Embracing an Adventure: A Reflection from a First-Time Administrator

When I decided I wanted to become an assistant principal, I knew it would be a challenging position.  I had no idea what I was in for!  It has been the most amazing experience. I am grateful for this opportunity and wanted to share five things that I have learned on my journey so far. 1. Don’t treat others the way YOU want to be treated.  Treat others the way THEY want to be treated. I have received many words of wisdom from my principal, family, friends and colleagues.  My…

You Can’t Give Up:It’s That Simple

Commitment is the glue that bonds you to your goals. -Jill Koenig On our way to reaching our goals we face opposition and trials that can simply make us want to quit.  I want to tell you about this amazing woman named Estelle Armstead. I am proud to call her mom.  At the young, beautiful age of 69 she has decided to go back to school and complete her degree in nursing. Doesn’t she look absolutely overjoyed! Her road has not been easy. She raised 7 children.  Through the decades,…

Get a Heads Up: Gathering Student Feedback to Improve the Design of a Learning Experience

Feedback is a critical component of the teaching and learning process. Teachers are not in short supply of feedback tools to assess student learning. However, there is another purpose for feedback that is underused.  How often is feedback used to improve the design of  a lesson, strategy or structure? In other words, students get an opportunity to evaluate the learning experience not only in terms of what they learned but how they learned, giving a teacher a heads up about what is and isn’t working.   Gathering feedback from learners for…

Celebrating the Challenges

How do you celebrate in the midst of challenges? When we are knee deep in a difficult challenge, it can almost seem unbearable, as if there is no way out. We might think to ourselves, “Can I just cruise along for once in my life?” The answer to that is yes, but learning to overcome challenges fosters a growth mindset, brings meaning to any situation and can be life transforming.

Refresh 2: Brace Yourself for the Triumphs and Challenges Ahead

Happy Sunday! I was so excited when I finally settled on my one word for 2017, refresh.  What image comes to mind when you hear that word? I immediately envisioned the refresh button on my browser.  Sometimes I hit that button and it updates my page rather quickly, but other days it seems to go around and around. There are several areas in my life that I would like to refresh for 2017, and I understand that some of that work will require patience and persistence. Join me this month…

Refresh: Brace Yourself for the Triumphs and Challenges Ahead

Happy New Year!  I always see a new year as an opportunity to reinvent myself.  It’s like I have permission to hit the “refresh” button on my life.  Each year brings challenges and triumphs. Introspection allows me an opportunity to slow down and examine my thoughts, feelings and actions.  I would like to  take this opportunity to share my greatest lesson from 2016. If the Dr. Joy of 2016 had to write a letter to 2017 Dr. Joy, it would say the following:              …

Nurturing Relationships: Teaching Kindness

I love the saying, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.”  People who are kind can be perceived as weak and naive. However, showing kindness is a sign of strength, and there are numerous reasons for teaching kindness in school.  The physical, emotional and mental benefits can transform a classroom.  Lisa Currie (2014) summarized a few key outcomes associated with teaching kindness  including decreased bullying and increased peer acceptance.   I came across this site, 12 Kinds of Kindness, and thought it would be a great model for  defining examples of and practicing  kindness. It takes practice you know.…

Nurturing Relationships: The Power of Words

I mentioned before that I am from a big, Brooklyn family. I have six siblings (love them all to pieces).  When I was young we didn’t have a car.  We had to walk with my mom to the grocery store. Yes, my mother would take seven children into a grocery store.  She would calmly push the cart up and down each aisle, scratching items off her list as we gathered what was needed.  When it was time, she would walk us to the checkout line where we knew to place…

Nurturing Relationships: How Will You Embody Respect?

What does respect look and sound like in a classroom? It is easy to define or capture disrespect, but how can we highlight those examples of respect so that they become more prominent? It begins with acknowledging that students need to feel and believe that they are valued in the classroom for who they are and that their unique identities and perspectives are appreciated.  In like manner, understanding and accepting that teachers nurture relationships and build respectful communities in different and unique ways is important. Last week, I walked in a fifth grade classroom where students were reflecting on…

Walk in the Light Wednesday: Dance! Dance! Dance!

There are days when I have to remind myself, “Self, don’t be the wallflower at the dance.” Wallflowers watch from a distance as everyone else is dancing, singing and being free. They want to be on that dance floor so badly, but can’t bring themselves to do it.  They spend the majority of the time  thinking about what everyone else is thinking and doing. Each time they hear the beat of a song they love, their heart wants to be more and more on that dance floor, but they stay tied…