April 29-May 13

May 13---I think, I learned, I am

The students revisited their leadership goals this afternoon and offered some self-feedback on one thing they’ve done well/improved on/worked towards this week and one thing that they can continue to work on/improve upon/change.

Afterwards, they were asked to think about the year in summary and what their answer would be if someone like a parent or friend asked them what they learned.  They each wrote a one sentence response starting with “I learned…

Finally, we did the fourth and final symbol on the wood tokens.  This is their I AM symbol.  Again, reflecting on the year and who they are now as individuals, the students were asked to complete the statement “I am... and draw a symbol that represents that statement.  

 May 10---Integrity and Leadership

This morning we reviewed what the students had written on Friday April 29 about how they were going to show leadership for the remainder of the school year.  We had enough time today to hear all three examples from all but one absent student.  The purpose: accountability for what you write and say you are going to do. Some common responses: Being kind, being supportive, speaking up, letting others speak up, talking at the appropriate times and not at the inappropriate times, listening to others’ ideas, being positive (specifically when challenged).  Great answers.  The right answers. Now act on it.

May 9---Weekly Homework and Tally Review

Homework was assigned and handed out.  What to expect?  Based on the feedback from last week, and what the students said was needed, the students were told to expect direct, swift, and strict behavior management. 

April 29---What Happens When there’s Deviation from the Normal Schedule

We looked at the data and the results are clear: what happen is an increase in behavioral issues, increased tallies, stressed out teachers and less fun. When asked what is needed (not necessarily wanted) to maintain a respectful classroom, the response was strict and swift consequences (like the tally system), as well as rewards.  We looked at how the behaviors increase when the accountability system is not in place and the daily structure is not maintained.  And then how behaviors decrease when swift and strict consequences and a system for accountability is in place.  There was also recognition that rewards lead to a more respectful classroom.


April 7-April 15

April 15---Grandparent’s Day

April 14---Leadership Support

In looking at yesterday’s tally count of 17, we needed to revisit how the class got the that point and why.  It came down to support.  If there’s a leader that is not being supported, then tallies accrue.  If that leader doesn’t feel supported, they don’t feel confident, and tallies accrue.  If that leader is not respected, then tallies accrue.  Some good feedback was offered in regards to what a leader needs to be in order to be effective, what they need in order to feel supported, and what needs to happen if the designated leader is someone that you don’t agree with or respect.  

The big piece is :SUPPORT.  

April 13---Boosterthon Name Selections

The kids voted on homeroom Boosterthon names.

Jeff: Gramer Poleese (Grammar Police)

Marni: Better Than You

April 11---Downtown Planet Plaque Delivery Trip

We took the planet plaques downtown today and delivered them to 10 local businesses.  They will be up for the next month.


March 22-April 6

March 22---Leadership Meeting #2

Our young leaders spent time this morning being reflective and giving themselves feedback.  We spoke about the tendency that most, if not all, of us have to point the finger elsewhere and not take responsibility when things do not go well...and even when things do go well.  There’s an aversion to giving and receiving feedback because we take it personally as an attack on who we are, our self worth, our abilities, etc.  The students were asked to separate their behaviors and actions from who they are as a person and to give themselves a piece of positive feedback as well as a piece of constructive feedback.  Some of the other topics covered during the meeting were:

-Speaking to and making eye contact with your audience to engage them in what you have to say

-Be specific when giving feedback by using examples of behaviors, words, actions

-When giving self feedback, recognize that positives and constructives are both valuable so use ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ when talking about areas of improvement (I’m good at…’and’ I can improve on…)

-Check in with yourself and gauge your level of responsibility before pointing the finger and assigning blame/or giving credit

April 6---Feedback

How's Marni doing?  What do the students think?  Essentially: she's awesome.  Yes, there are some logistical factors that could be tuned up (like more brownies and dance parties), but overall she's engaging, fun, safe, comforting, and...well, you get the idea.  

