October 20, 2014

By Allan  


Hello Roadrunners,

I’d like to thank staff for helping make our new lunchtime schedule and routine work out this past week. It seems to be making a real difference in the cafeteria. Thank you, all!

Eighteen items of note this week:

• PRIDE Awards Wednesday – This Wednesday at lunchtime will be the October PRIDE Awards. Teachers should pick a letter (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, Excellence) to honor students and fill out the PRIDE certificates located in the office. Invitations to families are also in the office. There is no minimum or maximum number of PRIDE recipients per class, but the general rule of thumb is 2-3. And remember, as you turn in your PRIDE nominations, be sure that you let Lori know who and why each student is being recognized so she can put their name up on the board.

• PTO Meeting Updates – There was a great turnout of staff and families at last week’s PTO meeting. To share a few updates, the PTO Board said that the cookie dough sale made about $6,000 in profit, compared to last year’s $5,000. The next PTO event is a Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, December 6th, where they will sell table space to crafters and/or small business folks to sell their wares. It will be held in the Howard gym. In preparation for the spring carnival auction, the PTO would like to do the painted classroom chairs we discussed last year, but this year they will give us the chairs and painting materials to classes far, far in advance, so teachers will have plenty of time before the carnival for kids to decorate their chairs. Lastly, to boost eScrip sign-ups, during conferences I will be organizing a laptop station to be set up outside of each classroom with directions for parents to register.

• Bus Safety Requirement – Lori sent this information out earlier, but the state requires all students to receive instruction on bus safety by the end of December. To meet the requirement, teachers can order a bus and driver to come out one day to provide instruction to classes. Teachers can also meet the requirement by showing an approved bus safety video (see the above attachment which incredibly includes ancient 16mm films and VHS tapes), though Transportation has provided one on their website, The Safest Way Out, which will meet the requirement. Once you have completed your chosen method of meeting the training requirement, please let Lori know the date and the training method used.

• Regional Family Common Core State Standards Meetings – You may have seen that 4J is holding a series of regional meetings on CCSS for families. The North Region had their meeting this past week and and attached is a handout that was given to families as an example of the K-5 math standards. Generally speaking, the meeting was a very basic overview of the standards, though interestingly, most of the parent questions were not about CCSS and were nearly all focused around Smarter Balanced. 4J is planning to conduct another round of regional meetings in January focused on Smarter Balanced.

• Conferences Information – Conferences aren’t until next week, but I did want to let teachers know that the PTO will be providing meals both evenings. Also, here’s a link from the NEA Website with resources and tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences. Lastly, I shared these last year, but here are some good tips that I got from an ASCD article on conducting parent-teacher conferences.

• Listen well, regardless of the situation.
• Balance constructive critiques with positive comments about the student.
• Make parents feel welcomed and relaxed. Parents are not on their turf; they may feel anxious or nervous.
• Inform parents that you, the teacher, will take notes during the conference so you can carefully address each of their concerns.
• Be cool and calm in everything you say and do. Your tone of voice and mannerisms can escalate or deescalate parent-teacher interactions.
• Be deliberate and realistic in what you promise a parent. Remember that you cannot feasibly call or e-mail several parents or caregivers every day.
• Collect data on what you say. Take note of how many questions you ask, how often you offer the parent encouragement, and how often you emphasize the ideas or suggestions that the parent brings to the conference.
• At all costs, do not use your authority as a teacher as a means of forcing your point of view.
• Interact with parents or caregivers to learn more about the student and to understand how the parent has been successful or unsuccessful with that student at home.
• Understand your role as a teacher and have a working knowledge of how other school professionals can support parents and students. Generic referrals to “seeing a guidance counselor” are not always necessary or appropriate.
• Conduct the conference in a warm, enthusiastic, and professional way. Teachers who appear apathetic, aloof, or begrudging will seldom foster successful relationships with parents and caregivers.

• Free/Reduced Meals Forms at Conferences – Our Free and Reduced Meals percentage is currently at 58%, which is a big drop from where we were at the end of last year, which was around 78%. Please highlight the program to families at conferences and have some forms on hand. Besides the importance of making sure families who could benefit from the program are accessing it, our F/R count directly impacts our classroom and Title staffing, so it’s a good idea for many reasons to encourage families to enroll in the program even if they don’t plan on using it.

• Allan Available at Conferences – I’m available to sit in on any conferences that teachers would like me to attend for any reason. Just let me know the date and time and I’ll get it on my calendar.

• Student Howard T-Shirts – With our incredible amount of new student move ins, we in the office have lost track of which new students have gotten their Howard Roadrunners t-shirt and which have not. Let Lori know if you need one for any new kiddos.

• Friday, October 31st Classified Staff Expectations – Similar to State Inservice Day, Friday, Oct. 31st is a regular work day for Classified Staff, but is not a work day for licensed staff who worked extended hours for conferences. Since there will be no students or teachers in the building this day, I would encourage classified staff who have comp time coming to use it this day. If you are planning to work on Friday, please connect with your primary cooperating teacher on how best to help out this day.

