Monthly Archives: February 2015

MS Weekly Staff Memo – February 28, 2015

PowerofWe
What’s On My Mind:
 
As luck would have it (and for those of you who know me well, you know I don’t really believe in luck), I have had the opportunity to have a few eye-opening conversations lately.  These conversations occurred with all three sectors of our population – staff, students, and parents.  Interestingly enough the overall “theme” seemed to be consistent, therefore, I thought maybe this was a sign that I should address this topic with all staff members in this week’s memo.  It has to do with #csdpowerofwe.  
First off, in The Basic School Model, the leadership is shared.  Teachers are empowered as leaders and parents are viewed as partners.  The Principal’s role is that of leading learner and keeper of the mission and vision.  Learning should be student-centered, and in that regard, students should have a large voice in the role of his/her education.  Plus, we all know that “choice” is the key element in student buy-in and overall ownership in his/her learning.  Therefore, we are all considered leaders, and it takes each of us working together on a consistent basis in order to keep the school community on track.  #csdpowerofwe
Community is precious and does not happen by accident.  It requires a constant, deliberate effort on everyone’s part in order to keep it healthy, functional, and strong.  In my experience, one of the most destructive forces against community is something known in the field of psychology as “emotional triangling.”  This occurs when people have concerns or frustrations with someone in the community (or family), and rather than going directly to the source, they go a third party (who is typically not directly involved).  I have seen staff members do this with their colleagues, and I have seen parents do this with teachers.  I am convinced that 90% (or more) of our problems would disappear if we eliminated this “triangling” approach and dealt with our issues/concerns/problems head-on by going directly to the person with whom we have the conflict.  Of course, this needs to be done in a mature, professional manner while assuming the best of the other person.  It also means that we have to be open to others and set our egos aside for the sake of our students and the school community.  But these types of courageous, collaborative conversations, however hard they may be in the moment, can be extremely effective in promoting the health of our organization as a whole.  In the event someone comes to you (whether it be a colleague, a parent, or a student) to express concerns about a third party, we should always redirect them back to the source.  (And I would add that it is extremely helpful to give that “source” a heads up so they won’t be caught off guard!)   Not only is it okay to tell a colleague or a parent that you can’t participate in a discussion about someone else, it is expected.  Once again, it is best done in a nonjudgemental, mature, and professional manner, but out of respect for our community, we must be bold about defining boundaries as to what is not acceptable when put in uncomfortable situations.  As leaders and keepers of the vision, we must be diligent about not having conversations with others (or about others) that do not directly involve us as it is unprofessional and breeds dysfunction within our precious community.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered situations where that “third party” was completely unaware of the issue!  As we all know, it’s impossible to fix something that we don’t even realize is broken, so let’s always give the other person the benefit of the doubt and respect them enough to go directly to them with our concerns.  #csdpowerofwe
In closing, I want to be upfront about some recent feedback I have received, myself, as leader of our school.  Out of concern and out of love, a staff member shared with me that I always appear to be very busy and that as a result of my “busy-ness,” I come across as unavailable, thereby leaving staff members feeling unsupported.  Gulp.  Now while this was hard to hear, I am so grateful for this person sharing this perception with me.  I would never, ever in a million years want anyone to feel unsupported at this school.  Yes, like all of you, I am very busy, and I don’t expect this to ever change.  If it did, then I think we should all be worried as people who are constantly striving to be better should be rather active!  BUT I never want my “busy-ness” to send the message that I don’t have time for anyone at this school.  Because this person’s approach was loving, kind, and truly coming from a place of care and concern, I was able to hear the message without feeling personally attacked.  The key is in how tactfully we deliver the message.  Our approach is everything.  As as a result of this courageous conversation, I realized I needed to more clearly (and frequently) articulate my “availability plan” so that everyone knows how to reach me in the event I am needed.
In non-emergency situations, you can email me anytime to set up a meeting.  I will try to be as accommodating as I can for folks who show up at my door, but in the name of full transparency, scheduling appointments ahead of time is very helpful to me.  However, I understand that sometimes things arise in the moment, so never refrain from “popping in” if a situation arises.
In unexpected or emergency situations, please follow the steps below:
  • The best way to reach me is by text.  My cell number is 704-437-0837.  I carry my phone with me at all times.  If you do not hear back from me rather quickly, it is because I am in a situation that I can’t respond (an emotional meeting where someone is sharing delicate info, a crying child or adult, I’m on the phone and physically can’t respond to the text at that moment, etc…).  If that’s the case, drop down to the next bullet.
