I Wish My Teacher Knew…


Back To School.…words that inspire excitement, nerves, uncertainty, wonder.  Depending upon who you speak to, the feelings will vary.  I’m certain our young PreK and Kindergarten students have been excitedly awaiting the first day, when they will line up outside with their class and begin what will be a long adventure at Belmar Elementary School.  I’m just as certain that our elementary and middle school students have been calling (maybe texting?) their friends since the long-awaited Homeroom Assignment letter landed in their mailboxes.  “Who did you get?”  “Does he/she give a lot of homework?” “What are you wearing the first day?” “What do we need the first day?”  These are just a few of the things running through our students’ minds.  But there are other things our students need to know and, perhaps more importantly, need us to know about them.

Recently, a trending hashtag has gone viral on social media.  A 3rd grade teacher in Denver, Colorado wanted to know her students in more important ways than the simple demographic information teachers are given at the beginning of the school year.  So, for one of her students’ first assignments, Kyle Schwartz wrote the following statement on the board and asked her students to complete the rest: “I Wish My Teacher Knew___________________.”

What followed were simple statements that gave the teacher powerful insight into the lives of her students and gave voice to asking for what they needed.  “I wish my teacher knew reading is really hard for me.” “I wish my teacher knew I don’t have pencils at home.” “I wish my teacher knew my reading log is not signed because my mom works late at night.” “I wish my teacher knew I wish I had a friend to play with.”

One simple question changed the way the teacher saw and responded to her students.  It allowed her to build stronger, more sensitive relationships with her students and their families and helped to build a learning environment in which students truly felt understood.

This year, the BES Principal’s Book Club will readI Wish My Teacher Knew” by Kyle Schwartz as a way of continuing to seek opportunities to meet the needs of our learners and to help them feel supported in ways beyond textbooks and assignments.  In the hopes of getting to know our students better, I will be collecting voluntary responses in a box outside the office labeled “I Wish My Principal Knew______.” As parents, perhaps our children would welcome the chance to respond to “I Wish My Mom/Dad Knew________.”

As we begin another exciting school year, I wish all of our students the very best and hope this year that they find their voices in letting us know what they need most.  #iwishmyteacherknew

Mrs. Lisa Gleason, Principal/Director of Curriculum






Gratitude…At Home and In the Classroom

For-Believers-Every-Day-Is-Thanksgiving-Day (1)

As we roll in to the month of November and lessons and discussions about early Native Americans, colonial settlers, and Thanksgiving traditions abound in the classroom, this is an excellent opportunity for us all, students, staff, parents, families and our school community at large, to reflect upon the concept of “gratitude,” and to consider the ways in which we can ensure that thankfulness is not isolated simply to the month of November.

As I walk through the classrooms, halls, and grounds of Belmar Elementary School and attend the myriad athletic and extra-curricular events that are a rich part of our school tapestry, I have become more and more aware of how truly appreciative I am for being a part of our wonderful school community and how the relationships I’ve developed with students, teachers, staff, parents, and families have grown and developed into very special connections that I am confident will endure for many years.  I’ve also become conscious of the fact that nurturing this “attitude of gratitude” is an action, not simply a feeling.  It takes time to reflect, to purposefully focus on the many positive things happening in our lives, to mindfully turn away from negativity.  Even with my own children in college and high school, my personal time can be fraught with busy schedules, grad school, making dinners, and attending evening events.  How do we recharge our batteries and refill our own “buckets?” How can we support our students in engaging in this same practice?

In a 2008 research study published in the Journal of School Psychology, counting blessings as part of a classroom practice was associated with enhanced self-reported gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction, and decreased negative affect (Froh, Sefick, Emmons).  Knowing that students are faced with social and emotional challenges throughout their adolescence, it behooves us to increase opportunities for them to experience gratitude-inducing experiences.  These can include daily journaling with a focus on appreciating the people and things we have in our lives, meal time practices of expressing gratitude for small moments in our day, classroom morning meetings which incorporate activities for thanking our peers for their friendship, and other teachable moments that increase positive behavior and feelings of satisfaction.

So before we break for Thanksgiving recess, before we gather with our family and friends for a bountiful meal, let’s all take the opportunity to count our blessings and say Thank You….every day….throughout the entire year!

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!
Lisa Gleason, Principal


Welcome Back

school picAs we prepare to kick off the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, I’m certain that our students are experiencing many emotions….excitement for new teachers and friends, melancholy for the end of summer vacation, perhaps apprehension about the unknown in the upcoming grade level, to name just a few.  I think back to my own childhood, remembering how September would bring much ado with new school clothes, book bags, lunchboxes, and the anticipation of the homeroom assignment letter!  While much may have changed in the educational landscape with new standards, teacher evaluation systems, PARCC assessments, and the like…much remains the same.  I sincerely hope that this time finds your child filled with hopefulness for the new school year, that our families are winding down this summer with the not-too-distant memories of a wonderful summer, and that each and every one of our students comes back to school knowing that our staff of passionate educators is ready and waiting to help make a difference in their lives.

We are INSPIRED, UNITED, PREPARED…..Soaring to Excellence!

See you on September 8th!

Lisa Hannah, Principal