Week of March 6, 2017

Dear Staff,

Happy Sunday!  It’s a short week this week, so I hope that you all will be able to use this time to get caught up, reflect and think about the next 53 days (according to my son 🙂 that are left in this school year.  It’s kind of hard to believe that we will only have our students with us for 53 more days, doesn’t seem like a lot to me, and they will go by in the blink of an eye.  When those 53 days are up what will your students walk out of your classroom and remember?  I know as I helped out at the middle school dance production last week the thought crossed my mind that these middle school students will walk out of their dance class and remember this experience always.  I shared with Sara that when I was in middle school I learned how to tinkle (like the Pick Up Stick dance in her show).  It was on a much smaller scale and in PE class that we learned how to do this, but it is something I remember having so much fun doing and still remember all these years later.  Last Wednesday, in staff meeting, one of the reflection questions in the Love and Logic session was who were your favorite teachers and why?  The teachers that came to my mind were the ones who let us do things that were outside the box, were kind and caring, yet had a strong command of the classroom.  My 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Johnson, came to mind.  I remember she always let us do the most amazing hands-on science labs.  We all looked forward to her labs.  She truly let us investigate and experiment for ourselves without telling us what the outcome would be.  One particular experiment comes to mind when my partner and I somehow created a concoction in a beaker with a lid on it.  Whatever we created had some sort of chemical reaction and the lid blew completely off of the beaker and the concoction landed on the ceiling.  I don’t remember that particular lesson, I don’t even remember what we combined to make it happen.  What I do remember is how Mrs. Johnson handled the explosion.  She herself did not explode.  She turned it into a teachable moment and we as a class discussed why this happened and the science behind it.  What could have been turned into a very embarrassing situation for two middle school students was handled in a way where the class learned from us (what not to do! ) and our dignity remained in tact.  She helped us save face in front of our peers, which is huge in middle school.  We walked out of her classroom feeling like scientist, not two students who messed up and were in trouble.  I will never forget her for that!  The Choice Literacy article below tells a similar story of creating classroom rituals.  I hope you will use these next 53 days helping students make memories that they will carry with them forever.  Have a fantastic week!


Secret Handshake

You have to trust someone before you can have rituals with them.
Rachel Klein

I am observing in Gigi McAllister’s fourth-grade classroom early in the year. Hannah and Cara are special guests for morning meeting – girls from a fifth-grade class who have come to teach Gigi’s students the secret handshake.

Gigi describes how a few students in last year’s class developed the handshake on their own and taught it to everyone in the class. The handshake was something kids did daily at random times. It is a quick but elaborate mix of fist bumps, high-fives, low-fives, and jellyfishes.

Gigi explains,“This handshake is only for students who have been in this class. Just think – someday when you are in sixth grade and you meet up with one of my students, you can share the handshake. Heck, in 40 years you might run into someone in Walmart who was my student too, and you can know for sure when you do the handshake.”

There is much laughter and concentration as students move through the meeting area, testing and perfecting the handshake among themselves. The energy and sense of fun is potent. The scene makes me think of what rituals any classroom has, and how few might be unique to that classroom. Yet those are what you’ll remember in 40 years when you are in the local grocery store reminiscing about a favorite teacher or class.

Teachers are famous for borrowing freely (and sharing generously) their best new ideas. Every class includes so many routines learned from others. There is not much that is uniquely ours. Yet those quirky rituals are what are remembered most fondly, not the routines students experience year after year. What’s the “secret handshake” in your room? What will students be carrying away that they remember as uniquely yours 40 years from now?
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy


Monday, March 6th
Walker to Huntersville Oaks
Tuesday, March 7th
AdvancEd Accreditation QAR Visit
Love and Logic Parent Session w/ Marianne – 8:30 a.m. in MS
Parent Advisory 7:30 p.m. at HS
Wednesday, March 8th
AdvancEd Accreditation QAR Visit
4th Grade to JA Biztown
K-12 Staff Meeting  at HS after school (Accreditation Results)
Girl Rising Documentary Showing – MS Gym – 6:00p.m.
Thursday, March 9th
7th Grade SLC’s
Teacher Workday – No School for Students
Friday, March 10th
Teacher Workday – No School for Students

Upcoming Dates
Mar 14 – 6th Grade Butterfly Project
Mar 15 – K-7 Staff Meeting MS Black Box
Mar 17 – 3rd Grade Charlotte Symphony
Mar 17 – 7th Grade Asia Day
March 25 – CSD Auction
Week of March 20th – EOG Pre-testing and Data Analysis to be completed by 3/27/16
Week of Mar 27 – 5th Grade Operas
Week of March 27 – EOG Review and Prep Begins
Mar 29 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
Week of April 3 – 5th Grade Operas
April 7 – 16 – Spring Break
April 17 – Classes Resume
May 11th – Last Day of 6/7 Branch Electives
May 15th – Last Day of 6/7 Arts Electives

Upcoming “BIG” Dates:
May 12-13 – Staff Retreat
Week of May 15 – EOG’s
May 30 – State of the School Address
May 31 – Last Day of School
June 1-2 – Teacher Workdays

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