Weekly MS Staff Memo – November 17, 2013

Great Things I Noticed This Week:

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Upcoming Events

*Test scores have arrived and will be mailed home to families this week.  I will be devoting Monday to going over scores and analyzing results with teachers.  Look for a sign-up genius to come soon….  Please make arrangements amongst your team to cover other teachers so they can step away for half an hour to meet with me.  Your help and flexibility are greatly appreciated.

Monday, November 18th
11:15-12:15 – No Team Meetings Today; Teacher Appreciation Luncheon in Elementary Gym
6:00-8:00 – MS Drama One Acts (Black Box)

Wednesday, November 20th
11:30-12:15 – Science Vertical Team Meeting
3:30-4:30 – No Staff Meeting Today – Dental Insurance Info Session at HS in lieu of staff meeting

Thursday, November 21st
Beth Knight – Teacher Leader for the day

Friday, November 22nd
7th Grade Africa Day

Tuesday, November 26th – Half Day- Dismissal is at 11:30
Earlier in the year, several teachers had inquired about making this an “all advisory” day.  Due to several staff absences, we decided this would not be the best arrangement.  Now the art department has requested to run some rehearsals on this day (both Dance and Band), so our plan is to host kids in core classes for review activities while arts teachers pull kids for rehearsals.  Sara is currently working on a schedule, so we will get that out to you as soon as possible.  In the meantime, core teachers can plan on providing some review activities and/or games in their classrooms on this day, but please keep in mind that many of our students will be in dance rehearsals for most of the day.  Thank you so much for your flexibility!

Looking Ahead….
12/2 – Spelling Bee 9-2
12/2 – MS Parent Workshop with Juli & Dana – 9:00a.m. – Getting Ahead in Class and Staying There
12/3 – NO Parent Advisory – resumes in January
12/4 – K-8 Staff Meeting
12/5 – 7/8 Band Concert – 9:30 a.m.
12/5-12/7 – Christmas in Davidson
12/9 – Final School Spelling Bee
12/11 – Never Work Harder Than Your Students Book Talk – 3:30-4:30 – Chpt 3 & 4
12/11 – Mockingjay Understudy Performance – 5:30-8:30p.m.
12/12 – Mockingjay Dress Rehearsals (during school day)….Schedule coming soon….
12/12 – HS Arts Night and New Wing Ribbon Cutting – 5:00-9:00p.m.
12/13 – Rube Goldberg Convention (7th Grade) – 12:00-3:00p.m.
12/14 – Mockingjay Performances at Lake Norman High School
12/18 – 1/2 day
12/19-1/1 – Winter Break!!!
1/2 – Classes Resume
1/3 – HS Orientation Meeting for 8th Grade Students and Parents with student panel discussion that afternoon


If you are organizing an event that will require school funds, please take the following into consideration.  Invoices must be submitted to Juli for approval a full week in advance to actually needing the payment.  This allows Debbie Beam (our school accountant) enough time to cut the check.  We cannot approve expenses without invoices.  Thanks for your help with this.

Teachers, if you ever pull a student out of a class, please make sure to tell the teacher of the class so we can avoid unnecessary hunts and scares.  There is no scarier feeling on earth than to think you have lost a child in your care, so let’s be sure to keep each other informed.  Thanks!

Professional Development Corner

A Few More Thoughts from Never Work Harder Than Your Students by Robyn Jackson
The first principle of great teaching is “Start Where Your Students Are.”  Obviously you cannot do this unless you know your students – really know your students. Robyn likens this practice to determining the different forms of “currency” we use in our classrooms.  She states:

“We all have preferred forms of currency.  Suppose you advertise that your house is for sale and I come take a look.  I like what I see and declare that I want to buy our house.  ‘Great,’ you say as you take out the paperwork and prepare to draw up a contract.  Meanwhile, I dig into my pocket, pull out a few shiny beads, some seashells, and a couple of wood carvings, place them on the table, and ask for the keys.  How would you react?”

I think this is a powerful analogy as we, as educators, are often guilty of doing the exact same thing to our students.  Often there is a disconnection between the currency we value and the currency our students are spending.  This disconnect is where many classroom problems begin.  Ultimately, students will not spend their own currencies if they do not believe what they will get in exchange is valuable, so it is imperative that we go out of our way to help students understand the benefit in acquiring our “capital.”

Robyn suggests using the following 8 non-cognitive variables (developed by Dr. William Sedlacek) as a way to see and value students’ currencies that may go unrecognized in the classroom (pg. 35).  Through his research, Dr. Sedlacek determined 8 non-cognitive skills and characteristics that he argued are more predictive of academic success than the traditional measures of intelligence:
Positive self-concept – the confidence that leads to the determination to succeed
Realistic self-appraisal – the ability to accurately assess your own strengths and weaknesses and to use this assessment to further your own development
Successful navigation of the system – knowing how to access resources rand how to use the system to help you achieve your goals
Preference for long-term goals – knowing how to set and achieve long-term goals, delay gratification, and persevere in spite of obstacles
Availability of a strong support person – finding someone to confer advice, particularly in times of crisis
Leadership experience – having the ability to organize and influence others
Community involvement – being involved in a community
Knowledge acquired in and about a field – having the explicit and implicit knowledge of a particular field of study
Robyn suggests that teachers use these 8 variables as a way of recognizing the array of strengths that students bring with them to the classroom.

Here are Robyn’s tips on Classroom Currencies (pg. 53)
1.  Examine your own currencies.  Look to see which currencies you value in the classroom.
2.  Pay attention to your students to discover which currencies they value and what currencies they are spending.
3.  Look for any disconnect between the currencies you are accepting in the classroom and those the students are spending.  Also look for ways that you may be spending currencies that students do not value.
4.  If the disconnection is because the students do not have a classroom currency, help students use the currency they have to acquire classroom currency by showing them how their currencies are valuable, helping them acquire additional currencies,and learning how to code switch.

In our book study discussion, we also brought up a similar theory widely publicized by Gary Chapman – The Five Love Languages (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch).

Once again, this boils back down to the idea of currency…what our students value and what we are spending.  Do they match?  If not, what can we do differently to repair the disconnect?

Thoughts to Ponder:



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