Monday, December 17, 2018

I recently came across this piece of career counseling advice from Jaime Casap who works for Google, “Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, but ask what problems they want to solve.  This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.”

A big part of my job is to ensure students are prepared with the skills to be successful in college, their careers, and life--basically, getting them ready to pursue the future of their choosing.  This preparation starts the first day of kindergarten!  I am part of a steering committee for Wisconsin that is charged with aligning K-12 career programming with the high-skill and high-demand needs of business and industry.  The focus of our last meeting was the topic of “Learnability.”

Why does this matter to elementary parents and students?  Learnability is the desire and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges throughout one’s life.  With the availability of information on the internet, we need to teach our children strategies to acquire new information and to problem solve independently.  This may take the form of being able to read, observe and listen critically, ask questions, learn through experimentation, infer, collaborating, and think systematically. 

Sound difficult?  Fortunately, our curriculum at Belleville Elementary is positioned to do just this.  We have previously featured our literacy curriculum in newsletters which lends itself to inferring, analyzing, and writing critically.  However, in this blog, I’d like to feature the problem solving, experimentation, and reasoning that is involved in our Project Lead the Way units.

Project Lead the Way Units at Belleville Elementary

4K:  Exposure to STEM
Structure and Function: Exploring Design
Pushes and Pulls
Structure and Function: Human Body
Animals and Algorithms

1st Grade
Light and Sound
Light: Observing the Sun, Moon, and Stars
Animal Adaptations
Animated Storytelling

2nd Grade 
Properties of Matter
Form and Function
The Changing Earth
Grids and Games

3rd Grade 
Stability and Motion: Science of Flight
Stability and Motion: Forces and Flight Variation of Traits
Programming Patterns

4th Grade 
Energy: Collisions
Energy: Conversion
Input/Output: Human Brain
Input/Output: Computer Systems

5th Grade 
VEX IQ Robot Design Kit
Infection: Detection
Infection: Modeling and Simulation

6th Grade
Design & Modeling
App Creators

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The "Why" of my blog

I am a person of few words and usually straight to the point, so blogging is definitely outside of my comfort zone.  I would rather do things than talk about them.  However, I have decided to use this blog as an opportunity to reflect and be thankful for the opportunities that I have been given in my career.

My career has provided me with a wide range of opportunities and networks which I have found invaluable in my work with teachers, parents, students, and businesses.  I have been a teacher in a Lutheran school and public setting, teaching grades 4, 5, 6, and 8.  I was fortunate to have been trained in Reading Recovery and served as a Title I teacher.  My network grew larger when I became a language arts coordinator, principal, and superintendent.

The one thing I learned through the years was the value of servant leadership.  It didn't matter whether I was a teacher or superintendent, the opportunity to serve students and parents was first and foremost.  It is the reason my job exists.

After many years of working in a diverse, high-poverty school, I embraced the challenge of becoming a superintendent in medium-sized Wisconsin school district.  Much was learned about legislation, working with politicians, developing budgets, future planning, career development, and managing resources.  It was challenging, fulfilling, and exhilarating!  However, I missed working directly with kids.  Hence, I accepted a position as the elementary principal in the School District of Belleville, and I have never been happier.  I have also never worked harder!  The concept of servant leadership flooded my existence as I washed lunch tables, tied shoes, dried tears, and helped whomever needed it.  It has been a great change, but has also forces me to re-examine a lot of what I may have taken for granted in my role as superintendent.  More to come!