Bright Future Campaign – Week 9 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 9 Rewind

Last week at Sigler we began our CMIT meetings or our Campus Monitoring and Intervention Team meetings to review student progress thus far. While these meetings take up a tremendous amount of time, the conversations we are able to have about our students are necessary. These conversations allow for our homeroom teachers to express celebrations and/or concerns about students within their rooms and other professionals within the building are able to share their interactions with the students or provide their knowledge in collaboration with the teachers in the room as to how we can better meet student needs. 

While our staff is well aware of the process highlighted above, the one thing that I am reminded of each time we conduct a round of our CMIT meetings is the “mindset” our teachers have towards their student’s future. It is no secret, many of our students have academic needs that require intense interventions and these students also need passionate educators who have a “mindset” that their students can succeed. 
While this “mindset” is necessary for ALL staff and teachers within the building, I wonder, do our students share this same “mindset”? If not, what can we do, to deliberately change a student’s mindset, to ensure they understand, they can be successful. 
While, I look forward to getting back in classrooms this week and seeing our students and staff do what they do best, I ask you to watch the video below and ask yourself what your “mindset” is and how I can help you change a fixed “mindset” you may have towards any one thing taking place within our building and more importantly, how can you help change a fixed “mindset” a student in your classroom may have. 
The Power of Belief - Mindset and Success: Eduardo Briceno at TED

Bright Future Campaign – Week 8 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 8 Rewind
We are entering week 9 which means one-fourth of the school year is already behind us. Wow, that went fast and yikes, we need more time. Did you think the same thing I did? Please, take a few deep breaths and enjoy the day off before returning to work tomorrow. With nine weeks under our belt, it is easy to start making the list of all the things you have to get done…
Finish P/T Conferences (or reschedule no-shows)
Enter Grades
Start 3 O’clock Rocks
CMIT Meetings
…and I know that is just barely the tip of the iceberg. Before you start to get more overwhelmed as you continue to add to the list above, please take a moment and refer to the link below. 
Ted Talk: How to Make Stress Your Friend – Kelly McGonigal (15 – min)
Now, what if we make another list of the reasons why you became a teacher. This past weekend I stumbled upon this list, “21 Reasons to Quit Your Job and Become a Teacher”. I have good news for you! You are already one step ahead of the rest of the world. Embrace this AWESOME responsibility we have and make this the best week yet!
With the list of 21 reasons to quit your job and become a teacher fresh in your head, I am reflect on last week at Sigler and am compiling my own list, 21 reasons to be the Principal at Sigler Elementary. While I will not share all 21  with you now, I will express a couple that I added to the list this past week. 
I have the opportunity at Sigler to observe teachers interacting with students on a daily basis. This past week I was in Mrs. Simental’s room, which was timely due to her new baby, (Congrats) and couldn’t help but notice the great instructional strategies she was using with her students. 1st grade’s morning math interventions groups were finishing up and as students returned to their rooms, incoming students knew the routine inside and out as they immediately sat at their carpet for morning calendar. If you recall, this was one of the 5 statements I shared with you last spring. There are clear procedures for movement in the classroom and students demonstrate understanding with little to no direction from the teacher. After finishing up calendar students participated in a brief brain break to get the blood flowing and stretch the legs a bit before sitting down and participating in a teacher guided math lesson that included many opportunities for students to “turn and talk” to their neighbor and the expectation that all statements coming from students, whether they were responding to her or responding to their peers were in complete sentences. 
Another statement we have been reflecting on is, The learning target is clearly posted and verbalized by both the teacher and the students. (Raises Engagement Levels by 27%) This thought was evident in the minds of our 4th grade teachers and students this past Thursday as they took advantage of the early release day and used the blueprint from their most recent math test to identify TEKS that students were successful with and not yet successful with on their most recent test. After identifying the TEKS that needed to be addressed, students were split among the grade level and were able to focus in on specific skills that needed reteaching. Early release days can be tough on teachers and students as you are pinched for time, but this was an amazing way to maximize the day and make the learning meaningful for students and the teaching targeted to exactly what students needed based on their recently administered assessment. 
As you know, Teachers are the #1 Factor in Student Achievement! 

Keep pouring everything you have into your students and they will rise to the occasion! 

