Tag Archive for MondayMusings

Freeman Hrabowski at #ASCD13

I knew while hearing Freeman Hrabowski speak at #ASCD13 that his speech would be the one I include in my next Monday Musings post for my staff.  He had such a powerful message that I had to share with them. Here is a cross-posting from my staff memo blog:
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This weekend I got to attend the national ASCD conference in Chicago. I was fortunate to have the chance to attend it with a Press Pass, which got me in for free, but I just had to tweet/blog a lot about that (definitely something I am good at!)  I already have several posts up with more to come. If you’re interested you can find them on my professional blog at principalj.net.

One of the great speakers I heard at this conference was Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.  Hrabowski’s story began as a young boy when he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he has continued his passion to change the story for children and minorities.  He has led his University to change the story for minorities in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

 Hrabowski spoke about  matching high expectations along with the importance of building community among students, helping faculty retool teaching to start where students are and emphasizing collaboration among students, and building trust so that students are comfortable asking for help.  The one skill he wants every student going to college with is the ability to ask good questions.

Some other “nuggets” of wisdom I quickly typed during his presentation include:

  • We must empower children to speak for themselves.
  • Excellence is never an accident, it is a result of sincere effort.
  • Choice, not chance determines your destiny.
  • Many students that would be the first generation to pursue college need to see others do it first. We need to share our stories with them of our struggles and how we got to where we are. We need to share stories of others so they can believe it is possible.
  • It is not cheating when people work together (talked about cooperative learning).
  • We want our children to be passionate about learning.
  • Even when a child loses parents, if there is a teacher who cares, that child will rise to the occasion.
  • Some of our students go through hell. Give them structure and let them know you care about them.
Hrabowksi ended with the powerful quote from Mahatma Gahndi:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”
 
While our school population isn’t as diverse as the schools he spoke of, I couldn’t help but listen to him, thinking of many of our students’ needs and the backgrounds they come from.  Each of you play such an important role in the lives of our students; many of you providing the only structure, kindness, understanding and expectations that they have each day (several of you also providing clothes and snacks). Then you for all that you do for our students each and every day! 
 

Writer’s Block

Here is another cross-post from my staff memo blog that will post tomorrow morning for my “Monday Musings.”
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Writer’s Block
 

While having a mental block of not feeling like I have anything worthy of sharing with you all in a Monday Musings post (because I’ve spent my weekend in a book entirely for pleasure, not thinking of anything school-related) it made me think about our students having writers block, not knowing what they should write about. This immediately led my thoughts to modeling writing for our students in an authentic way, which I learned from Regie Routman. (Unfortunately for the students I taught it was after I already moved into the principal role).

When I taught writing, I modeled the writing process for my students; however, I modeled how to write a piece that I had already previously planned out before.  I had completely gone through the writing process on my own, wrote my piece and then recreated the process in front of them so there was no authentic modeling or thinking out loud of writers actually do as they are trying to think of what to write.  How can our students learn to get through a writing struggle if it is never modeled for them?  In the book Writing Essentials, Regie Routman says, “One of the most powerful ways for students to grow as writers is to watch you write–to observe you plan, think, compose, revise, and edit right in front of them, pretty much off the cuff. Very few of us just write down page after flowing page. Students need to see and hear our in-the-head thinking as we change our mind, ‘mess up,’ make adjustments, do everything ‘real writers’ do.” (page. 45).

So, how can you help model for students that may have writers block? This comes from constantly modeling for them and sharing yourself as a writer with them.  Start with a story…tell students a story that you want to write about.  On page 25, Reige writes to pick a story that:

  • Is easy for students to relate to.
  • Is appropriate to share with students.
  • Is important to me.
  • Lets students know more about me.
  • Allows me to take some risks.

 

Tell students the story you have chosen. Routman writes, “saying the story outloud engages the students, lets me clarify my thinking, and reinforces the importance of conversation before writing.”  Then take that story and model writing it in front of your students.  Write the story just as lively as you told it: include the details, descriptive words, or recreate the conversations you told.

 

As you model this process for students throughout the year, they will continue to make the connection between reading and writing…writing is a way to tell stories for others to read.  They will learn how to use events from their lives or use what they are reading to inspire them to write.

 

Have you written in front of your students before without having planned it? If not…try it. Take the plunge and share your writing struggle with students.

 

(Please note-this post took me about 10 minutes…I opened it only having the idea of writing about writers block and helping our students.  I did not take time to thoroughly plan it out, I just wrote as if I was talking about it.  If I were doing in this in the classroom I would then tell students that I will need to go back to revise/edit later, but this was to just get my ideas out).