Sunday, October 2, 2016

Reading & Literacy must be our MISSION

As I was reading this weekend, I came across a statistic that disturbed me very much. I discovered that 58% of high school graduates in America never read after they graduate. That statistic shocked me at first, but then the more I thought about it, it truly saddened me. High school graduates are exposed to fiction, non-fiction and informational texts for thousands of hours, so why do they leave school not loving to read? I don't know the answer for certain, but I suspect  it is due in part to the fact they never developed a love for reading.....they read for compliance and to achieve a grade or to memorize information. More than likely, they very seldom read for pleasure. With that said, it is critical that parents and schools work together to foster a love of reading in our kids.

What can parents do?

 Parents can take turns reading aloud with their child. Also, offer incentive programs such as allowing your child to stay up 30 minutes past bedtime if they use the time reading. Additionally, read on the go....which means to play word games while driving by taking turns reading words in the environment such as words and phrases on street signs, billboards and the like. Finally, set a good example and read so your kiddos can see you reading.

What can educators do?

Teachers should share their reading experiences with their students....get excited and let your students see and feel the excitement you have for a book, magazine, short story or blogpost you've read. Teachers and administrators can host a read-a-thon that can serve two purposes.....1. foster the love of reading in your students and 2. raise money for specific campus needs.  Teachers can also have their classes listen to audio books, as it will allow students to free their minds and completely visualize what is being read in a way they haven't done before. Next, allow your students to completely and utterly read for pleasure on occasion. Don't connect the act of reading to ANY assignment...just let your student enjoy and become connected to reading for the joy it brings them. Finally, teachers can and should give students a choice and a voice when it comes to reading selections that will be attached to assignments and grades.

Reading is so very important. Reading develops the mind and helps develop language skills. Reading leads to discovery and it fosters ideas. Reading exposes the reader to new places and allows them to educate themselves on anything and everything they find interesting. Readers experience endless possibilities; they can go anywhere in the world or even out of it if they desire! :-)

Reading and literacy will always be priority at Breckenridge Junior High!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Two Weeks In and We are Building a #BroncoStrong Attitude

It has been a beautiful holiday weekend, but I am so excited about getting back to school tomorrow morning! The past two weeks have been hectic to say the least, but the work at BJH has been rewarding and fulfilling. Great things are happening and the year is just beginning! 

We have begun doing our daily announcements through the use of Google Hangouts. The kids were a bit shy at first, but they are starting to come out of their shells and they are truly starting to ignite their shine!! In addition, two students were given positive behavior referrals this past week. One student was given the positive behavioral referral (PBR) for being a servant leader and the other for being considerate. Each students' smiling faces now adorn our "Wall of Fame", and when I spoke to their parents, I could hear their SMILES through the phone receiver! Finally, we actually won the spirit stick at our first Pep that is #BroncoStrong. 

I would now like to challenge our teachers at Breckenridge JH and BISD for that matter, to be one of the BEST teachers. Like the graphic them where to look, but don't tell them what to see! Let's do this Breckenridge ISD!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why Do We Exist?

We have just finished our first week of the 2016-2017 school year at Breckenridge JH, and what a glorious week it has been! I feel honored and blessed to be working with such amazing staff and leading such awesome kiddos. This year we have re-written our MISSION and VISION statements. Today, I want to talk about our new MISSION statement because it answers the most important question our school can ask itself......WHY DO WE EXIST? So here it is in a beautiful graphic.....drum roll please.........
In an earlier blog post I wrote about collective commitments, well this statement is the most crucial collective commitment our faculty and staff can make. It is our mission at BJH to compel kids to learn, not to simply provide students an opportunity, but to captivate, evoke interest and create a learning environment that is absorbing and irresistible. In addition, we have made a collective commitment to be relentless when it comes to the success of each of our students. We will work tirelessly as it is our MISSION to help each kiddo flourish and be all they aspire to be. The collective commitments we have made around our mission statement is what we are about at BJH and why we are passionate about what we do. No external or internal noise can stop us from achieving our MISSION because we are #BroncoStrong!

Sunday, June 26, 2016


According to Leading Change in Your School by Douglas B. Reeves quality instruction or teaching is the MOST important indicator or element leading to student progress. This video clip from Mr. Holland's Opus has always made me smile. To begin, Mr. Holland admitted to Coach that Lou just wasn't going to make the grade....ultimately, Lou wasn't capable and sadly didn't have what it takes to play an instrument. As a result, Coach called it like it is by telling Mr. Holland he was a "bad teacher". What I love most is what happens next, two people working together and finding a way to make it work. Mr. Holland found his passion and they both relied on perseverance and ultimately they both developed GRIT! Moreover, I truly got a kick out of each and every way Mr. Holland differentiated to make sure Lou "got it"!