Bright Future Campaign – Week 7 Rewind – Boom Goes the Dynamite

Bright Future Campaign – Week 7 Rewind

Humor me if you will, but I had to dig up one of the classic tv moments of all time to assist with this weeks rewind. We have all been there, stepping into a situation we were unfamiliar with and expected to perform at a high level, but come up short. The saving grace for this inspiring communications major was his coined phrase, “boom goes the dynamite” which led to his ten seconds of fame all around the world. (Happens at 2:30 into the video)
What I didn’t know at this time was what exactly the word dynamite meant or where it had come from. While we know it’s dangerous and has the potential to send things to kingdom come, did you know the word dynamite comes from the Greek word dunamis, which means power? 
I couldn’t help but relate this new word, dunamis to my reflection of our Bright Future Campaign at Sigler as each of our staff hold the power to inspire change in our students’ futures. 
I was able to see this change first hand this past week as I entered a third grade classroom where a fourth grade student had come to see her former teacher to share just how much she had been accomplishing in fourth grade, specifically on a writing assignment. Her third grade teacher from last year and her fourth grade teacher his year, obviously have the power! 
How about the students I observed in third grade who were rotating through math stations working on their problem solving as they were challenged to find a specific amount of money, using a specific number of coins. Students may not have realized it, but the power was building in them as they each successfully found ways to make the change they were asked to find, almost surprising themselves at times. 
Yet another example of power was witnessed in 5th grade as students were determined to find the least common multiple of various numbers as they worked on solving real world problems that revolved around a couple of ferris wheels. Students started the problem thinking here was no way, the ferris wheels would ever have a common stopping point when they were different sizes, but when given the power to figure it out successfully, they quickly realized, there was an answer and therefore began to realize what the term, least common multiple was all about. 
The moral to my story, each of you holds the power or possesses the “dunamis” and transfers that potentially powerful “boom” to each of your students daily! So, as you prepare to share just how much potential our students have with parents, towards the end of the week, remember it only takes a spark to set the dynamite off and we all know just how powerful the dynamite can be when ignited. 
“Boom goes the Dynamite” 
Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary

Bright Future Campaign – Week 6 Rewind/#NoOfficeDay 5th Grade

Bright Future Campaign – Week 6 Rewind/#NoOfficeDay 5th Grade
This past week at Sigler was one in which we surprised our very own Alicia Fernandez, as Office Max came out for their annual “A Day Made Better”. It was very special to see the emotion from Mrs. Fernandez as our students and staff acknowledged her and as the representatives from Office Max awarded her a prize package over $1,000 dollars, including a Kindle Fire! Congratulations Alicia Fernandez!

#NoOfficeDay – 5th Grade

Man, I look forward to these days. Those unfamiliar with #NoOfficeDays, these are days I spend out of the office with a specific grade level for the day. Last Friday I spent the day with 5th grade. Before I begin to showcase the highlights of my day, I must say, we as a campus get tunnel vision at times, focused on the students we have in our grade level from year to year. After spending time with our 5th graders, y’all are doing a phenomenal job! These students have come through the finest classrooms, led by the finest teachers and are all the better for it.

As the day began, I was jumping right into my chair at the teacher table for my first hour of guided reading. Students in Mrs. Tucker’s class were hard at it when in arrived and reading a passage covering the American Revolution, which they have been studying in Social Studies. I loved how the team was connecting across the curriculum, as students were sharing what they knew about Paul Revere as they read this story. This specific story shed light on a special young lady who played a similar role to Paul Revere as a 16 year old girl. The discussion had with two groups was engaging as we wondered why we had not heard of this young lady before and how unfair it was for the girls in the group to have this story go untold until now.

I transitioned into Mr. Braden’s room as students were working on some note taking in pairs, determining what exactly they were reading and whether the purpose for their reading was informative, analytical or both. As students shared their thoughts, it was obvious they had made some connections to this Folktale, Terrapin and The Hare.

Specials broke up the whole group conversation, and I began my specials rotation in the “Art Studio”. Students waled right in and engaged in a warm up activity defining a piece of art based on prior knowledge of art. Students clearly have the mind of an artist as they articulated details about a mask they were studying  including whether it was 2-D or 3-D, if it have overlapping parts and  the specific medium and media being used.

As I left art and entered the music room, students were just wrapping up a mini-lesson on reading music and jumped into a brain break which included some folk dancing and mighty nice footwork (not my footwork). Students danced to a choreographed routine, in which each of them knew the steps and participated fully. My time wrapped up with a Mi, Re, Do exercise in which students had the liberty to see with their hands, bodies or however they needed in order to decipher between the various notes. Each student was able to participate using their own learning style. Great job Mrs. Caldwell!

The final stop during specials was fitness and PE which had combined together for a little scooter basketball.  Our students have so much fun while they are with our coaches and our coaches have a darn good time with them as well. Students were excited to play and anxiously awaited their turn to play again as they rotated around.

