Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Holidays...

Thought of the Week: Question...who is cheery, checks to see if kids are naughty or nice, and gives great gifts??? Its TEACHERS of course (you thought I was going to say Santa)! We have the opportunity to give students the greatest gift on a daily basis. The love of learning should never be underestimated. Amy and I choose to give our nephews books for Christmas. Our hope is that when the excitement of all the expensive gizmos and gadgets are gone, the books will remain. Our hope is that they will read them and see that reading can open their future to whatever they choose. Lofty goals for "Five Little Monkeys", but we have high expectations :)

Next week I will be around with a special gift for each of you. I want you to know that I appreciate all of your efforts to make our school the greatest it can be. Amy, Breckyn and I are very blessed to be a part of a wonderful family and community. From our family to yours, we hope you have a Merry Christmas! (and don't forget to read a book)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Friday Focus 12.2.11

"Isn't the principal a dummy!" said a boy to a girl.

"Say, do you know who I am?" asked the girl.
"I'm the principal's daughter."

"And do you know who I am?" asked the boy.
"No," she replied.
"Thank goodness!"

Quote of the Week: "Teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible." -Unknown

Shout Outs: I want to thank the elementary staff for all of their hard work collaborating celebration days and also their open and honest conversations to make the building the best it can be!

Thought of the Week: Don't take this personally...but I want you to leave. There, I said it!

I want you to leave your classroom and go watch a peer teach a fantastic lesson. I want you to leave and attend a professional development training and bring it back to share with your peers. I want you to leave your comfort zone and find out that you don't have to work harder than the students for them to learn. I want you to leave ineffective past practices in your desk drawer. I want you to leave your comfort zone (again) and fail, learn from it, and make it better. I want you to leave your boring worksheets in the binders.

I want you to leave if you are negative, cynical, and poisoning our wonderful learning environment. I want you to leave your presumptions and prejudices at the door and welcome every student into your classroom (no matter how naughty they were the day before). I want you to leave the politics out of your classroom. I want you to leave the belief that not every student in our school can learn.

Leaving isn't always bad. You should try it sometime.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Important News and Notes


Greetings! I have a few important notes to share with you...

1) Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTC) will be this Thursday and next Tuesday. Our goal is 100% participation from our parents. The middle school and high school teachers will be calling their advisory student's parents to see when you will be available to come and visit. All PTC will be in individual teacher rooms this year. PTC are an important way to learn about your child. Here are tips to help you have a more successful PTC:

*Plan for it. Before you come to your conference, write out questions you'd like to ask. Here are suggestions:

-Does my child get along with others?

-How is my child's behavior in class?

-Does my child read at the level you would expect for this grade?

-Is my child able to do the math that you would expect for a student at this grade?

-What are my child's strength's and weaknesses?

*Keep an open mind. Your goal is to work for cooperation between you and your child's teacher. Even if the teacher says something you disagree with, try to listen to what he/she has to say.

*Ask to see your child's work. There's no better way to see how your child is progressing.

*Ask for suggestions. If your child is doing well, ask what you can do to keep things on a positive track. If there are problems, ask what you can do to help.

*Clarify and summarize as you go. Teachers sometimes use educational buzz words. If you don't understand something the teacher says, just ask.

2) There will be a Public Hearing on Thursday following PTC at 8:00pm in regards to sharing football with Ruthven-Ayshire. If you cannot attend the meeting, but would like to provide input, please contact me directly before the meeting.

3) Winter is coming! I will be sending a test alert today to test our communication system. Here are a couple of ways to stay informed:

* This is the site most of our district uses. Follow the directions to sign up to have alerts directly sent to your phone.



*All local radio stations

Thank you for sharing your students with us everyday. We take pride in the education that we provide for our students. If you have questions, concerns, or feedback please feel free to contact me. Have a wonderful week!



Jesse Ulrich, Principal

Graettinger-Terril CSD


Twitter: @jdulrich76

Skype: jesseulrich

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friday Focus 11.4.11

I listened to Shawn Cornally, a teacher from Solon CSD speak to our group about assessment (good timing for me). You may want to read the entire focus this week, there is an assignment at the end :)

Quote of the Week: "You’ve got to get to a stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing." -Arthur Ashe

Shout Outs: Big thank you to our PBiS leadership team for planning for our end of the quarter celebrations! Also, a big thanks to our middle school staff for their recent interdisciplinary units!

