February 1, 2016

By Allan  

Howdy Everyone,

Our second semester specialists start this Tuesday, so please say hello to David and Justine when you see them this week.

Fifteen items of note this week:

• Wacky Wednesday, Favorite Character Day – This Wednesday is the February Wacky Wednesday and this time it’s Favorite Character Day. Let your students know they are welcome to come to school dressed up as their favorite character from a book, movie or TV show. Also remind students that our usual costume rules apply (NO weapons, weapon-like props, excessive bareness, masks, scary or gory costumes, or dressing up like another race or ethnicity).

• District Admin Updates – I usually put these at the end of my announcements, but this one is someone who’s worked closely with Howard over the years. Kim Ketterer is retiring at the end of the school year. Kim has had to spend a significant amount of time helping her parents in Ohio since last spring and now needs to spend more time in Ohio supporting them. Kim has been a great supporter of Howard over the years, so be sure to wish her well next time you see her.

• February PBIS Focus: Cooperation – The February PBIS monthly focus is Cooperation. The PBIS team created a PBIS/CFK Cheat Sheet that matches our monthly themes with corresponding Caring for Kids class meeting lessons. This is an easy way to tie the two activities together.

• Perfect Attendance Awards – Lupe asked me last week about recognizing some of her students who had perfect attendance first semester (no tardies or absences). I thought that was a nice idea and that I should extended the same opportunity to other classrooms if you’d like me to give a short little presentation to your class. Attached in my email and not here on my blog is a list of all the students with perfect attendance (sorry Natalie, Kealy and Justine. You didn’t have any qualifying students.). If you’d like me to recognize students in your class, just give me a date and time to come present.

• Staffing Timeline & Enrollment Projection Updates – Principals received an updated staffing timeline at Friday’s all admin HR training. Buildings will receive their staffing on Wednesday, February 24th and buildings will have three weeks to finalize their 2016-2017 staffing plans, with plans due to HR Wednesday, March 16th. At this same meeting we also received our enrollment projections along with a new form for principals to provide additional information if we think our projections are not accurate. Howard is projected for 413 students (65 [KG], 68 [1st], 61 [2nd], 85 [3rd], 63 [4th], 70 [5th]), which I think would be accurate most years, but taking into consideration that every new building that’s opened in 4J has seen a jump in enrollment their first year and also considering the new housing going in on North Park (which now actually has several structures built), I’m going to make the case that our projection should be adjusted upward.

If you’re wondering what this projection means in terms of staffing, if Howard’s staffing ratio from last year holds true (24.8 overall, though KG was slightly lower), we would receive 16.5 classroom FTE, which would be an increase of 0.5 FTE over our current 16.0 classroom FTE. Still, this all depends on adjustments to the needs index and overall district budget considerations, which could change this up or down, so this is really just my “back of the napkin” calculations at this point. Nothing will be official until Feb. 24th, so I don’t know if I should really share my guesswork, but I decided people still might want to know.

On another semi-related staffing note, principals at this same meeting were given a sheet that showed the staff demographic breakdown by race/ethnicity for all 4J schools. Howard looked about average compared to most schools (which is still not that good a reflection of our student population), but what most struck me was that Howard’s overall staff total of 62 staff members was larger than any other elementary or middle school in all of 4J. And this doesn’t even include BEST staff. Howard doesn’t have the largest enrollment in 4J (we’re the 8th largest out of 19 elementary schools), but I think the number of SPED programs and the size of our Title 1 program are what make our staff larger than all other elementary and middle schools in 4J (Holt, Chavez and Monroe are pretty close, but we’re still the largest staff).

• Licensed Staff Mid-Cycle Goals Conferences – Now that we’re about halfway through the school year, I’ll be emailing licensed staff members to set up a time to meet for this step in the evaluation cycle. Our new superintendent has placed this as a higher priority than past sups, so I’ll be working to complete the Educator Evaluation and Professional Growth Cycles with all licensed staff this year. Head on over to TalentEd to review which cycle you’re on and any outstanding tasks you might have.

• New Building Updates – Linked here are the minutes from the last Owner/Architect/General Contractor (OAC) Meeting and below are a few related items of note:

• School Garden Area Rendering – Allison and the School Garden Project folks have been emailing back and forth over some topics concerning the new school garden and in one recent email, they included a beautiful rendering of what the school garden area will look like, which I had to share with you all here.

4J Howard_Learning Garden_CM (1)

• Spring Break Packing – Spring Break is quickly approaching, so it’s a good time to get started packing if you have items you’re done with for this year and are ready to send over now. This will save you time later at the year and also will lessen some of the pressure that we all have to absolutely be completely packed up by Tuesday, June 21st (movers will move everything Wednesday & Thursday, and asbestos abatement begins that Friday). Once you have boxes packed and labeled, just place them outside your door and Crystal and I will figure out where to store things the next month and a half. On a related note, I’m also checking on when is the earliest that teachers will be able to begin setting up their classrooms in the new building and will let you all know the answer to that once I have it. Hopefully it’ll be late July or early August to accommodate those who want to start early.

