Posted in Edublogs

What Leadership Means to Me

leadership_edublogs

Hello Reader!

First I want to address the new theme for my blog! I had changed it when I left the classroom to something rather neutral while I transitioned into my new position as a Teacher on Assignment in our new Linked Learning department. Since beginning the #edublogsclub blogging challenge I have felt my blog take on a new feel which called for a new look! I hope you like it, because I sure do!

Now onto business. This is the 3rd post of the #edublogsclub challenge. This week’s prompt was: Write a post that discusses leadership, peer coaching, and/or effecting change

I had really wanted to stay on time with my posts, but this one made me pause to think for a while, and then life happened and prevented me from really and truly thinking about it. I have probably written this post over about three times as I wrestled with what I really wanted to say about leadership. What brought it together for me in the end was a quote I was introduced to as a part of my school district’s aspiring leadership program:

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.
– Jack Welch, former GE Chairman and CEO

We had been presented with several leadership quotes that day and had been asked to move toward the one that spoke to us. There had to have been at least 10 quotes plastered around the meeting room we were in and the one above was the one that stood out the most to me. It gave me cause to reflect on all the great leaders I had worked with at my last school site, Dorothy Grant Elementary (aka DGE). Now I am going to try VERY hard not to go on a long rambly, nostalgic post about how amazing this school is, but this school changed the trajectory of my teaching career. The truth of that fact was something I had never given conscious thought to, but when thinking on leadership and the qualities of a good leader, and the type of leader I want to be, my experience at DGE has everything to do with outstanding leadership.

I arrived at DGE just after my 5th year of teaching…a rather crucial turning point for many teachers. It is widely recognized that a significant number of new teachers do not make it to or past their 5th year of teaching. I needed to be at DGE. I had already suffered through 2 previous schools with significant leadership deficits. I was transferring to escape them, to hopefully arrive at a school that was right for me and equipped with an inspirational leader. I wonder if I would still be here 12 years later and in my 17th year as an educator had it not been for DGE and its leaders.

I was very fortunate to have met and been selected by Dr. Ken Decroo to transfer to the open 4/5 combo position that was available. DGE was a shiny new school then, only one year old. As I had shared in a previous post, I had NEVER gotten to work at or attend a new school, so this was certainly a perk for me. Dr. Decroo was new that year, but he was very well liked and did a lot for the school’s climate. I remember enjoying his handling of the school and interaction with the staff. He was by far the most mellow, friendly and knowledgeable principal I had ever had at that point. While he and I had several interactions over that year, one in particular has always stood out to me. I remember being in his office, talking about something I don’t recall at the moment (and likely never will) when he said to me “You should consider becoming an administrator.” I remember my reaction. Shock. I remember backing away from him as if he was trying to infect me with something and shaking my head and waving my hands “What? Me? Oh no…no I could, never… Was that the bell?” Now I could be paraphrasing just a bit, but that exchange really did occur and it has stuck with me. I don’t know what he may have seen in me, being too caught of guard to really ask and too quick to dismiss it.

Dr. Decroo’s time at DGE was far too short for me when he retired the next school year. Chris Ridge was the next principal assume the office. Mr. Ridge was driven. He had a mind for innovation and staying ahead of the academic curve. He wanted the best for DGE students and it showed. Some teachers didn’t care too much for him because of his drive, but I did. DGE was in at the top of the elementary rankings in our district, we were leaders in trying new techniques out like RTI and data driven decision making. Talk about data! Mr. Ridge was always equipped with a report of some kind. I had never looked at data so much in my whole life, but he took great care in explaining to us why we needed to spend so much time with the data and how doing so could help drive our instruction and in the end help our students achieve. I amuses me now to think back on it. Data driven decision making is so common place now, just as is RTI, but thanks to Mr. Ridge I was exposed to both a lot earlier than others in and out of my school district. Mr. Ridge stayed at DGE several years and then his time came as well, not to retire, but to pursue other opportunities. I was sad to see him go, I had learned a great deal from him.