We also offered feedback regarding overall class behavior and the fact that in the past 3 weeks, both classes have accrued only 25 tallies.  In the 2 weeks before that, the class had accrued over 75.  Nice job team!

March 17-21

March 21---This is the week

Homework was assigned in math. Reminders about this week’s Expedition Night were given.  OTC medication forms were passed out.


In crew we voted on the Downtown Asheville Solar System route plan and design.  Last week we narrowed it down to 6 and today the class selected Zoe L.’s design as the winning design.  Next, we’ll be glazing, mounting, and installing our 10 plaques into supporting Asheville businesses.

March 18---Let’s Review

We spent this morning reviewing the Community Handbook to freshen up on ECCS policies. In light of students’ continued unauthorized use of their electronics at school (Snapchat, Instagram, etc.), we reviewed the electronics section.  In light of recent events and ongoing behavior issues, we reviewed the Positive Discipline section.  This was important for both students and staff alike, as these policies can easily be forgotten as the year progresses.  


March 17---Jumping for St. Patty’s Day

The sixth grade team was jumping today.  Not JUST jumping, but Goal Jumping.  Each student took a running start and jumped as far as they could.  The next student in line had to jump from the landing spot of the previous jumper.  Once everyone jumped, the cumulative length of all the 6th graders was measured (302 feet).  But could they go further?  We added 50 more feet and set 352 feet as their goal.  They really needed all students to give their best to reach the goal and they did!  This led to a powerful debrief where they recognized the efforts of their classmates, the need for support, and how working together toward a common goal makes things faster and easier.


March 14-16

March 16---Leadership Meeting #1

Students were presented with the opportunity to join a Leadership Group early last week.  It was a process that involved following directions and ultimately resulted in 25 students completing the tasks and meeting this morning.  In an effort to be brief, these are the things we covered:

-Read and follow directions

-Read and follow directions

-Repeat the directions twice for those that did not listen the first time

-Listen to others

-Delegate responsibility (time keepers, backup for time keeper, caller on-er)

-Take notes for future reference

-Shoot for efficiency, set time limits and stick to time limits

-Decide what you want to accomplish (goal setting)

-Follow directions


It was a very respectful meeting with the goals of Getting the whole class to Final, eliminating systems, having fun, gaining leadership skills for life, and finding a solution.  The students were very respectful of each other and the conversation and were able to speak up in a way they hadn’t done before.  We are excited about what this group will be doing as young leaders.


March 15---South American Teamwork

This morning we watched a video of an Incan village tradition.  Every year for the past 300 years, this tribe spends 3 days constructing a bridge made of grass.  The grass is wound into cord, the cord is wound into rope, and the ropes are braided into the support lines that traverse the river.  They use the old bridge to walk the support lines across, and then cut the old bridge down to be washed away by the river.  We used this as a conversation starter for how it relates to 6th grade.  What is required for this to work? Who participates in this tradition? Which Habits of Scholars do they use?

The students clearly understood and recognized the need for teamwork, collaboration, perseverance, effort of mind and body, fun, etc. to complete this ancient practice.  Doug spoke about the What, How, and Why of what we teach during morning meetings and class meetings.

March 14---Role Changes and Pickup from Friday


March 3-March 11

March 11---Debrief of a Free Day

The class spent the entire morning discussing yesterday’s events and debriefing what, how, and why it occurred.  Now the goal is to move forward in a solution oriented way so that the ongoing issues do not persist. Awareness is what we have attempted to create.  Our next steps are to provide understanding, and ultimately bring fulfillment of what we all know these students are capable of.


