Why So Nervous?

I‘m in Rochester, NY attending the SAANYS conference.  SAANYS is my NYS professional organization for administrators, very similar to NYSUT.  Every year, they have an annual conference around this time.  I’ve been to some, and they always bring in folks from the field to share relevant information and great sponsors and exhibitors.

SAANYS follows me on my twitter feed.  They watched as I presented at the National Association for Elementary Principals conference in Baltimore this past August, following the tweets and reading up on our presentations.  About a month ago, Michelle Hebert emailed me to see if Tony Sinanis and I would be interested in presenting something similar to the SAANYS members.  Sure, why not we both said.  Unfortunately for Tony, he had a family emergency and couldn’t make it, so it’s me!  (She really booked me up too, four presentations around using Twitter and increasing your PLN.) Hence, why so nervous!  (Fortunately, I have some friends helping out today!)

Dave Burgess in his Teach Like A Pirate book states that we, as educators, do not consider ourselves public speakers, but yet, we do this EVERY day in front of our class.  It’s one thing to preach to kids, yet another to adults and peers.  You wonder, “What are they going to say about me, about my presentation?” But why do we feel this way?  I always had a very difficult time turning around and talking to the audience during concerts.  Then one day, during a guest conducting gig in Long Island, I made it a point to turn around and talk to the parents, the adults in the audience.  Mind you, this was a packed auditorium with parents lined up on the side aisles, talk about nerves.  The results were astounding and made for a more personable performance for them and for the kids on stage.  

So, why am I writing this?  Because ALL of you are professionals and you all have something to share.  The most powerful thing for us as a school, team and a learning community is to share what we know and what we do.  So, when I approach you and ask you to share, give it a try and your best.  You all have something great working for you.  What are your tricks?  What engages your students?  Don’t be surprised if I create a Smackdown google sheet for a sharing blitz of strategies and web tools.  Let’s learn and  share  what we know is working. You are the best of the best!  Have a great week!


  • Bus Duty for Oct. 21 – Nov 1 Team 4:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Kathy Buell Oct. 21-Nov 1 Upcoming bus duty Nov 4 – Nov 15  Team 5:  Gina Caldwell, Kate Spriggs, Megan Weldon
  • Mrs. Bushey will or has put out an updated Math PD calendar.  You are all expected to use these days as grade level planning days so make sure that you are meeting  with your WS colleagues.   The expectations is that you sign-up on MLP and call in for sub coverage.  Lori will be updating MLP for these activities and is working to schedule rooms for you to meet.  Charlene knows about these dates.  These days will help you work together as a grade level and work the “kinks” out for upcoming math units.
  • I will be turning around and doing walk through’s again next week, so be ready.
  • The administrative team has set aside dates for 10/22, 10/23 and 10/24 to review the SLO/LLO process.  If you have questions and are not sure of things, I would plan to attend so that you can pose any questions that you may have.  Please see Mrs. French’s email regarding these sessions.  The sessions  start at 3:10p.m. and are being held in room 214F in the MS.
  • My friend Tony Sinanis writes another letter to our NYSED Commissioner
  • Peter DeWitt writes about how to use your community to improve literacy.
  • Carol Burris writes about the Common Core slip here:
  • Please check the East Side Announcement page for updated dates, announcements etc.  Lisa is updating this continually!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
Other Items of Interest
Resources for the Common Core-aligned Regents Exams have just been posted:
  1. ELA 11 resources
  2. A1 resources
  3. The transition memo (the September update)

WCNY’s grand opening is October 30th. Bob the Builder will be there — how about you?Check it out and help cut the ribbon!

Also just posted is the proposed framework for the Regents Research Paper (a Board of Regents item to be considered next week).

Twenty-eight questions you want your students to be able to answer. These might be more important than most of the questions we answer.

Using averages to calculate student grades is a mathematically inappropriate practice – yet we do it all the time. Here are some ideas to help you reconsider the practice.