  • Notify the front desk that you need admin support.  If I am not available,  Leslie, Marianne, or a teacher leader will help out.  I was recently made aware of a giant misconception that I want to clear up now.  Although Juli spends most of her time in MS, it is absolutely OKAY to involve another admin if Juli is not available.  In fact, we expect you to!  The admin team is exactly that – a team!  So we work together to address issues as they arise.  (Along those same lines….. A teacher recently confessed to not handling a situation in the moment because another staff member told her that Juli needed to handle it.  She refrained from addressing the situation for fear of stepping on my toes.  I am SO glad she shared this with me as this is something I want to clear up immediately!  ALL teachers are responsible for ALL students ALL of the time.  It takes ALL of us working as a team to address things as they arise!  Never refrain from addressing something because “admin” should handle.  If you need further support or you feel the situation or student(s) require another layer of accountability, by all means involve admin.  But please know that we expect ALL staff members to address any inappropriate behaviors they may witness in the moment.  Always.)
  • If a student needs to be removed from your room immediately, please do so!  Once again, notify the front desk that you are sending a student their way and that you need admin involvement asap.  We would never, ever want you to compromise the learning environment of your class, nor would we ever want a situation to go unaddressed simply because we weren’t in our office at that moment.  Remember – we believe mistakes are how people learn, and we would never want to rob a student from this opportunity for growth.  The Front Desk folks play a huge role in this, so please communicate with them as needed.  And if you started by texting Juli (as mentioned in the first bullet), she will already have a heads up that there is an issue waiting. 🙂
So in the spirt of leading by example and practicing what I preach, I want to take this opportunity to solicit some feedback from you in hopes of strengthening our school community in the weeks and months to come!  If you would, please take two moments to complete this brief survey that will provide me with formative data I can use to become a more effective leader and serve you better in this final stretch of the school year.  I thank you, in advance, for your time, and deeply appreciate your willingness to help me better serve you and our school.  I also encourage you to take some time getting similar feedback from your students.  It takes so little time to do and the impact on the overall environment can be significant!
Teacher Feedback for Juli
#csdpowerofwe – I love the “me’s” in our “we.”  It is an honor and privilege to be a member of this community!  Thank you for your everyday leadership and bravery.  Our students are blessed to have such caring, respectable adults in their lives.
Upcoming Events:
Monday, March 2nd
8:00-11:00 – 7th Grade ELA EOG Prep planning (half day – a.m.) in Juli’s office (Janet, Dorothy, Christy G)
11:00-12:00 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon in MS Media Center – Chinese New Year!
7:30 – Parent Advisory Meeting at HS
 
Tuesday, March 3rd
8:00-11:00 – Andrew Dearmin planning half day (a.m.) with Juli in Juli’s office
Wednesday, March 4th
3:30 – Staff Meeting – MS/HS vertical planning at HS
Thursday, March 5th
Dorothy Pagan Teacher Leader
Juli in classrooms! 🙂
Friday, March 6th
6th Grade Play in Black Box
Section 3 – 8:30
Section 4 – 9:45
Section 1 -12:15
Section 2 – 1:30
MS Showtime Choir Competition  that evening in Hickory.  Good luck!
Looking Ahead….
3/12/15 – Snow Make Up Day
3/13/15 – Snow Make Up Day
3/16/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
3/19-3/22 – MS Musical – Starmites
3/20/15 – 7th Grade Asia Day
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Civil Rights Museum
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Dance
3/30/15 – Ms Principal/Parent Coffee Talk – 8:30-9:30 in Media Center
4/3/15 – Snow Make Up Day
4/6/15 through 4/12/15 – Spring Break
4/13/15 – Classes resume
4/13/15 – Parent Advisory at HS – 7:30 p.m.
