Sunday, February 18, 2018

Professional Learning - February, 2018 Edition


Professional Learning - February 16, 2018 Edition

“Outtakes”. A snippet of thoughts to kick off this blog post:
Professional learning is a critical part of continuous improvement. This is a snapshot of the morning session with the Science department.

What I am looking forward to putting into practice, or continuing:
I can not wait to get together with colleagues to process the work that was done during this PL session and discuss next steps to continue the great work that has done up to this point.

Quote(s) that resonated with me this week:
We teach humans (kids), not just content. Remember to build relationships.

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”  ~ Harley Davidson

This week will consist of a look at the morning professional learning experience from Friday, 2/16. This topic is not part of a series, but I did do a reflection on our November PL Day as well, which you can check out, here. I do feel strongly that quality professional learning/development is a good way to keep staff inspired, foster growth, and continuously improve, which ultimately results in an improved experience for our students.

During the morning session, I worked with the Science department to continue the ongoing discussion of NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) and how they will influence short term and long term future planning. We began with a share-out from one of our staff members, Jenny Chieda, who recently attended a state-level workshop. Her report was a broad overview that was well received and supported the work that we would be doing that morning. Next, we viewed a couple of quick motivational science videos. They each had their own purpose to inspire as well as take a glance at what the future of science holds. Please feel free to check them out below, I believe you will be inspired as well!

STEM Motivational Video:

Science is Everywhere:

Finally, to frame the thinking of all of our staff members, we quickly ran through the agenda to see what the session would consist of.

Before beginning the intense dive into documents, resources, and discussions, we spent a few minutes sharing what each teacher was most proud of over the course of the school year up to this point. To keep it anonymous and not put anyone on the spot we used the site, Menti. Teachers were able to enter their own “celebrations” through their devices and responses were displayed on the Smartboard at the front of the room. Teachers could enter as many responses as they would like and they ranged from “coffee” to “curriculum” but the coolest part of this exercise was when a word cloud was created with all of the responses, and “students” was largely displayed in the center. This was not intentional but it could not have been scripted any better! It reinforces why our teachers do what they do on a daily basis and why they love their work (they can not be “thanked” enough, but, “thank you”!).

As teachers transitioned into their work, they had an opportunity to “think” about their discipline and review many resources that would help them formulate their thoughts before “pairing” up with course alike colleagues. Conversations were rich and the running document that staff were recording their thoughts in was populating rapidly. After a quick break, we came back and had a quick “brain boost” with the activity, “Gotcha”. The whole group participated, laughed, and had a good time while refocusing on the remainder of the session. This was also role-modeling the importance of incorporating brain boosts, or brain breaks, into their classes on a consistent basis.

After a whole group “share” to hear perspectives from the different Science sub-groups (Bio, Chem, Earth, & Physics), we transitioned to our final activity, the “Back to the Future” protocol. The goal of this activity was to “place” teachers in 2025 to consider how the program has evolved, what experiences the students are having in their classes, what the program “looked like” in 2018, and finally, how they got there. The discussions were thoughtful, provocative, and I believe solidified the foundation for the work that will need to happen as we move forward in real-time.

My favorite part of the morning happened when staff were “dismissed” for lunch. While, I would have loved more time to continue the protocol, and having run workshops and presentations many times in the past, I know to stick to an agenda timeline and never go over time, especially when it runs into lunch. As the clock wound down and representatives from each group hung their response posters along a wall, we broke for lunch. Except, no one left. They all stayed, for several minutes, and read each other’s work, almost like a gallery walk. Having worked with this group before, I was not surprised with their professionalism, but I was impressed and proud to work with them!

After lunch, we listened to a technology keynote by Bill Deery to set the tone for the afternoon sessions that staff had to choose from. My intent is not to shortchange the afternoon session, but the plan for this blog post was to focus on the a.m. experience. Overall, it was a productive afternoon, and day, all around...

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Have a great week!

Tags: #NGSS, #brainboost, #brainbreak, #Science

Please feel free to contact or follow me:
Twitter: @DavidGusitsch

Here are a few pictures from the professional learning sessions on Friday, 2/16/18:

Not surprisingly, “students” were at the center as teachers reflected on “celebrations” over the course of the school year!

