Mid-Year Energy for Learning

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Principal Perspectives - Mid-Year Energy for Learning

– Susan Melbye –

 In this Principal Perspectives we highlight the energy and work of Susan Melbye, who currently serves as principal of Nottoway Elementary School. She is mom of 3 beautiful girls and frequently found at #momsasprincipals or #principalsinaction.

Mid-Year Energy for Learning

Principal Perspectives #6, February 11, 2019

As anyone in the field of education knows, there is a faltering of attention spans that occurs around the mid-year mark. Students have only recently returned from holidays spent with family. Cold weather and shorter days dampen the energy of even the most positive individuals.

You may live in a region where your schedule is interrupted by snow days, making it difficult to build momentum within your classroom.

However, as a leader within your school, you can always find ways to foster an environment of focus and fun. Susan Melbye of Nottoway Elementary School is one such leader who strives to make learning as engaging and specific to students as possible.

In this Principal Perspectives, we’ll explore three ideas from Susan Melbye that will energize learning in your school:

  1. Sending Personalized Postcards
  2. Learn Individual Interests
  3. Go To Any And All Lengths

Send Personalized Postcards

The Principal Perspective

“We sent home a post card to every single student over the winter break. Just to let them know they are loved and we can’t wait to see them in the new year!” – Susan Melbye

Susan sent personalized postcards to each of her students over winter break, simply to remind them that they are loved and welcomed at school.

This is an excellent way to make students excited about returning to the classroom after a long holiday. Although winter break has passed, it is not too late to let students know that you care.

After all, what is better than receiving a surprise letter of kindness in the mail?

Susan Melbye Energizes Learning with Personalized Postcards!

Learn Individual Interests

The Principal Perspective

“We have the same expectations for all students. We just find their interest and build relationships to help our students to learn best.” – Susan Melbye

Susan expresses that all students are equally capable of achieving, if only we cater learning to their individual interests. This philosophy could not be more true. 

Rather than purely teaching with methods outlined in guides and textbooks, talk to your students.

What does Kate like to do after school? Is Mikey more interested in gym or music? Lead teachers in the process of building relationships with students where they know their students.

It’s one thing to say build relationships. It’s another thing to learn the individual interests of your learners.

 By understanding your students’ intuitive strengths, you can adapt your lesson plans to appeal to them specifically. Listening to your students will also awaken your creativity, and perhaps lead you to invent in-class activities that are more exciting than anything found online or in a guide.

Go To Any and All Lengths

The Principal Perspective

“I try to find ways to bring literacy to school. I give every student a birthday book. I do read aloud work one on one with kids. Have kids read to me. Read on facebook live. I dressed up as a Giraffe & read in every class. Do whatever it takes to make reading fun.” – Susan Melbye

Susan will do absolutely anything to teach her students the joy of reading. Like Cathy Jacobs in a previous post on Principal Perspectives, Susan gifts birthday books to each student in her elementary school. She also finds new and exciting ways to make reading an engaging activity, from reading via webcam to dressing in a funny costume. 

Even when you feel like you are doing all that you can to engage your class, there is always more that can be done.

The Principal Perspective

“We a title 1 reading plan, were focus in on ways to ENGAGE students into reading. We try to make the love reading again. We do both push in and pull out model depending on the need of the student. Our small groups are key in the classroom.” – Susan Melbye

Susan mentions that Nottoway Elementary employs both the push in and pull out models of special education. Regardless of the way your school applies these models, the majority of your attention should be on the affected students. What works? What doesn’t? Who is raising his or her hand in class? Whose grades have changed, positively or negatively, since the beginning of the school year?

By paying more attention to tangible results than methods used, you will become a more adaptable, attentive instructor. The most important thing is for your students to succeed.

Make it fun. Focus on results. Whatever it takes.

Do Whatever It Takes to Make Learning Fun - Principal Perspectives

Being a leader is a challenging job. There are always factors, be it the time of year, gloomy weather, or interpersonal struggles, that make it easy for us to lose focus on what is truly important.

As a leader within your school, the students’ education and enjoyment are always of supreme importance.

If you’re in your own winter slump, take some inspiration from the methods Susan uses to generate fun and focus within her school. Engage with students one on one, and look for new possibilities for presenting classroom material.

At the very least, a giraffe costume is a surefire way to bring a smile to student and faculty faces alike.

Connect with Susan on Twitter @SusanMelbye.


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Copyright 2019 Principal Tribe. Author Matt Foster; Writer Rachel Button; Editor Principal Tribe

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