Thought of the Week: I'm beginning with the end in mind with the change coming in our district. It is a topic that has been haunting me at night, and until we can get on the same philosophical page with it, we can't move forward. I want to take a few moments to talk about assessment for/of learning.

Here is a question for you...if you stood in the front of your class the 1st day of school and said, "I have a bag of 100,000 M&M's...I will offer any student an "A" for the course if they choose to sort the bag of M&M's by color rather than taking the class traditionally." After the students realize you are many students would take you up on the offer? Think about it for a second and then be real to yourself (your gut answer is probably right). Reality is MOST of our students would take the "A" and sort the M&M's. WHY??? Its the same reason students always ask how much an assignment/paper/project is worth. Have you guessed it yet?

Answer: We (as a society and an educational system) have put more value on what the final grade for the course is rather than what was actually learned.

The point is this, the whole basis of teaching is informing students what we want them to learn, teaching/guiding/facilitating knowledge, and then assessing if they know what we wanted them to learn. Assessment is not a compliance issue. The reason I bring this up is I believe we are too focused on homework completion rather than if students actually are learning what we are asking them to learn.

So how can we fix it? I have ideas, but I want to hear yours. Your assignment this week/weekend is to respond to this blog with your thoughts/reflections/opinions on the issues I've talked about in this Friday Focus. It is due Monday by 8:00am. I'm looking forward to the conversations

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Iowa: Shift Happens

Graettinger-Terril CSD Update

What an exciting time to be a Graettinger-Terril Knight! If you are new to our community, on behalf of the faculty, staff, and board of education I want to welcome you. As Labor Day creeps up on us, it is once again time to get ready for school! I wanted to take a moment and update you on some happenings at G-T.

One of the biggest changes for the 2011-2012 school year will be the new grade configuration for buildings. All elementary students in grades K-5 will be in the Terril building, while all middle and high school students will be in the Graettinger building. It has been a year and a half of planning and preparation for this positive transition that will improve our instruction.

Construction has been the theme for our summer. The Terril remodeling project has been completed, and the teachers are now in their new classrooms! The community is invited for an Open House on August 30th from 5:00-7:00pm to see the completed project. Three brand new classrooms were created while three classrooms were completely remodeled. We are very proud of the finished product and we encourage you to come and check it out. The other project underway is the demolition of the old building in Graettinger. The majority of the project has been completed; crews will be working now to complete the finishing work on the exterior of the building.

At the Board of Education meeting on August 15, 2011, the Board took steps to increase the accountability for students in regards to academic eligibility and the good conduct policy. This year if a student is failing a course at mid-term, they will be ineligible for one week. If they fail a course at the end of a quarter, they will be ineligible for two weeks. If they fail a semester course, the standard state consequences will be applied. Changes in the good conduct policy include increasing the first offense to four events (two if the student and parent participate in substance abuse counseling). Offenses will also be accumulated throughout their high school experience, rather than starting over each year. We believe we need to hold our students accountable for choices they make in an effort to portray a positive image of our school district and our communities.

Graettinger-Terril CSD received final confirmation from the Iowa Department of Education stating we did not meet our Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), in the area of Middle School Reading. Subsequently, we have been put on the "watch list" for the 2011-2012 school year. What does this mean? If we do not meet AYP next year (the state trajectory of how many students should be proficient) in the area of Middle School Reading, we would be designated a ”School In Need of Assistance". If we continue the following year without progress, more consequences follow. The school needs your help! We need our parents to support literacy education and encourage their child to read more. We need our community to believe and support our efforts in literacy. Finally, we need to get better and we need to get focused on the priority of literacy.

I’m very proud of the education that we provide for our students. Graettinger-Terril is blessed to have wonderful communities for our students to grow up and live in. Although we are faced with many challenges, my promise to you is we will continue to improve the way we educate the future generation of students. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the school. Thank you for your support, and I hope this year is the best year for our school yet!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Anatomy Students Tracking EKG

During Anatomy class, students are recording their heart rate onto their laptops using EKG technology. After their heart rates are recorded, the can compare with real life EKG readings!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pencil Vs. Laptop

Let’s have a little competition at school and get ready for the future. I will use a laptop and you will use paper and pencil. Are you ready…?

