Monday, October 10, 2016

Back to the Future...

Not only one of the classic movies of my generation, Back to the Future can define education in my opinion. If you ever have an opportunity to speak to veteran teachers, you will hear over and over again how educational initiatives are cyclical and that so many of the latest "trends" were concepts used in education back in the 1980's and 1990's. I would argue however that the reason for this feeling is that we all know kids and what kids need, but we keep reinventing the wheel because no one has found the holy grail of education to this point in our history. I had the opportunity to attend a technology summit this week and the key note speaker was amazing. He spent the entire time talking about how we are not utilizing the power of technology and students' own devices to enhance learning. Rather than embracing the opportunities that technology provides us, we tend to look the other way and pretend that it doesn't exist. It's almost that Back to the Future mentality. We want to hold onto the past so much that we can't see the opportunities in front of us. One of my favorite phrases when doing professional development myself is about the growth mindset. Growing and learning does not mean that you are discrediting the past or past practices. It simply means capitalizing on the past and what was learned. If we truly are existing in a state of cyclical evolution, then our education system is doomed forever more. I tend to believe that we are somewhere along the continuum, but attempting to break free of the cyclical behavior and create a new normal. In Rome, we are fortunate to have outstanding educators, veteran and neophyte, that are wanting to think outside the box and bring learning to life for our kids. The one thing we need to avoid though is going Back to the Future. Embrace the opportunity that we have before us. You can't move forward if you are stuck in the past.

NYS Draft Standards

As I have mentioned earlier, the NewYork State Education Department has released draft standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics for the public to review. Also, as part of the process, they are accepting public comment on the draft standards until November 4th. In ELA, one of the most significant changes relates to the learning of our earliest students in grades Pre-K through 2. The State has decided to focus on these grade levels as a result of the feedback received during the first 5 years of the Common Core Learning Standards. For math, one of the biggest additional elements was the creation of a glossary of terms to help those of us who are not math teachers better understand the terminology that our kids are learning. All of these edits to the standards are also bringing about some reform with regard to standardized testing, which I will address down the road as more information there becomes available. Please take a moment to review the draft standards by following the link below and provide the State with your commentary. Now is the time to let your voice be heard.

Ridge Mills HOGS

During recent weeks, the Ridge Mills students and staff have been reading 'The Mouse on a Motorcycle' by Beverly Cleary as part of their One Book, One School month. Combined with this reading project, the school community collected toys and books as part of a community service project. This past week, members of the Erie Canal Chapter of HOGS (Harley Owners Group) visited to school to accept the donations from the Ridge Mills community. The HOGS organization is a local group that raises money and awareness for a variety of great community causes. As a result of this effort, the HOGS will be delivering the toys and books donated by Ridge Mills to the Neighborhood Center. Thank you to the students, staff, and families of Ridge Mills and to the HOGS for collaborating on this valuable learning experience for our children!!

RFA Football Helps Rescue Mission

On Saturday, October 1st, members of the RFA football team spent the day at our local Rescue Mission assisting with a benefit to help raise money for the Rescue Mission. The student athletes spent the day setting up for the event, serving food throughout the benefit, assisted in preparing the food, cleaning the Rescue Mission throughout the day, bussing tables for those that attended, and breaking down all of the special decor for the benefit and resetting the Rescue Mission for their next day's work. Thank you to our players for giving back to our community and thank you to Coach Swavely for providing our boys with opportunity to learn more about community service!