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The World is Flat

Posted by: | March 22, 2009 | No Comment |

More evidence the world is flat.
You’ve heard me talk about calling the help desk for a computer problem and talking to someone in the Phillipines, well here is another example closer to home. Sunday morning early is usually reserved for reading the paper while drinking a vanilla latte’. This morning my paper wasn’t here so I called the circulation desk to report it. When I finally was able to talk to a person they filed my complaint and credited my account. I knew the man had a foreign accent so I asked him where he was and he replied ” the Phillippines.”
Amazing, we live 20 minutes from Macon and when I don’t receive a paper I report it to someone in the Phillippines. Definitely a case of outsourcing the job somewhere for less money but the key fact is that we’re all connected. We need to make sure our students can deal with all this connectivity. We can’t shy away thinking it will go away, if anything there are higher levels of connectivity that I’m sure we’ll experience in the future.
Get ready, the world is becoming flatter by the minute.

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March

Posted by: | March 9, 2009 | No Comment |

As we transition from the chill of winter to the warmth of spring, the month of March brings us a multitude of activities at Tattnall Square Academy. Mr. Collins, the new Headmaster, will be on campus several days each week in March and we look forward to working with him during this time. Several of our Lower School students were honored by the Macon Exchange Club essay contest. First place and $75 went to Will Trevitt. Second place and $50 went to Taylor Stevenson and third place and $25 went to Abigail Deese. Great Job!!

Our standardized testing begins March 16th. These are not the high pressure, high stakes type of tests many of our friends and colleagues endure elsewhere but in combination with other tools they do provide us a snapshot of our academic progress. As always, encourage your children to do their very best.

Our Open House is Thursday March 19th at 7:00 in the Media Center. This will be a great opportunity to bring in prospective families to talk to Mr. Collins and also learn about the tuition discounts and incentives. We hope to have a big crowd. Be sure to check out the digital billboard on Zebulon road advertising the Open House.

I am constantly impressed with our students, faculty and parents. Whether it’s the sixth graders taking time to read to our Kindergarten or our faculty pulling together to put on a fantastic Spring musical you can tell we are certainly dedicated to excellence. March is busy but we are never too busy to talk to you. Feel free to call if you have questions, ideas or concerns. Enjoy the month.

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Welcome to 2009

Posted by: | February 12, 2009 | No Comment |

The months of January and February bring winter’s chill along with a multitude of activities . We have already had a Geography bee winner, fourth grader Riley Roberts and runnerup Will Trevitt, and a Spelling Bee winner Kaytlin Thompson and runnerup Thomas Humphries. We’ve also hosted a very successful Open House with over thirty families in attendance. Our new website is up and running at http://www.tattnall.org/, if you haven’t checked it out, I encourage you to do so.

The current economic climate has certainly been a source of concern for all of us, teachers and parents alike. However we are confident better economic times are also on the horizon. These unsure times call for a re-dedication of our belief that we can and will make a difference. The faculty and administration are committed to the future of your children. Together we will work and have faith that God will guide our every action.

Once again, I look forward to seeing you on campus in 2009 and please call if I can answer any questions that you might have.

As partners in the education of your child, we can all achieve success.

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Happy New Year

Posted by: | December 26, 2008 | No Comment |

The month of December is extra special . Our Holiday traditions such as the Lower School Musical, the Band Concert and especially Kid’s Yule Love ensure that Christmas spirit is in abundance.

The season also brings us more great news.

Mrs. Christie guidance program for Lower School this year is called ” Giraffe Heroes”. Heroes are people who “stick their necks out for the common good of others.” They traveled to giraffe country to learn about heroes and read “Stan and Bea’s Tall Tales.” Our third grade students created illustrations for the stories they read and their drawings were selected by the National Giraffe Heroes Organization to be featured on their website. The illustrations will bring to life these tales to students all across the world. Stop by the elementary school building to see Tattnall’s own giraffes! These students have been recognized for “sticking their necks out” and their pictures are located outside Mrs. Christie’s office and also on the second floor.

Also, Mrs. Laura Green, 5th grade teacher, submitted a recipe that was selected to be served in the dining halls at University of Georgia to over 8000 students. The recipe was her now famous Chicken Parmesan. Mrs. Green was a guest of honor along with the other recipe winners and was treated to a sampling of all the recipes in Athens. Her Chicken Parmesan will be served in the UGA dining halls this year and next. Laura’s daughter Whitley is a freshman at UGA.

