Friday, September 20, 2013

Parents-Talk to your Kids!

This summer I had a goal of trying to improve my professional knowledge and continuing to increase my professional learning network.  Twitter has been an awesome resource for me and throughout the past couple months I have learned more from conversations on Twitter than I have in the past 5 years combined.  Many of my favorite chats, #ksed, #iaedchat, #aledchat, #edchat, #arkedchat are all great conversations and the things I have learned from each of those have been awesome!  This past week I was fortunate to be involved in #edleadchat and the topic was Balance.  How do you balance work, family and your personal life.  Many times as an adult we get wrapped up in all that we are doing at work, what are our problems, what so and so is doing or not doing we forget that our children exist too.  I many times find myself at home constantly checking my phone for emails, twitter updates, etc, and at times I have to stop myself and think-What am I missing out on?  I have 2 young children and a wife at home that need my attention also.  Kassi, my wife, works out of the home and she stays with my 2 beautiful children, Kennadi-4 and Maxxwell who is 2.  We sometimes forget about them.  

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is talk to you kids.  Not by email.  Not by text message, facebook, or twitter.  I mean really talk to your kids.  Make time each night to sit down and discuss things with your children.  Don't just ask them how their day was, because many times you get the answer of-Fine.  This should not be the end of the conversation.  Below is a great article I found written by a social worker(Kate R.) from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

10 things each Parent should talk to their kid about

Over my 13 years working as a school social worker (wow, that makes me feel a little bit old!) and my 9 years as a parent, I have come up with a list of 10 things that all parents really need to talk about with their kids. Yes, there are probably more than 10 conversations you need to have with your child over the course of their lifetime, but these are the biggies. Some of these topics will be a one-time thing, but many of them should be more on-going. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Believe in Yourself

Self confidence might be the most important factor in life success and overall happiness. And no, I am not talking about the overconfident trash-talking kid (or coworker!) that we all know and love. Kids need to be able to recognize their talents and positive qualities. They need your help to discover these things. Take the time to tell them how proud you are. Point out their positive qualities. Tell them that you believe in them. This will help them to explore, take risks, and find success.

2. Appreciate What you Have

Whether you are super wealthy or barely getting by, it is important to remind your kids to be grateful for what they have. My husband does a great job of pointing out the little things to our kids all the time. Warm pajamas, healthy food, bikes, great teachers, helpful neighbors, the ability to walk: all of these things are so easy to take for granted. Help your kids notice the little things. Having an attitude of gratitude is contagious and makes you appreciate the little things.

3. Be Nice

While this may sound overly simple, it’s a great way to live. I love wearing my “be nice” shirt. We even have a “be nice” sign on our wall at home. It matters how you treat others. Be nice to your siblings, be nice to your friends, and be nice to your parents. If you are nice to others, they will be nice to you. How…nice!

4. Be Safe

Regardless of your stance on guns, as soon as your kids start going to other people’s houses, you need to talk to them about gun safety. Lots of people have guns in their homes and lots of people do not have them locked up. It is hard for children to understand how dangerous guns are. Tell them (more than once!) what they should do if one of their friends wants to show them a gun. Go through different “what if?” situations.
Teach them from a young age to listen to that little voice in their head. Tell them, “if something is telling you this doesn’t seem right, listen.” The same is true for alcohol, cigarettes, and a myriad of other scary and dangerous things. It is important that your kids know what is acceptable and what is not and that you will always be proud of them for doing the right thing. Make sure kids know your phone number and address!

5. Your Body Belongs to You

This one really ties in with the previous message about safety. While there are some discussions in elementary school classrooms about personal safety and good touch/bad touch, it’s not enough. Parents need to talk to kids about this, too. Both boys and girls need to understand that their bodies are private and belong to them.

6. Winning is not That Important

We live in a competitive society. And let’s be honest, everyone likes to win more than they like to lose. But winning isn’t the only point of competition. It breaks my heart to see kids in my son’s little league division (ages 9 and 10) already smashing bats on the ground, chucking gloves, and crying over a strike out or a loss. Allow your kids lose at games and competitions (yes, I know that sounds mean) and teach them how to be a good sport. Praise hard work, effort, and not throwing a fit when they lose. Oh, and be a good example yourself!

7. Stand up for What You Know is Right

Teach your child to listen to that little voice in his or her head that tells them whether something is a good idea. And teach them to stick up for others who are being mistreated. One of my proudest mom moments was when my 5-year-old daughter saw some kids being mean to her friend at the park and she marched right over to them, said, “You leave my friend alone!” and took her friend over to another part of the playground. Do the right thing. Always.

8. Choose Good Friends

This is a tough one. Once your kids enter elementary school, they start to navigate the surprisingly tricky social world of childhood friendships. I encourage my kids to have a lot of different friends. While having a best friend sounds like a great idea, it’s really not when kids are young. Being completely wrapped up in one individual isn’t very healthy. If your child has a friend who they are getting into trouble with, try to get them to understand how that might not be good for them. The more you can talk your kids through those situations (rather than telling them who they should and should not be friends with), the better off they will be in the long run (hopefully!).