A look at the outcomes that teachers were looking forward to achieving during the morning session:

Breakout groups at work with the Back to the Future activity:

Brainstorm reflections from 2025, 2018, and how we “got there”:

Caring professionals doing what caring professionals do, checking out each other's work on the gallery walk!

A few snaps from the afternoon session:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

School Culture - Choose Positive


School Culture - Choose Positive

“Outtakes”. A snippet of thoughts to kick off this blog post:
The life we live is typically impacted by the lens we choose to view it through.

Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

What I am looking forward to putting into practice, or continuing:
Highlighting positive events, activities, or actions around NCHS.

Quote(s) that resonated with me this week:
We can write our own story, or let someone else write it for us.

Each week, I consider a topic that would best represent how the week went or highlight something exceptional that took place. This was no exception this week, except this week was chock-full of activities and events. Instead of a particular occurrence, I wanted to put a spotlight on perspective and positive school culture. In addition to the regular agenda of meetings, visiting classes, and daily business, there were extracurricular activities, concerts, an evening budget meeting, a parent informational session, and more... Our schools in NCPS have SO MUCH “good” going on, every day. People do an amazing job of sharing through newsletters, twitter, blog posts, tv shows, and more, but we all have a choice as to how we perceive these messages.

A friend of mine, who does not work in education, sent me the below message. We share similar views as to what makes a successful, positive environment and often send/share messages that include such content. I found the one below to be particularly accurate when considering how we see the world around us. Are we seeing what is most important to us, or are we seeing things from many different perspectives?

What do you see?
By, Seth Godin

A better question might be, "what do you choose to see?"
If I take four professionals to the Whitney:
The architect sees the building, the sight lines, the way the people and the light flow.
The framer notices the craftsmanship and taste in the way the paintings are framed and hung.
The lighting designer can't help but comment on the new LEDs.
And the art dealer sees the names of each artist and marvels over career arcs.
When you read a blog post, or see a successful project or read about an innovation, what do you see?
Do you see the emotions and the fear and the grit of the people behind it?
Do you see the strategy and high-level analysis that went into it?
Or do you see the execution and technique?
Some people are willingly blind to metaphor, viewing each example as a special case. Others manage to connect the dots and find what they need just about anywhere.
You might not need more exposure to the new. Instead, it might pay to re-see what's already around you.

To be realistic, it is not always roses and there are trying times to work through as well. This is when it is important to remember the big picture and each component that makes up our great NCPS system. The below parable can be dated back thousands of years. I first heard it at a conference several years ago, and it has always stuck with me. If we only consider what we see in our own particular silos, we miss the sum of all of its parts. The fact that each person is “correct” in their observation, but “incorrect” from an overall viewpoint shows the importance of perspective. We should all do our best to listen and try to truly understand where someone is coming from before making a judgment call, or even trying to help.

The blind men and the elephant:

From: wikipediaThe parable of the blind men and an elephant originated in the ancient Indian subcontinent, from where it has been widely diffused. It is a story of a group of blind men, who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant body, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then describe the elephant based on their partial experience and their descriptions are in complete disagreement on what an elephant is. In some versions, they come to suspect that the other person is dishonest and they come to blows. The moral of the parable is that humans have a tendency to project their partial experiences as the whole truth, ignore other people's partial experiences, and one should consider that one may be partially right and may have partial information.

Looking ahead, this will be a topic that I will revisit. I am looking forward to attending RULER Training at Yale next month! It will focus on emotional intelligence, and ultimately overall positive school culture. Stay tuned for more positivity...

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Have a great week!

Tags: #ChoosePositive, @mrmcateer, @Hernbergler, @cveets117, NCHS Band, NCHS Orchestra, NCHS Chorus, NCHS Athletics, @ThisIsSethsBlog, @NCHS_CT, #perspective

Please feel free to contact or follow me:
Twitter: @DavidGusitsch

Here are a few pics, and a video, to support positive perspective and all the “good” that goes on around us, all the time:

Definitely one of my favorite displays at NCHS. Celebrating positivity!:

One Second Everyday (1SE) from NCHS, August - February:
Check out the youtube clip, here.