This clip reminds me failure is NOT a character trait, but an event which can lead to a growth opportunity. This growth opportunity happened for the student and the TEACHER (love it)! Lou and Mr. Holland both had the opportunity to learn, explore, improve and come out better and stronger because of the initial failure. Each of them revealed a growth mindset which is paramount to education! In education we must never forget there is power in getting a student to believe that failure simply means, "YOU ARE NOT THERE YET!"

Sunday, June 12, 2016

How do we fuel kids' dreams?

This weekend I started reading a manifesto by Seth Godin, Stop Stealing Dreams (what is school for?) and although I am only 50 pages in, it has undoubtedly made me ponder long-standing practices in education. At this point, I would like to share two BIG IDEAS I have gleaned from Godin's manifesto, "take-aways" that have resonated with my educator's soul.

BIG IDEA #1: Public education as we know it was born out of necessity....the industrial revolution and then the ability to mass produce because of interchangeable parts created the need to produce workers who were obedient and could perform efficiently by the ringing of a bell. More to the point, this system lent itself to conformity, the memorization of innumerable facts with the hopes of producing a "competent" citizen. Think about it, desks in rows, limited discussion, working in isolation, sage on the stage or teacher-centered type classrooms. This system of education helped create the "obedient worker" which was a necessity of the 20th century. This school design worked for the era it was established for, but our world has changed. The 21st century has a global economy, a connected world, if you will and memorization and conformity no longer drives our economy. Our kids must be thinkers, doers, problem solvers, collaborators and we must teach them to dream and DREAM BIG. Moreover, we must facilitate learning in a way that they have (and know how to use) the tools and strategies to make their dreams a reality. We must create an environment where it is ok to fail, because our students feel confidant in their ability to re-think, re-organize, re-work, re-invent or completely go back to the drawing board and start again to achieve the outcome they desire. This can only happen when our students feel free to fail because they know we believe in them and it isn't failure, but rather resetting and starting again with more knowledge, strategies and skill the second time around. Thus, they will have what they need to make their dreams a reality.

BIG IDEA #2: I would like to start with a quote from Godin's Stop Stealing Dreams - "Empower kids to adapt or better yet, lead when the world doesn't work out as they hope." This statement resonated in my heart and touched my soul. When we encourage kids to dream big, think big and have AUDACIOUS IDEAS, failure is sometimes a byproduct. With that said, if our kids have consistently heard and felt our boundless optimism regarding their capabilities and they know that the failure they are experiencing is merely a roadblock they must work their way through, they will develop GRIT and grit repeated equals empowerment! 

Godin's manifesto has some great thought provoking points and I recommend educators, parents, kids, school board members......everyone for that matter, should give it a read. Although you may not agree with every point he makes, it will certainly make you think! One thing I do know, is our kids deserve the best....they deserve to DREAM BIG, have AUDACIOUS IDEAS, feel EMPOWERED, develop GRIT and to always know we BELIEVE in them! I think if we can do that, we will certainly help fuel their dreams.

Every Child. Every Day. For a Better Tomorrow.
Breckenridge Junior High School

#stopstealingdreams #BroncoStrong

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

School Culture: A School's Ace In the Hole

School culture as defined by Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker in School Culture Rewired is a school's personality. More specifically it is the sum of its values, practices and procedures that define what it stands for and "who" it is. Ultimately culture determines if the path to improvement is even possible. With that said, taking the time and going through the growing pains of "rewiring" and investing in a healthy culture is truly a school's ACE in the HOLE. In addition, there needs to be a growth mindset and schools must spend time figuring out what they can do to ensure that ALL students learn at high levels. This can be difficult at first because it requires a paradigm shift.....they must first focus on the variables they can control and let go of those they can't. It is difficult for improvement teams to ignore those uncontrollable variables because they are very real and they have very genuine impacts on students learning, but again.....they are NOT within our influence. Here are a few examples:

Uncontrollable Variables: 1. SES 2. State standardized tests 3. Previous schools they've attended
4. Student's current academic level

Controllable Variables: 1. Guaranteed/Viable curriculum 2. Engaging/Research-based instructional strategies 3. Having a warm and welcoming atmosphere in your classroom on a daily basis
4. Being prepared 5. Systems of providing additional time, support and enrichment 6. Recognize and celebrate student success and improvement

School improvement requires an unwavering focus on student learning. When a school's culture makes the necessary collective commitments it takes to the controllable variables and lets go of the uncontrollable variables then a school's culture will absolutely become its ACE in the HOLE!

 Every Child. Every Day. For a Better Tomorrow.