August 27, 2012

By Allan  

Hello Howard Staff,

Here’s the first edition of my weekly announcements. My intention with these announcements is to share informational and business items with you in blog and email form rather than at staff meetings or multiple emails sent throughout the week. Typically I send these out on Sundays and my hope is that staff read them by Tuesday.

Fourteen items of note for this week.

• 2012 4J Kickoff Conference, “Making Thinking Visible: Creating Pathways to College & Career” – 4J is planning something VERY different this year for the district kickoff event. Instead of the usual welcome speeches, the district has created a powerful professional development conference focused on our key instructional initiatives. All staff assigned to work August 30th are required to attend, although if you are part-time you are only expected to attend for as long as your normal work hours (but talk to me if you are part-time and want to stay for the entire event). See Kerry Delf’s email for details about time, location and transportation (I’m planning to do the park-and-ride) and also the attached agenda for the conference including a list of the afternoon breakout sessions.

• Friday Staff Meeting, 8:00-11:00 in the Library – Three things people need to be ready for at Friday’s staff meeting:
1. Bring your iPad or Laptop. I plan to hold a mostly paperless meeting and, prior to the meeting, will email the documents that we will be discussing.
2. Be prepared to share something that you found useful, inspiring or thought provoking from the district kickoff event at the Hilton.

3. Lastly, if you haven’t already, please let me know a fun, outrageous or unexpected activity you did over the summer that might surprise your colleagues. This will be for a quick, fun matching activity at the meeting, but don’t tell others because prizes will be involved!

• Staffing Updates – Coquette Lawrence, who was originally going to be a new IA (which the district is now calling EAs, Educational Assistants) has decided to peruse another career path and Ann Tucker will be returning to fill the vacancy. There was also a change to our PE FTE. Originally we were given only a half-time PE teacher during our 9 weeks, but Jenifer Pleus will now be teaching all day at Howard during our PE/Music time (Nov. 8 – Jan. 30).

• Night Custodian Interviews – The facilities department has finally gotten us a list of candidates for our night custodian vacancy. I am planning to conduct interviews on Wednesday, August 29th, from 9:00-10:30 if there are any staff members interested in being part of the interview committee. Lori, Randy, the Kelly MS lead custodian and myself will all be part of the committee. We don’t require additional committee members but I want to extend the opportunity if anyone else wants to participate.

• Caring School Curriculum Materials – Please let me know if you are missing any of your Caring School Community materials or your copy of The Morning Meeting Book. Downtown is purchasing anything that might have been missed (and maybe for any specialist who might have been missed and wanted materials), so this is the time to ask if you need something. Let me know by the end of the week if there are pieces you are needing.

• After School Program Opportunity – I’ve been approached by two groups wanting to offer after school programs to students,Young Rembrandts (a drawing class) and a science enrichment class (focusing on rocketry). Both are fee based, so I do question how many families would be able to access the classes, but both groups did offer scholarships and lowered their normal tuition fees. My thought is to go ahead and offer the classes to families in the Fall to see if there is enough interest to sustain a class, but I wanted to run this by staff to get your thoughts and hear what you think. Please let me know by the end of the week if you think thumbs up or thumbs down.

• Allan Visit to Classrooms – I’d like to visit every classroom sometime during the first couple weeks of school to introduce myself to students. I’d like to read a favorite story to your class and then share a little about myself so kids can get to know me. Teachers, please let me know a good time to come and visit so I can get to know your students. Thank you!

• Class Newsletters – I’d love to have copies of teachers’ classroom newsletters. This helps be keep up to date on what’s happening (or going to happen) in classes, and also lets me know details of any class activities that I might be able to get the local media to come out and cover. I want to promote our school!

• Common Core State Standards and Families – Chris Castillero, the new Associate Director of Curriculum and Professional Development – Mathematics, shared a resource around the Common Core State Standards for communicating with families that I thought I would also share with staff. The National PTA website has published documents explaining how schools are transitioning to the Common Core. The documents on the website provide some details about grade level expectations in ELA and Mathematics and are available for K-8 and HS (English and Spanish). You might already have this resource, but I wanted to provide it just in case. For future reference, Chris is willing and able present at any parent or community meetings on the Mathematics Common Core, CPM or any other math topic.

• Online Subscriptions – Lane ESD is once again providing a subscription for all 4J staff and students for Learn 360 and Atomic Learning. Information on how to set up accounts and access these resources can be found on the 2012-13 Online Subscription Information webpage.

• Back-to-School Edmodo Breakouts – Last year, quite a few teachers began using Edmodo in their classroom. If you’re wanting to get “up and running” with Edmodo for staff communication and classroom use, on August 30th, Edmodo sessions will be included as one of the choices during the breakout session time at the kick-off conference at the Hilton. Downtown will also be offering other Edmodo workshops throughout the year.

• Google Permission Forms for 2012-13 – For those of you using Google Docs with students, a yearly permission form must be signed by a parent/guardian for ALL K-8 students using Google Tools. Teacher should collect the signed forms from students and turn them into the office. Once the office has the entire class/homeroom set of forms, the Google permission can be “turned on” via eSIS at the building level. Attached are the Elementary English and Spanish versions of the form.

• ARTICLE – Classroom procedures provide more structure than rules – Here’s a good article for the beginning of the school year that reminds us that teachers should avoid enforcing classroom rules and instead establish procedures early on that will provide students with the structure they need to learn. In this blog post, instructional coach David Ginsburg shares a video in which he explains the importance of procedures, which he says lead to fewer behavior problems in class.

• Breakfast Burrito Orders – Last but not least, remember to place your breakfast burrito orders with Lori by Tuesday morning for our breakfast gathering Wednesday morning at 8:00.

I’d like to give a special acknowledgement to Lori and Randy, who have been working hard to get everything ready for staff. Thank you very much for getting things ready for everyone.

Here’s to a great school year!