Students in action comparing evaporation rates in a lab with Mr. Hague:

Students get creative in Mr. Honohan’s Woodworking class:

Mr. McAteer’s flexible learning environment:

Ms. Martinich’s class discussing perspective by making observations from a “busy” scene:

The NCHS chorus and orchestra join forces for an amazing rendition of Carmina Burana:

The NCHS band kicks off the “All Ensemble” concert:

There is something for everyone at NCHS! Here is a nice, large group of parents attending a parent workshop on standardized testing:

It may have been a rainy/snowy morning, but Mrs. Vita caught/shared a great sunrise:

Lots of NCHS sporting events took place this week. Here are a few:

Ms. Hernberg shared some creative learning in her classes this week:

Instead of “first”, I prefer “Frequent Attempts In Learning”:

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Brainstorm Experience - The Power of Positivity and Optimism


Brainstorm Experience - The Power of Positivity and Optimism

“Outtakes”. A snippet of thoughts to kick off this blog post:
We all know that there is power in positivity and optimism, but it is usually easier to say than to do. Hearing from someone (Steve Gross) who has brought joy to some of the most grief-stricken areas on the planet, in a community like Newtown, puts many things in perspective.

What I am looking forward to putting into practice, or continuing:
Being grateful for all that I have.

Leading by example and maintaining a positive attitude.

Quote(s) that resonated with me this week:
“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

“If you want to be more optimistic, act like you already are.” Life is Good Kids Foundation, Core Belief

“Life isn’t easy, but there is goodness all around if we allow our brains to see it.” ~ Steve Gross

This past Thursday (2/1), I was fortunate to be able to attend the first-ever Brainstorm Experience event, put on by the Avielle Foundation, at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown (CT). They brought in Steve Gross (@ChiefPlaymaker) from the Life is Good Kids Foundation. Steve is, “a leader in the field of psychological trauma response and a pioneer in utilizing playful engagement and meaningful relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma.” I heard Steve speak last March in Boston at the SHAPE America National Convention and his message is one that I could listen to a dozen time and still benefit. Before getting into this particular event, it is important to provide a little context.

The Avielle Foundation was founded in December, 2012 by her parents after Avielle was tragically lost in the Sandy Hook school shooting. Their mission is, “to prevent violence and build compassion through neuroscience research, community engagement, and education”. They have committed their lives to researching and educating others on the science of the brain and hopefully help avoid future tragedies. To be in an auditorium with many people directly impacted by this tragedy who have come together to help others, is humbling. To say that the evening overall was moving would be an understatement. The event kicked off with an emotional song sung by a talented young lady accompanied by a gentleman with a guitar. It was evident the song was about Avielle, which made it that much more emotional.

After the intro song, Steve was introduced. To set the tone, he got the full-house up on their feet, put on an upbeat song, and got everyone moving and interacting. He called out numbers “one” through “six” which equated to people raising their hands up in the air, waving them side to side, doing an invisible hula hoop, hugging the person next to you, and double high-fiving. After just a couple of minutes, everyone in the room was re-energized, smiling, and ready to learn!

My biggest takeaway from the evening was that we are all not wired the same, but we all have a choice to how we respond to different events in our lives. Steve used the glass half-empty, half-full analogy with a level above and below each delineates “types of people”. Those additional people were, “I’m just grateful for the glass” to represent those eternally optimistic people, and, “There’s a spot on my freakin’ glass” to represent those who can find the negative in just about anything. Regardless of how we are wired, it is up to us to choose the positives that exist in ourselves, in others, and in the world around us.

The “world around us” can be the most challenging. To put this in perspective, he asked the crowd who thought the world was better off now than it used to be? Who thought it was about the same? And, who thought it was worse off than it used to be? This is obviously subjective and open to vast interpretation. Not surprisingly, it was a fairly even mix of responses between the three, from what I could tell from my seat.

