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.

Sigler State of Mind – Week 34 Rewind

Sigler State of Mind – Week 34 Rewind

It was not hard to find amazing things happening at Sigler last week with only being on campus a couple of days. The week started off with some of our 4th grade students paying a visit to our 1st graders to extend a measuring activity they had been working on the previous week. I think it is great, our grade level teachers open the doors for others to come and interact with their students and our 4th graders feel so empowered to be working with younger students. I know the 1st graders felt pretty special having the 4th graders come down and measure their height. 
Check out a couple of students in action below:

Wednesday afternoon we were able to honor the ladies and gentleman who give back to Sigler Elementary as volunteers. Hats off to Dellmy and Mara for organizing a well done Volunteer Appreciation Event and thank you to Tifani and Sandra for helping with the set up. Volunteers in attendance certainly felt warm and welcomed and appreciated for the time they have given and the time they have yet to give to the students and staff at Sigler Elementary!
As this time of year rolls around, we start to make preparations for the upcoming school year. This past weekend Plano ISD hosted their Recruitment Open House in which we participated. Schools in attendance were looking for certified teachers in hard to find areas such as teachers who are certified bilingual, special education or both. Thank you Stephanie and Alicia for attending with me and meeting so many outstanding candidates. 
In closing, I wanted to leave you with a short video clip focusing on students and teachers. With a mere 24 days of school left (counting Monday) we are putting the finishing touches of being a “champion” for the children!
Make it a TRRFCC Week Sigler Elementary!
Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary

Sigler State of Mind – Week 33 Rewind

Sigler State of Mind – Week 33 Rewind
I do believe I speak for everyone, when I say, THANK GOODNESS STAAR TESTING IS BEHIND US!. There are two more small days ahead in May, but it will hardly impact the building as testing had the past week. Nothing but instruction and sunshine between now and June 7th (well, and MAP testing).
As we enter the month of May and the proverbial homestretch, it is so important to maintain high expectations for all and continue to educate as if it were the first days of school and not the last. In spite of testing last week, there were many examples of teachers who were continuing to teach, as if school had just started.
Students in KN were practicing their writing as they explored different types of places they would choose to live. It just so happened, as I was walking in, they were reviewing one of the places I had spent lots of time in growing up; The World’s Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. I promised them some pictures that I had taken during my last visit, so as promised, here you go!

While students in KN were still trying to figure out exactly how I knew about the Corn Palace, 4th grade students were in the midst of a measurement lesson ranking students height in order from tallest to shortest in cm. Students were so engaged in the lesson and trying to accurately determine where they would line up as a class based upon their measurements and then checking their measurements through making an observation to determine if they were lined up shortest to tallest. There was one or two students who needed to measure again, but hey, we all need some extra practice. Upon leaving, I was made aware of an upcoming project this week, where our 4th graders are making a trip down to 1st grade to do a little measuring to see just how much taller the 4th graders are than 1st graders. Just remember 4th graders, you were the same height as the 1st graders a few years ago. To all the students, yes, Mr. S is taller than I am. 

All in all, it was a great week at Sigler and there is just too much to highlight in one email. I could continue to share how excited our 2nd graders were when they discovered they have a class pet again and its a familiar hedgehog. I could continue to share how excited the staff was to “shine bright” in their fluorescent colors on Friday, even Coach Lazarine. In fact, Coach Lazarine looked so good, I have decided each Friday, between now and June 7th will be Fluorescent Friday and our regular Friday Spirit Wear w/ Jeans days will be moved to Thursday. (Hope everyone is reading this) I could also continue to share how flexible our support staff was this week in covering additional testing days on Thursday and Friday, rearranging schedules to accommodate intervention in various parts of the building or the quality of small group instruction taking place in 5th grade to encourage the students that will be retesting in 11 school days. 

Each week our students and teachers continue to do their personal best and shoot for the stars. For those who want to shoot past the stars, here is an inspiring article for you to reflect. 
Nesloney’s Classroom Adventures: State Testing Results!!
Feeling really inspired…here is one additional idea I came across as educators participated in an #edcamp in Waller, TX (#edcampwaller). 
Save the Date – #edcampfwtx (Fort Worth) is coming this summer. Click below for more info!
Make it a TRRFCC week Sigler Elementary!
Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary

