On April 26th Ben Gilpin, principal at Warner Elementary School (in Michigan), published 'Visible Growth' to his blog The Colorful Principal. I was especially inspired by the following paragraph from the blog:
“Nine months ago you welcomed students into your room. Some were probably shy, timid or even unsure of what to expect. But what many of you saw was opportunity and potential. We're now entering the final stretch of school and if you think back to what students looked like in September and what they have become I bet you are very proud. Think about what was difficult in the beginning, maybe your kindergarten students couldn't write their name. Maybe your third graders could only add & subtract. Maybe your students had never read a chapter book. When we step back and look at the growth that takes place over the whole year it is substantial."
Too often we get bogged down by what hasn't gone well, what isn't working, what is causing us headaches. Too often we forget to think about all of the good things that happen around us and to us each and every day, we forget to celebrate all of the positive contributions that we've made with our students. We need to relax, slow down, and celebrate the positives.
At a recent staff "meeting," I asked everyone to share one celebration from the year that they were proud of in regards to our school, our students, and/or their teaching. The list below is a compilation of the responses that we heard:
- Really proud of our 2nd and 3rd grade flex teams; the planning that we (teachers) did and the work that the students accomplished.
- The growth of two individual students. A non-walker to start the year is now walking! And a second student did an amazing job during his kindergarten round-up visit!
- Having a discussion about college with a student and helping that student set a goal of going to college.
- It’s become second nature for everyone in the building to see all of the students as “our” kids in relation to their learning. Everyone is willing to contribute to that learning.
- Starting the year with 10 students in the red (not proficient) as a result of their reading accuracy score via FAST (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) and ending the year with zero students in that category.
- Our mindset initiative and all of the best practices that we are implementing to coincide with the coursework/learning that I'm doing in my master's degree program.
- Watching the students embrace their learning and making it fun and motivating.
- Our staff is more positive, and that is spreading.
- We've had a lot of fun teaching writing with the rubric that we created. Students are writing a lot.
- Student advisory teams have made a positive impact on the students.
- A particular student who was anti-writing at the beginning of the year, and now he can't write enough and he is so proud of that accomplishment.
- How excited our kids are to write in kindergarten. They are confident and love that others can read their message.
- Students growing as readers, and the excitement that they have to read and write.
- Teachers did an awesome job of implementing the new procedures for our student-involved conferences.
- Staff and students embracing the ideas and learning that we've done in the area of mindset.
- An initial look at building's unscrubbed reading data from our Iowa Assessments has improved enough for us to believe that our SINA (School in Need of Assistance) label will be moved back to 'delay' status for next year.
- Seeing how excited our students were about 1) meeting a goal that they'd set, and/or 2) the growth that they've made throughout the school year. One student, in particular, after meeting his reading goal, responded by saying," I'm so glad that I go to this school. It is amazing."
And I was able to share the following information with staff...