Friday, March 2, 2018

The Relationship Bank Account

In our 8th grade leadership group, SEALs (Service, Education, Attitude, and Leadership), we do a book study on the Sean Covey book, The Six Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make. One of the major tenets of Mr. Covey's book is a concept known as the "Relationship Bank Account." This idea holds that every relationship that we have is similar to a financial account that has either a positive balance or a negative balance. Naturally, the higher the balance the stronger the relationship.

Covey (2006) also asserts that deposits can be made into these relationship accounts and withdrawals can be taken out. When you do something positive for someone with whom you have a relationship, you make a deposit. When you do something negative, you make a withdrawal. The goal, therefore, is to have a healthy balance in every relationship account.

As teachers, we have a Relationship Bank Account with every student in our care. We make small deposits into their bank accounts each time we say hello to them, give them a fist bump, ask them how they are doing, or ask them how their weekend was. We make mid-sized deposits by helping them with work in class or assisting them with minor problems. We make huge deposits when we go to their school events to watch them, visit them when they are in the hospital, or take the time to brag on them to their parents. We make withdrawals any time we have to discipline them or give them other negative consequences. Therefore, some withdrawals are necessary. We also make withdrawals when we let them down, treat them unfairly, or don't do what we say we will do.

Some students can be so difficult that it is all we can do to keep our account out of the red. With most, however, it is relatively easy to keep a healthy account. All we have to do is notice them, talk with them, and take good care of them when they need us. Have you checked your balances lately?

Upcoming Events

5 - 9 - Diagnostician's Week
6 - Texas Primary Election Day, voting at WGMS in room A206
7 - Cheer tryouts, main gym, 4:30
8 - Track meet @ Forney
9 - Aim for Succes abstinence assemblies, 8th Science classes
12 - 16 - Spring Break

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Learning Walks for Teacher Improvement

Think back, all you teachers out there, to the semester of college that you did your observation hours. We were required to go to a teacher's classroom and watch him or her teach for x number of hours. This was supposed to help us see examples of great teaching that we could then transfer to own classrooms. Before student teaching, we observed lessons taught by our mentor; then, we took over the teaching.

For many teachers, sadly, that is the last time we have watched someone else teach. We go to our rooms daily; and for the most part, do it just like we have in years past. Sure, we read books about instruction, attend conferences on instruction, and do other types of professional development. But sometimes the best PD is right next door to our own classrooms.

As a principal, I get to see the best of the best teach. I have seen a countless number of incredible lessons and activities during my tenure at WGMS, everything from battles being re-enacted and rockets being launched to students writing powerful poetry and then sharing it in a coffee house. I have become a better teacher myself as a direct result of watching our teachers teach.

You don't always have to drive to a conference or workshop to get better at your craft. You simply need to take a stroll down the hall.

Upcoming Events

19 - iPlan Day at MHS, 8:00 - 3:30
19 - Alan November debrief, 3:30, library
23 - 4th six weeks ends
24 - Band Solo and Ensemble Contest
26 - Lead Teacher meeting, 4:00

2 - Last day to enter purchase orders for supplies

Friday, February 2, 2018

Get Them Talking

Think back to when you were in school for a moment. The model classroom was eerily silent as students toiled away on individual work assignments. Talking of any was frowned upon in class, and resulted in a lecture from the teacher, detention, or even worse for repeat offenders.

Today'c classroom looks and sounds nothing like those of the past. Students are busy working collaboratively, and noise is the norm. In fact, a quiet classroom today is sometimes considered boring.

When we did our book study of The Fundamental 5 back in 2015, we read about the power of Frequent, Small Group, Purposeful Talk, or FSGPT. This instructional strategy allows for time set aside for kids to engage each other in conversation that is directly connected to what you are teaching. For example, a teacher might ask students to turn to a partner and spend two minutes discuss the following:

A character's traits or motives in ELAR
The steps to solve a simple equation in Math
A leader's strategy in a key Civil War Battle in Social Studies
Why a chemical reaction occurred in a Science lab
Why an artist may have chosen to create a particular painting

The possibilities really are endless. According to the book's authors, Cain and Laird (2011), FSGPT provides an opportunity for students to teach each other, resulting in high rates of retention and high levels of thinking. Furthermore, they assert that FSGPT "resets" students' attention spans, which last only about 8-10 minutes for 6th-8th graders.