Sigler State of Mind – Week 32 Rewind

Sigler State of Mind – Week 32 Rewind

This past week I read an article about school culture I found on Huffington Post, written by Michael Haberman. The excerpt below is worth reading…
Culture is intangible, but it’s essential: you can walk into a school and know immediately whether you want to be there or not. The same thing goes for the students, and the staff.
But just because culture is intangible doesn’t mean that it’s undefinable; Nadine Engels and her co-writers describe “a shared sense of purpose and values, norms of continuous learning and improvement, collaborative collegial relationships… and sharing experiences” as factors that contribute to a positive school culture. Innovation, leadership, teamwork, and “goal-orientedness” are also important.
You have heard me say before, Sigler Elementary is a special place and there is no place I would rather be principal. The teachers work tirelessly, the opportunity for student growth is infinite and our parents truly appreciate the role we play as educators.
What I would like to focus on this week is the collaborative collegial relationships that were on display this past week at Sigler Elementary.
The week began much like any other at Sigler Elementary, but as the week progressed, the number of staff that were ill, off campus or home taking care of loved ones who were ill, increased daily. By the end of the week, the number of staff off campus reached the double digits. How unsettling is that for our students? Just ask the teachers who remained or the teachers that work with students who demand consistency and a routine from day to day. With out a doubt, the teachers that were out, were out for good reason and they need to take care of themselves and/or loved ones so a small illness does not turn into a big one, but in the midst collaborative collegial relationships were on display at Sigler.
We meet the needs of all students at Sigler Elementary and every now and then, we have a student that requires some additional attention and if not provided in a way that student sees fit, it may not bode well for the remainder of the day or the immediate future. As this very case, played out this past week, the teacher working with the student was quick to praise the number of staff members, that supported her, closed doors as needed, stood by just in case, or just kept their distance and exchanged a glance that said, “I am here if you need me.” Regardless of who did what, this teacher felt the support and collaborative collegial relationships she had and knew, she was not alone!
We all know, this coming week is STAAR testing for grades 3-5 and while each grade level has their own plan for how to review/make the final push, 5th grade was spending their afternoons rotating students through specific science rotations, one per day for each day of the week. As the week wore on, a couple teachers were off campus and the need for additional staff was necessary. As a certain teacher began to search the halls for increased support, teachers in other grade levels began to offer their services and even agreed to send student teachers to 5th grade so the rotations could continue as planned. If not for the collaborative collegial relationships, stories such as this do not exist.
The example extends far beyond staff members at Sigler. The example of collaborative collegial relationships carries over to substitute teachers (referring to this person as a sub, is not accurate as she is so much more) as they accept jobs on behalf of teachers who are ill at the last minute, even when the “sub” was not planning on working for the week.
Collaborative collegial relationships carries over to our parents as well, as a certain mother volunteered her time to assist two of our teachers with Friday Night Live, which ended in the early evening at the end of what you can tell, was a very long school week.
Finally, how about collaborative collegial relationships across the community as members of Chase Oaks were on campus Saturday morning, painting stars in our carpool lane and painting a room at Sigler meant to provide comfort and support to families in need.
The article refers to the term “collaborative collegial relationships” but I would like to simply call it FAMILY! I am proud to me a member of such a strong “family” and I hope you are too!
Have a TRRFCC Week Sigler Elementary!
Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary

Chase Oaks – Sharefest @ Sigler Elementary

Members of Chase Oaks were on campus this past weekend to lend a hand at Sigler Elementary.

Volunteers Painted Stars throughout the Carpool Lane

Volunteers organized…

Folded Clothes…

Created Shelf Space…
The Finished Product
Volunteers from Chase Oaks and Sigler Elementary

5th Grade Science

5th grade students are giving their all for one final push before next week’s Science STAAR test. Collaboration and innovation at its finest as students work together to solve science problems served up by their teachers!

Sigler State of Mind – Week 31 Rewind

Sigler State of Mind – Week 31 Rewind

a: in the time, space or interval that separates

This past week and this coming week, we are between administrations of the STAAR test for our students in grades 3-5. While these two weeks are very valuable for our students in grades 3-5, I pose a question. 

Are they any more valuable than any other week we have had this school year?

While I know we, including myself, feel the final push is necessary and any last bit of learning we can squeeze in, may make the difference for our students, I find myself wondering, do we take each week as seriously as we do the final weeks, leading up to a test such as STAAR?

In my humble opinion, the staff at Sigler Elementary does, but for those reading this, please reflect on your own thoughts and answer that question for yourself. If we do, we have absolutely nothing to worry about, because I believe the results of any one test, do not measure the success of a student, teacher or building. Now, for those that do not, how much better of an educator could you be if you did? 

There are many examples I can provide, that support teachers at Sigler believe each week is just as important as the weeks leading up to or between administrations of STAAR. This past week alone, I saw the following examples…

How about teachers that understand they have been working hard all year long, educating students and take time during what some call “testing season” to attend professional learning opportunities throughout the district, to come back, share and strengthen the teaching of others. This past week, I was able to spend a day with one of our teachers observing and learning more about a program we have implemented at Sigler; ELD or English Language Development, which is a systematic approach for developing the English language for ELL students. Spending this time with staff reaffirms just how dedicated they are and how they value each week of instruction. Taking these couple of days away from students only makes teachers stronger upon their return which is a true investment in our future. 

Another example demonstrating these “between” weeks, are not any more important than other weeks would be the time I see invested by our teachers with our families or incoming families. I was able to participate in several meetings this past week that occurred early in the morning, during team planning times, or at the end of a long school day. Each of these times are times taken away from the classroom or possibly time from students, but our parents are a vital role in what we do at Sigler and if our teachers continue to invest in them, they are investing in their students. Popping in on Kindergarten Round-Up this past week proved yet again, just how much our teachers and staff value time with parents, or in this case, in-coming parents. With just under 50 “to-be” KN students already enrolled, the future is bright for these young boys and girls. 

Lastly, on Friday I was able to spend some time with teachers and staff during their grade level planning meetings. For teachers in grades 3-5, the obvious talking points would be to address testing and what happens before, during and after. Yes, these conversations need to happen, but our teachers in these grades are just as passionate about educating their students today as they were on the first day of school. If you do not believe, come check out what they are doing in their classrooms or better yet, come back and check out the blog later this week and I will prove it to you, through some of the pictures I will post of our folks in action. 

Of course, let’s not forget the teachers and staff in other areas of the building. I was able to meet with them as well, and will be finishing up meetings this week. The passion is burning for these teachers as well, as they continue to determine what can be done to prepare their children for the next grade level or school year. Our teachers are constantly thinking one step ahead when it comes to what can be done to help the students within their classrooms ensuring a strong foundation is set for each young student.

So, yes, we are “between” administrations of the STAAR test, but the weeks, between do not define the staff and teachers at Sigler Elementary. What defines this staff is how hard they work all year long and just how much they have to offer the students at Sigler Elementary. 

Keep pushing through, keep moving ahead! 

I know you are not counting, so I will share this number with you only; 39 days of school remain. 

Make it a TRRFCC week Sigler Elementary!

“Like” us on Facebook – Click Here
“Follow” us on Twitter – Click Here – @SiglerStars
Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary