My name is Willem Vroegh (pronounced "vroo").
I grew up and attended public school in Evanston, Illinois. I left Evanston to attend college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 1993 I was accepted as a corps member into Teach For America and I have remained in education ever since.
My first education position was as a 4th grade teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Following my tenure in TFA, I obtained a Masters of Education at Smith College in Massachusetts and, later, a Masters of Education Administration at San Francisco State University.
I joined SFUSD in 1996. Since then, I have taught 3rd grade and middle school social studies and English. From 2000 to 2002 I spent two school years teaching at the International School in Quito, Ecuador. My work as an administrator for SFUSD began when I was accepted to the SFUSD LEAD program in 2004. I worked as an Administrator Intern at Alice Fong Yu Alternative School and have served as the Principal of George Peabody Elementary School since 2005. I bring to George Peabody over ten years of teaching and education experience in a multitude of different settings.
Experience tells me that it is vital for elementary school students to enjoy coming to school every day. We must make students feel safe, respected and valued at their schools. Otherwise they will not take full advantage of all the learning opportunities offered to them. I am a firm believer that only happy students can make the most of the time spent in school. As such, our foundational goals for all Peabody students are that they:
Children thrive at George Peabody Elementary. Our excellent staff works tirelessly to provide students with a strong academic curriculum infused with just the right balance of fun. We work hard for the students at George Peabody so each can acquire the skills and knowledge that he or she will need to lead a successful life, to become a productive citizen, and to develop into a future leader. Our talented and experienced teachers provide their students with purposeful instruction in a well articulated, challenging curriculum. Additionally, the Peabody staff exposes our students to art, music and healthy lifestyles through lessons on safety, nutrition, and physical fitness.
Praise - A Two-Edged Sword
One of the areas of our professional development at George Peabody is examining the feedback we give to our students. We read several articles over the summer and will be discussing these at our staff meetings. We want to exam our classroom and school wide practices to ensure we are doing our best to promote effort from all of our students. One article we read, How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise, was written for parents but applies to teachers as well. The links to the article and to the author's blog is below.Article
What follows is a brief summary of the article, written by the article author, Po Bronson.
"In a very quick overview of what we've discovered, we've found that research by professor Carol S. Dweck and others directly challenges that belief that praising for intelligence is beneficial to children's development. (Actually, it turns out there are even scholars who are making a persuasive case that any praise at all can be damaging, regardless the context.)
Instead, Dweck's research shows that praise for intelligence can be harmful. Kids praised for intelligence can do well, but only while they succeed.
Once they fail, however, it's a whole other story. Because children praised for intelligence attribute their earlier success to their innate abilities. Thus they don't know how to respond to their new failure. Rather than seeing failure as a temporary event, they believe that their failure is proof that they didn't actually have the innate abilities they had been previously lauded for.
Note that there's two separate ideas twined together right there. One is the aspect of praise itself, and how it's used (often overused). The other idea is how praising intelligence (telling a kid "you're so smart") teaches the idea that intelligence is an innate ability - i.e., a fixed ability. You're either smart or you aren't."