Sunday, December 20, 2015

Remember When You Used to Believe...

'Tis the season for jingle bells, cookies, trees, family, giving, music, snow (sometimes), and oh yes... the jolly old man in the big red suit. Do you remember the day when you used to believe? The season seemed to be filled with anticipation, excitement, and pure happiness about everything. A general positive feeling filled the air and nothing seemed as if it were impossible. Everything was a Christmas miracle. Ironically, this feeling is no different than that time when you thought you could actually make a difference in the world. Do you remember when you used to believe that? Unfortunately too many adults (young and old) stop believing in that as well and that is when negativity and apathy begins to consume our lives.

The reality is that YOU can make a difference. One person can make a large difference in the world. It's all about perspective though. One person may not be able to be THE difference in the world but they certainly can be A difference. Each day in education we make a difference of some kind. You've all heard it before; each day you provide a child with the gift of hope, or even on your worst day you are one of your students' greatest hope. There are many things in our profession that are dictated to us but that doesn't mean we have no control over making a difference or creating our own destiny. So for this holiday season, I'm asking for more people to once again believe in their ability to make a difference. After all, our charge is to serve children and our community. This is a serious responsibility but one that we can certainly achieve our goals with if we simply believe in our ability to affect change in the face of adversity. Channel your inner child and remember what it felt like to believe, and then the smile on your face will lead the way. Happy Holidays everyone and I will see you again in 2016!

Black Knight Kudos ...

Thank you to everyone who is participating in this year's Crazy Attire event to raise money for the Rescue Mission!

Congratulations to Marian Draper for being named All-CNY first team for Cross Country!

Congratulations to all of our musicians for their participation in various performances both in school and around the city during the past few weeks!

This Week at RFA...

12/21 - Boys (v) Bowling vs. Whitesboro
12/21 - Girls (v) Basketball vs. Notre Dame
12/21 - Boys (v) Swimming at Sherburne-Earlville
12/22 - Crazy Attire Day for Students
12/22 - RFA Winter Concert #2, 7:00 pm
12/22 - Girls (v) Volleyball at VVS
12/22 - Boys (v) Wrestling vs.Sherburne-Earlville
12/22 - Boys (v) Basketball at Notre Dame
12/22 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. Ithaca
12/23 - PAJAMA DAY
12/23 - Boys (v) Swimming at South Lewis Central
12/24 - NO SCHOOL
12/25 - NO SCHOOL

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

During the last 2 weeks of 2015, take a moment to think back about the best day or three of teaching that you had this year. What made it the best day of the year for you? Reflect on what you did, what your students did, and what else outside of your control influenced  your day to make it happen? Moving forward, work to incorporate as many of those attributes into your daily routine and be the difference that you want to be.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Judge, Jury, and Executioner...

Almost on a daily basis I see the immediacy needs of our society enacted in both children and adults feeling the need to play the role of Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Technology and social media are wonderful tools and are debate-ably the worlds most meaningful inventions. However, if not used appropriately, can be the worlds most devastating force. There is a phrase that goes something like this; "It took centuries to build an empire but only days to destroy it." This phrase is indicative of our current society's desire to use social media and the internet to make rash judgments about things without truly knowing what's going on. There's a reason why our English teachers and Social Studies teachers are struggling to teach kids about proper/legal citations for writing papers and the concept of freedom of speech. Our children are growing up to 'think' that everything on the internet is accurate and that freedom of speech means you can write or say whatever you want about a topic/person with the protection of the computer screen.

The bigger question I raise is what are we doing about teaching our children compassion in this society of immediacy? You used to hear the phrase, "innocent until proven guilty", frequently in our society. Today, we rush to judgement on people and events because of our thirst for immediacy. We have lost the concept of compassion and have become short sighted enough to forget that we are all human beings. In schools, we actually encourage our students of today to attempt tasks and fail. We encourage risk taking in hopes that students will make a mistake and hence learn from it. As a society though, we have lost that. Our overall sense of compassion and understanding when individuals make a mistake have disappeared in favor of the Judge, Jury, and Executioner lifestyle that many currently live, because this method makes us feel better about ourselves when we see others falling. I hope that it won't be long before our children help us relearn the art of forgiveness and compassion. As a community, let's LISTEN to each other and seek to understand before we make up our minds about what is real and what is fiction.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to the Vex-Robotics team on their victory this past weekend at the Saratoga Springs competition which qualified them for the State Championships.

Congratulations to the ladies indoor track team after being crowned champions at their MVITA Relay Meet #1 over the weekend. Full results can be seen at www.leonetiming.com

Thank you to the Rotary Interact Club for their involvement with providing elementary students with a day of joy this past week at the Fort Stanwix Men's Club event.



This Week at RFA...

