Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's and Football

There's nothing like fall... and football! There's all sorts of ways to help build school spirit, but I would say school events rank among the best. At my high school, Football Friday Night serves as a major draw for the community, staff, and students to all come together and cheer on our team! There's a student section that is coordinated by seniors with a theme for every game. How fun!

"Are you coming to my game tonight?" or "Did you see me make __ play?" ... those are the questions of the day to me regularly. I do my best to attend as many events as I possibly can throughout the year. Not only do I go to support my students that participate but to show that we are a team (even for those who are cheering with me). Students notice when you come. For some, you may be the only one there cheering them on. For others, you may be the first person outside of their family to show them support. It means a lot to them... and to me. I have always preached that I am not just in teaching for curriculum's sake, but I am in education to teach beyond the walls of my classroom.

Even thought it is hard in our busy lives to go to the sporting events, attend the school musical, sit in on a club... it shows compassion and caring. Students notice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

House System

Last year, my school started what we call the House System. The student body was randomly divided into one of eight houses consisting of students across grade levels. Also, let's just say statistics were involved in an attempt to also divide amongst GPA, athletes, art, etc. to maintain a equitable balance. There's about 150 students per House. In addition to dividing the student body, staff also got split into the Houses with the goal that there was a staff member from each discipline in every House (some Houses had more). This means that we have about 10-12 teachers in each House as well.

SO... what is so special about it?

#1 - Time
We meet every day for 30 minutes. Four houses meet in one grouping while four eat lunch, then we all switch. It helps with overcrowding in the cafeteria too... an added bonus!

#2 - The general schedule:
Monday - Announcements via School News and other general messages
Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday - FLEX Days - Students get to pick which room they go to in our House (Community, Technology, Group Study, Quiet Study, etc.) Any students with D's or F's go to Student Support where they get more individualized mentoring from a House teacher and student mentors that have applied. Students on IEP's or 504's get to meet with their Case Managers.
Friday - House Day - Games, events, socials, team-building, clubs

#3 - Class Officers and Student Council
Each class has an officer in each House, so there are 8 from each grade level. Student Council has a similar breakdown. These elected student leadership meet once a month to do their specific tasks and once a month with the administration as a task force. These meetings usually fall on every-other Friday.

#4 - Clubs
You heard it right... we traditionally DO NOT have after school clubs. The only after school activities are usually sports, arts, or class leadership. Thus, every student in our school is in a club. Clubs range from table tennis, to movie club, to National Honor Society, to board games, to STEMgirls, and more... there's at least 50 or more... all led by staff!

#5 - Opportunities
My House is one that directly links with the special education department. Hence, my House room consists of regular education students interacting regularly with special education students - playing games, talking, etc. Nothing has melted my heart more. A big ole football player playing a matching game with a student who has Downs Syndrome... or a group of girls talking with a student who has Autism about his love of movies. It is so very rare to have this interaction, and I have seen a tremendous impact on all of us as a result. There is no difference - we are all the same.

Yes, the House System has seen its ups and downs. However, now that we are into Year #2, I am confident that it will only continue to evolve and benefit kids. After all, we strive to Do what is best for kids. All the time. No matter what.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Spirit Week!

It's Homecoming Week, so we are in full spirit mode! Our daily themes are {drum roll}...

Monday - College Spirit Day
Tuesday - Ugly Sweater Day
Wednesday - Powder Puff / House Spirit Day
Thursday - Pajama Day
Friday - School Spirit Day

The teachers, in my department especially, get REALLY into spirit week! We absolutely love to get involved, and the students get a big kick out of seeing us all dressed up too! 

Does your school have Spirit Week? If so, what are your themes!?


Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Teacher Day!

"Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth." - Helen Caldicott

Thursday, October 4, 2012


To all of the teachers out there... you truly are a hero!