The next slide was a collage of horrible news headlines (one reason, I am not a fan of mainstream media and the negativity that is constantly bombarding our society). The next three slides showed how the world has indeed improved from the 1800’s with a drop in global poverty, a rise in global literacy, and a drop in global child mortality (you can see these slides below). The point is, there are so many situations to be grateful for. Some may be more immediate, while others have been making progress for hundreds of years.

From a physiological standpoint, Steve showed a slide of a brain that has a significant amount more dendrite development from being in an enriched, nurtured environment. This particular study had to do with rats and being held by their caretakers, but the science holds up whether you are talking about rats, or humans. Research such as this shows the need to create and foster a positive learning environment for our students so we are able to help them grow cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally. All four of these are equally important.

Overall, the foundation of optimism is what helps our “well-rounded” tree of positivity (my words) grow. By no means, does this mean that we will not have to deal with adversity or work through difficult situations. However, having your emotional bank filled with lots of positive equity, allows for us to be more resilient during these trying times. The quote, “We can’t change what happened yesterday, we can’t control what will happen tomorrow, but we can LIVE in the moment…” is a fitting way to wrap this up. Things may be out of our control, but we can control how we respond and appreciate what we have in our lives right now...

Before signing off, it is worth noting that the next Brainstorm Experience speaker will be Kevin Hines with his talk, Cracked, Not Broken. Kevin is, “an avid brain health advocate who shares a powerful story of life after his Golden Gate Bridge suicide attempt, with the message that you are never alone in the fight for wellness”. Treat yourself to an educational evening out and support the Avielle Foundation and the Brainstorm Experience by purchasing tickets, here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Have a great week!

Tags: #BrainstormExperience, @ChiefPlaymaker, Avielle Foundation, Life is Good, #positivity, #optimism, #grateful

Please feel free to contact or follow me:
Twitter: @DavidGusitsch



Here are a few pics from the Brainstorm Experience event:

This graphic says so much:

The equation to a successful life, “Optimism over Adversity”:

Is the world better off now? It’s open to interpretation:

Physiological response to an “enriched” environment:

So true:

Monday, January 29, 2018

#FETC - Future of Education Technology Conference


#FETC - Future of Education Technology Conference

“Outtakes”. A snippet of thoughts to kick off this blog post:
#FETC was an amazing professional learning experience. I will let the extensive post below speak for itself.

What I am looking forward to putting into practice, or continuing:
Sharing exciting opportunities with colleagues.

Quote(s) that resonated with me this week:
Your best year of teaching, should be your next.

These technologies are going to reinvent how we teach every child on the planet. Not in 20 years or 10 years - the next 5 years. ~ Peter Diamandis

While students may be only 20% of our population, they are 100% of our future. ~ Richard Williams

How can you prepare students for the future if you are stuck in the past? ~ Ken Whytock

Pedagogy trumps technology. ~ Eric Sheninger

This week had a strong focus on professional learning for me and some of my NCHS colleagues. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the Future of Education Technology Conference (#FETC) in *Orlando, FL. On top of the approximately 12k attendees from around the globe, Donna Burns (Technology Integrator, @MrsBurns_NCHS), Mary Frostick (Math, @FrostickMary), Mike Staffaroni (Social Studies, @m_staffaroni), and Kelly Zilly (Career & Technical Education, @kellygracezilly), and I made up the team who represented NCHS for the 2018 #FETC conference. Kudos and gratitude to our school and district administrators who support these valuable learning experiences that foster continuous improvement that ultimately benefits our greatest stakeholders, our students.

Leading up to the conference the five of us met, planned, discussed sessions, and game planned how we were going to maximize this experience. This article, “7 Steps to Maximize Learning at Education Conferences in 2018” was a good resource. We shared our thoughts and exchanged personal information to communicate before, during, and after the event. This included using phone, text, Voxer, and Twitter. Ultimately, our goal is to filter our respective experiences and share and educate the rest of our colleagues on some of the latest and greatest trends in education. We will also meet in the coming week or so to discuss a presentation to the staff.

Trying to capture an experience of this magnitude could go on for several pages, so I will break it down into four sections with a brief overview of each: “sessions”, “keynotes”, “themes”, and “networking”. It is worth noting that the exhibition hall was amazing and included several hundred, maybe thousands of, vendors from all aspects of education. I will include some photos of this space as well.

