School Spirit and Pride!

It’s been the BEST first week of school ever at LME!  Talking with learners, classroom leaders, parents, community members, volunteers, and others, I hear the same compliment.  While I wish I could take credit for this, it’s the learning community at large, our entire Team Miller, who ensure we get everything moving in the BEST direction as we begin a new school year.

Several of our students (and staff members) participated early this morning in the Panther Pep Rally on WFAA’s Daybreak Show from 5:00-7:00 a.m.  I just checked; some of us are gonna need a little nap before the first big game starts tonight.  Thanks for “blue-ing out” the arena so early with your enthusiasm!

We celebrated the end of our first week with a special Miller Team Huddle talking about Random Acts of Kindness as the fifth in our Miller Essential 5 this year.  I shared a couple of personal stories involving situations where I experienced the kindness of another and then how I made the choice to pay it forward later.  Ms. Daniell talked about our Miller KC Club and Mrs. Stanley shared about Rachel’s Challenge—both initiatives are near and dear to our Miller hearts (more coming about these later).  We also awarded our first Miller All-Stars for the year and hope to appoint our first MVP in the coming weeks as well.

Several of the MHS Varsity Panther football players then joined us for Friday Story Time.  Even after an early morning full of activity for these young men, they joined us with great smiles and enthusiasm while sharing stories with our youngest readers.  Here is Mrs. Samek (3rd grade teacher) with some of the guys before they left (she knows the one to her left the best since he’s her son, Cody).  We greatly appreciate the outstanding academic example they set for our learners and the valuable time they give to us (even on important game days!).

As I was humorously reminded yesterday by a dear mentor of mine, “you’re birthing a new school year, so take time this weekend to rest from your labors.”  Here’s hoping everyone takes time for rest and reflection; enJOY this long weekend!  🙂

A 21st Century Story Time…

My office phone rings in a rare moment when I’m actually at my desk approving purchases for classroom materials.  The teacher says, “Mrs. Van, I have some amazing readers to send your way!  Do you have a few minutes to visit with them?”  Of course, I’m beyond excited to divert my attention to this important venture and wait by my door to see who’s coming.  Imagine my surprise when a group of learners appear with…wait for it…not “real” books, but their e-readers to share with me!  We begin a lovely conversation about the stories they are sharing, asking and answering questions, sharing illustrations, and talking in general about their work.  One child in particular summed it up this way:

Child:  “I’m a better reader now because of technology!”

Me:  “How come?”

Child:  “While I like ‘real’ books, my e-reader makes me smarter.”

Me:  “How does the e-reader make you smarter?”

Child:  “It gets bigger and smaller, has many chapters, and I can carry lots of books at once in my backpack!  Also, I think you need to tell your boss everyone needs one of these in school.”  (Please consider yourself on notice, Dr. Stewart!)  🙂

Story time definitely looks differently in the 21st century.  While I adore technology and engaging our learners in the latest equipment (because they always teach it to me), I still enJOY picking up a “real” book to share with learners.  Whether your family uses e-readers or “real” books, thanks for spending quality time building strong lifelong readers, writers, and all-around successful learners by talking and reading together!  Happy reading, LME!

A telling of time…

Day #2…great TIME and attention are given to establishing routine daily expectations. I simply adore the TIME of day when I escape my administrative responsibilities and do a favorite activity I call walkabout.  During walkabout, there are numerous opportunities to visit with learners, watch them present or talk in groups, share ideas, ask questions about their learning, or just simply sit quietly to enjoy TIME in a classroom.  During my visits this morning, a fourth grade friend shared her tale of learning about telling TIME at her house:  “Mom took away our digital clocks and we only had the ‘regular’ clock with hands and numbers, but not those fancy numbers you see on some clocks.  Every TIME I answered a question right about what TIME it was, mom added TIME to our special TIME together before bed TIME.  Since this is the only TIME I have with mom, I worked hard to be sure I could get extra TIME with her.”  At this point, I have tears while thinking to myself I sure hope my own children didn’t always feel they needed an timed appointment with me to spend TIME with me.  My point is, it’s critical to make TIME to spend with our children; we get so busy in the bustle of the day, this becomes a challenge for all families!

Being your child’s first and most important teacher, you know the importance of teaching TIME  and TIME management.  I asked some of our parents who always do it all so well—work, volunteer at school, run a successful household, manage growing families, serve the community, take care of aging parents (and the list just grows)—to give some of their suggestions:

  • Routines, routines, routines!
  • Laugh and play together–sports, take an interesting class, family game night, etc.
  • Do a “no electronic devices” night each week so we talk and share stories or activities together.
  • We have mandatory family supper together every night, no matter what’s on the schedule.
  • Do household chores together; cook meals together.
  • Having everyone is the car is great time with my kids (they are trapped) and we talk—no devices allowed.
  • Participate in school and community events while doing kind deeds for others.
  • Read together daily.
  • Leave special notes for each child (lunch box, backpack, textbook) to show you’re thinking about them (I saw several yesterday during all six lunch times).

