Sunday, January 31, 2016

TEAM: Turn The 'M' Upside Down...

There's that age old saying that there is no 'I' in 'TEAM'. More often than not in today's society we find individuals who are a part of a team making statements like, "I'm just going to do my thing because it's easier." Of course this is the most extreme example, but with all of our teams in life there is an increasing number of people who seem to be in it for themselves rather than the good of the team or for the purpose of the team. I often wonder why there are so many individuals on a team. After all, a great, well functioning team is comprised of individuals who all know their role and execute it well. So this leaves me thinking, the reason that teams become this way and that there are so many 'I's' on a team is leadership. We need to make sure that everyone understands the role and purpose of everything that the team does, then maybe there are less 'I's' and more 'WE's'.

While there is no 'I' in team, we can spell 'WE' by turning that 'M' upside down. As a leader, it is difficult to always remember the little details of the job. Our kids are first, our staff is second. Ourselves, always need to be last. Communication is important because without it, our team falls apart and 'WE' become 'I'. Being a leader presents itself with amazing opportunities and if a team is built, then together they can accomplish anything. When 'WE' know what to expect, understand the purpose, see the goal, and are supported; 'WE' are more willing to be progressive and different. Our kids need and deserve our education system to be creative and fresh. Our schools look and feel way too similar to how the did decades ago. In fact, some of the opportunities and programs our kids had access to decades ago were better than what they have now. Regardless, it's time WE start thinking and operating like teams much more. After all, being a part of a team is usually the top memory that most adults have from their child hood. Why not make your adulthood part of being a team as well.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Thank you to everyone who helped make our Regents week successful!! There were a lot of people involved behind the scenes making the week run smoothly.

Congratulations to all students who were successful in passing a Regents exam last week and moving one step closer towards meeting the graduation requirements!!

Thank you to the Sunshine Club for sponsoring an amazing faculty luncheon on Friday. It was nice to see the group socializing.


This Week at RFA...

2/1 - Start of Marking Period 3
2/1 - Boys (v) Hockey at Syracuse City
2/1 - Boys (v) Bowling Tri-Valley Tournament
2/2 - Education Policy Meeting
2/2 - Girls (v) Basketball at Notre Dame
2/2 - Boys (v) Basketball vs. Notre Dame
2/3 - STASS Meeting
2/3 - PBIS KICKOFF, Period 1
2/3 - Girls (v) Bowling Tri-Valley Tournament
2/3 - Boys (v) Wrestling vs. Whitesboro
2/4 - SBIT Meeting
2/4 - PBIS KICKOFF, Period 2
2/5 - PBIS KICKOFF, Period 3
2/5 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. CNS
2/5 - Girls (v) Basketball vs. New Hartford
2/5 - Boys (v) Basketball at New Hartford
2/6 - VEX Robotics Tournament - Syracuse CSD
2/6 - Winterguard Competition @ Albany
2/6 - Boys (v) Wresting - Section III Class AA
2/6 - Girls (v) Bowling - Section III Tournament
2/7 - Boys (v) Bowling - Section III Tournament

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

During the coming weeks as we start a new semester. Take a minute to truly think about your role on your team and what you can do to improve the team by improving your role and helping others stay within their role. This is one of the most challenging parts of being on a team but history has proven that those that can maintain their roles effectively, usually are the best producing teams!!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Why is it so bad to ask Why?

One day this past week while driving home, while watching the snow flurries fall, I wondered how people of the past figured out weather patterns and what to expect with regard to weather. 500 years ago, human beings were dealing with extreme weather and the changing of the seasons and at one point, people just believed that it was the Gods that controlled these things. At some point in time though, someone had the courage to ask the question, "WHY?" Three little letters that can completely ignite the learning experience and change the world.

If you really think about the world we live in today, all of our luxuries are because an individual asked this simple little question, "why?" Why does it have to be that way? Why did you determine that was the answer? Why do we have to do it that way? So now the question is, why is it so bad to ask the question, "why?" More often than not people become defensive and agitated if you question them about why something is the way it is or why they did something. The word "why" has taken on a negative connotation in today's society and our schools instead of the inquisitive and exploratory purpose that it could have. Asking someone "why" creates deeper thought and forces us to think critically about our decision making. Being asked "why" may just be the ultimate compliment. Perhaps it's time we start thinking that way in education to help our students deepen their thought process instead of taking the word so negatively. Maybe when our students ask us "why", they are interested in learning more about a topic rather than questioning what we are saying. It's time we encourage our kids to ask "why" instead of making them feel that it's bad to ask "why."