There were twenty sessions total that I attended over the four days ranging from forty minutes to two hours. Of these, I will choose my top five(ish) with a little description why they were my favorite. If a link to the presentation was provided I will embed it in the title. Without further adieu, and in no particular order:

It’s More than Just Paint Color: School-Wide Learning Space Design Initiatives
Jennifer Williams @jenwilliamsedu, Frances Siracusa @profeedtech, Jessie Boyce @jessxbo

I highly anticipated this session because I am a believer in considering multiple different options for learning environments. I also believe in incorporating movement into learning (for more on that, check out this TED talk by international speaker, Mike Kuczala @kinestheticlass). With either, you must keep in mind that it has to be an authentic learning experience. Students want to learn by “doing”. A few of the other key points that were highlighted include: learning takes place in a physical environment; students look, feel, listen and learn actively; a physical environment affects emotional response. With any change or adjustment, one must always consider, “What is the Why? What is the How?”. It is certainly more than just the space, it is also about the culture...

Schools That Work for Kids; BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning
Eric Sheninger @e_sheninger

Eric is an internationally recognized educator, author, and speaker who has an interesting story that I found applicable to many educators today. As a principal in New Jersey, he was leading in a traditional sense (my words), until he started listening to what students had to say about their experience in his school. He shared that he went from an administrator who was suspending students for having their devices out in school to embracing technology, becoming a “digital pioneer”, and using this powerful tool to improve learning. For a deeper look at Eric Sheninger, please check out his website, here. I could definitely write an entire blog post on his sessions but I will choose a few key highlights. My favorite takeaways from the first session were: Pedagogy first, technology second when appropriate; Pedagogy is the driver and technology is the accelerator; Engagement does not always equate to learning; and Real-World Ready: Leveraging Digital tools (link). Quite simply, my favorite takeaway from the second session with him was: Branding = relationship; Branding = relationship = value.

Note: please check out some of the great resoruces that Eric has available through the International Center for Leardership in Education by clicking on the following link:

What if We Ran Schools Like Google? 
David Lockhart - Kennesaw State University @bigguyinabowtie

I am a big fan of Google and all that it can do (and know I am not alone). I will get into themes in a couple of sections below, but this falls under that category as well. Just because we work in education does not mean that we can not model our “business” after extremely successful business models in the corporate world. This is not a simple cut and paste, as it will need to be a good fit for your respective school/district, but the principles are basic, simple, and make sense. They are: Be transparent, Give back, Have a voice, Be inclusive, and Care about your well being (which aligns nicely with our NCPS Employee Wellness Program, @BeWellNCPS…). I believe in each of the aforementioned and feel confident in applying each to work on a consistent, if not daily, basis.

Also, worth noting under the umbrella of Google: Kyle Pace (@kylepace) is a Director of Technology in Kansas City, MO. He did several sessions on “google-specifics”, including “Leading Google Style” which I found to be time well spent and a tremendous resource. On top of that, Kyle is a talented presenter who I hope to continue to learn from virtually.

Making Your School Something Special; Much Better Staff and Team Meetings
Rushton Hurley   @rushtonh

Rushton is a great presenter. His sessions were engaging and made me think. He also provided opportunities to connect with others in the audience, which I always appreciate (building the professional learning network, or, PLN). I look forward to going back through my notes and finding more meaningful nuggets that can be applied at NCHS. The first session takeaways included: What do you wish for your school?; Does what we do matter?; Am I inspiring staff?; Even the most cynical staff are ready to do something cool/great if given the chance… This is oversimplifying the second session, but my top-two takeaways were: Time should be used to inspire colleagues; If you are laughing along the way, you are doing it right. Have fun with it!

The opening keynote by Sir Ken Robinson was a career highlight for me. I felt like a kid waiting in line to get into a favorite (insert your fondest childhood experience, here). After arriving about 45 minutes early and securing a set of seats in the third/middle row, we were ready for showtime. And, he did not disappoint! In case you have not seen it, please check out his "Changing Education Paradigms" TED talk, here. As of this post, it has 1.9 million views. He even joked how tired his hand got from hitting “play” that many times on youtube :) Here is an article that does a nice job describing his keynote: FETC 2018: Ken Robinson argues 2 key points in support of creative schools - More pressure is needed from the bottom up if a push for creativity over standardization is to continue forcing change. Some of my favorite quotes are listed below in the Twitter pictures.

