MS Weekly Staff Memo – September 21, 2014

What’s On My Mind
Who owns the learning in your classroom?  Is the learning student-focused or teacher-focused?  Do your students have a voice, not only in how they demonstrate what they have learned, but also in the overall classroom environment?  These are a few questions I have been pondering lately.  As we put the first six weeks of school behind us and head towards the conclusion of the first trimester, I think it’s really important to reflect on what’s working and what leaves room for improvement in our practice.  This week I watched as a teacher courageously engaged in this type of reflection with her students.  This person put her ego aside and opened up the door to her students to provide feedback on the learning experiences.  As I watched this unfold, I was reminded of the tremendous importance of students having ownership in the process.  Too often, we inadvertently get caught up with ourselves…with our lessons…with our assessments… and we forget that our most valuable feedback comes from the kids.  This is not to say they get to call all of the shots in the classroom, but if we trust them enough to involve them in these types of reflective conversations or exercises, we are giving them the message that this is THEIR class and THEIR learning, so naturally, THEIR voice matters.  Therefore, I encourage each of you to ponder these questions and think seriously about soliciting student feedback.  WARNING:  This takes courage on your part, so please know, I understand that.  We sometimes have to have thick skin and we definitely have to risk vulnerability.  Engaging in this endeavor also requires us to put our own egos aside – no easy task for sure!  As I already mentioned, you don’t have to take every bit of feedback and implement it (they are kids, after all, and sometimes have self-serving agendas).  But often enough, they have brilliant ideas!  And ideas aside, just the act of opening yourself up to their feedback and respecting them enough to give them a voice in their learning can be tremendously empowering and motivating.  So be thinking… I have shared this article before, but I think it’s worth re-sharing.  It may give you some ideas. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/teacher-how-my-9th-graders-graded-me/

Upcoming Events
Monday, September 22nd
11:00-12:00 – LASS Vertical Team Meeting – 7th Grade Math/Science Room
Spirit Week Theme:  P.J. Day

Tuesday, September 23rd
Spirit Week Theme:  Neon Day

Wednesday, September 24th
Spirit Week Theme:  Sports Jersey Day
Fall Sports Pep Rally during Explore Electives – NO EE’s this day.
Thank you, teachers, in advance for supervising all students during the Pep Rally.

Thursday, September 18th
HOLIDAY – NO SCHOOL

Friday, September 19th
HOLIDAY – NO SCHOOL

Looking Ahead….
9/29 – MS Principal/Parent Coffee Talk at 8:30 in MS Media Center
929 – Flu Shots (Round 2)
9/30-10/2 – K-8 School Pictures
10/2 – MS Staff Meeting – 3:30 – Classroom Management Series
10/7 & 10/8 – Juli and Joy in Raleigh for Charter Leadership Institute
10/8 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
10/10 – CSD Homecoming
10/13 – MS Math Vertical Team Meeting (11:00-12:00)
10/14 – Explore Test for 8th Graders; No school for 6th and 7th grade on this day due to testing.
10/14 – Lottery K-8 Open House (9:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.)
10/21 – Lottery K-8 Open House (9:30 a.m. only)
10/27-10/31 – Book Fair
10/27 – MS Principal/Parent Coffee Talk at 8:30 in MS Media Center
10/27 – Quarter 2 of Explore Electives Begins
10/28 – 8th Grade Yearbook Pics
10/30-10/31 – NO SCHOOL; TEACHER WORKDAYS – Optional Parent Conferences
11/4 -11/6 – K-7 Yearbook Pics
11/7 – 6th Grade Greek Day
11/11 – NO SCHOOL; VETERAN’S DAY HOLIDAY
11/12-11/13 – 8th Grade Finance Park
11/14 – 7th Grade Africa Day
11/26 – 11/30 – NO SCHOOL; THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips
Please do not assign homework over the long upcoming weekend!  Our students and families need a chance to unwind and relax, and SO DO YOU! 🙂  Let’s give everyone a break and refrain from making homework assignments due the following week.

Please do not shut off your computers at the end of the day.  Nucentric often does upgrades and maintenance after hours, so it is essential for staff members to leave computers on in order for Nucentric to be able to complete their tasks.  On a related note, if you are experiencing a technical issue, contact Nucentric at the following email address:  support@nucentric.com  NOT tech@csdspartans.org  Thanks so much.

Sign up for Auction Teacher Experiences here!  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kDBYRaSa1Db-pY1z8rsVaPRCE2fprQCVEHdvrfRS3KQ/edit?usp=sharing  This is a great way to raises money for our school.  Keep it simple (and cheap)!  The kids just love spending time with their teachers outside of the school environment, so no need to anything super fancy.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Thought-Provoking
10 Questions to ask yourself before giving an assessment:
http://www.justintarte.com/2014/03/10-questions-to-ask-yourself-before.html?m=0

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