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to the girls track team on their victory last week led by Juniors Tekitha Posey-Barry and Kayla Barber each winning 3 events!

Congratulations to Moriah Humiston for setting another school record, this time in the 3000 meters.

Congratulations to Rhapsody for a successful and outstanding performance last week hosting their show choir festival!

Congratulations to the Model Engineering Club for receiving a $500 grant from the Rome Teachers' Federal Credit Union!

This Week at RFA...

1/25 - Girls (v) Bowling at Camden
1/25 - Girls (v) Volleyball at Oneida
1/25 - Girls (v) Basketball vs. VVS
1/26 - Regents Examination in Global History & Geography
1/26 - Regents Examination in Physics
1/26 - Regents Examination in ELA (Common Core)
1/26 - Regents Examination in Geometry (2005 Standards)
1/26 - Boys (v) Bowling vs. Camden
1/26 - Boys (v) Wrestling vs. Whitesboro
1/26 - Boys (v) Basketball at VVS
1/27 - Regents Examination in Living Environment
1/27 - Regents Examination in Chemistry
1/27 - Regents Examination in Comprehensive English
1/27 - Boys (v) Basketball vs. West Genesee
1/27 - Boys (v) Bowling vs. Notre Dame
1/28 - Regents Examination in U.S. History & Government
1/28 - Regents Examination in Earth Science
1/28 - Regents Examination in Geometry (Common Core)
1/28 - Regents Examination in Algebra 1 (Common Core)
1/28 - Jazz Band Elementary School Tour
1/28 - Boys (v) Swimming vs. Cooperstown
1/28 - Boys (v) Wrestling vs. Morrisville-Eaton
1/28 - Girls (v) Volleyball at Whitesboro
1/29 - Regents Examination in Algebra 2/Trigonometry
1/29 - Jazz Band Elementary School Tour
1/29 - Girls (v) Bowling vs. Whitesboro
1/29 - Boys (v) Bowling at Whitesboro
1/29 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. Fayetteville-Manlius
1/29 - Boys (v) Basketball at Whitesboro
1/30 - Rhapsody Collegiate Invitational

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

Spend more time in your classroom challenging your students by asking them "why?" Even when you know and they know that they have an answer correct, ask them "why?" The ensuing thought process and explanation of thought will certainly deepen the student's learning. The more we ask "why" to our students, the more willing they are going to be to ask it themselves as they progress through their academic careers.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I Had A Dream...

Once upon a time, when we all began our careers or started a new position/school, we had dreams. Dreams of what we wanted to accomplish, dreams we wanted to see our students accomplish, dreams we wanted to see our school communities achieve. Throughout my travels though, I have seen more adults tell students that should lower their expectations and downsize their dreams. Unfortunately, I would say that the ratio of adults encouraging students and adults discouraging students is close to 1:1 in my career. I ask, would you be where you are today without someone throughout your educational life encouraging you to pursue your dreams? As with many things in our schools, we need to focus on the positives that are happening and capitalize on them.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream for our country, and while his dream was related to equal rights and oppression, his intended message of having a dream and working tirelessly to achieve it can be applied universally in society. Recently, I have been witness to hard working individuals making some dreams come true. Some of my faculty members have successfully opened a business, I've seen many students begin getting acceptance letters into colleges, and I myself have achieved some goals along the pathway to my dream. Regardless of the circumstance, the message is the same; don't give up and perseverance does pay off. It may not be the ultimate measure of success, but to be able to say, "I had a dream" instead of, "I have a dream" can bring about a tremendous sense of accomplishment. More important than our own dreams though, let's not forget the dreams of Dr. King as we continue to strive to make his dream come true. Achieving our own dreams is admirable, working to help others achieve their dreams transcends all and is the paramount definition of a teacher.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to everyone who assisted in organizing this past weekend's College Goal NY event!

A huge THANK YOU to our custodial staff for keeping our sidewalks and roadways clear throughout the past 2 weeks with the snow and ice we've received.

This Week at RFA...