The Thursday keynote was titled, “Tech Live!” with @kathyschrock, @adambellow, and @lesliefisher. It kicked off with a hilarious song parody called, “Tech Lab Down the Hall” which brought us down memory lane with Oregon Trail, early Apple, DOS, dot-matrix printers, and more. Treat yourself by checking it out, here. This was followed by some ready to use apps and some mind-blowing examples of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and more. The future truly is now and our students will literally be designing our future. There are some pics of some of my favorites below.

Finally, the Friday keynote began with STEM awards for elementary, middle and high school programs from across the nation. There were some impressive examples of STEM integration and how it helped to transform student learning in their respective schools. This was followed by a session titled, “The Value of Inclusive STEM Education: Robots and their Role in our Future”, by Dr. Ayanna Howard. She broke down our interactions with robots, both now and in the future. Her first point was that humans trust robots and gave some examples that show robots in VR and helping in rehab situations. Her next point was that humans trust robots in high-risk scenarios. Think, autonomous driving vehicles. Next, she discussed how our “intelligent” machines are inheriting our human biases and gave some examples of how race and gender have played into some robot responses. Ultimately, through the use of STEM educational apps, tangibles, and coding, Dr. Howard concluded that Humans + Robots, can, = Friends. Feel free to check out more using the hashtag #roleofrobots on twitter.

We must evolve and provide an education that our students will be exposed to in the future and not teach/lead “the way we were taught”. I.e., always practice continuous improvement...

This may sound obvious, but flexible learning environments can take many forms and help meet the needs of different learning needs of the wide array of learners in your classroom. We must get away from the industrial-era format of education where students are confined to desks in rows and cram/regurgitate information.

There is nothing more valuable than student-voice. Check in with your students, often, and listen to what they have to say. And, act/adapt accordingly!

Always focus on quality pedagogy. Student learning should always be paramount.

If I had to sum up quality networking opportunities, such as this one, I would use “priceless”. Having an extensive PLN that allows you to regularly collaborate, share resources, and challenge your thinking is worth its weight in gold. Professional learning can literally take place 24/7/365 from anywhere in the world and these connections allow that to happen as much or as little as time allows. A good analogy I heard is, “an online PLN is like a river (or faucet) that is always flowing. You can visit it and grab a little or big drink as often as you like/need.” There was a popular hashtag that I saw shared throughout the conference, #FindYourTribe. This is a perfect descriptor to expand your PLN. The people that I mentioned above are just a few that I plan on interacting with in the coming year to continue to learn/grow and be better able to serve all stakeholders in New Canaan.

* A final thought: I think it is worth noting, that while it is nice to be in a fair-weather destination - 90+% of the time spent at a conference is inside a huge convention center, usually with no windows (pretty ironic…). I only include this because the majority of the people who ask how the conference was, always include, “Must be nice!...”.

Positive experience? Absolutely! Vacation? Far from it… Worthwhile learning experience? 100%! I have never returned from a convention of this scale without being much better able to serve my district. Finally, a special thank you to @JenWomble and her team for organizing and putting on this world-class professional learning experience for educators across the nation and around the world!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Have a great week!

Tags: #FETC, @MrsBurns_NCHS, @FrostickMary, @m_staffaroni, #FindYourTribe, @BeWellNCPS, @kinestheticlass, @kylepace, @E_Sheninger, @SirKenRobinson, @rushtonh, @JenWomble. @kathyschrock, @adambellow, @lesliefisher, @nchscolcar, @drmcgettigan

Please feel free to contact or follow me:

Twitter: @DavidGusitsch



Here are a few pics from the #FETC conference:

A look at the Orange County Convention Center from the outdoor (photo credit: @kellygracezilly)

A view from the front and center for the #FETC keynotes:

What more can we ask?