4/14/15 – K-12 Waitlist Tours
4/17/15 – CSD Prom
4/20/15 – CSD Board Meeting – 6:30 CSD HS
4/21/15 – Miles to Go Drug Prevention Parent Lecture – 8:30 and 7:00 – Elem Gym
4/22/15 – 7/8 Dance Sharing in MS Gym
4/24/15 – 6th Grade Field Trip to UNCC Botanical Gardens
4/24/15 – CSD Golf Tournament
4/29/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
4/30/15 – 6th Grade Dance Sharing in MS Black Box
5/2/15 – Spartan 5K
5/6/15 – MS Drama and ShowChoir Show Case in MS Black Box
5/7/15 – MS Band Concert – 6:30 in MS Gym
5/8/15 – Teacher Workday – Kindergarten Screening
5/15/15-5/16/15 – CSD Staff Retreat (arrive by 10 on Friday and leave at dinner time on Sat)
5/18/15 – 8th Grade Science EOG
5/19/15 – Reading EOG
5/20/15 – Math EOG
5/22/15 – Math 1 EOC for 8th graders taking Math 1
5/22/15 – Practicum Sharing Celebration
5/25/15 – NO SCHOOL – Memorial Day Holiday
5/26/15 – 5/27/15 – 7th Grade Ropes Course
5/27/15-5/29/15 – 8th Grade Kanuga Trip
5/27/15 – 6th Grade Holocaust Museum
6/1/15 – 7th Grade Change Project
6/2/15 – State of the School Address and Volunteer Appreciation 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at HS Black Box
6/2/15 – 8th Grade SLC’s (p.m.by appointment)
6/3/15 – Last day of school!
6/4/15 – HS Graduation
6/4/15 – 6/6/15 – Teacher Workdays
Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips:
This topic has been rescheduled to our next Staff Meeting – March 18th
We are excited to have Connie join us for the March 18th staff meeting as she goes over some key points and issues dealing with Technology at CSD.  This will be a K-8 meeting occurring in the elementary gym.  In an attempt to answer any questions you may have regarding technology at CSD, we are asking that you submit questions ahead of time by filling out this quick google form.  https://docs.google.com/a/csdspartans.org/forms/d/1Qiy01X0276JaYg8e4dg7K4UahiF_8tfKx8aM4zJW99g/viewform?usp=send_form
EOG Prep – Please keep in mind that we will begin an intensive EOG review and prep period six weeks prior to the test (the week of March 30th right before Spring Break).  That means that diagnostic pre-tests need to be administered prior to this prep-period so we can use that data to inform our instruction and help students devise specific learning goals so they can attain mastery by year’s end.  I will be meeting with all teachers of tested subjects in the next couple of weeks to touch base about EOG Test Prep plans and see what I can do to help!  Please remember that while we want students to take these tests seriously and perform to their fullest potential, we are committed to maintaining a low-stress environment for both students AND teachers!  I only put this reminder out there so these dates don’t creep up on us and we call all be thinking ahead!
Thought-Provoking:
Speaking of soliciting feedback from students… This is an NPR interview that goes directly to the source – the students!  Take a few moments to listen to what these students said they wanted from their school experience and then think about soliciting similar feedback in your own classroom.  While they are middle schoolers and sometimes offer comments that clearly cannot be taken seriously, they oftentimes offer great ideas and make profound statements that can totally improve the teaching and learning that goes on in our classrooms.  If you haven’t done this type of exercise before, I encourage you to try it.  The results can be amazing!

10 Things Students Want Educators to Know:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 7.26.51 AM

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MS Weekly Staff Memo – February 22, 2015

What’s On My Mind
sunny_daffodils-2
The Daffodil Principle – Read this quick parable to be reminded of a powerful lesson.
I ran across this story accidentally while simply scanning the web for imagines of daffodils. Daffodils have been on my mind a lot lately.  I long for the day when I round the corner and see one peeping it’s shoots out of the semi-frozen ground.  I chalked this desire up to a raging case of Spring fever.  But maybe my intuition is trying to tell me something else.  I love this reminder of making progress one step at a time, and the notion that in time, all of those steps do add up to great progress.  With that in mind, never doubt your contribution to CSD.  From my view, I see each of you plant daffodils every single day, and while we don’t always get to witness them blossom to maturity during their time with us, I assure you the bulbs eventually creep through the ground and open up into beautiful flowers that inspire hope in others.  So never stop spreading your magic and never doubt the influence you have over these students.  You are absolutely making a difference.
Upcoming Events
Monday, February 23rd
8:30- Principal/Parent Coffee Talk in Media Center
Juli meeting with electives teachers at 11:00 to discuss next year’s structure and offerings
11:00 – Welcome Baby Merithew Gathering in 7th Grade Resource Room
4:00 – CSD Lottery at HS Black Box
3:30 – MS Dance Team Try Outs
 
Tuesday, February, 24th
Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
Wednesday, February 25th
Beth Knight Teacher Leader – Juli in classrooms conducting observations
Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
Thursday, February 26th
Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
Friday, February 27th
Looking Ahead….
