony of a young lady who we met this past summer at the AVID Summer Institute. Is there a student just like this, sitting in your room right now? How will you impact their future? 

The Bright Future Campaign

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year!

For those who have regularly followed my postings, you know that each week during the school year, I write a post highlighting great things noticed within Sigler Elementary from the previous week. Week one of the school year is officially in the books, so as I sit here getting ready to start week two, it would be appropriate for me to highlight the great things noticed during week one. However, before we begin recognizing all of the greatness the staff at Sigler pours out into our students, our readers, community members, parents and staff (this will be a reminder for staff) must understand the direction we are taking this year as we embark on “The Bright Future Campaign”.

For those new to reading my posts, I am the principal at Sigler Elementary which is home to just over 460 students. Of the 460, 50% are Hispanic, 25% are African American and 20% are White, with the remaining 5% made up of Asian, Pacific Islander and students of Multiple Races. The dedicated staff at Sigler meets the needs of these 460 students, of which upwards of 75-80% would be identified as being Economically Disadvantaged. Along with a high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, we commit our selves to working with students who are LEP (Limited English Proficient). It is important to understand the demographic at Sigler to understand why “The Bright Future Campaign” is necessary at this time for our students.

Over the past year I have been introduced to many inspirational and motivational speakers. Whether I have met them in person, read their work online, or follow them on Twitter, the people listed below have helped mold the idea of “The Bright Future Campaign” into becoming a reality.

John Hunter –

The bottom line is this, students at Sigler Elementary must know their is a future outside the walls of their homes and outside the walls of Sigler Elementary and it is up to us to show it to them.

Beginning this year, students will be participating in what we are calling, Future’s Day at Sigler Elementary. Each Tuesday, will be known at Future’s Day. Staff members are encouraged to show their support of their favorite college or university to open students eyes to the vast number of post secondary institutions that exist around the globe and within the United States. In addition to wearing their college colors, teachers will be leading students through a weekly lesson combining the basic manners necessary in life with the skills it takes to work with others, which we in education call, collaboration! In partnership with Future’s Day, we have started a monthly speaker series, where students in grades 3rd-5th will be split into two groups, boys and girls. The boys in grades 3rd-5th will head one direction and the girls another to hear from speakers who understand what they are up against. Speakers understand the dynamic of being raised by single parents, or growing up in poverty, or living in a home with more than one family residing with you. Regardless of the struggle, the speakers invited to speak at Sigler Elementary understand exactly what our boys and girls are going through and have been asked to paint a clear picture of what it takes to overcome the adversity, strive for excellence and set goals for the future. In addition, students will be exposed to what obstacles may be in their way and what may happen if their deviate from their plan. If I was to articulate the goal of the Future’s Day Speaker Series, it would be summed up by watching the video clip below:

Are you interested in speaking to our students? Do you have a strong message to share? Join our speaker series and be included with the likes of Olympic athletes, school board members, regional presidents of fortune 500 companies, and local media personalities such as @wfaaizzy.

The staff at Sigler Elementary remains dedicated to meeting the needs of the students at Sigler Elementary through increased analysis of data, collaboration between staff members/grade levels/teams and good ol’ fashioned, roll up your sleeves hard work.

As our mission reads:

Preparing students to excel in a diverse and changing world.

This changing world is their future and their future begins at Sigler Elementary!

We look forward to school year filled with inspiration and motivation and students who discover just how “bright” their future is!

Be sure to follow our progress by coming back weekly to see how our students and teachers grow during “The Bright Future Campaign”.

You can also check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.