I will access up-to-date information - you have a textbook that is 5 years old.
I will immediately know when I misspell a word – you have to wait until it’s graded.
I will learn how to care for technology by using it – you will read about it.
I will see math problems in 3D – you will do the odd problems.
I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world – you will share yours with the class.
I will have 24/7 access – you have the entire class period.
I will access the most dynamic information – yours will be printed and photocopied.
I will communicate with leaders and experts using email – you will wait for Friday’s speaker.
I will select my learning style – you will use the teacher’s favorite learning style.
I will collaborate with my peers from around the world – you will collaborate with peers in your classroom.
I will take my learning as far as I want – you must wait for the rest of the class.
The cost of a laptop per year? - $400
The cost of teacher and student training? – Expensive
The cost of well educated US citizens and workforce? - Priceless


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dickinson County Monthly Article

I have a monthly column in the Dickinson County Newspaper...this month's contribution...

An issue that continues to plague schools across the nation is students who choose to victimize others by bullying and harassing them. It is imperative for schools to be able to protect students against bulling and harassment. There are constant examples of the negative effects of this senseless behavior in the news nearly every day.

Many parents and students have asked me what the difference is between bullying/harassment and the common “joking around” students encounter on a daily basis. We define bullying and harassment as targeting students on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, marital status, or disability. Bullying also entails conduct of a verbal or physical nature that is designed to embarrass, distress, agitate, disturb, or trouble other students. Student-to-student harassment may include, but is not limited to:

· Verbal, physical, or written harassment or abuse

· Repeated remarks of a demeaning nature

· Implied or explicit threats

· Demeaning jokes, stories, or activities directed at a student

· Hazing activities.

Students who feel they have been harassed should communicate to the harasser that the student expects the behavior to stop, if the student is comfortable doing so. If the student needs assistance communicating with the harasser, the student should ask a teacher or principal to help. If the student has asked the other student to stop, and that student continues the detrimental behavior, the child needs to tell a teacher, counselor, or the principal immediately. The principal will then investigate the matter.

The abbreviated version is this: if your child asks someone to stop a specific behavior, and the other child does not stop, then your child needs to talk to the principal! The other major point that I have been communicating to our students this month is this, the number one way to stop bullying and harassment in our schools is for the bystanders to stop reinforcing the negative behavior and tell their peers to stop! In the middle school we do our best to have teachers in areas to supervise our kids; however, we know there are places that adults cannot always supervise. These areas can include bathrooms, buses, and in the locker rooms. We must rely on students to do the right thing by confronting the negative behavior, or at the minimum tell an adult. We can’t help a situation we don’t know about.

The final way we can help bullying and harassment in our schools is with parent support. Talk to your kids about bullying and harassment. If your child comes home and says they are being bullied and no one is doing anything about it, it may be a situation that we don’t know that it is happening to your child. Please communicate those situations with your school.

In closing this month, my number one priority at Graettinger-Terril is to ensure our students feel safe in our building. Not just physically, but emotionally safe as well. We have great kids, and great staff, but bullying and harassment can show its ugly face in even the finest of school systems. Through communication with students, parents and teachers, we can all do our part to make our schools safe environments for our kids to learn and grow in everyday.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dear Mother Nature...

Really?!? Are you that bored? Seriously?!? ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

With that said, some of you may wonder how I come to the conclusion that we have a 2 hour late, no school, or to let students our early. I have to tell you that it is the most stressful part of my duties! The #1 factor I take into consideration is student safety. I don't know if you have ever driven a bus (or remember what it was like driving as a teenager)...but it can be somewhat difficult even without snow, ice, or fog. So between getting up early to check roads, constantly playing meteorologist, and trying to see into the crystal ball, you can see why it may be challenging. Fortunately, I'm in constant communication with Superintendents from surrounding communities, and most often, we collaborate on the decision (that's why you see the "domino" effect).

I know someday there will be a time when you say, "why did we have a 2 hour late", but I hope you understand I want to make sure everyone can get to school (and back home) safely.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year

New Year's Resolutions are a funny thing...everyone makes them, but seldom do they keep them. Think about it, how many of you made a resolution? We are a week into January, so how is it going for you? What have you changed? Most often, the deadliest words are, "on Monday I'm going to start _____)." The problem is, Monday never comes!

What are your goals for 2011? How are you going to do it? What routines, procedures, habits are you going to wrestle with and conquer this year? Is it losing some weight? Getting rid of a mountain of debt? Getting closer to finishing a degree? (Gee I bet you can't imagine what my goals are...)

WHATEVER you goals are, the time to start is NOW!!! It's a new year, have a new you.