2/23/15 – MS Principal/Parent Coffee Talk – 8:30-9:30 in Media Center
2/23/15 –  MS Dance Team Try Outs – 3:30
2/23/15 – CSD Lottery – 4:00 p.m. at HS Black Box
2/24/15 – Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
2/25/15 – Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
2/27/15 – Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
3/2/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon – Chinese New Year!  YUM!
3/2/15 – Parent Advisory 7:30 p.m. at HS
3/6/15 – 6th Grade Play
3/6/15 – MS Show Choir Competition in Hickory
3/12/15 – Snow Make Up Day; (We will come up with an alternate plan for 7th Grade SLC’s. More to come…)
3/13/15 – Snow Make Up Day
3/16/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
3/19-3/22 – MS Musical – Starmites
3/20/15 – 7th Grade Asia Day
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Civil Rights Museum
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Dance
3/30/15 – Ms Principal/Parent Coffee Talk – 8:30-9:30 in Media Center
4/3/15 through 4/12/15 – Spring Break
4/13/15 – Classes resume
4/13/15 – Parent Advisory at HS – 7:30 p.m.
4/14/15 – K-12 Waitlist Tours
4/17/15 – CSD Prom
4/20/15 – CSD Board Meeting – 6:30 CSD HS
4/21/15 – Miles to Go Drug Prevention Parent Lecture – 8:30 and 7:00 – Elem Gym
4/22/15 – 7/8 Dance Sharing in MS Gym
4/24/15 – 6th Grade Field Trip to UNCC Botanical Gardens
4/24/15 – CSD Golf Tournament
4/29/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
4/30/15 – 6th Grade Dance Sharing in MS Black Box
5/2/15 – Spartan 5K
5/6/15 – MS Drama and ShowChoir Show Case in MS Black Box
5/7/15 – MS Band Concert – 6:30 in MS Gym
5/8/15 – Teacher Workday – Kindergarten Screening
5/15/15-5/16/15 – CSD Staff Retreat (arrive by 10 on Friday and leave at dinner time on Sat)
5/18/15 – 8th Grade Science EOG
5/19/15 – Reading EOG
5/20/15 – Math EOG
5/22/15 – Math 1 EOC for 8th graders taking Math 1
5/22/15 – Practicum Sharing Celebration
5/25/15 – NO SCHOOL – Memorial Day Holiday
5/26/15 – 5/27/15 – 7th Grade Ropes Course
5/27/15-5/29/15 – 8th Grade Kanuga Trip
5/27/15 – 6th Grade Holocaust Museum
6/1/15 – 7th Grade Change Project
6/2/15 – State of the School Address and Volunteer Appreciation 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at HS Black Box
6/2/15 – 8th Grade SLC’s (p.m.by appointment)
6/3/15 – Last day of school!
6/4/15 – HS Graduation
6/4/15 – 6/6/15 – Teacher Workdays
Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips
This topic has been rescheduled to our next Staff Meeting – March 4th
We are excited to have Connie join us for this week’s staff meeting as she goes over some key points and issues dealing with Technology at CSD.  This will be a K-8 meeting occurring in the elementary gym.  In an attempt to answer any questions you may have regarding technology at CSD, we are asking that you submit questions ahead of time by filling out this quick google form.  https://docs.google.com/a/csdspartans.org/forms/d/1Qiy01X0276JaYg8e4dg7K4UahiF_8tfKx8aM4zJW99g/viewform?usp=send_form
EOG Prep – Please keep in mind that we will begin an intensive EOG review and prep period six weeks prior to the test (the week of March 30th right before Spring Break).  That means that diagnostic pre-tests need to be administered prior to this prep-period so we can use that data to inform our instruction and help students devise specific learning goals so they can attain mastery by year’s end.  I will be meeting with all teachers of tested subjects in the next couple of weeks to touch base about EOG Test Prep plans and see what I can do to help!  Please remember that while we want students to take these tests seriously and perform to their fullest potential, we are committed to maintaining a low-stress environment for both students AND teachers!  I only put this reminder out there so these dates don’t creep up on us and we call all be thinking ahead!