You can read more about these stories by clicking on the links above.

December brings to a close a great first semester. Much has been achieved but as always there is more to be accomplished. We look forward to our lasting partnership with you, the parents, as we continue to guide our students towards achievement and success.

I look forward to seeing you in 2009 for what will truly be an outstanding year. From my true family at home and also my family at school, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Great News

Posted by: | November 14, 2008 | No Comment |

I hope your year is going well and you are looking forward to a learning filled November and December.

Several weeks ago we applied for a grant through the Foundation for Innovative Teaching. The grant is given yearly to one elementary school, one middle school and one high school that are members of the GISA. This includes not only the schools we compete against interscholastically but also independent schools that compete in GHSA. The grant rewards innovative teaching which the Foundation defines as ” containing original and innovative ideas and involving significant numbers of students. The proposal should also have an impact which continues over time.”

Tuesday, November 11th, we were notified that our proposal for the creation of an “Outdoor Living Laboratory” had been awarded the $1000.00 grant as this year’s elementary winner. We are very excited not only about the opportunities this will provide for all of our lower school students but to be selected from such an elite pool of independent schools from all over the state is also very rewarding .

Past winners can be viewed at this website-http://www.gisa-schools.org/tch_grant1000_pastwinners.asp

This project was the brainchild of a collaborative Lower School with many of us contributing to the final plan. The plan for a garden” laboratory” will begin to take shape in the coming weeks and more information will be forthcoming but I wanted to share this great news with all of you.

The holiday season is fast approaching and that is definitely an extra special time with the K-5 presentation of Thanksgiving at chapel, November 19th, the Lower School Christmas Musical December 4th, the Band Concert December 11th, and Kids Yule Love December 12th, just to name a few of the upcoming events. I encourage you to join us at these traditional events as we demonstrate our true Christmas spirit. Thanks for being a part of our academic community.

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Collaboration

Posted by: | October 31, 2008 | No Comment |

I hope your year is off to a terrific start. Excitement is in abundance at as we move towards the end of the first quarter. October and November promise to be full of learning centered activities in all the classrooms with many other events, such as the Fall Festival, scheduled as well.

I recently spent three days in South Carolina as part of a peer accreditation review team. The peer reviews occur every five years and basically we recommend based on our visit, to approve or deny the school’s application for accreditation. The five person team consisted of two from Georgia, two from South Carolina and one from North Carolina. The team reviews the school’s improvement plan, operating procedures and vision for the future. A byproduct of this visit is the ability to discuss independent education with experienced and qualified educators who are part of the review team. Brainstorming solutions to common problems was a definite highlight of the trip for me. Listening to administrators from other schools discuss issues such as finances, student learning and discipline to name a few was both enlightening and informative.

Everyone was in agreement, independent schools face similar problems but by working together we can and do make a significant difference in the lives of our students. Collaboration is definitely an important component of a 21st century education. Effective schools collaborate internally teacher to teacher but also externally with other schools.

I returned enthusiastic about our faculty and what we have accomplished to this point but even more energized about what we will achieve in the future. Our goal is to be partners with you in the education of your children. We will encounter the daily trials and tribulations of school life, but we will remain enthusiastically committed to our students and their success.

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Becoming Aware

Posted by: | September 26, 2008 | No Comment |

Becoming Aware

Fall has arrived and with it comes the early morning crispness in the air. Of course in my climate, low 60’s this time of year is considered cool and crisp. Fall though for me, has always been a breakpoint to look back on past accomplishments and look ahead towards the future and what we want to make of it.

Six weeks into this new combination job I inherited, Lower School Principal/ Academic Coordinator K-12, I have advanced to the second stage of awareness. I now know most of what I don’t know. That’s an improvement from those first weeks when everything seemed to come out of left field with no prior warning. Letters that had to be written, policies that need to be implemented and problems that needed immediate solutions, no time to sit and think just make it happen. Now I’ve become aware of what to plan for, not that you can plan for everything, but it’s nice to be able to anticipate which direction my world is spinning. We still deal with the daily trials and tribulations of every day school life but they can be managed effectively because I’m learning what to expect. More importantly the faculty has become more familiar with what I expect of them. Competent people fear change because when it occurs it makes them feel incompetent for a period of time and no one likes that feeling. However, I’m also confident in the knowledge that it is a choice to remain in the state of incompetence. I choose to move on, and eagerly anticipate the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. The future holds more awareness but also more technology implemented in the classroom. We will also prioritize curriculum mapping which communicates our vision and teaching more with the end goals in mind.

