Monthly Archives: August 2014

MS Weekly Staff Memo – August 30, 2014

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What’s On My Mind
Teamwork.  Where else is teamwork more pertinent than in our schools?  Everywhere I look, I see teams – teams of kids, teams of teachers, teams of parents, teams of administrators.  TEAMWORK!  As we start this new year, I encourage everyone to take some time to think about your role on your team(s) and consider the following:

How am I contributing?  
What am I adding?  
Am I a positive, helpful force on my team?
Do I listen to reply or listen to understand?
How do others feel about me?
How do I make others feel about themselves?
What do I like best about my team?
What actions have I taken to make sure my teammates feel valued?
How do I hold myself and others accountable?

Although this article is specific to sports, I think these tips can easily apply to our team dynamics at school.  Take a moment to read and think about how you are contributing in each of these areas.

And in the words of Magic Johnson…




Upcoming Events
Monday, Sept. 1

Wednesday, Sept 3
K-12 Staff Meeting (immediately following HS carpool) in MS Gym
Staff Kid Care Schedule coming soon!

Friday, Sept 5
6th Grade Ropes Course (Knag, McMillian, Ream, Robinson)

Looking Ahead….
9/8 – Parent Advisory – 7:30 at HS
9/10 – (Optional) Benefits/Retirement Meeting – 3:30 in MS Black Box
9/10 – MS Curriculum Night – 5:30-8:30
9/12 – 6th Grade Ropes Course (Hof, Knight, Siadak, Tornberg)
9/15-9/17 – Barrier Island Trip
9/17 – K-12 Staff Meeting – From Darkness to Light Training
9/25-9/26 – NO SCHOOL; TEACHER WORKDAYS; (Jewish Holiday)

This year each school will be publishing a monthly newsletter for parents.  We will also be hosting “Coffee Talks” with parents as well to discuss certain age-specific developmental and educational issues.  It will be much like Parent Advisory, but will be more focused on each specific school (elementary, middle, and high).  Here’s a link to the PowerofWe Parent Blog!  Please take a few moments to check it out!

I’m almost afraid to say this (knock on wood), but after my talk with the kids last week about book bags in the bathroom, we have had NO problems!  Yay!!!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in your classrooms over the last two weeks.  You all are INCREDIBLE!!!  And I truly feel that our summer study on classroom management has had a positive impact on the culture and environment of our middle school.  You all have managed to strike the right balance between firmness and kindness and most importantly, you have done so without being rigid.  Excellent work!  Thank you for making our expectations clear and for following through.  Michael Linson is right.  The secret to classroom management is “creating a classroom your students love being a part of combined with an unwavering commitment to accountability.”  You are proving that to be true everyday!  Thanks for your hard work.  It’s paying off!

Leads, don’t forget to sign up for your cross-school observation!

Don’t Forget What They Need….


best thing about teaching


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MS Weekly Staff Memo – WELCOME BACK

What’s On My Mind…
First off, I want to thank each of you for a WONDERFUL first week of school.  I received so much positive feedback from students, parents, and staff, and I am reminded, yet again, of what a unique environment we have at CSD.  It is all due to you – the magic makers – the ones who set the tone in the classroom, so I applaud you for your tremendous efforts.  They do not go unrecognized.

So, like you, I have felt swamped this weekend with an un-ending to-do list, and I have tried to cross off as many items as possible.  At the same time, I have tried to remember that we must take time to refuel and recharge in order to be our best for the people who need us.  So today, I took a break and treated myself to  a movie – one of my favorite indulgences.  Boyhood is a really cool concept.  For those of you who haven’t heard about this movie, it is a coming-of-age story that was actually filmed over the course of twelve consecutive years.  You actually get to see the kids grow up and the adults grow older (in real time).  It is very cool!  While I didn’t necessarily find the plot riveting, I took great pleasure in the creative idea of it all.  The longer it went, the more bought-in I became, and by the end, I was down right weepy.  Shocker, I know.  But there was one moment that stood out to me that I want to share with you in this post.  I am all about spoiler-alerts, so forgive me, but I promise this is only a sliver of the richness this film has to offer.  I made a “text-to-text” or “media-to-media” connection when I saw it, so I simply felt like I had to share.

Last June, at our final MS staff meeting, we viewed a popular TED Talk entitled, “Everyday Leadership” (aka “Lollipop Moments”).    In this TED talk, Drew Dudley reminds us of the power of our words (one of my favorite topics you know).  In Boyhood, there is a scene where the Mom and her new husband have just purchased a house under foreclosure.  There are lots of unforeseen issues with the house that result in lots of unforeseen bills.  As the mom learns about a septic issue from a  native Spanish-speaking young man, she ends the conversation by saying something along the lines of…. “You are smart.  You should go to college and get a degree.”  He says, “But I work.”  She says, “Go to night school at the Community College.  The classes will get you where you need to be and are actually quite affordable.”  Then the Mom carries on and never thinks another thing about it.  (Mom has a long, convoluted history with education, herself, so there is great significance here).  Several years later, after the graduation of her youngest son, she takes her two children (both of whom are now enrolled in college) to a nice restaurant for Brunch.  A young, Hispanic man approaches the table and addresses the Mom (in perfect English, by the way).  He introduces himself and reminds her of the day he installed the septic system in her back yard…at which point she told him he was smart and should go to college.  He then proceeds to tell her about how this moment changed the entire trajectory of his life.  He did go on to school, received two Bachelors Degrees and a Masters Degree (I believe) and was now running this restaurant.  Mom sat there dumbfounded…maybe even having to search her long-term memory for this incident…and is completely unaware of how HER WORDS changed the landscape of his entire life.  WOW!  When I think about the gravity of this, it floors me and takes my breath away.

Folks, we have the opportunity to do this everyday.  More importantly, as educators, I believe we are called to do this everyday – not just with our kids, but with each other and with any and every single person in our blessed community.  This.  Is.  Powerful.  
So as we go into this new year….and on a smaller scale, this new week… Remember the power you hold to change the trajectory of another person through your perceptions and your beliefs…which are ultimately expressed in words.  It is real.  For better or worse, it happens.  And I charge you with the task of making it “for the better.”  Imagine if we could harness this cumulative power.  THAT is how we change the world.

All my love,

Upcoming Events

Monday – August 25th
First Day of Explore Electives

Wednesday – August 27th
Beginning Teacher and Mentor Training at HS Tech Lab – 3:30

Thursday – August 28th

Monday – September 1st

Wednesday – September 3rd
Back-to-School Staff Meeting – Whole School

Friday, – September 5th
6th Grade Ropes Course (1/2 grade level)

Professional Development:
I have included a wonderful article from Teach Thought below (thank you, Joy).  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  It was a great reminder to me of the tenets to keep in mind as we consider reaching students….all students; not just those who are difficult to reach
Please keep an extra close eye out on our new students as the second week is typically where they beg their parents to let them return to their “safe place” old school if they are  having a difficult time fitting in or finding their place at CSD.  All support appreciated.
Also, I have included a recent post by our Classroom Management Guru, Michael Linson – How To Get Parents On Your Side.  Great tips here!


Every child deserves

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