In Closing…
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MS Weekly Staff Memo – February 16, 2015

What’s On My Mind
Lately, I have watched as a team of teachers has “taken on” a couple of their most challenging students.  What struck me most about their approach was that despite their frustration with the individual students’ lack of motivation, they refused to give up on the students.  Even more importantly, they empowered the students by making them part of the solution.  We talked about involving students in the problem-solving process at our last staff meeting, but I find that all too often, I am very quick to jump in and impose the solution on the child rather than empowering the student to come up with his/her own solutions.  Oftentimes, the kids who are the most discouraged with school are the ones who feel the most powerless (usually because of struggles either with learning, social issues, home issues, or a mixture of all of these). When we involve students in the problem-solving process, we are sending some very strong messages.  First and foremost, we are showing the student that he/she is not expendable and that we care about the outcome.  But more importantly, we are showing the student that we have enough faith in his/her own abilities, intelligence, and character that he/she will come up with a viable solution without us having to impose our wisdom.  I encourage each of you to take some time to reflect on your most challenging students and what is hindering their progress from your perspective.  Then I encourage you to reach out to that student and start a conversation about those challenges and how he/she views the situation.  When the students believe we are actually on their team, they will often move heaven and earth to avoid letting us down.  However, when students feel they are a hinderance to their teachers and those around them, it often turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Here is a good article from Edutopia with some tips on dealing with those challenging students.  As teachers, it is so easy to get worn down by these “tough” kids, but in the end, I hope we will remember that they are the very ones who need us the most. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/tips-for-teaching-tough-kids-josh-work?utm_content=blog&utm_campaign=5-tips-teaching-tough-kids&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow&utm_term=link-repost
Upcoming Events
Tuesday, February, 17th
Sara Keys Teacher Leader – Juli in classrooms conducting observations all day
Wednesday, February 18th
Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
11:00-12:00 – Mandatory meeting with Arts Teachers in vacant classroom (TBA) to discuss arts selections for next year
11:00-12:00 – Drop in “Welcome Baby Cora Merithew” – 7th grade resource room
11:00-12:00 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon – Chinese New Year!  Enjoy! (Elem Gym)
3:30 – K-8 Staff Meeting – Elem Gym – Topic:  Technology at CSD K-8 led by Connie
Thursday, February 19th
Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
Friday, February 20th
12:00-4:00 – Red Cross Blood Drive (Community Builder’s Practicum) in MS Gym
Looking Ahead….
2/18/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
2/18/15 – Staff Meeting
2/20/15 – Red Cross Blood Drive  in MS Gym (8th Grade Practicum)
2/23/15 – MS Principal/Parent Coffee Talk – 8:30-9:30 in Media Center
2/23/15 –  MS Dance Team Try Outs – 3:30
2/23/15 – CSD Lottery – 4:00 p.m. at HS Black Box
2/24/15 – Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
2/25/15 – Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
2/27/15 – Joy registering rising 9th graders for HS in Leslie’s office
3/2/15 – Parent Advisory 7:30 p.m. at HS
3/6/15 – 6th Grade Play
3/6/15 – MS Show Choir Competition in Hickory
3/12/15 – Teacher Workday; 7th Grade SLC’s
3/13/15 – Teacher Workday
3/16/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
3/20/15 – 7th Grade Asia Day
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Civil Rights Museum
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Dance
3/30/15 – Ms Principal/Parent Coffee Talk – 8:30-9:30 in Media Center
4/3/15 through 4/12/15 – Spring Break
4/13/15 – Classes resume
4/13/15 – Parent Advisory at HS – 7:30 p.m.
4/14/15 – K-12 Waitlist Tours
4/17/15 – CSD Prom
4/20/15 – CSD Board Meeting – 6:30 CSD HS
4/21/15 – Miles to Go Drug Prevention Parent Lecture – 8:30 and 7:00 – Elem Gym
4/22/15 – 7/8 Dance Sharing in MS Gym
4/24/15 – 6th Grade Field Trip to UNCC Botanical Gardens
4/24/15 – CSD Golf Tournament
4/29/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
4/30/15 – 6th Grade Dance Sharing in MS Black Box
5/2/15 – Spartan 5K
5/6/15 – MS Drama and ShowChoir Show Case in MS Black Box
5/7/15 – MS Band Concert – 6:30 in MS Gym
5/8/15 – Teacher Workday – Kindergarten Screening
5/15/15-5/16/15 – CSD Staff Retreat (arrive by 10 on Friday and leave at dinner time on Sat)
5/18/15 – 8th Grade Science EOG
5/19/15 – Reading EOG
5/20/15 – Math EOG
5/22/15 – Math 1 EOC for 8th graders taking Math 1
5/22/15 – Practicum Sharing Celebration
5/25/15 – NO SCHOOL – Memorial Day Holiday
5/26/15 – 5/27/15 – 7th Grade Ropes Course
5/27/15-5/29/15 – 8th Grade Kanuga Trip
5/27/15 – 6th Grade Holocaust Museum
6/1/15 – 7th Grade Change Project
6/2/15 – State of the School Address and Volunteer Appreciation 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at HS Black Box
6/2/15 – 8th Grade SLC’s (p.m. – by appointment)
6/3/15 – Last day of school!
