In the spirit of this Thanksgiving week, this post is dedicated to those things for which I am presently most grateful for. Each picture included in the post is worth a thousand words… to me, anyway, as they represent my immense gratitude! I am stealing George Couros’s weekly email format: I will be writing about something “Personal, Professional, and Profound” this week.
Family. I am grateful for this group of men that I get to call my family. They continue to bring me unending amounts of pride, joy, and yes… frustration. Those areas of frustration – not cleaning up after oneself, not having much to say, and getting caught up in negativity – are far out-weighed by the positives these men bring to my life.
Bill, as always, is both supportive and understanding as I’ve spent more time away from home so that I can be with my parents. Elton’s Kruse Concrete Construction business continues to thrive. Owen is plugging away at his electrical apprenticeship, balancing weeks of work at Mohrfeld Electric with a week here-and-there in class. Oh, and he has jury duty this month! Emmett is kicking off the second trimester of his senior year and his final wrestling season. He has decided not to cut weight this season (praise the Lord!) and may wrestle at 160 pounds, as compared to 126 pounds last year. Perhaps his six-foot height has contributed to the healthy weight gain!
In the education world, things continue to be tough. Our students are not the same students we had before 2020. They are displaying more frequent challenging behaviors. Despite this, we have educators at FMCSD (and everywhere!) who are working incredibly hard to meet the needs of our students.
Fellow instructional coach, Becky Morey, and I have been working with our high school English department to build knowledge around effective literacy instruction as we prepare to adopt a new curriculum for the 23-24 school year. In a recent session with this four-member team, we worked on developing an understanding around the three ELA instructional shifts. We relied on Achieve the Core’s website for resources to develop this understanding. I’m confident Natalie Wexler would be proud of our work! Her November 19 Forbes article is yet another worthwhile read.
Since this session, the team has reviewed a curriculum selection document from EdReports and developed their own document from it. We have taken a peek at the first of five curriculums that we will be reviewing for adoption, and we have a clear timeline for future steps.
Two weeks ago, fellow instructional coach, Jenny Herriman and I spent a day with two new fourth grade teachers as they took a deeper dive into the EL Education curriculum. Both Shana and Katey were engaged, inquisitive, and open to learning and improvement for the benefit of our students. At the end of the day, they shared thoughts like, “I see how important the connection is between ALL Block and Modules,” and “It is so important that we give students the opportunity to talk so that they can process and take ownership of their learning.”
One week ago, our 5th grade team hosted a Fiesta for the 5th graders, celebrating all they have learned in their first ELA Module, “Stories of Human Rights.” Students participated in a “Mexican Dice” game, made maracas, enjoyed Mexican food, and watched a Mexican Fiesta dance, performed by fellow classmates. What a great day of learning!
On Friday afternoon, 180 educators from across the country came together in a Zoom meeting to discuss the implications of Emily Hanford and Christopher Peak’s six-part podcast series, Sold a Story. Their investigative reporting continues to unveil the cause(s) of our nation’s literacy status.
Melissa & Lori, podcast hosts of Melissa and Lori Love Literacy, worked with the Right to Read’s cofounder, Margaret Goldberg, to bring 180 educators together, on a late Friday afternoon, to get it (literacy instruction) right. So much to be grateful for here, including making new connections with Papae Wymore and K.C. Hansen. Papae made it clear that at William Penn University, higher ed is making the leap to better-prepare our teacher candidates. Have I mentioned that there is much to be grateful for???
Speaking of things to be grateful for, the following pictures truly are worth a thousand words! On September 29 of this year, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. I wrote about it here: Authenticity. The following PET scan revealed the extent of the invasive melanoma: all black spots, minus the brain and bladder, indicate cancer. We’ve been reeling from this news, but have resolved that we’re not gonna’ quit.
The following picture, worth 10,000 words, strengthens our resolve to not quit. On Tuesday of this past week, Mom went to Iowa City for a second PET scan to check the status of the cancer. Dr. Mo, Mom’s “supremely confident” oncologist declared that the brief immunotherapy treatment is working: 95% of the cancer is gone. The refrain from both Mom and my brother, Ross, upon hearing that declaration was a much-repeated, “Holy shit!”
On a personal, professional, and profound level, I am over-the-top grateful. Life will continue to throw its inevitable challenges; this is why I will continue to armor up with positivity at every turn and place my focus in the “right” direction.