CARE to be the Best

The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. ~Theodore Roosevelt

CARE to be the best.  It’s not an interrogative; it’s a statement.  CARdinal Excellence means working to stay at the top of your game.  It’s pretty appropriate considering we just finished our winter season of Wrestling State Championships (great job, Cardinals!  So proud of you!) and are entering a full week of girls and boys basketball districts.  To be at the top of your game takes work.  Our coaching staff knows this as well as anyone on staff.

To be at the top of your game, you must have the initial drive and motivation to want to be the best.  Do you have that or have you given in to the winter woes and have you decided that what you are doing is “good enough?”  Coach Musser doesn’t draw top baseball players because they are half-hearted about wanting to play Cardinal Baseball.  They come to win, and they know what that means.

Being at the top of your game means you must have a plan for winning.  Do you have a plan?  Is it just in your head or do you have it mapped out?  I know for a fact that Coach Goodwin or Coach Ross don’t just have the plan “in their heads,” they map out their game plan.  They have to share that plan with their assistant coaches and players.  If everyone doesn’t own the plan, then it’s just one person’s dream.  What is your plan for winning for the rest of our school season?  Is it measureable?  Is it achievable?  A good plan must be both.

Being at the top of your game means practice – and lots of it.  The practice comes over time.  Time is a factor in preparedness as much as it is in rigor.  Put time into your plan.

Being at the top of your game means setting goals.  Coach Hubbard set his goals one step at a time.  In the world of wrestling, the outlying factors – from injury to illness – can mess with the best of plans and timelines.  But with a overarching GOAL – achieving that goal is always a focus.  Set your goal.  Start with small goals that add up to a greater achievement.  With only 11 weeks of school left, your goals are easier to map out and achieve. You need to CARE to be the best at Benton.  Success doesn’t come by accident.

And your own personal best isn’t accidental either.  After learning about text complexity, vocabulary instruction, and comprehension strategies, are you implementing your learning to be the best you can be in the classroom?  Where are you as a reader yourself?  I challenge each one of you to read ONE educational journal article per month for the rest of the year.  That’s only three total articles.  You read to be metacognitive about the comprehension strategies AND to learn more about your profession.  It’s a win-win.  It’s what it takes to be at the top of your game.  It’s what it takes to CARE to be the best.

Week 26 – A Look Ahead

Monday – Book Fair (Library)

Tuesday – Book Fair (Library); JEPD on Registration (look for schedule to be emailed)

Wednesday — Book Fair (Library)

Thursday – Book Fair (Library)

Friday — Book Fair (Library)

Thank you for your CARE

The simple act of caring is heroic. ~ Edward Albert

With a short week in front of us, it’s exciting to spend time working on our comprehension strategies.  It will be a good idea to implement as soon as possible in order to set your own learning and new teaching strategies.  Comprehension strategies are foundational tools for all teachers, so I know you are going to love having the information.

Again, thanks to everyone for our fabulous walkthrough last week.  I was extremely proud to show off your efforts.  Our hard work continues to pay off, and it is always great to have that reinforced by educators outside of our building and by people who really know what they are looking for.

Kudos to both Wrestling and Speech/Debate this weekend.  I know Coaches Hubbard and Henson at State Wrestling and Coaches Lafasciano and Michaud have spent countless hours preparing our students for this high level of competition.  Great job everyone!

Week 25 – A Look Ahead

Tuesday – District Professional Development at your designated locations

~Excellence is a journey not a destination.~

All images are available CC on Flickr: “thank you note for every language” by Woodleywonderworks.

Walk with CARE

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts; therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.  ~Marcus Aurelius

It’s RED week!  This is the month of the Red School and the week when we paint the town RED.  It’s also the week of our bi-annual District Walkthrough.  In order to ensure readiness, I have a quick checklist for everyone to help remind everyone of our best practices that we will be able to model this week:

  1. Leading students through a reading passage with scaffolded questioning – text complexity was our fall district PD.
  2. Sharing vocabulary words with your students both formally and intentionally (such as on your WORD WALL) or informally through conversations during reading (such as during Eyes Past Print).
  3. Using connections – make sure you connect important concepts with your students through multiple ways for them so they can make connections to the idea from a variety of ways.  Building schema (their background knowledge) as well as using strategies such as metaphors and similes to explain a difficult concept always makes learning more enjoyable and understandable.
  4. Implementing data teams interventions – small groups, individual tracking with data, remediation, reflection – these are all hallmarks of the work of your data team.

Week 24 – A Look Ahead

Wednesday – Benton Leadership Team at 7:00 Room 106

Thursday – District Walkthrough 8:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Friday – 2 Hour Early for MEC Speech and Debate Tournament at Benton

Monday – No School (Holiday)

Tuesday – District Professional Development Day (No school for students only)

~Excellence is a journey not a destination.~

Images available in CC on Flickr:  Paths by Pensiero; Me and Chuck in Central Park by Kevin H.


Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

It was good to see and hear about what it means to join together as a community of learners and celebrate the true soul of #CARDNATION as we celebrated Homecoming last week.  When we take time to recognize each other’s strengths, to celebrate our ability to navigate troubled waters or tough times, when we all pull together for the success of our students – we live in the world of CARdinal Excellence – we are #CARDNATION!

“In communities, writes Thomas Sergiovanni in Building Community in Schools, ‘we become connected for reason of commitment rather than compliance’ (p. 58). ‘People are bonded to each other as a result of their mutual bindings to shared values, traditions, ideas, and ideals’ (p. 61). His thesis: that we might better understand, design, and run schools as social rather than formal organizations and, in particular, as communities. His reasoning: the universal need for a sense of belonging, of being connected to others and to ideas and values too often goes unfulfilled in schools as they are currently conceived. His prescription: reformers and theoreticians alike should recognize that schooling is first and foremost about relationships between and among students and teachers, and that community building must be the basis for school reform efforts that seek to improve teaching and learning; all else will come more naturally when authentic communities flourish” (p.1).

It’s important that we continue this path of excellence. The foundation has been set, and we are seeing the fruits of our labors.  Stay the course and be there for our students and for each other.  We are…Southside!

Week 23 —  A Look Ahead

Monday – ACT Academy (AM)

Tuesday – ACT Academy (AM)

Wednesday – ACT Academy (PM)

Thursday – ACT Academy (PM); Earthquake Drill (10:15 a.m.)

Reminder:  District Walkthrough is February 14th.

~Excellence is a journey not a destination.~

Images are available CC on Flickr:  “Strawberry Heart” photo credit here; “Yes You Can” photo credit here.

Westheimer, Joel. (1996). “Building Community in Schools.” Harvard Educational Review. Winter 1996.  Accessed; 2 February 2013.