Getting back to 5th grade allowed me to see just how much our students mature from KN-5th. Students had been reading a Folktale, Terrapin and The Hare and were faced with a couple of reflective questions they needed to answer when walking back into the room. Once answered students participated in a “reading seminar” where they were able to share a question they may have had about the text and fellow students were able to weigh-in in an attempt to answer the question or add their own in-sight. It was awesome to see a teacher sit back and listen as students controlled the classroom for 45 minutes.

Returning from lunch and recess, which is always a good time to see how our students interact outside of the classroom, brought me to Mrs. Beck’s IC class to see some group presentations from a Mind Missions activity they had completed before lunch. Students were given materials to create a “shoe” that would provide comfort, warmth and work in weather conditions.

Students presented and model their shoes as they articulated why they designed their shoe how they did and after reflecting, we’re able to share what they may have done differently given a second chance. Audience members asked questions that proved students had throughout about their designs and showed they had been listening intently. Bravo to the creators, presenters and audience members.

I doubled back for math and revisited Mrs. Tucker’s class and ended my day in Ms. Mancilla’s room. Both classes were focused on an old favorite of mine, The Product Game. Students were in small group rotations in Mrs. Tucker’s room were I was able to play the product game with students to help them think about some questions they needed to answer about the game. Playing the game while answering the questions showed me our students have the ability to be successful, but at times need a concrete visual or must be a part of something in order to male connections to their learning. After playing a couple of games, winning one and losing one (still can’t believe it) I took my skills to Ms. Mancilla’s room to redeem myself. The day before Mancilla had provided me the lesson plan and shared I would be teaching, so I hope I didn’t let her or her students down. We worked through the necessary vocabulary and a was able to select a brave volunteer who played the game with me as an example for the other students I’m the room. After redeeming myself, students played the product game in pairs for the remainder of the class. Of course, as students packed up for the day I found a few more minutes to square off against one young lady as my first first opponent was a young man. Again, I left feeling on top of my game and let the students know I would be returning to defend my reign as they continued to learn some of the strategy needed to win the product game.

We are entering our 7th week of the school year and yes, I know teachers are feeling the pressure of needing to succeed in their grade level, but please remember, you cannot do it all. Narrow the focus, pick an area or two and rock and roll. Know that as students leave your grade and go on to the next, there is another teacher who is fighting the battle right along with you. If students keep entering 5th grade ready to succeed we are doing what is right by our students.

In closing, I couldn’t help but wonder, would one of our 5th graders be on stage one day, just as this young man was last summer at our AVID Summer Institute. 


Bright Future Campaign – Week 5 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 5 Rewind
There are some tremendous things happening at Sigler Elementary and this week was another example. As I mentioned last week, each day you walk into our building is an opportunity to win Game 7. I saw many folks preparing to win Game 7 and by preparing for Game 7, of course we know they are creating a Bright Future for the students they impact. 
Mrs. Hempstead and I made a visit to 1st grade last week to briefly fill in for the BL teachers so they could observe a writing lesson. While visiting I was able to work with a classroom of students and have them teach me about ordering numbers into a least to greatest and greatest to least order. The students were able to show me why numbers went where and created a short number line with sticky notes and putting themselves and their notes in order. 
I’ve been impressed to see how quickly our 1st graders are getting into the routines in 1st grade. Students are completing stations, changing classrooms for flexible groups and ELD and I love walking in on their brain breaks! Our first grade team has high expectations for the boys and girls they are teaching and we cannot wait to see just how bright their future will be! 
Has anyone else noticed our music teacher, Mrs. Caldwell, running around the building capturing video of our teachers and staff having a little fun at our school! You know you’re going to like it at Sigler! Thank you to those who have participated and we are looking forward to seeing the final product and sharing it with others. The teachers and staff work so hard, it’s nice to have a little fun amidst all the chaos. 
Finally, last Tuesday our 3rd-5th grade students broke out into their first Future’s Day Speaker Series. While I know the girls were on their best behavior, I must compliment the boys as I spent the afternoon session with them and was very impressed. We had a Plano PD officer speak to the boys and school board member Marilyn Hinton speak to the girls. Both serve as excellent examples of perseverance, grit and an example of what can happen when you set goals and work hard to achieve them. I’m excited for our next round of speakers in October, Dorothy Shaw and Lawrence Mann. Our students will enjoy hearing from both of them. 
It’s week 6 and it’s another week to change lives, win Game 7 and most importantly let your students know you are crazy about them, as Principal Salmone Thomas-EL states in the video clip below.