This journey is very similar to the hero’s journey in literature. Before they can master the new world, they must deal with adversity but once they conquer adversity they find themselves masters, or at least competent, in both worlds.

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Habits of the mind

Posted by: | August 1, 2008 | No Comment |

Be a solutionist

“Persist and you shall succeed” was a saying I heard early and often in my educational career and this habit of the mind was of paramount importance to me. Whether it was my parents or teachers early in life or my colleagues later in life, modeling the behavior, I became a disciple of persistence. This quality provided me with the ability to search for alternative solutions and not become flustered when the initial strategy was unsuccessful. I learned early on in education you not only may need plan B but C, D and sometimes E.

As I began focusing on this blog entry I realized examples of persistence and the lack of it are everywhere. A good portion of my time during the summer involves creating the schedule for the middle and high school. Persistence is required to deal with the multitude of elective choices, teacher preferences and graduation requirements, all which play key roles in the endless puzzle. However, persistence guides me to the completion of this task each and every summer. On the other end of the spectrum, teachers who dismiss technology as something that isn’t necessary and couldn’t possibly enhance their instruction could be an example of a lack of persistence. They have tried it, encountered obstacles and seem to have surrendered to mediocrity. Yet they expect their students to continue the effort and” give it your best.” Does the teacher work through daily problems or do they become disconcerted when obstacles to learning enter the classroom? Teachers, and parents, must continually model persistence for it to carry over to our students.

Persistence is a higher level skill that must first be observed, then taught and reinforced through problem solving activities. Teaching students to persist requires teaching them to understand. Students need to be active participants in the learning process and this requires our instruction to include relevant, engaging performance tasks which sometimes necessitate thinking outside the realm of the textbook. Simplicity resides in most texts, for true understanding we must teach outside the text and that requires the persistence on the part of teachers to find solutions for whatever obstacles they encounter. We want our students to be able to do this also, find alternative solutions to problems, and become solutionists.

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Standards

Posted by: | July 21, 2008 | No Comment |
Targets and Guidelines
Webster defines a standard as “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.” Standards, by my definition, are guidelines, models and meant to be used as  a foundation for instructional design. By utilizing standards in this way, teachers become less reliant on outdated material, have a clear and current view of the objectives for their course and still have the flexibility to adapt their instructional planning to the needs of their students. However, as the federal government has become more involved in the direction of public schools with NCLB, the standards and the tests that follow, have been overemphasized to the point of frustration.
The standards based tests have become the ultimate high stakes chip in the assessment of students and their schools. The test scores allow for unfair and unequal comparisons of student to student and school to school. An ‘A’ student can fail the exit exam and be held back or required to attend summer school for “remediation” despite the fact that they can explain, interpret and apply what they’ve learned in school.

This over reliance on summative assessment is the ultimate example of the assumption “works well in theory.” However, in reality this practice leaves much to be desired. This square peg into a square box mentality hinders a teacher’s ability to adapt to an ever changing classroom environment. Some teachers are amazed that of the 25 students in their class, there are varied learning styles each requiring different methodology.  How will they cover all the material for he end of the year tests? What will determine the pace at which they move from concept to concept in their class? Hopefully it’s not a pacing guide provided by state officials dictating that they cover this on this specific date. It should consist of two interrelated factors. How well you have taught the material and more importantly the proficiency level of the students, how well they understand the concept. When our students are on chapter four and we’ve paced ahead to chapter seven to cover the material, how can we justify this to the students left behind? Coverage never equals understanding.

Teachers must have the ability to teach to the needs of their students and this responsibilty should be enhanced not hindered by the standards and high stakes tests. 
 
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There are certain perks for teachers that don’t include, for most of us , finances. The summer is definitely one of my favorite perks for being in education and not for the reasons some may think. No,  the three main reasons I went into education weren’t June, July and August. Even if it was,  we all know we are not afforded that time anyway. School starts in early August and most of the good teachers use the summer to plan and reenergize. I know I do. Creating the schedule is an arduous, puzzling task but I can still make do on four day weeks which allows me enough other time to shall we say “ideate.” That’s the word I use to come up with new plans or ideas to try and make our educational situation better. Sometimes we have to move away from the forest before we can see the trees.

Does your summer break benefit the way you teach? 

under: Summer learning
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