TIME spent with our children is vital to their healthy development in all areas.  I appreciate these parents sharing their special ways of spending TIME with their families.  What other telling time ideas can you think of now?  🙂

Note:  We have 84% of our families who completed their first day online enrollment information!  Thanks to everyone!  You have until Friday, August 31st to enter data.  If you need assistance, please call the front office; we are happy to help!  Also, we sent home a Van Am Safety Gram reminder today.  Thanks for another great day at LME this first week!

First Day Fabulousness!

What a glorious start to our school year today . . . thanks to ALL involved!  From the smiles off the buses to the cars dropping off to our first Team Miller Rally and Huddle this morning, much was accomplished.  We are grateful to Mrs. LaRue Miller and Mrs. Brenda Folsom for joining us once again to greet learners and parents as we started our day.  Special thanks to our PTO Board for sponsoring our annual BooHoo/Yahoo Back-To-School Breakfast Social for everyone.  The scrumptious snacks and reassuring conversations made a great start for our new and returning families to Miller!

Since Every Day Is Game Day at LME this year, we started the day with an all-school rally/huddle in order to lay foundations for our expectations this coming year.  We introduced staff members in our building (and will continue doing this all week) so learners can place a face and name together.  I shared our Miller Essential 5:

  1. Be a strong listener everyday.
  2. Show respect to everyone and everything at all times (by words and actions).
  3. Be honest no matter what.
  4. Always use your best manners.
  5. Surprise others with random acts of kindness.

These five essential expectations are the foundation for learners and leaders as we work together to be our personal BEST every single day.  We talked at length today about being a strong listener with a rousing game of Simon Says (there’s nothing quite like 540+ playing it at the same time either!).  I put Mrs. Bass on the spot at one point, but she rebounded (as she always does) quite eloquently!  🙂

We will have a Team Miller Rally each morning this week to start our day as part of our positive practice in action series, working up to Friday where we award our first ALL-STARS and MVPs!  We plan to do live announcements each Friday during our weekly rally so our All-Stars and MVPs are in front of the entire campus (more to come on this later).

It’s been a fabulous day here at LME; we are truly blessed.  We’re excited about finding the BEST within ourselves while helping others bring out the BEST in themselves!  Join us on our quest to be our BEST!  Welcome back!  🙂

A remarkable Cupp of kindness today…

What a blessed week!  Last night we enJOYed a huge turn-out for our annual Meet the Teacher Night Event.  Thanks to Mrs. Miller (who shook hundreds of hands and gave countless hugs), our PTO, our staff, and our learning community for enthusiastically embracing another campus tradition to get our year going strong.

Our PTO spoiled us this morning with a scrumptious breakfast as we completed small group meetings before our opening MISD Convocation this afternoon.  With the theme of Opening Doors and Windows for the 21st Century Learner, MISD staff members were treated to outstanding presentations and motivational talks this afternoon including one by Dr. Eric Cupp.

Known across Texas as one of the state’s most dynamic and effective speakers, Dr. Cupp is famous for his effective work with children from all walks of life, but in particular, sharing his extraordinary message with those struggling the most.  Simply noted:  Dr. Cupp does not believe there are bad children, only bad choices.  His key to success is a touchstone of hope while teaching children (and adults) how to take responsibility for bad choices in order to turn them into good choices.

Through my years in MISD, I’ve had the privilege to listen and visit with Dr. Cupp on several topics including:  student conflict (it is normal), how it is cool to be different, why it is OKAY to walk away, how to best avoid escalations, how we always have choices in life, what integrity is and how to keep it, the strong value of education, how to believe in yourself when no one else does, how to rise above circumstances and situations, how to not be a victim, and today’s challenge about crumbled dollar bills.  His powerful analogies and true stories bring the vision of what can be to the HEART of what one believes.  After all, if you can see the invisible, you can do the impossible . . . so get suited up and let the big yellows roll as we ring Mrs. Miller’s school bell the first day because . . . Every Day Is Game Day, LME!  Go Team Miller! 🙂

As posted earlier this month, don’t forget to complete the online forms. We will have laptops available to assist parents on Friday, August 24 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. in the front office. Join us if you need some help or just a quiet place to do your parent homework! 🙂

Van Am Gram

In a continuing and determined effort to truly “go green,” exciting news exploded today in Midlothian ISD…those pages and pages of required school enrollment forms are now available online!  Parents, you have the ability to electronically sign-off on your child’s first-day enrollment packet. In order to begin this online process, you must enter each child’s unique activation code provided in the letters recently mailed home. The online enrollment closes August 31. Click here for more information and to complete the online packet.

