Weekly Staff Memo – November 2, 2013

Great Things I Noticed This Week

I am still on a great high after the Fresh Take Conference last weekend.  Nothing feeds my soul more than excellent Professional Development.  As I listened to colleagues present, discuss, debate, share stories, laugh together, cry together….I was reminded of the tremendous collective power we hold as educators.  It is such a blessing to be called to fulfill our life’s purpose in the role of teacher, and I am grateful for this opportunity every single day.

I was absolutely blown away by the 8th Grade Practicum Sharing on Friday.  Our kids are so creative and expressive, and it’s all because of the incredible learning environments each of you have created in your own classrooms.  Once again, I stand in awe of our community and feel tremendous gratitude for what we have created here at CSD.

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Upcoming Events

Monday, November 4th
9:00-10:00 – Middle School Parent Workshop – Session 2 – Building Strong Relationships with Teacher and Understanding Adolescence – MS Music Room

11:15-12:15 – 6th Grade Team Meeting with Juli and Dana

7:30-8:30 – Parent Advisory Meeting at High School

Wednesday, November 6th
9:30-11:00 – K-8 Lottery Open House

11:30-12:15 – LASS Vertical Team Meeting in Juli’s office

3:30-until finished…. MS Staff Meeting – EC Mods in the Classroom with Kristin Ratnofsky

Thursday, November 7th
Juli and Dana at NCSCA conference
Sara Keys is Teacher Leader

Looking Ahead…
November 8th – New Round of Practicum (8th Grade)
November 11th – No School – Veteran’s Day Holiday
November 15th – Greek Day (6th Grade)
November 18th – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
November 18th – Drama One Acts – 6:30p.m.
November 20th – Cyber Safety Night – 7:00p.m.
November 22nd – Africa Day (7th Grade)
November 26th – Early Dismissal – *This day will be spent in Advisories.  More info to come soon!
November 27-December 1 – Thanksgiving Break

Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips

Please make sure to adhere to all recess schedules as closely as possible.  As you know, space is our greatest challenge.  Sometimes space issues also create safety concerns.  Therefore, we (Juli, Dana, and teacher leaders) have put a lot of time and thought into “who is where and when,” so we ask that everyone stick to these times/locations as any impromptu changes may create circumstances beyond your immediate awareness.  Thank you for understanding and for being positive and flexible.  We truly appreciate it more than you know!

Heads Up… A few teachers have inquired about having an “all Advisory” day on the half-day before Thanksgiving.  We are currently working on plans for that day, so if you have any ideas/comments/feedback/suggestions, feel free to add them by clicking here.

Professional Development Corner

This year all MS teachers were invited to participate in a year-long study on Robyn Jackson’s book, Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching.  Since my last blog post publication, our book club met and discussed the first few chapters.  In upcoming posts, I will summarize highlights of the book and will include them in this blog so that others might benefit from them as well.

In her prologue, Robyn refers to “the gift.”  She states, “If you asked me to define ‘the gift’ back then, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.  I just knew it when I saw it.”  She goes on to explain, “But after years of working with teachers and school leaders, I now know that ‘the gift’ is not some mysterious birthright.  In fact, it’s not really a gift at all.  Being a master teacher is the result of a critical understanding of the principles of good teaching.  It’s a mindset that anyone can learn and by learning this mindset, you too can become a master teacher.”  (pg. xi)

So she asks – What is the Master Teacher Mindset? ~a few highlights….
The master teacher mindset means knowing that having all the answers isn’t nearly as important as knowing what questions to ask.
Master teachers spend more time thinking about why the problem is occurring than they do trying to find solutions.
The master teacher mindset means being willing to own your own contribution to the problem but at the same time, being reluctant to cast blame on others because you know that casting blame is not nearly as useful as looking for causes.
Questions to Ponder:
The introduction makes the following statement: Any teacher can become a master teacher with the right kind of practice. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
What do you believe is a “master teacher?” How do teachers become master teachers?

Inspiration/To Think About….

4-Agreements2-1024x688Don’t take anything personally.  For me, this seems to be the most challenging agreement.  I think it is because we care so deeply that we get wrapped up in the situation and let things become about us without even realizing it.  Ruiz calls this “personal importance.”  He says this is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me.”  I’m not sure about you, but when I first entertained this idea, it was a huge AHA moment for me!  Remembering to view things from this perspective has made an immense difference in my ability to relate to others.  It has also made an immense difference in my overall happiness as it has cut a lot of needless suffering out of my life.  The trick lies in remaining aware of this cycle and calling attention to it within ourselves when we see it present.  If you think about it, this can be extremely freeing.  With this mindset, you are not responsible for the actions of others – only the actions of yourself – because nothing others do is because of you.  It’s because of their own unique reality and set of circumstances.  As I type this, I think about how often I give this message to kids who visit my office.  Very often, they want to deflect from themselves and bring others into the problem.  We always go back to… The only person you can control at any moment is yourself.  So in this regard, shifting our perception can be very liberating.  As we go into this next week, let’s try to remember that nothing others do is because of us.  As we call attention to our own bouts of “personal importance,” I am hopeful that a lot of our stress and pain will simply begin to lift away, leaving us with much less personal suffering and much more happiness and fulfillment.  Go ahead.  Give it try.

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