• Shelving Container Option for New Classrooms – I’ve only heard positive support for ordering the containers I shared in last week’s announcements. That means I’m going to move forward with ordering these for classrooms. The amount per classroom is to-be-determined after we price them out, but we’ll try to get as many as we can.


• Mobile Storage – Now that quite a few staff members have recently visited the nearly completed new building, I’ve had a couple people asked about the mobile storage pieces. Linked here is a drawing I shared earlier of the three pieces of mobile furniture teachers will have available in each classrooms. Two are deeper storage containers than the built in shelves and the third piece is additional student cubbies on one side and shelves on the other side.

• Safety Inspection Rescheduled – District Safety Specialist, Matt Cornwall, did not show up for the safety inspection this past Friday, so we’ll be rescheduling that for another date. After contacting Facilities I found out he apparently went on vacation and failed to communicate that either me or Crystal, which we were more than a bit irritated about. I’ll let everyone know once we have a new date.

• Informational Meeting on PeaceJam for K-12 Teachers – Downtown asked principals to pass along information to teachers regarding an informational meeting on PeaceJam for K-12 Teachers (though I saw a separate email was also sent to cert_all). PeaceJam is an international organization led by 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners, including the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, with the goal of building global citizenship, peace through anti-bullying instruction and youth leadership. The regional chapter of PeaceJam is now located here in Eugene, working in collaboration with the University of Oregon and schools and districts all over the Northwest. They will be hosting a voluntary, informational meeting Tuesday, Feb 2 from 4-5pm in the Auditorium at the 4J District Office, to cover some of the benefits to 4J teachers of the district membership 4J has established with PeaceJam, as well as upcoming activities and events that will benefit students in the district, including the upcoming youth conference with 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, which will take place at the U of O April 22-23.

• UO Science and Invention Fair – The UO SPICE program (Science Program to Inspire Creativity and Excellence) has announced that the 2016 UO Science and Invention Fair will be held on May 7th in Willamette Hall at the University of Oregon. See the linked flyer for additional details or the SPICE website. If teachers would like to have an instructor from SPICE visit your classroom for science fair workshops (including Scientific Method, Research Questions, Data Collection and Presenting Your Project), email Brandy Dodd (btodd@uoregon.edu).

• Should teachers wear microphones? – Since we’ll have these available in all of our classrooms next year, I thought this was a timely Edutopia article to share. It describes how one educator, who never felt he needed voice application before because of his “teacher voice,” recently gained a new appreciation for classroom sound amplification. He describes how he saw a change in the student behavior and in his own behavior as a result.

• African American History Month – Prepare for African American History Month with Perspectives. Use readings from the Central Text Anthology to celebrate and deepen students’ understanding and connections to African-American lives and legacies. Consider texts like Margaret Walker’s “For My People” or RuNett Nia Ebo’s “Lord, Lord, Why Did You Make Me Black?” Pair your selections with Write to the Source tasks like The Pages of My Life 6-12. Registration is required.


• Should students have time to tinker?– Tinkering fosters deeper learning, suggests Jasmine Escalante, product development and curriculum writer for MindWorks Resources. In this commentary, she asserts that students benefit from the “journey” of tinkering — not necessarily the end result — and shares several tips to help integrate the concept in the classroom.

• Beware of the dangers of email – This article has suggestions I’ve often given teachers in being careful in their use of email over placing a phone call instead. Email is fast and effective, but it’s also potentially risky: Without body language or tone of voice to guide them, recipients may wind up taking offense at what you write. That’s especially true in back-and-forth chains that can devolve into frustrated knee-jerk responses, writes Peter Post. “Any time you begin to sense that the thread is becoming unpleasant, that is the moment to pick up the phone or visit the person to resolve the issue,” he advises.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – See the Google Calendar for future events, but here are the events of note for the next two weeks:

February 1 (M)
National African American History Month
Progress Monitoring Week 7

February 2 (T)
2nd Semester Music & PE Begins
9:00-10:00, Tasha Katsuda Title 1 Visit
10:00-11:00, Allan to Automatic Door Owner Training (New Building)
11:20-11:40, Allan to PBIS Reward Lunch w/Room 12 Students (Library)

February 3 (W)
Wacky Wednesday – Favorite Character Day
2:30, Allan to Mid-Cycle Goals Conferences

February 4 (H)
9:00, Allan Meeting w/James Grubic RE: TSS Space (New Building)

February 5 (F)
Regular Day

February 8 (M)
National School Counseling Week

February 9 (T)
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting (Room 1)

February 10 (W)
9:00-11:00, Allan to OAC Meeting (Construction Trailer)
1:30-2:30, PBIS Meeting (Room 21)
4:00-5:00, Allan to North Region Admin Meeting (YG/Corridor)

February 11 (H)
Regular Day

February 12 (F)
Report Cards Sent Home

And if you’re wondering if this Monday is really the halfway point in the school year, my wife had conveniently already counted the school days and let me know that Tuesday is our official halfway mark. Have a good week, everyone!