Sadly, DGE had a year of administrative uncertainty after that which is really not relevant to this post apart from saying that in year where we did not have stability in our leadership, the overall DGE community had already become so strong that we weathered that storm just fine. Thankfully we did receive another solid leader in Anne-Marie Cabrales. I have to say that I wasn’t certain about Mrs. Cabrales when she first arrived. She wasn’t like any leader I had before. It has been hard to put my finger on, but in the end I believe it was that she still felt like one of us. She felt like a teacher. She did not feel like a principal to me, and I don’t say that in a negative way at all. It was just something about the way she carried herself and how she got to know the staff. There was something very personable and humble about it. Mrs. Cabrales became very well liked immediately. She fit right in with the staff and was very passionate about DGE and its students. She works tirelessly to keep DGE at the top of the rankings and has continued the trend of keeping DGE at the front of the pack when it comes to new approaches to education. She did a great deal in supporting me and the various projects I wanted to do with technology and our kids, and it was she who encouraged me to consider a position at the district office level. I remember conversations with her turning toward me branching out and getting known in the district so that I could advance beyond the classroom. Dr. Decroo’s words would echo in my mind at those times. I had tried for district positions before, only to not be selected. My home was DGE, and I took the fact that I was not selected for a position as a Teacher on Assignment for Instructional Technology on more than one occasion to mean that I did not have what the district wanted for that position and that I was best suited to my work in the classroom at DGE.  I had become a teacher leader at DGE – in technology as a site coach and as a part of our leadership team where I spent a several years being a grade level leader. DGE had become my cozy, comfy blanket that I never wanted to be without.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.
– Jack Welch, former GE Chairman and CEO

So here is my favorite leadership quote again. It expemplifies the leadership that I experienced at DGE in the 11 years I was there. 11 years that felt nothing like 11 years. I was having so much fun there I had lost track of the time. I felt successful in the way I had grown as an educator and the way DGE had nurtured that growth. Dr. Decroo, Mr. Ridge and Mrs. Cabrales were all amazing leaders in their own right for their own reasons. I have recently realized that they were helping me to grow so that I could be a leader too. I cannot thank them enough for that. This post has likely already passed the point of rambling nostalgia, but it has captured what leadership is to me and that is the kind of leader I want to be – one who creates a space where leaders can grow.

Always a Volunteer,
Mrs. Ruiz

leader

Posted in DGE Events

Global Cardboard Challenge

This year Dorothy Grant Elementary will be taking part in the Cardboard Challenge. Ms. Matheson and Ms. Belt will be heading up a group of 4th & 5th grade DGE students (selected by a random draw) to create our very own cardboard arcade to be shared at our annual Harvest Festival on October 29th.

This year a group of our students will participate in the “Global Cardboard Challenge.” This is an annual event presented by the Imagination Foundation that celebrates child creativity and the role communities can play in fostering it. Students will dream up [creations] using cardboard, recycled materials and their imaginations ot create a cardboard arcade, inspired by the short film “Cain’s Arcade.”

Students MUST be available to stay after school on Mondays and Thursdays in October from 2:30 – 3:30pm AND work the Harvest Festival on Thursday, October 29th.

If you are interested and your child did not bring home a permission slip, you can download it here: Cardboard Challenge. Permissions slips are due to Ms. Matheson or Ms. Belt by Friday, October 2nd for the random draw.

Any questions about this event can be directed to Ms. Matheson or Ms. Belt.

Posted in Minecraft @ DGE

Minecraft Club Day 1

L to R: Carlos, Xavier, Jayden & Daniel

What an afternoon!

After much anticipation (and three Skype orientations), the DGE Minecraft Club was officially in Minecraft together! I expected it to be chaotic and it certainly was. I spent most of the hour in tech support with parents who were not fully prepared for the amount of tech we are using, and I turned 15 students loose on the server I had acquired for our club. I was sad that I didn’t get to be there with them fully for the first meeting, but in the end I managed to get everyone on which should hopefully make meeting 2 easier.