A few of my favorite Tweets from the @SirKenRobinson keynote:

Getting creative with music using incredibox (the options are endless)

Simple, but this amazed me (and, I will use it)

A program that shows the finished product without opening the box (no surprises here!)

Think of the possibilities:

The Six Basic Principles of Culture for Google:

Looking North to South in the exhibition hall:

Some of the flexible seating/furniture on display:

A portable planetarium (this was amazing with great potential for multi-disciplinary offerings)

Of all the thousands of people in attendance, I got to meet up with the sister of our NCHS College and Career Center’s very own, Susan Carroll @nchscolcar - Dr. Joan McGettigan! @drmcgettigan

Friday, January 19, 2018

#NCHS_WE: providing unity in our community!



“Outtakes”. A snippet of thoughts to kick off this blog post:

This week brought the first iteration of the NCHS Wellness-Enrichment offerings during midterms. We are looking forward to learning from this experience and continuing to grow opportunities that foster a positive school environment, all year long.

What I am looking forward to putting into practice, or continuing:

Seeing students and staff coming together to participate in activities that they have chosen and enjoy.

Quote(s) that resonated with me this week:

Taking time for yourself is always worth it.

#NCHS_WE: providing unity in our community!

After a snowy return from the holiday break, we finally got to midterm week at NCHS. As discussed throughout the first semester by the administrative team, teachers, parents, and students, we wanted to offer something that would lighten the stressful atmosphere and possibly even provide some fun. Enter, #NCHS_WE. Leading up to this week, we gathered information through surveys from staff and students and tried to cater offerings to what people were most interested in. This was a great collaboration by staff, students, and parents that kicked off on the first day of exams. Below is the message that was sent out to students:

Greetings Students,

During exam week, we are considering offering some wellness-enrichment activities between the exam periods for students (and staff) to have options to de-stress, prepare for upcoming exams, or just have some fun (there is a great amount of research on activity and mood as it relates to positive academic performance).

All offerings are intended to be non-curricular and encourage a positive experience through individual choice. These may include physical activity offerings in our larger spaces, or something that you are enthusiastic about based on your area(s) of interest throughout the rest of the building (musical offerings, art offerings, club-related offerings). Some ideas that have been shared include badminton, guided meditation, yoga, kan-jam, spikeball, volleyball, musical jam session(s), karaoke, board games, puzzles, sudoku, etc... Of course, having quiet spaces for students to study will always be an option.

In an effort to guide our planning, we have put together a quick survey (less than 2 minutes) to see what your interest level may be in participating in any activities/offerings. Your participation is dependent on your schedule, so there is no strict commitment. You may choose to participate in an activity for one or two days, or for all four. Our hope is that you will enjoy checking out some, or many, of the offerings and have some fun with your peers (and maybe even teachers)!

The purpose of the survey was two-fold. One was to gather information and the other was to provide awareness about the concept of #NCHS_WE. Responses were thoughtful and helped guide next steps. We also had one of our students, Olivia, write an impressive article for the online edition of the school newspaper, NCHS Courant. She did her research and included some good links to back up the science behind incorporating movement into the learning process. You can check it out, here.

As of this post, we are halfway through midterms and the response has been positive. Following exams, we will send out a follow-up survey to students and staff to see what went well, which offerings did not bring in the crowds, and solicit ideas for future experiences.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the #NCHS_WE kick-off a success and thank you for taking the time to check out this post. Have a great weekend!

Tags: @NCHS_CT, #NCHS_WE, #wellness, @ofl_courant, @NCHSCourant, @BeWellNCPS

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Twitter: @DavidGusitsch



Here are a few pics from the Wellness-Enrichment activities that have taken place so far:

Part of the “advertising campaign”:

The poster of #NCHS_WE offerings:

Grab and go snacks were a hit:

No surprise, the dogs were a hit:

Some of the creative offerings:

Guided meditation and activity offerings:

Zen Zone with virtual koi pond!

Who doesn’t love a happy dog?! Thanks to Scooter, Bob, and Meca:

Different parts of the brain that are activated after particular activities:

A picture is worth 1,000 words:

Coincidence that the News had a piece on “being well” this week??: