Many of you may have followed Randall Munroe’s xkcd comic strip for some time. I’m new to it and really enjoyed it so I decided to share it with you. If you are interested in his work, you can see more of it and learn more about him at http://xkcd.com/. Have fun!
In my first year at McAuliffe, I did what I could to attend every class meeting and as many field trips as possible.
Five years later, there are still a few that I have yet to experience and I look forward to those opportunities.
This week, I joined Andrew’s and Fran’s class on their beach trip. The overnight trips offer a window into what we do, who we are, and why our philosophy is so vitally important in a society that increasingly quantifies learning and growth through standardized assessments.
Watching our students as they work in teams to determine the ideal camping spot, what tools they need to prepare their campsite is truly a sight to see. Parents and staff resist the urge to jump in and help and offer thought provoking questions to the students instead. Holding back isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds but the end result is so worth it! You see the confidence grow in the student’s eyes and hear the satisfaction in their cheers once camp has been set.
This week I saw and heard that. I also saw children engage in spontaneous play. Several students broke away from the group and gathered the few remaining students so that the entire class was quickly playing a game that had few rules and everyone was a winner. There was laughter and joy and lot of happy faces and it occurred to me that community building rich with empathy and candor was happening right in front of me.
Why do we engage in learning beyond the walls of our classrooms? And outside the gates of our school? In addition to the study of hard sciences such oceanography, astronomy, and some of the softer subjects like culinary arts, project management, and environmental studies, students are engaged in higher order levels of critical thinking and problem solving when they are outside and tasked with making connections to the learning and the world around them.
One of the wonderful things about learning is that we can all learn and grow, and learning happens wherever we are…if we are open to the experience. At McAuliffe we foster this idea and model it throughout the year for our student and adult learning community! We believe that this is critical, particularly if we want students to embrace this notion as opposed to the false idea that learning only exists in isolation…in classrooms…in school buildings…but that is a topic for another day.
Today we are reminded of the importance of community building, collaboration, and developing empathy through important works like Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, Duckworth’s Grit/resilience, or Dweck’s Mindsets. And this is work that we have engaged in for 45 years at McAuliffe. We focus on the whole child because we believe this empowers the child to grow and make decisions and to thrive in the world. This work is essential for our children.
The beach trips cause me to slow down and look at the deeper meaning of why we teach children and how I can better support our faculty and students as the principal of this incredible school. It clarifies the value of learning regardless of location and that learning applies to everyone. These trips are a concrete example of personal growth for our students as they become increasingly independent, and continue to develop their own voice and self-confidence while working interdependently with their classmates.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Classic Quotes from the week:
Have you ever heard a catchy phrase that just fits with where you are in life?? I’ve had a few zingers and I wanted to share them with you.
“You can’t build a house without swallowing some dust.” – Mike, a district employee, was digging up the parking lot to find a water leak to patch, when he shared that gem. We’ve all had more than our fair share on this project. It’s coming along and it is going to be fantastic! I can’t wait for it to be done!!
“Right tool for the right job…” – Demi. The wrench on my Leatherman snapped in two while I was trying to remove a nail sticking up in the asphalt. So True!! I laughed for a good five minutes on that one…after I found a better tool and yanked out the nail…
Hopes and Dreams:
The first two days have flown by! With the flurry of activity on campus, please take time to breathe and enjoy the sites and sounds as the new year unfolds.
Last night, I attended the 2nd grade class meetings. It was so nice to see old friends and new faces. Al-Husein caught me off guard when he asked, “What are your hopes and dreams?”
Sometimes being asked a question when you’re off guard is really the best time to answer.
I told him…and the rest of the 2nd grade parents, that my hope this year is that, in addition to taking care of the school, the kids, the parents, and our faculty, that I would also take care of myself.
Countless times, I’ve advised people that it is crucial to have balance in your life and like many, I struggle with that same issue.
So for me “taking care of myself” looks like exercising 3-5 times a week, spending time enjoying my daughter’s first year of high school and rooting for her in her activities. It means reading a few sci-fi books and learning to play my ukulele… at least a song or two. It also means making time to write and reflect on all the good that is happening in my life, and so much of that is due to being a father, having great friends and family, and being part of this wonderful community.