I opened the server again a little while after the club meeting and let the students know via our Skype group. I had a few eager students willing to log back in to help me work out some kinks and we did! I shot a video of what the students were able to accomplish in the tech club hour while I was helping parents. I have told the kids that I am no Minecraft expert and I am looking to learn from them as some have been playing a majority of their years. The video I shot is amusing for many reasons, one being the tone in my voice as I learn from them. Sadly you cannot hear their replies to me since I was wearing headphones, but you will be able to get the idea of the conversation. I just know each meeting will get better and better.

Enjoy!

Posted in Class News

Here We Are!

Thank you to all the parents who signed and returned the photo release form! It allowed me to take this great class photo with my selfie stick. I look forward to posting more photos of the students and their work as the school year progresses.

MrsRuizs4thGrade2015

Looking forward to a great year,
Mrs. Ruiz

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
 Mahatma Gandhi

Posted in Class News, Fontana Teachers Association

Women’s History Submissions

The class worked so hard on their Women’s History Month assignment. The following students have been selected for submission to FTA’s Women’s History Month competition:

Essays:

Posters:

Videos:

“Leaders”

“Artists”

I appreciate all of the hard work of all of my students. More information will follow as to when the awards ceremony will take place.

Posted in Competitions, Fontana Teachers Association

Black History Month Contest Results

Hello Families!

This month I worked with the class on our social studies project for Black History Month, which was a contest hosted by the Fontana Teachers Association. (Unfortunately I was unable to attend the awards ceremony so I do not have complete results. As soon as I do I will update this post to reflect them.) There were 4 categories and I entered the following students:

MULTIMEDIA (Board Builders)

Tied for 1st: Denise and Brandon
2nd Place: Bella

VISUAL ARTS (POSTER)

Third Place in Visual Arts: Wyatt

VIDEOS (PaperSlides – Links to the videos are private and can be provided to parents if they contact me.)

FIRST PLACE:

SECOND PLACE:

THIRD PLACE:

ESSAY

Angel
Angel
Posted in Class News, Competitions, Fontana Teachers Association

Women’s History Month

whm-collage

Hello Families!

The Fontana Teacher’s Association has announced their next contest and it is Women’s History Month (March 2015). I have spoken with the class about this and have begun to get them thinking on who they would like to become an expert on.  I am providing you the information I have received from the FTA so that you can better support your child as they investigate who they would like to select for this social studies project. I have instructed the class that I will not be asking them who they have selected until Monday, March 2nd. No two students will investigate the same person, so we have a variety of women studied. This project will be completed by Thursday, March 19th.

FTA Women’s History Month Flyer

FTA Women’s History Month Guidelines

I came across an excellent article on Scholastic regarding Women’s History Month that I will be using to aid in guiding the class on their selections. This article directed me to The Makers website, which is an incredible resource for information and inspiration.

I am requiring that each student write an essay on the woman they have selected to research. Then the students will work on either a PaperSlide video, Board Builder, or poster to coincide with their writing. This IS NOT a homework assignment. This is classwork we will be doing in the area of Language Arts, Social Studies and Technology. I am asking for as much support as possible in aiding your child at home as they research and build their projects.

The woman your child selects to report on need not be from the United States. The theme for this work is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” and is not specific to the US.

On a related note, we had quite the showing at the Black History Month awards held this week, with many of our students placing! Regretfully I was not able to attend, but I have requested a list of who placed in each category and will be posting that here as soon as I know. If your child’s digital work was submitted (PaperSlide video or Board Builder) and you would like to see it, please contact me. Essays and posters are presently not in my possession, but as soon as they are returned to me I will send them home with your child.

Please do not hesitate in contacting me via Class Dojo, email or in the comments below. Thank you in advance for your assistance and support!