Monday, October 19, 2015

A Good Life. #happy #healthy #school

Last year during our Spring Break, I visited several schools to learn what other great schools were doing to make school more AWESOME for kids. (You can read the entire post here.) I always get great ideas when I visit other schools, and more often than not, I find something that wasn't what I set out to look for in the first place. Our first stop was The Cove School.

When I visited Cove  in Larkspur, CA, I was mostly there to research their flexible learning spaces and Google-inspired furniture and design as part of designing our new school. My friend Eric Saibel had also mentioned that we should check out Cove In Motion, a start to their day with a focus on health and wellness as a school. You can check out the kids and Eric below getting fit and having fun. Just 15 minutes every day. It was amazing!

Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
Mrs. Fadeji in motion

A great way to start the day!
Inspired by The Cove School, Schools In Motion, and a TedX Talk by then 13-year-old Logan La Plante called "Hackschooling Makes Me Happy", we decided to "Dive In" to health and happiness as one of our key school-wide goals. Our focus on health and happiness encompasses several areas including mindfulness, fitness, and building positive relationships among our students, staff and families.

What does diving in to health and happiness look like at our school? We have started Star In Motion at our school and four days a week, we start the day with 15 minutes of movement, positive messages, and fun! Truly, that one visit on one day to see Cove in Motion has truly transformed our school. It's not by accident that the song that now starts our day together is The Good Life

Diving into health and happiness!

What better way to start my day? 
And, every Wednesday is Workout Wednesday, where you'll find the whole school--teachers, kids, parents, and me wearing workout clothes and walking as a school outside to music. Usually you can spot some kids dancing with huge smiles on their faces! Some might say it's too casual- but we believe in modeling for our students and families. We're all in.

Walking on Workout Wednesday
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Kindergarten In Motion! Teachers, parents, and kids!
Workout Wednesday and the Whip Nae Nae-- here's Kindergarten and the 4th grade lunch!

Every once in awhile, amidst conversations around data, instruction, and the new CAASP test results and I wonder if I shouldn't be spending more time crunching numbers and spending less time focused on building a healthy and happy school. And then I look around and I notice that I'm spending most of my time in classrooms supporting teachers and kids because behavior problems have largely disappeared. Kids are happy. They love school. They run to get here in the morning! And we are receiving positive feedback from families, like this letter:

As a parent of two new Star Academy students I just wanted to thank you all for a fabulous start to the school year! They are more excited about school then I have ever seen them! When I pick them up each day they can't wait to tell me what they learned or to see if I know what their vocab words mean. Then after school [he] is showing me his blog with pride and [his brother] is practicing his piano with excitement. Each morning they have something to look forward to (Minecraft Club, Astronomy, Art, Spanish, a reading buddy, the list goes on and on!) 

Both of them are engaged, curious and proud of their new school. I sent this to all of you because its clear the entire campus culture is one of innovation and excitement about learning and walking through the halls anyone can feel it.

Kids are learning. Teachers are focused on instruction. Everyone is working hard and doing their best. And at the end of every day, if just one more child, one more parent, one more teacher can say...

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It will be worth it. Health and happiness. Every. Single. Day. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October Update: Happy Fall!

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Star Academy October 2015 Update

As the first quarter comes to an end, there is much to celebrate and much more to come! In this update you’ll find important dates and details as well as a few reminders. We are also excited that it FINALLY feels like fall!

Dates and Details (HOLD ON, there’s a lot!)

  • October 26-30 Minimum Days for parent/teacher conferences (the bell schedule can be found here. There is no late start Wednesday during the week of 10/26-10/30.
  • October 26-30 is also Red Ribbon Week! In the RRW document, you’ll find spirit days for kids and a social media challenge for parents
  • #socktober, Kids Can, and bottle cap collections are happening this month, too
  • October 26-30 is also the BOOK FAIR! More details soon!Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 1.35.38 PM.png
  • October 28th is the Jog-a-Thon! Come cheer on our joggers and jog along!
  • Enrichment continues at the regular times during 10/26-30, with the exception of Minecraft which ends 10/19 for this session. Signups for Nov/Dec start the last week of October.

Star in Motion is well under way - be sure to ask your child about it! Every day but Wednesday, we start with 15 minutes of movement, music, and positive messages. The kids are doing great! It’s so fun to see everyone smiling and getting fit! If you are wondering where I am at drop off after 8:10, I participate in both sessions (4th and 5th are from 8:10-8:25, and 1st-3rd are from 8:30-8:45) Here’s some pictures!

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Workout Wednesday is also a big hit- we have dancing, walking, and even kinder and TK are getting fit and having fun and dancing!

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Workout Wednesday and the Whip Nae Nae-- here's Kindergarten and the big kid's lunch!

Big Kids Whip Nae Nae

Not only are kids having fun and getting fit at school, but they are also learning so much! Fourth and Fifth graders have an elective showcase this Friday, and 2nd grade hosts Market Day this Wednesday. Kindergarten heads off on their first field trip this Friday! First grade has been learning a ton about Asia and the animals who live there, and will be building The Great Wall this week! Third graders are becoming biome experts! Exciting things are happening in classrooms every day! 

Happy Fall!