Wednesday, March 30, 2016

EUREKA HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: More photographs from the Charlotte's Web trip


Students at Eureka Heights Elementary School recently attended the play, "Charlotte's Web."


Here are photographs from a recent second grade parenting session at Eureka Heights Elementary School.

TOMMIE SAYLOR: Correcting mistakes is an important part of an educator's life

“I have found no greater satisfaction than achieving success through honest dealing and strict adherence to the view that, for you to gain, those you deal with should gain as well.”
Alan Greenspan

By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

Someone placed an article written by Michael Linsin, published on February 7, 2015, in my mailbox.  I do not know who placed this article in my mailbox that contained many underlined passages and stared sections, for this individual passed the article to me anonymously. 

Personally, I place very little stock into anything done anonymously.  If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to “stand up” and let your convictions be known, then your convictions must not be very strong. If your convictions are not very strong, then why should I take them any more seriously than you?  If you ain’t got the guts to put your name on it, I don’t want to hear it.

Nevertheless, this article argues – and I might add, very weakly –that teachers should not give students choices. They should give them consequences.  It goes on to say that giving students choices instead of consequences jeopardizes the student’s future. It can “lead them away from success, not toward it.” 

This article not only fails on a couple of very primal factors, it also stands as evidence that any “bonehead” can write an article and get it published on the web. That does not make it credible, researched, or authentic. 

This article does not take into consideration the bias of the instructor. If a student is not given a fair and equal opportunity as every other student in class, then it is the administrator’s job to step in and “level the playing field.”  If a student is being targeted by an instructor, has a physical disability and the instructor refuses to make accommodations (one can’t expect a student with a broken writing hand to write a two-page report in one, short class period), or is publicly humiliated by the instructor, then it is the administrator’s job to step in and take action.  This has nothing to do with “letting the student off the hook.” It has everything to do with ensuring that every student is treated with dignity and respect, and receives a fair opportunity to a high quality education.

The author of this article also fails to understand that the instructor controls the choices, not the student. 

“Johnny, it is your choice. Either you choose to sit down and complete your work, or you are making the choice of being sent to the office (or ISS) with a disciplinary referral.” 

The instructor is not screaming at the student, not trying to embarrass the student, just informing the student what will happen if they refuse to comply.  This technique is research-based by dozens of educational experts, does not strip the student’s sense of pride or self-esteem and is a very powerful tool for the teacher. The parents are informed that their student had a choice, and he/she did not choose wisely.

I have never been accused of being “soft” on students.  But at the same time, I believe in being fair and honest.  If an adult makes a mistake, then we have the opportunity to model the behavior we want our students to emulate by admitting the mistake and then fixing the mistake. 

If a student makes a mistake, I believe in giving the student this same opportunity.  Sometimes the mistake will require disciplinary measures, regardless of how the student chooses to fix it. But at least the student is learning that in life there are consequences for actions, and that people are more understanding if you admit to it and accept the consequences.  When one owns up to their mistakes, those who sit in judgment have a tendency toward leniency. 

The purpose of discipline is to teach the perpetrator to never again commit an offensive act. When a person accepts responsibility, then half the lesson has already been learned and leniency is warranted.

According to the article, students should be met with discipline that is immediate and severe, paying no attention to circumstances, conditions, lessons that have been taught or injustices. With this I cannot disagree more, for if you believe that student misconduct should be met with swift, harsh, unyielding consequences (retribution), then maybe you should rethink your career choice.

Perhaps the Department of Corrections may be more suited to your liking.
As for the rest of us, we expect students to make mistakes. We want students to make mistakes. That is how you learn,

Discipline without heart is just cruelty. Schools are not in the business of forcing absolute compliance through ruthlessness. We are in the business of educating and preparing today’s youth for the real world.  Part of this is helping students to learn how to deal with conflict, and how to work through stressful situations without resorting to violence or misconduct. 

We want to teach students how to be responsible for their own actions. We want to teach them that “coming clean” when you do something wrong is by far better than trying to lie or covering up the incident.  When a student makes a mistake, when they violate the Code of Conduct, a true educator looks at the situation as a learning opportunity. 

Those who believe in absolute adherence and takes the opportunity to slam dunk a student for a mistake, is teaching the student that the policy is more important than the student. 

Remember, the focus should be on our students, not on procedures (Robert Eaker). It’s about learning, not about teaching (Richard DuFour).

To the staff member who placed this article in my mailbox, your point has not been proven. You were successful in strengthening my resolve in placing students first.

On another note, do you want me to take your advice? Remember, I’m the one who overlooks the times you come in a few minutes late. When you leave a few minutes early. I’m the guy who who remains silent when you miss some or all of a staff meeting because something “important” has come up. I’m the one who overlooks minor infractions because, in the big picture, they are not really that important.

How and where will you lead them. Making Kennedy the school of choice. Excellence by design.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

FUNDRAISER WILL SUPPORT Foundation for Educational Excellence

The Taylor Public School Foundation for Educational Excellence is sponsoring a fundraiser on Wednesday, April 13.  

Mark this date on your calendar and enjoy an evening out at the Texas Roadhouse. Reservations will be from 3:45 p.m.-10 p.m. at the restaurant, 14660 Pardee, in Taylor.

Show this flyer from your smart phone or print it and take it with you. A 10 percent donation of your total food purchase will be made by Texas Roadhouse to support the Taylor Public Schools "non-budget" project requests and the teacher and principal "mini-grant" requests.    

TAYLOR PARKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL students classroom decorations focus on favorite books

At Taylor Parks Elementary School, students and their teachers decorated their classroom doors with books they love. It was just one more “March is Reading Month” project.  

Taylor Parks’ students love to read!

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL has case of funny bunnies

They have a case of "Funny Bunnies" at McDowell Elementary School.

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL has a reading competition between guests

For "March is Reading Month," two guest readers were invited to McDowell Elementary School to compete in a read off.

It was pretty stiff competition between the “Book Fairy”-reading Love the Baby and Mop Top reading Mop Top.

They circulated through all the classes and then students graphed the results of which class liked which visitor's story the best. It was a tie between the two and the Book Fairy and Mop Top remain good friends!  There were lots of laughs and who knows these two might come back again sometime.

SIXTH GRADE ACADEMY shows plenty of spirit

The students and staff at Sixth Grade Academy had loads of fun during Spirit Week.

SGA had Twin Day, Sports Team Day, Crazy Hair Day and Team T-shirt day. The different teams in the school also competed in Penny Wars.  The team with the most pennies collected at the end of the week won. All the proceeds will be donated to Relay for Life to fight breast cancer.

The week ended with the Spirit Week assembly where the three school teams competed in "Minute to Win It" games. The team coming out on top was Team Extraordinaire.  They will be awarded a pizza party.