As you know, middle school kids love to talk. Let's steer that chatter towards learning!

Upcoming Events

5 thru 9 - School Counselors Week
7 - Grand Prairie ISD visits WGMS
8 - 6th Grade Aim for Success Cyberbullying assemblies in Math classes
8 - Basketball vs. Red Oak, boys home, girls away, 5:30
8 - Parent U Alan November technology presentation,  11:15am @ admin and 6:00pm @ Heritage
9 - Sonic Drink Day for staff, conference room
9 - 7th Grade Aim for Success Cyberbullying assemblies in Math classes
10 - Choir All-region Clinic and Contest, here, all day
12 - 8th Grade Aim for Success Cyberbullying assemblies in Math classes
13 thru 15 - Bruce Ahlborn from Apple works with WGMS teachers
16 - No school
17 - Wildcat Dancers contest @ Grapevine H.S.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Keep the Fire Burning

I believe that our professional lives are much like a fire that burns within us, that is, a level of passion for our work. For some, that fire may have gone out years ago, resulting in job dissatisfaction, poor performance, and consequently, the changing of jobs. Conversely, they are those out there who are constantly looking for ways to improve, to learn more, and to better serve others. Regardless of where we fall on this spectrum, we all have a fire inside us, be it a small flame or a roaring inferno. The level of own fire depends solely upon us and how we tend to it. If left unattended, it will go out.

I believe strongly that great educators have a fire that is consistently burning red hot. Sure, they have bad days or even bad weeks. Certainly, they see the myriad of things that we have to do as teachers as overwhelming and tough. However, they never lose focus on what is important: great instruction and caring relationships with students. In fact, their fire is built upon those two pillars.

In order to keep our fires going, they must be fed regularly. We have to keep learning by reading and by seeking out relevant professional development. We have to continue to refine our craft, understanding that no lesson is ever perfect. We must seek out ways to better build relationships with our kids. We all must seek out ways to serve others better. These acts throw huge logs on our professional fires and keep them burning white hot. How high is your fire?

Upcoming Events


23 - Lovejoy ISD to visit GCS
23 - 5th Grade Parent Night, 6:00, cafeteria
25 - Basketball vs. Finley, boys home, girls away, 5:30
26 - Cat Night, 6:00 - 10:00


1 - Basketball vs. Ennis, girls home, boys away, 5:30

Friday, December 8, 2017

They Almost Always Turn Out Just Fine - Part II

He was a sneaky kid with shifty eyes, and kind of small for his age. You always suspected that he was doing something wrong because every time you looked at him he seemed to be watching you to see if you were watching him. Besides that, his hair was constantly out of dress code. His grades weren't that great either.

He would hardly speak to you when you spoke to him, and he never looked you in the eye when you talked to him. When he was in the 8th grade, he went to I.S.S. for throwing a shot put into a urinal in the boys' bathroom and breaking the urinal.  Surely this young man was destined for a life of no good, I thought to myself.

And then he came to see me this past summer, all grown up. He waltzed right into my office with a gun. And a badge. And dressed in the navy blue uniform of the Midlothian Police Department.

I felt shock at first when I laid eyes on Michael Geary that June afternoon. Then, I felt excitement for what he had become. Finally, I felt guilt for prematurely sentencing him to a miserable, unproductive life. It seems, at times, that I can be the world's worst about doing what I call "playing God," that is, to predict a kid's future life by the way they conduct themselves when they are 13 years old.

You see, Michael was thinking about his own future much more than I thought he was. He knew that he needed to do something with his life, so he joined the Marine Corps after high school. He learned discipline and the value of teamwork while serving others. This experience changed his life and gave him the character, work ethic, and skills that help him as he serves our community today.

It seems that I constantly have to remind myself that they almost always turn out just fine.

