MS Weekly Staff Memo – March 7, 2015


What’s On My Mind:
Reflection.  This is a word that comes up a lot in our profession.  Research tells us how critical it is for teachers to carve out deliberate time for students to reflect on their learning if we want them to dig deeply into the content and make meaning of the learning experiences we have designed.  Reflecting makes us more self-aware and increases our problem-solving capacities.  In a word, reflection makes us more effective.
Now I know that reflection is not everyone’s cup of tea.  Not everyone longs for some quiet time alone to ponder big ideas and think about alternate solutions to perplexing problems, but here’s my confession.  I do.  I love the act of reflecting.  Being an introvert at heart, I do some of my best thinking alone (and through writing), so solo, written reflection time is like gold to me.  Aside from reflecting alone, the admin team does a great deal of collaborative, verbal reflection – something else which I highly value!  We come to the table to assess our current conditions – what’s working, what’s not working – and then design action plans to strengthen our deficits while also capitalizing on our what’s going well.  Once again, research shows that teams who engage in regular reflection are proven to be more effective in their endeavors.
But clearly it’s not just the act of reflecting that makes a difference.  One has to be willing to act on what he/she is learning through the process of reflection.  This notion makes me think of my younger teacher self.  I have always been a Professional Development junkie, and I would sign up for just about any PD experience my school or district was offering.  I would go to these workshops in the middle of the year as a young teacher and soak in these ideas, but for whatever reason, I would find myself “saving” these ideas I learned for “next year.”  When I think back on that now, I wonder, “Why on earth did I do that?”  Maybe I waited because I didn’t want to mess up what I had already spent so much time creating.  Maybe I waited so I wouldn’t come off as a flake to my students and colleagues.  Maybe I waited because it was just too much work to start implementing the change right away.  I’m not sure.  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more adept at embracing change, and in the words of my beloved guru Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.”  And why on earth would we ever “save” getting better for later?
So….I’m sure many of you noticed my rather impromptu office move on Friday.  Thanks to Marianne’s awesome coordination skills and the help of Mr. Craig and his handy-dandy handcart, I was able to make a change that the admin team has been reflecting on for some time.  While being in the back of the building has its advantages, it also has its downsides as well.  One of the major disadvantages is sheer geography.  Even with walkies and phones, it was hard for the administrators to communicate throughout the course of the day.  For those of you in co-teaching situations, you know the importance of regular check-ins with your teaching partners and understand how this type of communication can strengthen your teaching practice and improve the learning experiences of your students.  The same is true for the admin team.  We each have our own unique skill sets we bring to the table, and as is the case with any team, we capitalize on those strengths for the good of the whole.  We believe that by being in closer proximity to one another and in a centralized location, we will be able to better serve teachers and students.  I have to admit that I was falling into my old ways of “saving” the solution for “next year,” but then after talking as a team, I thought “Why wait?  If it’s going to make you better at what you do, do it now!”
So I tell you all of this for two main reasons.  1)  I wanted everyone to know about my new location.  I’ll be sharing space with Amy Light in the office right beside Marianne.  My “old office” is set up as a mini conference room and can be utilized for small groups, EC testing, etc…  2) I wanted to emphasize the importance of reflection and  encourage  you to not only make sure you are carving out reflection time for your students, but to make sure you are carving out reflection time for yourself and your team.  Reflection is an essential component of personal and professional growth, and we need to engage in reflection frequently so that we can avoid complacency and that unexciting place of becoming stale or stagnant.
In closing, I would like to share a quite entertaining piece on reflection.  You will probably recognize this slam poetry artist.  Her stellar performance actually inspired this week’s blog, so I definitely wanted to share.  I’m hoping all of you have Facebook pages so you can open the link.
And to copy her hashtag, #lovemyjob
Have a great weekend!  Enjoy the sunshine and extra hour of daylight tomorrow.
Upcoming Events:
Monday, March 9th
Tuesday, March 10th
9:00-10:00 – Rising K Open House
Wednesday, March 11th
Thursday, March 12th
7:30 – Love and Logic Parent Workshop Session 3 w/ Marianne
Friday, March 13th
9:30 & 1:00 – Starmites Lite performances for 5th grade
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 ( appointment)
6/3/15 – Last day of school!
6/4/15 – HS Graduation
6/4/15 – 6/6/15 – Teacher Workdays
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.
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!
HUGE thank you to the 6th grade Arts Team for all of the work you put into Friday’s performances!  I heard nothing but rave reviews from parents and students, so you are to be commended for your hard work.  We LOVE you!
Professional Development:
This week I am sharing an article by one of my favorites, Carol Ann Tomlinson.  I would love for us all to ponder this notion of good vs. great.  It’s easy to become complacent and settle for “good,” but I truly don’t think any of us are okay with that.  Striving for greatness is hunger that is never quite satiated.  Keep in mind, we are ALL leaders.  As she states, To do so (being an effective leader) is not to dabble with fairy dust, but to understand and respond to hungers in the human spirit. This sort of leadership, I believe, is the genesis of educational excellence.”  I hope you find some nuggets of wisdom and inspiration here!
I know I say this every year, but one year, I think we should actually do this!!!
Spring Forward

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