Thanks Al-Husein for giving me a chance to share! I look forward to hearing from you about your Hopes and Dreams! And on that note, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to think about your hopes and dreams for the year for yourself, your family, your child, and for McAuliffe. Share them with one or two people who can follow up with you and help make them a reality!
Thank you PFG!
Our staff was treated to a lunch provided by you, the PFG, on the first day of school! Our community is the best!
Welcome back everyone!
Welcome back from spring break! It’s hard to believe but we only have less than 7 weeks until we break for the summer. There is much to do and see and experience and learn in the weeks ahead! We have overnights, field trips, an art show, a learning day, middle school conferences, exit projects, and so much more!! Hold on to your hats! It’s going to be a wild ride.
Amidst the craziness of May, grab a few moments for yourself. Reflect on the year and just how much your child has grown (physically, emotionally, and as an individual finding their way in this world). What is one thing that they did this year that completely surprised you?
Have a wonderful weekend!
Before the break we announced that with the new kindergarten ratios, Sarah Flanagan’s departure for New York, and our two middle school teachers transitioning to a modified schedule, that we are looking to hire several great people to join our community.
Get the word out!
We are looking for exemplary teachers and Instructional Assistants to support the teaching and learning at McAuliffe. In particular, we are looking for:
One .4 FTE Middle School teacher (part time)
One Kindergarten teacher
Three IA’s (each 15 hours a week)
If you, or someone you, know is interested in any of these positions, please apply at the district office, and email me with the name and position you/they are interested in so I can be sure you/they get an interview.
What does the selection process look like?
In addition to the selective process our district employs, our interviewing process at McAuliffe is very much aligned to our philosophy. Highly collaborative teams comprised of parents, teachers, and the principal ask the candidates questions that are designed specifically to meet the needs of our student population and program.
Where are we so far?
I am happy to announce that the interview teams have selected two outstanding educators. Maria Yoo will join Jackie in one of the middle school positions and Susan Hedgecock will join us to teach 2nd grade. Both candidates impressed the committees with their thoughtful responses and positive energy and we are excited for them to begin at McAuliffe.
Welcome Maria and Sue!!!
Here are messages from them to you:
I am excited to become a part of the McAuliffe community and to team-teach with Jackie next year. I have been teaching in Cupertino for seven years, most recently at Miller. My background is in literature and journalism and my passions are creative writing, reading fantasy books, and training for triathlons. I am a mom of two girls, a kindergartener and a baby. I look forward to sharing my experience and to helping students discover their own passions.
My name is Susan Hedgecock and this is my seventeenth year as a teacher in the Cupertino Union School District. I have taught first, second and fifth grade at Eaton Elementary and before that, fifth/sixth grade ELD at De Vargas Elementary. My degrees are from Northwestern University which is located outside of Chicago, where I was born, and Santa Clara University here in Silicon Valley. Outside of school I enjoy gardening, DIY projects, motorcycle rides with my husband, and my first grandchild. Over the years, I’ve done my best to incorporate choice, inquiry and community building in my classroom and I am over the moon to join the McAuliffe School Community to share, learn and grow with you all.
Containers in the parking lot… what’s happened and what’s next?
Thanks to all of the parents who spent time organizing and packing our common spaces prior to the break. Our summer modernization plan is well underway!
Stage One… Check!
The first stage of moving is now complete. During spring break, 12 storage containers were placed in the faculty lot and the boxes from the PAC, UG, and Big Room were placed into storage.
The rest of the containers (8- 10) will be dropped the week before school gets out. The containers will be placed in the faculty lot and on our blacktop. We recognize that this isn’t ideal. We spent a lot of time looking at options and timelines and determined that this was the best plan of action based on those choices.
Concerns around parking – Check!
One concern about the storage containers was the loss of parking spaces, particularly because we are a commuter school and parent participation is a key element of our program. I’m happy to report that we only lost four parking spots with the temporary addition! The faculty is looking at the current container configuration to see if we can add a few more spaces by parking outside of the lines in the staff lot.
While this modernization is unsightly and a logistical inconvenience, it’s a small price to pay for the exciting upgrades our school will receive this summer!
Congratulations Dave! I’ve been a longtime fan of Story Corps!!
I’m excited to try this new app out and hope to capture the stories of our amazing school community.
This will work wonderfully in conjunction with 1SE. I was inspired by the use of 1 Second Everyday app in the film Chef and hope to capture a snapshot of McAuliffe history using it this year.