9. Be Creative, Go Outside, Get Dirty

It sickens me to hear how many hours kids spend in front screens. Video games have become a full time job for so many. While I enjoy playing the Wii as much as anyone (though my husband said I am about to be cut off because of my language when I play Mario Kart!), have limits. Take a family walk or a bike ride. Have a picnic at the park. Let your kids play in the mud. Plant a garden. Go catch frogs. Finger paint. You get the idea. Again, you have to set a good example for this.

10. Do What You Can to Make Things Better in the World

While you shouldn’t expect your kids to be raising thousands of dollars for charity or volunteering every weekend, it’s never too early to plant the seed of doing good in the world. If you give your kids allowance, have them save part of it in a giving jar. Offer to help a neighbor pull weeds. Pay it forward at the drive thru. Stop to help someone who has dropped something. Again, when your kids see you doing good for others, they will do the same.

One big thing that I got out of the #edleadchat was someone talked about taking a day off to spend with family. Educators-could you imagine?  Take a day off?  
Parents please take these things to heart and talk to your kids.  Kids are so precious and very influential.  What they see they will do, What they hear they will say.  TALK, TALK, TALK!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Many Faces

Disciplinarian, Counselor, Friend, Co-worker, Curriculum Specialist, Communicator, Supervisor, Parent, Dad, Husband, Teacher, Mentor, Coach, Leader, Learner, Observer-Shall I keep going?

As a Lead Learner in my building I have learned one thing in my 4 years-I have become a man of many faces.  We as leaders wear different hats and many times we may have to switch hats within a meeting or as we walk into a classroom or even walk down the hall.  I have the awesome responsibility to change it when I go home too(Those are my favorite faces-Dad, Husband).

As I reflect on how many times I am torn in different directions I begin to think about how our students deal with things they do each and every day and the many faces that walk our halls.  Do you think these questions apply to our kids?  Many times we don't realize how important we are to these kids and the difference we can make in their lives.  What does it mean for that kid to see someone greet them at the door and say, "Good Morning, how are you today?"  "It's so good to have you hear today!"  What faces do you see as you walk the halls---Do you think that many of our kids are asking questions like these to themselves every day.

How can you make a difference today?

I am only one person, with one mind, one soul, one heart.. but I have many faces.. Can you tell them apart?
Many say I have the face of an angel..strong and wise.. Look a little closer.. Can you see the devil in my eyes?
In the morning when I awake.. I look in the mirror and ask myself.. Which face shall I wear today?
For I have many faces..

Do you see a girl torn between who she is and who she wants to be?
Do you see a kid who tries their best?
A child who hides her fears, holds in all her tears?
Do you see a friend? A lover?
Do you wish to seek and discover?
Do you see the child inside?
Do you see my wild side?
Do you see me as a writer? A delighter?
Do you see me as an employee? Future interior designer?

Do you see my rage? I feel like the true me has been locked in a cage..
Can you see my confusion?  Is this life just an illiusion?
Can you see my dreams?
Can you hear my screams?

Do you see my pain? I feel as if I am standing on the outside, looking in.. afraid of what may come..
Yet still thru each trial, I hold my head up an smile.. Acknowledge my prides..
Tell myself if I can make it thru today.. tomorrow will be o’kay..

So many faces… longing for embraces..
Now open your eyes.. look at me and tell me.. Who do you see?

                             by Kathleen Ross

Each and every day we have the opportunity to brighten a day.  Take the challenge to say hi to a kid, smile at someone, hug your children, tell your spouse you appreciate them.  Take advantage because you never know when you someday may get a phone call from that student thanking you for the help you gave them.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

MTSS and Why its right for our Kids

This past week I had the opportunity to present with an outstanding group of administrators from #Basehorlinwoodschools at the Kansas MTSS(Multi-Tiered System of Supports) conference in Wichita.  The presentation was titled "What's best for our kids".  We talked about the process that we as a district had gone through and where we were at in the process.  --Special thanks to @ftwiedmann for all his guidance throughout the process.

MTSS is a system that is put in place with interventions to help students improve in a certain area. As a district we chose reading.  We looked at our scores, students, curriculum, etc and decided as a group that Reading needed to be a focus as we move forward.  At BLHS we(Building Level Team) look specifically at Vocabulary and Comprehension.  That is what was right for OUR kids.

It's sad many times to see adults that can't read.  They read something and then have no idea what they just read.  They don't understand simple vocabulary, therefore cannot put sentences/words together to make sense of what they are reading.  

The MTSS process-a complicated one--if nothing else has done one thing to the leaders in our district---It has FORCED us to take an honest reflection at ourselves and look at what's best for OUR kids.  We are not worrying about just having the highest test scores, highest ACT(don't get me wrong we put alot of focus on those) but we are looking at what the kid in the middle is scoring-Are all kids being successful?

****As a teacher each day change your view from ----I taught the kids, they should know it.          

 TO--How should I teach EVERY kid so they CAN know it!!

MTSS is a good answer and I am excited to see where it takes our kids in the future.



**Also a few other follows from Basehor Linwood School  @blhsathletics, @sherryreeves19, @dhoward32

Dates to Remember in Bobcat Land
Sept. 20-No School
     Basehor Linwood Ed Foundation Golf Tournament

Sept. 21st-ACT Test

Sept. 26th--Homecoming Parade
Sept. 27th--Homecoming vs. Lansing