6/4/15 – HS Graduation
6/4/15 – 6/6/15 – Teacher Workdays
Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips
We are excited to have Connie join us for this week’s staff meeting as she goes over some key points and issues dealing with Technology at CSD.  This will be a K-8 meeting occurring in the elementary gym.  In an attempt to answer any questions you may have regarding technology at CSD, we are asking that you submit questions ahead of time by filling out this quick google form.  https://docs.google.com/a/csdspartans.org/forms/d/1Qiy01X0276JaYg8e4dg7K4UahiF_8tfKx8aM4zJW99g/viewform?usp=send_form
Professional Development
Here’s a great blog post Joy found about homework.  Definitely some good points to consider! And here are Joy’s words on the matter – great tips and reminders from our beloved leader!
I share the following article as I think it is an exceptional reminder for us about homework.  This article includes what kids wish we knew when we assign homework.  You might be surprised by some of the points in this article.  Assign homework when you need to….just make sure that it is worthy of the time expended.  Occasionally ask your students what they have due in other classes and what other class assignments might be clashing with yours.  The fact that you ask is incredibly powerful as it reminds students that you care.  You may not be able to fix the problem always but caring is definitely the next best thing.  I do ask that you give study guides out for tests at the beginning of units so that students are crystal clear of your expectations for the unit of study.  I also ask that you post assignments as early as possible with at least a week ahead so that they can budget and manage their busy lives, athletics, and academic responsibilities. 
In Closing…
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MS Weekly Staff Memo – February 1, 2015

What’s On My Mind
Lately, I’ve been pondering the notion of accountability – accountability for students, accountability for parents, accountability for teachers, accountability for admin.  In a nutshell, what do we expect from each other and then how do we follow through when the other party fails to meet those expectations?  This is tough!  I think we all agree that our aspiration is to be a school of excellence – not a school of excellence in terms of state report cards and standardized test scores and certainly not a school of PERFECTION – but a school of excellence in terms of how closely we are fulfilling the CSD mission and vision on a repeated basis.  There’s not a doubt in my mind that each individual member of our community intends to embody this vision in his/her actions.  The question then becomes, “What do we do when others fall short – or when we, ourselves, fall short?”  Accountability!  This is a complex but necessary ingredient to successful organizations and more importantly, relationships.
I won’t pretend to have all of the answers, but here a few  of my rough thoughts to get us thinking.
1)  Lead with outrage. ~Tom Sergiovanni
This comes from Joy’s presentation on Leadership at Fresh Take.  To me, this means we are so fiercely committed to our mission and vision that we respond passionately when something is in violation of its principles.  This does not mean we are rude, cruel, or impolite.  However, this means we respond with action and are clear with others when/if something could potentially damage/threaten the vision or the community we have worked so hard to build.  Keep in mind, ALL of us are leaders.  Not just Joy, not just Juli (or Leslie or Marianne or Connie).  ALL of us fall into this boat.  So with that label comes tremendous responsibility.  We must have a laser-beam focus on our non-negotiables and then hold ourselves and others accountable when we fall short.  They key is to do this in a loving, nonjudgemental way.  But it takes extreme bravery to do this as it is far easier to look the other way and neglect what needs to be addressed.  So boil this down to our interactions with students.  When we observe behavior that is in contradiction with our expectations, we need to address it.  Otherwise we’re sending the clear message that we “say” one thing but “mean” another.  Which brings me to my next point…
2)  Clear communication.
It all comes back to being clear, concise, and direct in our communications with others, particularly students. I encourage you to consider your role as leader and think about how you are responding (or ask yourself if you are responding) when things are not in accordance with your/our expectations.  What steps are you taking to solve the problem?  Is the student clear on what is expected?  If so, examine why is this infraction continuing to happen.  Which leads me to # 3….