1/18 - Dr. Martin Luther King Day
1/19 - Discipline and Attendance Committee Meeting
1/19 - Boys (v) Bowling vs. Camden
1/19 - Girls (v) Bowling at Camden
1/19 - Boys (v) Swimming vs. Cooperstown
1/19 - Boys (v) Basketball vs. West Genesee
1/19 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. VVS
1/20 - PBIS Committee Meeting
1/20 - Rhapsody Field Trip
1/20 - Ski Club Trip
1/20 - Boys (v) Bowling vs. CNS
1/20 - Girls (v) Bowling vs. CNS
1/20 - Boys (v) Wrestling vs. Adirondack Central
1/20 - Boys (v) Hockey at Fulton
1/20 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. Oneida
1/20 - Girls (v) Basketball vs. Fayetteville-Manlius
1/20 - Board of Education Meeting
1/21 - SBIT Meeting
1/21 - DASA Task Force Meeting
1/21 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. Central Valley Academy
1/21 - Boys (v) Basketball at Fayetteville-Manlius
1/22 - Boys (v) Bowling vs. Central Valley Academy
1/22 - Girls (v) Bowling at Central Valley Academy
1/22 - Boys (v) Basketball vs. Central Valley Academy
1/22 - Girls (v) Basketball at Central Valley Academy
1/22 - Show Choir Festival at RFA
1/23 - VEX Robotics Competition @ Baldwinsville
1/23 - Boys (v) Swimming vs. Holland Patent
1/23 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. Cazenovia
1/23 - Girls (v) Basketball vs. Canton
1/23 - RFA Winterguard at Sherburne-Earlville
1/23 - SAT Administration at RFA

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

Thinking back on your time as a teacher, have you fulfilled your dreams that you once had coming out of college or when you entered the profession? If you have, that's great!! Time to create a new dream to fulfill. If you haven't, ask yourself why not and what is preventing you from fulfilling your dream? Work on getting yourself back on track to fulfilling that dream, whatever it is.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Are You THAT Teacher...

Recently, I had the opportunity to do a needs assessment survey with my staff which is always an eye opening experience. One of my favorite questions to ask my staff in these surveys is, "What do you remember about your LEAST favorite teacher in school?" Not ironically, the responses were a perfect list of everything that you are asked NOT to do when sitting in professional developments. Also, each time I've done this type of survey, regardless of the staff or school, the responses are the same. When we were students, we didn't enjoy lecture, sarcasm, rigidity, worksheets, playing favorites, bias, and inconsistency. However, fast forward to today and how many classrooms can you think of where these same characteristics can be found?

So, I ask you, are you THAT teacher? When you think about the things that you enjoyed least about school, are you doing anything on that list? Or when you see the items that I listed previously, do you do any of those activities in your classroom that could make you THAT teacher? The reality is, we are all THAT teacher. Unfortunately, there is no perfect recipe for running a classroom where you are every student's favorite teacher. Regardless of how hard we try, there will always be a student who doesn't care for our style or approach. As professionals though, those are the students that we need to listen to the most. This is not to say that we need to change who we are as educators to cater to one individual who may be disengaged, but listening to what may help get them engaged is the minimum that we owe that child. In the end, you may end up adding a trick or two to your bag of instructional practices that could help more than just that one kid. The moral of it all, our students can help us become better professionals if we have the courage to seek honest feedback. Don't be THAT teacher, if you can avoid it.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to Sydnei Ward for being accepted into the Mohawk Valley Community College's Young Entrepreneurs Academy!

Congratulations to Moriah Humiston who broke the RFA 1500 meter indoor track school record with a time of 5:04.95. The previous record was set in 1987.

This Week at RFA...

