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Dear Tony

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Dear Tony,

(An open response to a parent who shared some great questions/concerns in the comment section of this blog.)

I want to thank you for sharing your concerns about social media and its potential impact on foundational learning.  When I first read your comment on my blog I was struck by your authenticity and the importance of what you were asking.  My visceral response was to craft a comprehensive (and maybe even eloquent) reply.

In attempting to do so, I quickly realized that I was prioritizing my own answer over your very valid concerns.  If I’m being honest, I think that I was trying to insert my “expertness” (perceived or otherwise) into a reply because I wanted you to be as confident about the learning experiences we are trying to facilitate as I am.  This prompted me to pause.

When our answers become more important than the questions others ask we will have done a disservice to the very nature of learning.  Please know that I will carry your questions and perspective with me to conversations we have as a school about Vision, pedagogy, and student achievement.  Most importantly, I will never lose sight of the hopes, dreams, and expectations that parents have for their children and their children’s schools.

One day many of our children will have social media accounts of their own.  I can only hope that the modeling that you, Tony, have done by showing integrity, inquisitiveness, and concern in your original blog comment to me helps our kids understand the potential value of social media and other important communication tools.

I believe that the questions you’ve asked should also be part of a larger conversation about the nature of foundational learning.  For this reason I’m inviting others to join us in the conversation.  If at any point you’d like to connect directly please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail.

Sincerely,

Brad

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NERF N-Strike Leadership

NERF PIC

This entire summer my family reveled in an epic Super-Soaker adventure outside, so I’ve been wondering how to continue the fun during the upcoming winter months.  At a recent trip to the toy store I was elated to hear my kids wanted to spend their allowance money on NERF foam dart toys.

When it came down to selecting our toys I opted for the Elite NERF Strongarm featuring 6 dart “slamfire” technology.  (Did I mention the Strongarm fires up to 75 feet?!)

My three children selected NERF N-Strike Nite Finder EX-3s.   I’m fairly confident their decision was based on the light-beam targeting systems that were included.  I’m less sure that they understood the toll their selections would take on our battery supply at home.  I was also skeptical that the light-beams were anything more than a gimmick.  Unbeknownst to me, the light-beams actually came in rather handy while we were doing some friendly target practice at the kitchen table.  There was one point when the lights were dimmed and I could see with great clarity where each of my kids was aiming.  In fact, they repeatedly connected with more targets than I did despite my raining darts in the vicinity of the target area.

That’s when it hit me; we can learn a lot from toys.  Focus matters.  Precision makes a difference.  The health, safety, and welfare of students is always our number one priority, and part of my job as principal also involves balancing several different elements including student learning, budgeting, professional development, building climate, staffing, supervision, facilities, delivering on district initiatives, and communications.  However, a laser like focus on a few key priorities can yield a rather effective result.

Just like my own children’s toys, when we approach our work with “light-beam targeting” everyone else knows what our goals are.  Furthermore, they know where to aim too!  This year at Greenwood Elementary we have three strategic priorities that were developed in a collaborative manner at our team’s data retreat this summer:

1.)    Student Achievement: We will focus on achievement in Reading and Math and develop a site Q-Comp SMART goal in the area of reading.  Teachers will use research based practices to ensure students are clear on their learning targets in reading and math.

2.)    Relationships and Community: We will focus on building relationships and connecting to our students, families, and each other.  It’s intuitive to the professionals in our classrooms and research supports it…RELATIONSHIPS MATTER!

3.)    Meaningful Technology Integration: We will focus on how to harness the power and potential of the iPad and other technology to support student learning.  Moodle will be utilized to support our efforts in this area.

Our professional development will strategically align with the priorities above.  We’ll be focusing on what we see as difference makers for our school.  Whether you call it N-Strike Leadership or a light-beam focus, we’re ready for a GREAT school year!

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