3)  Treat the disease, not the symptom.
We all fall into knee-jerk reactions, myself at the top of the list!  We are busy, harried, frayed, and overwhelmed on many days as our jobs are extremely demanding and highly emotional.  If we can remind ourselves to take a few deep breaths and revisit our core mission and vision, then we are far better equipped to respond in a way that alters the behavior of the student rather than simply ensuring compliance with a rule.  Alfie Kohn talks about this a lot… Are we inspiring people to do the right thing for the right thing’s sake or are we forcing them into a mode of compliance in order to make our lives simpler?  This often leads to symptom treating rather than looking at the bigger picture of the overall disease.  So I encourage you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture before beginning to problem-solve.  And include others in this process!  As Douglas Merrill says, “All of us is smarter than any of us.”  And kids should be involved in this process!  In fact, they should probably drive this process….more to come on Wednesday’s staff meeting…
4)  Practice forgiveness, yet don’t lose sight of high expectations.
Yes, holding ourselves and others accountable is important.  But so are second changes and fresh starts.  No one is perfect, and we’re all bound to make mistakes, but if we can do so in a loving, forgiving environment, our chances of learning, growing, and affecting change for the good are far more likely.  One of my favorite ideas comes from VanGoethe – “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming.”  Pretty powerful stuff!
So ponder these things as you go into next week.  Remember – we are all in this together!  And I can’t think of a finer group of folks to be surrounded by!  Thanks for all of your hard work.  You all truly are a cut above.
Love,
Juli
Upcoming Events
Monday, February, 2nd
8th Grade Math Placement Meeting – 8:30 in MS Media Center
Parent Advisory at 7:30 at HS
Tuesday, February, 3rd
Joy at K-8 registering rising 9th graders in Leslie’s office
Wednesday, February 4th
Staff Meeting – 3:30 in Dan and Kim’s room – Topic:  “It’s Not Your Problem” – Problem-solving strategies from Michelle Icard
Thursday, February 5th 
Joy at K-8 registering rising 9th graders in Leslie’s office
Friday, February 6th 
Practicum Sharing
Looking Ahead….
2/9/15 – MS Report Cards due to Juli for editing
2/12/15 – Teacher Workday; 6th Grade SLC’s
2/13/15 – Teacher Workday
2/16/15 – President’s Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL
2/18/15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
2/18/15 – Staff Meeting
2/20/15 – Red Cross Blood Drive  in MS Gym (8th Grade Practicum)
2/23/15 – MS Principal/Parent Coffee Talk – 8:30-9:30 in Media Center
2/23/15 – CSD Lottery – 4:00 p.m. at HS Black Box
3/2/15 – Parent Advisory 7:30 p.m. at HS
3/6/15 – 6th Grade Play
3/12/15 – Teacher Workday; 7th Grade SLC’s
3/13/15 – Teacher Workday
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Civil Rights Museum
3/27/15 – 8th Grade Dance
4/3/15 – Spring Break Begins
4/13/15 – Classes resume
Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips
Stole from Leslie, but her words were perfect!
A HUGE thank you to all of you for being so diligent in bringing your rooms up to code for the fire marshall.  I know this was not fun, and made many of you very sad.  However, we so appreciate that even though it makes you sad, you understand the importance of keeping kids safe.  Thank you for being positive about this transition in front of your students even if it makes you sad and angry.  At open houses we talk about how we teach character.  We do not do “honesty” week or “compassion” week.  Instead we teach virtuous behavior by modeling it for our students on a daily basis.  Know that this past week you have given your students many important lessons on how we persevere even if it is something we are not happy about.  Thank you for modeling true character education for your students. If you still need help with anything or have questions let us know and we are happy to help.
The 2nd trimester is coming to a close, so be sure you give yourself ample time to conduct assessments and complete the report cards.  Please send me your narratives as soon as you can so I can publish them to Jupiter.  Report Cards are due by February 9th.  Let me know if you have any questions or need any help!
Professional Development
As you all know, the growth mindset embraces mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.  Here is an interesting take on the different types of mistakes and how they shape us.
This is a terrific info graphic on 8 Things to Look For in Today’s Classroom.  As you look at this, ask yourself where you are hitting the mark and where there is room for growth?  Great stuff here!
In Closing…
Poof.  And just like that, it’s February.  Can you believe how quickly the times flies?  For all of you football fanatics out there, I hope you enjoy tonight’s game and festivities!

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