Thursday, October 25, 2012

Approximately four or five years ago, the faculty and staff of NSE chose Joyce Divinyi's book, Discipline That Works: 5 Simple Steps, as the basis for the "Cricket Way," which says, "Today, I will do my best to be the best.  I will do it the first time.  I will be kind.  I will stay on task.  I can learn.  I will learn.  You see, I know it is all up to me."

I have read through this  book twice since I was named principal of NSE.  While I truly believe that quality instruction and student engagement is central to good behavior in the classroom, I do believe that there are times when we must teach discipline to our boys and girls.

Divinyi's book suggested five simple steps for teachers (and parents) to use with children:

1. Think about the child's feelings
2. Ask the right questions.
3. Teach the child skills
4. Repeat short phrases (rules, commands, procedures, etc...)
5. Focus on the POSITIVE!

Another great philosophy that this book teaches is that everyone goes through emotions, thinking, and action when faced with an emotion.  This is better known as E.T.A.  We teach the boys and girls at NSE that when you get in trouble it is more than likely that you had an emotion (anger, frustration, competition, sadness, etc...), and acted immediately.  The step that was skipped was "thinking."  You got the E before the T and spelled EAT.  This book has great insight as to how to handle negative behavior when it comes to elementary, middle, and high school children.  All of our staff will have a copy of this book and it is a continuous conversation as we work to respond our best to poor choices that students make.

If you would like a copy of this book, please let me (Dr. "H.") know and I will look for resources to get you a copy.

Emotion - Think - Action NOT Emotions - Actions - Think!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our business partners are extremely important to the success of our school.  I can think of a number of examples where certain businesses have helped out our school or our students in a number of ways.

I can think back to the beginning of my time as principal at NSE when Hope Baptist Church contacted me and spoke to me about the backpack program that they support.

I can remember a parent who volunteered time at NSE as an employee at Verizon Wireless.  Verizon ended up writing our school a check for $700 for her time volunteered.  We were able to purchase the flat screen TV for our front office with this money.

This summer Home Depot (Sandhills) donated the materials for us to build the news desk for our NSE TV studio.   Alpine Sales helped us complete the project by donating the top and professionally staining the base of the desk.

There are many stories that we could tell about the help and support that our business partners provide for us on a daily basis.  The businesses that you see to the left have consistently been supporters of NSE. Thank you for your help!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NSE Beliefs

Last school year, we spent a lot of time asking a lot of questions.  We asked questions such as:

1. What are people saying about NSE?
2. What do we want people to be saying about NSE?
3. What is a quality education?
4. What are our strengths?
5. What are our weaknesses?
6. What are our obstacles?
7. What are our threats?

From the information that we gathered, our school design team was able to develop the following shared beliefs:

NSE believes...
...that our students come to us with individual experiences and ideas that form a foundation for learning.
...that our teachers design authentic and purposeful learning experiences for all of our students.
...that our school and community are committed to working together to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.

What's the next step?  In his book, Engaging Students, Phil Schlechty states that, "Once a faculty has settled on a statement of beliefs, especially a statement of what they believe about the role of teachers and students, the next step is to create a picture, image, or story line that indicates what the school would look like if these beliefs were acted on" (p. 59). 
We would love to hear what you think our beliefs look like or would look like when they are acted upon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's Not Just School, It's a Career!

One of the other programs that I am very excited about is our NSE Safety Patrols (NSESP).  Two of our fourth grade teachers, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Powell, have done an outstanding job as the safety patrol coordinators.

The NSESP is responsible for opening car doors in the morning for students as they exit their cars.  One of the reasons for this is to keep students safe.  The second reason is to provide customer service to our parents and students with a friendly smile each day.  The NSESP students always tell the parents to have a great day as they leave.

The NSESP are also strategically placed in the cafeteria to help out with the breakfast line.  The NSESP students help students know where to stop before entering the kitchen to pick up their food.  They greet students with a smile every morning.

Finally, our NSESP also patrol the hallways in the morning saying good morning to their fellow crickets and making sure that the students are walking on the cricket line.  NSESP students are always positive and ask students to do the right thing in a respectful manner.  If a student is not cooperative which is extremely rare, the NSESP student will calmly notify a nearby staff member.

What I value about the NSESP program is that it provides additional safety and security in our building, it gives students responsibility and ownership throughout the building, and we see staff members and students working together to make sure that our day starts on a positive note and ends on positive note.  Thank you to our NSESP and to Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Powell for doing such a phenomenal job!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It has been a while since I have posted, but I have been busy creating a Principal's website that reflects the professional development of our school and the work that students are producing in and out of the classroom.  I am very excited about the work that I am seeing and witnessing throughout the building.  It is fun to listen to or read student comments and reflections about their work.  I also enjoy hearing what the teacher thought about the work.  I know that there is much more quality work going on throughout the NSE building that I have not been able to capture, but I want the website to be another platform for us to have to publish and recognize student work.

Another exciting initiative that I am seeing throughout our building is students generating the ideas for the work.  I am seeing many teachers watching and listening to what their students are talking about in the classroom, in the lunch room, at recess, etc... and designing work around those conversations.  A couple of examples of this is when several students in Mrs. Hethcox's fifth grade class noticed a lot of trash on the playground during recess.  Well, the students took it upon themselves to ask Mrs. Hethcox if they could start a litter club.  Since then, the girls have created a commercial for NSE TV, created an application for students to complete, and have organized students to start picking up litter.  A second example, is when Mrs. Duggan was watching her second grade class eat lunch.  She noticed that when the students were finished they began to make things out of their chicken sandwich wrapper.  It was raining outside and she knew that the students would not be able to go outside for recess.  She asked the students to bring their wrappers back to class.  There the students were able to make whatever they wanted out of their chicken wrapper and write about it (during recess!). This was published outside Mrs. Duggan's door and it caught my eye.

There are many stories that I could tell.  I have tried to capture as many as I can on the Principal's web page. I am excited that I cannot keep up with all of the great things that are going on in the classrooms at NSE.  I am attempting to solicit some help with this by creating a student journal that will tell these stories not only at NSE, but at Summit Parkway Middle School which is our main feeder school.  I am hoping that we will have many students and teachers telling their stories in this professionally designed journal.

I strongly believe that these stories are a result of the reading of Ron Berger's book, An Ethic of Excellence, which all faculty and staff at NSE read this summer, our professional development with Eric White and Lindsey Ott on August 20, 2012, the building of our district's framework over the last several years using the Working on the Work framework, the establishment of our three beliefs here at NSE, and the many conversations that take place everyday in the hallways, design rooms, cafeteria, and scheduled meetings.  We are working to become a true learning organization.

Three Beliefs:

1. Every child comes to us with individual experiences and ideas that form the foundation for learning.
2. Every teacher designs authentic and purposeful learning experiences for all students.
3. School and community are committed to working together to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.