MS Weekly Staff Memo – February 9, 2014

Great Things I Noticed This Week

Dear MS Staff,
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize our Front Office Folks for the many things they do for us on a daily basis to keep our “CSD Ship” afloat. Below are just a few things, but please know the list could go on and on….

Holding down the front desk.  Man, this is no easy job!  The trick is that our front desk ladies make it look easy.  The reality is that it is a fast-paced, multi-dimensional job that requires numerous skill sets.  Thank you, ladies, for your constant display of patience, kindness, and competence.  We would be lost without you!
Ordering and distributing instructional supplies
Keeping track of staff absences and securing substitutes
Organizing hot lunch, field trips,and the master calendar
Reconciling student absences in PowerSchool
Keeping the website up to date
Coordinating lottery efforts – and trust me, there are hours upon hours that go into this!
Making sure we get paid each month! 🙂
Keeping track of facility usage and negotiating corporate contracts
All of that fun fiscal stuff – budgeting, balancing, auditing, and more….

Our school is very blessed to have each of you working on behalf of the school in this manner.  Thank you for the countless hours you invest so that we can remain true to our mission and vision of putting kids first!  We love you!

Upcoming Events

Monday, February 10
Jupiter Report Cards emailed home today
11:15-12:15 – Team Meetings – Juli and Dana will do “pop ins”
3:30-5:30 – Writing Workshop Session 2 w/ Dr. Kissel in Collander/Pagan’s room

Wednesday, February 12
11:15-12:15 – Math Vertical Team Meeting – Discussing EOG Prep.  Click here for more info.
3:30-4:30 – Ed. Leadership Seminar  Meeting at MS
6:30-8:00 – Cyber Safety Parent Workshop

Thursday, February 13
Dorothy Pagan – Teacher Leader

Friday, February 14
3rd Practicum Session begins
Other school to visit MS 9:30-11:00

February 17 – No School – President’s Day Holiday – *Snow make-up day 
February 19 – Staff Meeting on Classroom Leadership (Student Behavior Strategies)
February 20-23 – Les Miserables Performance at HS
February 24 – CSD Lottery
February 26 – Admin Team Planning Day
February 26 – NWHTYS Book Study (last one)
Feb 28-March 2 – MS Musical – Dear Edwina
March 3 – Parent Advisory – 7:30 at High School
March 7 – MS Show Choir Competition
March 21 – Teacher Workday (7th Grade SLC’s scheduled for some time this week)
March 28 – 8th Grade Dance
April 3 & 4 – 8th Grade Finance Park
April 11 – 1/2 Day; Early Dismissal – Spring Break begins
April 11-22 – SPRING BREAK

Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips

When using Jupiter Grades for the third and final trimester, make sure you are entering data into the 3rd Trimester Gradebook.  Many thanks!

Valentines Day… Be aware that this day can be the source of extreme anxiety for some middle schoolers.  Be on high alert and keep your ears close to the ground.  Do your best to diffuse situations as necessary…

Professional Development:

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Shane and Beth in leading last week’s staff meeting.  In my mind, this is exactly what shared leadership is all about, so if you ever have an idea that you think would make for a great staff meeting, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  Dr. Boyer refers to teachers as the heartbeat of the school, so it stands to reason that effective leaders keep their finger on the pulse of that heartbeat.  I appreciate your candor in helping me serve you better.  I received three responses to the survey I sent out earlier in the week and have listed them below:

It would be helpful to come together as a school and review some classroom management strategies we can use (10 for 2, positive/negative reinforcement, etc). Also I think it would empower teachers if we had a brainstorming/case study session where we all came to the conclusion of how we would handle a certain situation. I think this could help people by hearing how we all deal with a situation and also bring clarity to the consistency in approaching a situation.  I think it’s important that we’re reminded that it’s not the discipline piece that’s important, it’s the behavior change that’s important.

I’m sorry I couldn’t make the meeting. I think what you are currently doing, getting the parents involved, is helping so much. I can’t tell you how many parents have expressed their gratitude to me for the email you sent to all parents about dance.  Also most parents don’t want their children getting away with that behavior. Thank you for all of your help!!!!

I can always use reminders on classroom management techniques.

In an attempt to respond to your needs and better support you in your classrooms, I have juggled the staff meeting schedule and will be focusing on this topic during our next staff meeting on February 19th.  As for “certain situations,” I’m going to need your help once again.  Please keep in mind that there are no hard and fast answers here…Situations vary greatly, as do kids.  But I do think it’s a great idea to discuss and perhaps role play common scenarios at the middle school level.  So if there is something you would like addressed specifically, please take a moment and list it here:  https://docs.google.com/a/csdspartans.org/forms/d/1zUos9nHX0nv1ez4xdyrgfrGMKzDMp0OZ8ByOgYyX0WA/viewform

Inspirational:

In closing, I want to share some important ideas from an article I recently read.  I would share the entire article, but I worry about copyright infringement…however please feel free to stop by my office, and I’ll gladly let you read it.  In her article, When Students Are Our Teacher, Alexis Wiggins asks the following question:  “What if we thought of our most difficult students as opportunities to learn?”  She goes on to recount a rocky relationship with one of her former students, Jack, and then tells about the shift that occurred when she stopped viewing him as a “nightmare student” and started viewing him a “button-pushing Buddha” instead.  I know I have certainly had these encounters in my career; in fact, I still do.  But it got me to thinking.  What if we embraced these difficulties as teachable encounters rather than frustrating setbacks?  So I encourage each of you to do the same this week.  Think about the most challenging situation you are currently facing professionally, whether that be a student, a colleague, a parent, or something else.  And then take some time to seriously ponder what this situation has to offer you as a learner – as an evolving human.  Wiggins states,” It takes humility and patience to approach challenging kids in this way.  But if you do, you may find that your least favorite student (or parent or colleague) becomes your greatest teacher yet.”  (Educational Leadership, Vol. 71, February 2014).

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