12/14 - RFA Winter Concert Performance at Strough Middle School, 8:15 am
12/14 - Boys (v) Bowling at Notre Dame
12/14 - Boys (v) Hockey at CNS
12/14 - Girls (v) Volleyball at Central Valley Academy
12/14 - District Parent Advisory Meeting
12/15 - Boys (v) Bowling at Central Valley Academy
12/15 - Girls (v) Bowling vs. Central Valley Academy
12/15 - Boys (v) Basketball at Baldwinsville
12/15 - Girls (v) Basketball at Whitesboro
12/15 - District Attendance Committee Meeting
12/16 - Select Choir Field Trip to Bethany Gardens
12/16 - Boys (v) Bowling at CNS
12/16 - Girls (v) Bowling at CNS
12/16 - Board of Education Meeting
12/17 - RFA Winter Concert, 7:00 pm
12/17 - Sophomore Seminar on Media/Communications, period 4
12/17 - Boys (v) Swimming at Cooperstown
12/17 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. Whitesboro
12/18 - DWI Awareness Presentation to Seniors, period 8
12/18 - Girls (v) Bowling at Whitesboro
12/18 - Boys (v) Wrestling CSC Tournament at Camden
12/18 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. Watertown
12/18 - Boys (v) Basketball vs. Whitesboro
12/19 - Travel Club hosts Breakfast with Santa, 8:00 am
12/19 - Boys (v) Wrestling CSC Tournament at Camden

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

Over the coming weeks, seek to understand before making judgement. When a student comes to you with a concern or didn't complete their assignment, seek to understand what may be happening in that child's life prior to making judgments. The ensuing conversation may just be the best conversation you've ever had in your life.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Maybe NYSED Got This One Right...

In an era where most educators and parents want to criticize everything, especially those that are decision makers, I have to say, I think NYSED got this one right!! On a daily basis I am finding adults that lack the essential 21st century skills that our decision makers feel our students must possess in order to be productive citizens in the future. In my opinion however, 21st century skills are "soft" in nature, difficult to measure, and not a traditional part of American high school curriculums. To tell you how many emails I receive a day that make me wonder if the adult on the other end has ever sat through an English class would be embarrassing. Electronic communication is a 21st century skill, but where is the education in regard to how to use it? Just because it's an email doesn't mean we have to forget the basic conventions of standard American English, does it? Can we not combine 2 skills into one here?

Typically, all of these "skills" as we are calling them have once upon a time been known as "attributes". You either possess the ability to do them or you don't. We have normally been afraid to try and teach an individual how to improve these skills because that would mean tough conversations and having to tell someone to their face that there is a deficit. But isn't that education? Don't we tell our students in one way or another every day that what they are doing isn't good enough? Shouldn't we expect the same of ourselves? After all, receiving that paper called a teaching certificate doesn't mean we are omnipotent, it means we are legally able to teach kids in a public school setting. Let's not forget that our responsibility to children is to facilitate learning, not dictate content. Our jobs become much more interesting and ironically, easier, if we allow our students to create their learning experiences collaboratively.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Vex Robotics Tournament this weekend. It was a wonderful event and truly highlighted RFA's talents!!

Congratulations to all of our students who participated in the All-State Music Festival over the weekend!!

This Week at RFA...

12/7 - RFA Senior Pictures Due for Yearbook
12/7 - CEAL Field Trip to Gansevoort Elementary
12/7 - Boys (v) Basketball vs. CNS
12/8 - Rotary Interact Club Field Trip to Ft. Stanwix Men's Club
12/8 - Girls (v) Bowling vs. Camden
12/8 - Boys (v) Wrestling at Camden
12/8 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. Thomas R Proctor
12/8 - Boys (v) Hockey at FM
12/9 - SMART Schools Investment Team Meeting
12/9 - Boys (v) Bowling at VVS
12/9 - Girls (v) Basketball vs. Camden
12/10 - Sophomore Seminar, 8th period - Legal Field
12/10 - Boys (v) Swimming vs. Holland Patent
12/10 - Girls (v) Volleyball at Camden
12/11 - Italian Club Dinner @ RFA, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
12/11 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. Corcoran
12/11- Indoor Track at Colgate University
12/11 - Boys (v) Bowling at Camden
12/11 - Girls (v) Basketball at Sherburn Earlville Tournament
12/11 - Boys (v) Wrestling at Poland Central
12/11 - Boys (v) Basketball at Camden
12/12 - Mathletics Competition at Whitesboro
12/12 - VEX Robotics Competition at Saratoga Springs
12/12 - Girls (v) Basketball at Sherburn Earlville Tournament
12/12 - Boys (v) Swimming at Indian River Invitational
Upcoming - 12/19 - RFA Travel Club Pancake Breakfast with Santa, 8:00 - 11:00 am

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

During the next few weeks, choose one of the four 21st century skills that you think you can improve upon easily and make an effort to grow. After a short period of time, assess yourself on your progress by collaborating with a colleague to seek true and honest feedback, Don't be afraid to be different and learn, it's what we do!!