March 10---Voice and Change (Take 2)

The center of our circle this morning was a reflective mylar paper mirror surrounded by the ten Habits of Scholars (see image below). To start, we also laid a dry erase board with symbols that looked like EOE WOW MOM and 303, depending on where you were sitting.  We used this to explain the importance of seeing things from other people’s perspectives as we move toward speaking up and listening and trying to make changes.  The mirror surface served as a representation for listening (as compared to only hearing). We had the students practice reflective listening by reflecting back to the previous speaker what the previous speaker had said.  This was to ensure that what was heard was also being listened to and accurate.  Through this activity, students were able to hear the differing perspectives of their classmates.  Ultimately, they decided as a class to try a free day where no tallies were to be given, no solo lunches, no walking for class tallies, etc.  Just a day to Be Cool. Let’s see what happens.   

March 9---Voice and Change (Take 1)

Today the students began by writing responses to:

  1. Define Voice

  2. Complete the sentence: Change happens when...

This was followed by sharing their responses with the class and discussing what motivates change within individuals, groups, and communities.  We asked them what was needed for change and the first three responses were: you need to speak up, you need support, and you have to have perseverance.  We took those three things and tied them to how necessary they were for Martin Luther King, Jr. to effect change. The missing link identified within this class culture was the support piece.  Those wanting to see changes in behavior and speak up for it need to be supported, otherwise they’re overpowered by those not wanting to change behaviors but who have support.  There cannot be change given those circumstances.  This  sparked some really good conversation but we had already gone 15 minutes into core classes and decided to pick up tomorrow.

March 8---Last FMB’s

We completed the last of the class’ Five Minute Bios today and now move into the Final Trimester.  Our focus will be leadership, voice, and changes.


Feb 23-March 2

February 25, 26, 29 and March 1,2---FMB’s

We’ve almost heard from all of our students!


February 23-24---Solar Scale Gallery Walk

We spent the past two mornings looking at the student solar scale projects for the EL Trail.  The students discussed which scale they liked best and what would work best for leading the 3rd graders on a Solar Walk along the trail.  Next, they will be using scale to map out a solar system in downtown Asheville.


February 10-22

February 22---Job Rotation and Weekly Planning

We switched the class jobs and assigned homework for the week. We have new Accountants (2) and Que Tiempos (2) to take care of student accountability and timekeeping.

February 19---FMB’s

February 18--Rumors and Dancing

This morning’s focus was on squashing rumors and addressing all of the pre-dance drama that has building all week. We wanted to make sure that hurt feelings were minimized and not blown out of proportion regarding who got asked and who didn’t.

February 17---Afton and Sam K. Jam Session

We had two solo performances this morning.  Afton played Drowsy Maggie on the violin and Sam played Riptide on his acoustic guitar.

February 16---Ben, Cyrus A., and Maggie Jam Session

Today we had the pleasure of listening to three of our classroom musicians.  Ben on the concertina, Cyrus on acoustic guitar, and Maggie on the fiddle.  They played a beautiful song for us and got the morning started off in G.

February 15---Two Tribes Activity

In Crew today, we did a full class activity called the Two Tribes-Cultural Differences Game

Afterwards, we discussed the reasoning behind doing an activity of this nature.  Ultimately, it’s one more way to recognize our differences as individuals, each with our own culture, experiences, views and opinions. Unfortunately (and as usual), we ran short on time and did not get to the depth that we’d hoped.  However, it was fun, entertaining, and a reference point for future conversations.

*If you would like to read a desription of the activity, visit the Google document shared with you at the beginning of the year titled Day By Day.

February 12---FMB’s

February 11---Farewell to Zoe B. and FMB’s (FIve Minute Bios)

This morning we did FMB’s and to close the day, we said farewell to Zoe B., who will be leaving ECCS to homeschool.  The students spent the last part of the day sharing thoughts, sending best wishes, and telling stories about Zoe.  We are wishing her all the best and she is always welcomed back to her ECCS family.