The Teaching Channel continues to add more and more videos, including math videos for different levels:

Technology itself can’t have an impact on learning, but the manner in which we integrate technology into learning systems and school processes can.

Daniel Goleman explains how the emotional atmosphere matters in classrooms. It matters that students feel calm and safe in the classrooms. There are a number of videos from Edutopia that explain this and other impact of social and emotional intelligence.
Here are the Top Ten components to planning and delivering a Common Core-based math unit – in common: before, during, and after the unit.


If you want to learn what to expect on the PARCC assessments, these blueprintsoffer the most detailed explanation.


One of the most common applications of GoogleDrive in the classroom is for distributing and collecting assignments and work. Here are some tips to avoid some pitfalls.


Rick Wormeli suggests (on page 41) that making classroom decisions that are based on certain principlescan lead to better approaches to learning and teaching.


Re-blast: There are versions of Implementing the Common Core State Standardsfor secondary leaderselementary leaders, and school counselors.
File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer


Although it is generally recognized that the understanding of subject-matter is important to successful teaching (and student learning), definitive research hasn’t materialized. Whether or not a teacher can anticipate student misconceptions and misunderstandings does matter.


Contrast NY’s 80%/75% definition of College & Career Ready with the School Success Rubric. Which do you think is closer to what our students need for their future?


An examination of textbooks over the last century suggests that the texts have not been dumbed-down, refuting a fundamental claim made in the Common Core that students need to be reading more complex texts. These authors maintain that the problem is that students are not proficient reading texts at the current level.


This report from the National Clearinghouse provides data about aggregatedcollege enrollment and persistence.

From The Teaching Channel:

Grade 5 | Social Studies | Reading | CCSS

I just love how Ms. Brouhard uses this lesson to help students not only determine important concepts in a text, but also how she empowers her learners.
All Grades | ELA | Evidence
One way to start good habits of close reading: be sure students have a clear purpose for their reading, something that anchors how they interact with a text.In this video, Ms. Norris shows us how a highlighter — matched with clear purpose — helps students close read.
Grades 9-12 | ELA | Engagement | CCSS
Mr. Wallace invites us into his classroom where wesee how three different exercises help students read closely to construct summaries.
A Touch of Humor
Close to Home

What Great Teachers Do Differently With Stress

stressed out photo: stressed out Stressed_out.gif

Aren’t there days you feel like that cartoon above?  Trying to cope with the amount of work that you have to understand the modules as well as teach the modules is a task that is arduous to say the least.  I am fully aware that most are you are only a day away from the next lesson, working long hours at school or at home to make your lessons fun and engaging as well as trying to change the way material is presented and taught.  

The stress is upon us, and we as adults have to watch what we are doing, saying and how we are modeling ourselves.  I had a discussion with a teacher yesterday and we were saying how easy things can be construed by parents differently than what is actually happening as well as how we also have to monitor what we are saying.  

These are stressful times, but we have to remember that we are here for kids and to help them through this, no matter what.  This is why I said last week to tap into your parents and bring them along, show them what is happening in the curriculum and bring them in to walk them through the work.  Also, take a step back and ask yourself “what does my classroom need to look like, sound like, and feel like.”  Candance Roberts from the Responsive Classroom blog has a great article about reflecting about how we set up our classrooms for our students called “Ask Yourself Why.”  

I am going to share with you, once again, what my friend Todd Whitaker says about teachers being the filters and remind you of “What Great Teachers do Differently:  14 Things that Matter Most.”  (Looks like a good book chat later with the author!)

        Teachers are the filters for the day-to-day reality of school.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our behavior sets the tone.  If students overhear us whining or complaining about something, it may be the talk of the school for days even if it was something minor.  By the same token, if we always approach things in a positive manner, then this is what the students reflect.  The most effective educators understand this and choose their filters carefully.
How Is Your Day Going?
        As educators, we hear this question many times a day.  Our response not only influences how others view us, but also affects the frame of mind of the person who asked.  What’s more, we have choices about how to respond.
        You can smile at a fellow teacher and say, “Things are great!  How about with you?”  Or you can respond, “That Jimmy Wallace is getting on my nerves!” – and all of a sudden Jimmy Wallace is getting on that teacher’s nerves too (whether the teacher knows him or not).
        You may be thinking that you could not do this because you would never lie.  Hmm:  So when the second graders ask if you like the mural they drew, what do you tell them?  How do you answer the question, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?”  Again, it is always up to us to determine what gets through our filters and what does not.