        Michael Geary in 2007                                                                   Michael Geary in 2017 

Upcoming Events


12 - Choir Winter Party, here, 6:00 - 8:00
13 - Faculty meeting, 4:00, library
14 - Basketball vs. Terrell, girls home, boys away, 5:30
15 - Cupp's Kids
15 - Christmas Dance, 7:00 - 9:00, cafeteria and gyms
18 - Band Christmas Concert, MHS Auditorium, 6:30
20 - 7th Period Exam Schedule
21 - Exams for periods 1, 3, and 5, early release @ 1:55
22 - Exams for periods 2, 4, and 6, early release @ 1:55 
22 - Band trip to Six Flags, 3:00 - 10:00
23 - Jan. 7 - Christmas Break


8 - Staff development day, @ WGMS, Canvas in a.m., plan in PLC's p.m.
9 - 4th six weeks begins
11 - 6th grade No Zeroes Party, 3:15, cafe and gym
11 - Basketball vs. FSMS, boys home, girls away, 5:30
12 - Report cards go home
12 - Cupp's Kids
12 - 7th/8th No Zeroes Party, 3:15, cafe and gym
13 - Girls basketball tournament, 8:00 - 3:00, here and at MHHS
16 - 18 - Bruce Ahlborn from Apple Computer @ WGMS to work with teachers
18 - Spelling Bee, cafeteria, 9:00


Friday, November 10, 2017

It's an Honor to Honor Our Veterans

I know that I am a bit biased but I firmly believe that our Veterans Day Assembly is second to none. To even call it just an assembly is a bit like calling the Mona Lisa just another painting. Our assembly is a masterpiece, a production that impacts everyone who attends. Mr. Jaffe does an amazing job each year of maintaining the key components of the program that have become tradition while always adding a few new things to keep it exciting.

This year's program was also a masterpiece. The choir and band both sounded amazing, far beyond what most middle school kids sound like. The video presentation was more than powerful. Our student body showed a level of respect and appreciation that truly blessed our Veterans and other guests. It is truly an honor for our school to be able to do this for our Veterans.

One thing that I've learned about life in my  years on this earth is that our lives have little to do with us. Life is about relationships. It is about giving to and serving others. Today our school built relationship with and served a most deserving group of people - the men and women who first served us.

Upcoming Events

13 - Tennis Match @ FSMS, 4:00
16 - 6th Grade No Zeroes Party, 3:15, cafeteria
16 - Basketball vs. Wax. Howard, boys home girls away, 5:30
17 - Coffee bar for all staff, all morning, conference room
17 - 7th/8th Grade No Zeroes Party, 3:15, cafeteria
20 - 24 - Thanksgiving Break
30 - Basketball vs. Forney Brown, girls home boys away, 5:30

1 - Lunch and Learn Potluck, CBI room, all lunches

Friday, October 27, 2017

McClure Honored at Mavs Game

On October 18th, WGMS 7th grader Brody McClure experienced a night that he will never forget. He was selected as an honorary co-captain of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team when the Mavs played the Atlanta Hawks. McClure received this honor because his science teacher Jacob Gordon nominated him. The co-captain program is sponsored by Exxon Mobil and seeks to honor students who excel at science, technology, engineering, and/or math.

As a part of being co-captain, Brody received two tickets to a Mavs home game and a co-captain t-shirt. He enjoyed a pre-game shoot around on the court, sat on the bench with the team during warm ups, and stood on the court during team introductions. Regarding the whole experience, Brody states, "It was awesome. This was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I was standing one foot away from Dirk." McClure also spoke with Mavs guard Devin Harris, Dallas's captain for the game.

This incredible privilege would have never happened for Brody if Mr. Gordon had not taken the time to nominate him. I appreciate him for taking the time to complete the nomination form. Mr. Gordon already knew that Brody is a huge Mavericks fan -- Brody wears Mavs t-shirts regularly. Mr. Gordon also noticed that Brody talked about the Mavs in class frequently. Therefore, when Jacob saw an email in his inbox from Exxon Mobil seeking co-captains for the game, he thought of Brody immediately. This one small act reaped huge benefits for one very awesome and lucky 7th grader!

Upcoming Events

30 - 7th FB vs. Red Oak, away, 5:30
31 - 8th FB vs. Red Oak, @ Don Floyd, 5:30

3 - Cupp's Kids
3 - 2nd Six Weeks
3 - Theater/Choir musical, Annie, Cafeteria, 7:00
4 - Theater/Choir musical, Annie, Cafeteria, 7:00
6 - Pep rally schedule, pep rally @ 3:30
7 - 7th FB vs. Lancaster, @Don Floyd, 5:30
7 - 8th Science to Perot Museum
8 - 8th FB vs. Lancaster, away, 5:30
8 - Faculty meeting, 4:00, paras welcome but not required
10 - Veterans Day Assembly, 10:30, luncheon at 11:30