February 10--Pencils and 5 Minute Bios

Along with local, organic food, we are hypothesizing that students also eat pencils.  This theory is based on the unprecedented consumption of said pencils.  We have provided over 400 pencils this year and they have all disappeared.  So, students were informed that they can purchase a brand new pencil for .25 cents.  The money will be used to purchase more pencils to replace the ones that get eaten.*

*eaten has been used as a metaphorical term that includes but is not limited to: lost, broken, misplaced., oversharpened, in a binder, etc.

Feb. 8-9

February 9---5 Minute Bios and Rainforest Letters

We did some 5 Minute Bios and then listened to Marni read the letter we received back from the Rainforest Alliance regarding the students’ coffee plantation designs. We were curious about if and how the students wanted to respond to the letter.  The discussion revolved around the feedback that they did not receive (but were under the impression that they would receive).  There were differing views on what was expected and if those expectations were met by the Rainforest Alliance.  This will be continued tomorrow.  



February 8---Community Circle & Curiosity, Courage, and Leadership

The first Community Circle of 2016 was held this morning with a focus on MLK Jr. and his importance in the Civil Rights Movement.  Afterwards, we did a writing activity that asked the students to write about a time when someone they know showed courage at home, in their community and/or at school.  We shared out some of these examples (standing up for a friend, taking the lead on a class issue, trying something new) and then asked the students if they thought any of those examples showed weakness. It led to an interesting discussion about perspective.  Ultimately, the students voiced that even if someone tried something new and ‘failed’, stood up for someone else and got ‘blown off’, or tried to lead and wasn’t followed, then they were still courageous because they took the chance.  There will always be people that stand around and make fun of those that try and ‘fail’, or call an idea stupid, or laugh at someone speaking up, but we encouraged the students to recognize that those are the people that aren’t being courageous and are really the ones that are the most scared of trying.  


During crew, we followed up with a leadership activity in which students placed themselves along a continuum based on leadership descriptions.  When all was said and done, each students was in one of four quadrants: Driver, Analyst/Architect, Relationship Master, or Spontaneous Motivator.  We described how each type of leader tends to lead, how they are important to have in a group, and areas to be aware of in respect to their style.  Students were allowed to relocate themselves based on the descriptions and were also asked if they would place their peers in another quadrant (based on their experiences with that person).


Below is a link to the activity:




The Rest of January


January 29---Systems:Student Led

Two students led morning meeting and addressed the continuing issue of students having to pay the consequences of others’ actions (walking for accrued tallies).  They presented the idea to have a positive tally system in which students could earn ‘good’ tallies for going above and beyond during class.  Depending on the classroom, each row or table would select a captain that would decide whether the students at their table/in their row had gone above and beyond during class.  If so, they earn a ‘good’ tally.  If not, they earn no tally.  There is no option for a negative tally (that is not their responsibility).  The tallies earned are redeemed against whole class tallies earned (whole class tallies are worth one minute of walking each). The ‘Captains’ will change daily so as to avoid favoritism as best as possible.   

January 28---5 minute Bios

January 27---5 minute Bios

January 26---SNOW DAY

January 22---SNOW DAY

January 21---What Do You Want To Earn-Student Led

One of our students led morning meeting this morning with the focus on creating a list of student wants.  They have been earning points during class for timely cleanup and transition and those points will go toward their wants list:

-Dance Party

-Popcorn and a movie

-Pin Bombardment Game in the gym

-Recess time

January 20---Job Change and 5 Minute Bios

As decided by the class, we switched up jobs based on established systems of student selection and rotation.  We also had time for 5 Minute Bios.

January 15---5 Minute Bios

January 14---5 Minute Bios

January 13---Who’s Helping and Who’s Not

It’s an age old question and today we brought it front and center.  Each student was asked to name one student that is CONSISTENTLY helping and one student that is CONSISTENTLY not helping during class cleanup.  Being that this has been an issue in years past and still continues, we felt this was a clear cut way for students to mention names instead of the good ol’  ‘some people’ statements.  While it may have been uncomfortable for some students to be called out, the hope is that they recognize that they are not upholding their part of the Constitution and that ALL students need to do their part (no exceptions).  