1/11 - Parent Ads due for the Yearbook
1/11 - District Parent Advisory Council Meeting
1/11 - Boys (v) Basketball vs, Corcoran
1/12 - Boys (v) Wrestling vs. Morrisville-Eaton
1/12 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. Oneida
1/12 - Boys (v) Hockey at Baldwinsville
1/13 - Music Field Trip to Proctor
1/13 - District Leadership Meeting
1/13 - Boys (v) Swimming vs. Cooperstown
1/14 - RFA Teacher Coordinators Meeting
1/14 - Girls (v) Bowling vs. VVS
1/14 - Boys (v) Bowling vs. VVS
1/14 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. Camden
1/15 - Congressional Forum Field Trip - Social Studies
1/15 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. Liverpool
1/15 - Girls (v) Basketball at Oneida
1/15 - Boys (v) Basketball vs. Oneida
1/16 - College Goal NY
1/16 - Rhapsody Performance - RFA
1/16 - Boys (v) Wrestling - CNY Tournament at VVS
1/16 - Boys (v) Swimming Diving Championships

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

Take a risk in the coming weeks in your classroom as the semester comes to a close. Survey your students and seek some honest feedback from your students about how the first semester went. After the survey is complete, take your students' responses to heart and see if there are any trends that you can easily adjust and improve upon to ensure that your students' experience in the second half of the year is better than the first half. After all, doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is.... crazy?! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy Next Year...

Over the course of this holiday season, I realized that so many of us look forward to the New Year with goals and agendas that make the previous year seem like a virtual waste of time. The traditional New Year's change is a diet or exercise for most and we all know the running joke for that, they rarely last. People make resolutions and statements of grandeur about the upcoming year being better than the previous year. Yes, we all have had tough times and negative situations in the past year. It would be tough to find a human being that had the "perfect year", but is that really cause to dismiss the events of a previous year and act as if just because it's a New Year, you can be a different person. I'm sorry if I'm a little jaded here, I've just grown tired of people thinking that because it's a new year, they can magically be different.

With that being said... I challenge you to make a resolution that matters. Not to you, but to others in your life. We are all very good at being selfish (I believe I won the last election for that party nomination), but how good are we at being SELFLESS? Find a way to make an actual difference in the lives of those you care about and that care about you. And if you've already done that, take it to the next level of making a difference for those that you don't know. Rome Free Academy is a great place to look if you're trying to find some inspiration for this. On a daily basis I see adults and kids going out of their way to help others. Now that the 'Holidays' are over, let's not stop these random acts of kindness. So, instead of saying "Happy New Year" to you all... I will wish you all a "Happy Next Year"... as I am certain that this next year will just be another year of positive and joy in your already wonderful life!!

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to the Special ELF Department for winning this year's Crazy Attire competition. Thank you to all who participated and supported a worthy cause!

Thank you to all who participated and supported the RFA Leo Club Silent Auction. Over $750 was raised to support local charities!


This Week at RFA...

1/4 - Girls (v) Volleyball vs. New Hartford
1/5 - Girls (v) Bowling vs. New Hartford
1/5 - Boys (v) Bowling at New Hartford
1/5 - Boys (v) Swimming vs. Proctor
1/5 - Boys (v) Wrestling at Canastota
1/5 - Boys (v) Basketball vs, New Hartford
1/5 - Girls (v) Basketball at New Hartford
1/6 - STASS Meeting
1/6 - Faculty Meeting
1/6 - Education Policy Meeting
1/6 - Board of Education Meeting
1/6 - Girls (v) Bowling at VVS
1/6 - Boys (v) Hockey at West Genesee
1/7 - Boys (v) Bowling at Proctor
1/7 - Boys (v) Swimming at Holland Patent
1/7 - Girls (v) Volleyball at Proctor
1/8 - Boys (v) Bowling - 8th Annual Schenectady New Year's Bowling Invite
1/8 - Girls (v) Bowling vs. Proctor
1/8 - Boys (v) Swimming at Lowville
1/8 - Girls (v) Volleyball at Blessed Virgin Mary Academy
1/8 - Boys (v) Hockey vs. Proctor
1/8 - Girls (v) Basketball vs. Proctor
1/8 - Boys (v) Basketball at Proctor
1/9 - Girls (v) Volleyball at Holland Patent
1/9 - Boys (v) Wrestling - Leo J Sammon Tournament at Central Valley Academy
1/9 - RFA Cabaret at 7:30pm

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

Looking back on 2015,what is one thing that went wrong for you that you wish you could have a do-over on? Did you have any control of the circumstances or the outcome? What would you have done differently? None of these questions are ground breaking in terms of the world of psychology or self improvement,  I know. However, moving forward into 2016, take note of the mistakes you've made and practice what we preach to our students which is that the best learning generally comes from our mistakes. Don't make the same mistakes that we can control from past experiences!