What Great Teachers Do Differently

14 Things That Matter Most
1.  Great teachers never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of the school.
2.   Great teachers establish clear expectations at the start of the year and follow them consistently as the year progresses.
3.   When a student misbehaves, great teachers have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again.
4.   Great teachers have high expectations for students but even higher expectations for themselves.
5.  Great teachers know who is the variable in the classroom:  They are.  Good teachers consistently strive to improve, and they focus on something they can control – their own performance.
6.  Great teacher create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and schools.  They treat every person with respect.  In particular, they understand the power of praise.
7.  Great teachers consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.
8.  Great teachers work hard to keep their relationships in good repair – to avoid personal hurt and to repair any possible damage.
9.  Great teachers have the ability to ignore trivial disturbances and the ability to respond to inappropriate behavior without escalating the situation.
10. Great teachers have a plan and purpose for everything they do.  If things don’t work out the way they had envisioned, they reflect on what they could have done differently and adjust their plans accordingly.
11. Before making any decision or attempting to bring about any change, great teachers ask themselves one central question:  What will the best people think?
12. Great teachers continually ask themselves who is most comfortable and who is least comfortable with each decision they make.  They treat everyone as if they were good.
13.  Great teachers keep standardized testing in perspective; they center on the real issue of student learning.
14.  Great teachers care about their students.  They understand that behaviors and beliefs are tied to emotion, and they understand the power of emotion to jump-start change.

Put this at the forefront of everything you do, every day!  Have a great week!


  • Bus Duty for Oct. 7 – Oct. 18 Team 3:  Jessica Serviss, Teresa Kiechle  Upcoming Bus duty Team 4:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Kathy Buell Oct. 21-Nov 1
  • Our next staff meeting is tomorrow, Monday, Oct. 7 @2:45 in room 31.
  • Don’t forget to sign-up for Oct. 11 Staff Development Day on MLP
  • Please make sure you are checking your emails.
  • Don’t forget to upload your goals to the iObservation program.
  • The administrative team is working to set a date to meet with grade levels to help you with SLO/LLO development per Mrs. French’s email.  We will be back to you for a date.
  • My friend Peter DeWitt asks if class size matters.  Check out what he writes.
  • Check out this blog about having Mindcraft in elementary schools.  Interesting.
  • Who Cares About Kelsey is a great documentary about an at-risk student and how her school brought her along.  Kim Hayes and I watched this our a summer conference and we are getting this to share with staff, as well as Including Samuel.  I wrote about Kelsey in my blog that you can check out here.  
  • Please check the East Side Announcement page for updated dates, announcements etc.  Lisa is updating this continually!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
Other Items of Interest
This memo explains theCDOS Commencement Credential. Here’s a cheat sheet from the RSE-TASC.


The use of formative assessment can be the most significant factor in improving student outcomes. Thesession will focus on what and how teachers can use formative assessment and how to then revise planning. Registration is open for the October 21st session.


As you work on SLOs, don’t forget the lessons we learned from the process; that reflection is posted at theAPPR 2.0 page of the APPR microsite. Additionally, there are new SLO resources on, including revised guidance and examples.

The vast majority of teachers supports the Common Core (but is worried about the resources they will need to implement).

Field Trip
This study identified the concrete benefits to field trips to museums.
This analysis is close to a crosswalk of the 4Cs with the Common Core. And don’t forget NEA’s guide to the 4Cs (from a teacher perspective).

Did you read That Used to Be Us by Thomas Friedman – a book about America, the American Dream, and its future place in the world? No matter your answer, watch Friedman in this video.

A Touch of Humor