January 12---5 Minute Biographies Intro

Yesterday, the students were introduced to 5 Minute Bios and Doug demonstrated one way to do it.  Each student will present their own bio to the class and has 5 minutes to do so.  They can bring in pictures, make a slideshow, use costumes, etc.  They are only limited by themselves.  If their presentation takes less than 5 minutes, then the remaining time will be used for Q & A. Today, several students presented their bios to the class and we will continue during morning meetings until all students have gone.  This is not a consequence but it is also not optional.  It is a way for the class to learn more about their crew and gain better insight into who they are.


January 11---Can I get some Feedback?


We spent time this morning getting feedback about the systems that were designed and implemented last week.  Overall, students felt that things went really well.  They discussed the checklist for transition (which is located in front of each room on a clipboard) and specifically the final piece of having a quiet line before transitioning.  The solution they agreed upon was for the person with the clipboard to do a Call & Response when all other tasks were completed.  This would allow for the ever so valuable socializing time and only a short amount of time standing quietly.


Systems systems systems.  Is it too much? Lines, checklists, etc.  

No, it’s not too much.  It’s what they’re ready for and what has led to them being able to voice their wants, have a say in how things are run, make decisions on their own, and see that they can change things (including themselves).  If you ever want to join us for a Morning Meeting, you are always welcome.  


January 8---Can I get a Hand?


Yesterday, students approached the teachers about an issue they were facing and asked if it could be addressed in Morning Meeting.  “Of course!” we said.  The issue is that several students are consistently doing the cleaning after class (sweeping, table wiping, picking up, organizing supplies, etc.) and it’s not fair.  The meeting was led by one of these students and ideas for solutions were proposed. At one point, each students’ name was read aloud and the class was asked to simply raise their hand if they felt that the student was consistently helping to clean up.  It was a fast and silent way for students to receive feedback from their peers.  Afterwards, the students were asked to raise their hand if they agreed to cleanup after themselves AND do a little more.  We did have one student who needed to think about their response, but did verbally agree to do their part and then some.  As far as how to make sure it happened, the students liked the idea of having one person from each table (or row) serve as a captain to make sure their table group (or row) cleaned up...and then some.  


Lunch Management (continued)

Wanna hear their solutions after Speed Systemization?

Here it goes:

*2 Linus 2---Jeff’s homeroom on the left, Marni’s homeroom on the right; Emily and Pyper get people quite; if there’s disrespect (ignoring or talking back) to either girl, 2 warnings will be given at first and then 1 before consequences are given (could include picking up field trash or walking for time); the class will vote each week for new line quieters.

*Gear T-port 4 [ o + [ ] ]---Lucie and Ella K. will take the medical bag and clipboard to lunch and enrichments; the people responsible for keeping time go and get the watches from Doug’s desk.

*Que Tiempo---Students will use the attendance sheet and the first 2 people from each homeroom get the watches; the time keepers will rotate on a weekly basis (next two down on the homeroom list) and are responsible for getting the watches off of Doug’s desk; everyone takes their turn and cannot opt out).

*Ta-Ben-Shel---Students are responsible for cleaning their eating areas; students with three tallies and students that have been reminded several times to stop talking in line will clean up the field after lunch; students with 5 tallies will clean up the field before and after lunch.

*Bouncers---On days when walking for tally time, students will make two lines: one for those with pennies and one for those without; those with pennies will hand them to Doug and go LEFT to lunch; those without pennies will go RIGHT and begin walking.


Lunch Management

*2 Linus 2

*Gear T-port 4 [ o + [] ]

*Que Tiempo



What does any of that mean you ask? $1000 if you can figure it out.

Well lemme just tell you.  Again, kids are in Main, which means more responsibility as well as more freedom to decide how things are run.  Today, the kids were divided into 5 groups with one of the above titles to systemize.  Maybe some translation would be helpful.