Special thanks to the Tech Gurus in MISD for making this convenience possible to everyone!  We will have our LME Computer lab open on Meet The Teacher Night from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. if you need a computer, a quiet place, or some assistance to complete the work.  Let’s get those fingers clicking!  🙂

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Game Day (Opening) for LME Staff!

It was an exciting opening day all around for our staff at LME today!  Our campus Design Team created memorable experiences all morning as we worked our way through daily campus expectations, our book study (Training Camp), planning and sharing ideas, fun drawings and prizes, the Miller Essential 5, and so much more.  Everything from rolling chair dodgeball (to illustrate honesty) to engagement measuring tools were covered in an extensive, meaningful, and fun way.  We hosted our friends from Baxter Elementary in the afternoon for a combined presentation from Mr. Keith Davis and Mr. Randall Harris.  These professional athletes and motivational speakers inspired us with a new game plan, the 2nd Half, Optica (vision), and their all-important, winning “can-d0” attitudes.  As Mr. Davis powerfully notes, “With great effort, education, and excellence, each learner and leader CAN win…you have the power to change lives…you have the gift to give to others through your work everyday!”  Special thanks to Mr. Davis and Mr. Harris for sharing their enthusiasm and dedication today!  Needless to say, we are truly pumped (just see Mrs. Bly and Mrs. Story lifted to new heights) to be our personal BEST today and everyday.  EnJOY these pics and join us on the journey to be the BEST this year because…Every Day Is Game Day at LME!

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The Art of Setting Limits

I had the honor of visiting with a new family to our campus this year.  The parents questioned me on a number of items, but one in particular stands out in my mind, thus, the reason for this post.  Dealing with a child’s misbehavior can be a daunting task on the best of days.  When we, as parents or educators, are faced with undesirable behavior from a child, we have to make a decision about how best to respond to the behavior.  Because we are all human, we often react from our emotions (just ask my own children about this), thus we allow emotion rather than logic to control our initial response.  Sound familiar?

Mrs. Bass, our wonderful assistant principal, and I frequently bounce ideas back and forth when deciding on a natural consequence for a situation.  Now, I’m not saying we always get it right, but we do what we think is best in a given situation based on the information we know (while we ensure it follows the district’s policies concerning the Code of Conduct).  In our experiences as moms and as educators, we both have found how setting limits first is the best way to ensure lifelong learning of positive, responsible behaviors.  It is a powerful tool we use for providing positive discipline for our young learners.  (A friend made our SWAT shirts for this very reason.)

Children like limits on their behaviors; limits give a safe, secure feeling.  There are many ways to go about setting limits, but remember these three things:

  • Setting a limit is not the same as issuing an ultimatum. (Clean your room or you’re grounded for the weekend.).  Limits are not threats; limits offer choices with consequences. (If you clean your room, you can go play with your friends tonight; if you don’t clean your room, you won’t be allowed to go out to play today with friends . . . it’s your choice.)
  • The purpose of setting limits is to teach and not to punish.  Through limits, a child begins to better understand how their actions, positive or negative, result in consequences.  By giving choices and consequences, adults provide a structure for good decision-making.
  • Setting limits is more about listening than talking.  Taking the time to really listen to a child will help the adult to better understand thoughts and feelings.  By listening, we always learn so much more about what’s important so we set more meaningful limits.

Here are five tips to setting limits:

  1. Explain which behavior is inappropriate and be specific.
  2. Explain why the behavior is inappropriate because you cannot assume a child will understand why.
  3. Give reasonable choices with consequences instead of issuing ultimatums; tell the child what the choices are and what the consequences of those choices will be.  Ultimatums lead to power struggles because the child feels forced to do something.  By providing choices with consequences, you are giving the child the power (and responsibility) to decide.  Natural or logical consequences following the child’s action work best as a teaching tool. (You chose to break the lamp in your anger, so you will pay for a new one from your allowance.)
  4. Allow time (what we call wait time in education) so the child has a chance to process and make his/her decision.
  5. Be prepared to enforce your consequences, even when it’s inconvenient.  Setting a limit is meaningless if you do not consistently enforce the consequences you set.  Again, it is important to set reasonable and enforceable consequences (backing yourself into a corner with “no TV for a month” may punish you too!).

Setting limits is a powerful tool for teaching young learners appropriate and acceptable behaviors.  The purpose is not to show who’s the boss, but to give a child respect, gentle guidance, and a strong feeling of responsible security.  There is definitely an art to setting limits…and I’m definitely still learning it!  🙂

Online Forms are here!

Did you know you can take your child’s activation code (sent recently in the mail) and complete those cumbersome first-day packet forms online? It’s fast, easy, and a great way to get your parent “homework” done even before Meet The Teacher Night! If you do not have access to a computer, please call the school office to set up a time to use our system. The A.H. Meadows Library also has a computer lab open for public access. Spread the word; help your friends!