*Two straight lines on the ramp

*Four pieces of gear that need to travel with the students

*Time keeping

*Cleaning up the tables, benches, and shelter

*Regulation of tallies, penny collection, and consequence inventory

The student groups were given the task of coming up with a system for their topic.  They had to designate a scribe to write down their ideas, have all group members listed, and title their paper with their topic.  They could vote group members out (with a 3 or more vote) if members were off task, disruptive, or disrespectful of the process.  Each group had an alarm set for 8:55 and had to be back in the room in a quiet circle by 8:57 (they were all back in a quiet circle by 8:56 by the way). Each group was then given 45 seconds to summarize how the process went in their group.  Tomorrow, the plan is to share the ideas and ideally implement the student generated systems. 

These kids are awesome. 


January 5---Happy New Year & Gratitude

Welcome back and Happy New Year!  So to start things off, we went around the room and listened to what each student and teacher was grateful for this holiday season. We asked them to be genuine and avoid silliness like, “I’m grateful for my video games.”  We heard a lot of responses that involved being grateful for friends and family, having good food and a roof over head, seeing family members that they usually don’t get to see and doing activities that they don’t usually get to do.  It was beautiful insight into true appreciations and recognizing what’s really important.


After that, we revisited The Dash, which is a poem that focuses on what happens during periods of time.  Earlier (September 11 to be precise) this year, the students created a list of how they wanted their 2015-2016 to be remembered.  We pulled up the list on the overhead and students spoke to which words already defined their 6th grade year. We heard: magical, swaggalicious, sparkling, really nice, challenging, time flies, fun, crunchy, mellow, new friends, different, and better.


Ultimately, the students were reminded that they are the ones who are creating the year they desire and we as the teachers are simply making the space for them to create it.




December 17---Mindfulness

Today was our last day of Mindfulness with Sarah, but that doesn’t mean mindfulness is gone.  We fully intend to continue incorporating mindfulness into our morning meetings and throughout the day.  

Thanks Sarah!


December 15 & 16---Call and Response

One of the biggest challenges/frustrations/issues this year has been our call and response system.  It’s nothing new to the kids: the teacher leads with a sound or phrase (ie. bump-bada-bump-bump, YO YO YO) and the students respond accordingly (BUMP-BUMP !!!, YO WHAT’S UP!!).  Then they know to Stop. Look. Listen.  So what’s the issue?  The issue is that they do not stop, look, or listen but continue chatting, moving, and not paying attention to the information that the teacher needs to deliver.  We have used the tally system with the intention that they would connect choice and consequence, but that has not been the case.  So what do we do?  We asked the kids to come up with the solution.  They spent these two mornings offering ideas, sharing notices, and discussing options. They brought up reasonable amounts of time in order to respond, using the call and response from their earlier years, and number of tallies they should receive if they do not respond.  

The students ultimately decided that it was reasonable for everyone to Stop. Look. and Listen. within 3 seconds, that 2 tallies would be fair if they did not Stop. Look. and Listen. within 3 seconds, and that they would prefer Bump-Bada-Bump-Bump...BUMP-BUMP over YO YO YO...Yo What's UP!  as their call and response.

Overall, their responsiveness has been better and the fact that they came up with a solution amongst themselves and decided based on votes shows that they are well on their way to more independence.  Now, only time will tell if it also leads to a heightened sense of accountability and responsibility.

Please keep in mind that the overall goal and intention of all of these activities is to give the students a say in how they are managed, a voice among their peers, and the opportunity to lead themselves through their 6th grade year.  



How was the Dance?

Since Monday’s are planner/assignment days, we had a little time toward the end of our meeting to discuss the ArtSpace Dance that a handful of the students attended last Friday.  Essentially, the girls group up and dance, boys wave hands, tag is a thing, and crying in the girls bathroom happened.  Overall, sounded like the perfect dance.