• Halloween Parade October 29th, 1:30-2:00 – Next week we’ll have our annual Halloween Parade and our new tradition of doing a Thrill the World performance. Attached is the Halloween Parade Map & Direction. We will follow our usual parade route and will perform the Thriller Dance (6 minutes) on the playground. We will then resume the parade route for as long as time allows, with teachers ending the parade early and taking students back to class if time appears to be running short. I haven’t heard from anyone who saw any issues with the plan, but let me know if you see any potential problems or have any questions.

• Elementary Leadership Plan Changes – I’ve heard from a few people with ideas regarding the 20 leadership days to divide among 7 teachers. One idea was to have leaders write up a short note on their additional duties, averaging out approximately how many hours they spend on their additional tasks, also being open to different day/hour compensation since some leader jobs take more leader time than others. Another idea was to evenly divide the 20 days between our four current people. Let me know if you have other ideas you think should be considered before we have an initial discussion at the November Staff Meeting.

• Clocks Now On Time – If you didn’t notice it last week, our clocks should now be synched with Cupertino time, which most all our Apple devices are set to, so hopefully that makes life easier for people.

• EEF Grants Ideas Due Oct. 27th – In addition to the 5th grade $2,000 grant for the air & space museum trip and the OBOB $500 grant for next year’s books, I had one more EEF Grant proposal that was for online subscriptions to Science A-Z (same people who make RAZ-kids) and possibly Time magazine or something similar for each grade level, giving all levels access to a variety of informational texts. That still leave one open grant, so let me know before the October 27th Site Council meeting if you’d like to apply for a grant. If no one else comes forward I’ll write one for more Howard t-shirt, PBIS incentives or maybe an Artist in Residence if any of those sounds good to staff.

• CenturyLink Teachers and Technology Grant – The CenturyLink Teachers and Technology Grant Program is a competitive grant open to PreK-12 teachers and is designed to help teachers innovatively implement technology in their classrooms to increase student achievement. They will consider requests of up to $5,000 submitted by full-time classroom teachers, with a deadline of January 2, 2015. Grants will be awarded in April. If you’d like any help putting together a grant, let me know and I can maybe even ghostwrite it for you or a group of teachers.

• Malala Yousafzai voices support for Code.org’s outreach to women – In a recent YouTube video, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai endorsed Code.org’s Hour of Code as a way for more girls to get involved in computer science. The the article here. Yousafzai joins President Barack Obama and others in supporting the campaign. If you’d like your class to participate, you can register on the Hour of Code website, where you can find resources and even self guided tutorials that you can simply have your student go through the day of the Hour of Code. Last year, we actually had volunteer from local tech companies come to classrooms to teach, which I expect they will do again.

• Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today – If you ever have colleagues challenge Howard’s decision to extend our afternoon recess to 20 minutes, here’s a nice post that declares, “Recess times need to be extended and kids should be playing outside as soon as they get home from school… They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.”

• VIDEO: White Privilege – Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart had an epic showdown over white privilege that’s well worth watching. I nearly saved this for a staff meeting, but it’s a bit long. Still, it’s definitely worth playing the 12 minute segment after school one day to see Stewart do an excellent job of countering O’Reilly’s various detours (the playing field is now level, reverse racism, the bootstrap theory, etc.) throughout the face-off. Since it’s from The Daily Show, it’s also quite funny and entertaining.


• 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:

October 20 (M)
8:30-10:00, Allan to Principal Goals Conference (Ed Center)
1:30-2:30, Robin and Allan to Title 1 Coordinator and Principal’s Meeting (Ed Center)
2:30-5:00, Allan to Elementary Principal’s Meeting (Ed Center)

October 21 (T)
8:30-12:00, Roving Sub for Teacher Goals Meetings
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting (Room 1)

October 22 (W)
Data Team Meetings
10:55-12:30, PRIDE Awards at Lunch (Cafeteria)
1:15, Allan to Formal Observation Pre-Conference
2:00, Allan to Teacher Goals Meeting
2:45, Allan to Teacher Goals Meeting
3:10, Allan to Teacher Goals Meeting

October 23 (H)
8:10, Allan to Formal Teacher Observation
9:00-12:00, Kindergarten/Life Skills Pumpkin Patch Field Trip
10:55-12:30, October Birthday Lunches with the Principal (Room 11)
12:40, Allan to Teacher Goals Meeting
2:30-3:30, Taking it Up Meeting (Staff Room)

October 24 (F)
8:00-4:00, Allan to OIS Training (Ed Center)
1:00, Referral Free Parties
5:45, PTO Movie Night – “The Lego Movie” (Gym)

October 27 (M)
Reading Progress Monitoring Week 3
10:15, 2nd Grade Fire Prevention Presentation
2:30, Site Council (Staff Room)

October 28 (T)
Weekly Flouride Rinse Starts
2:30, PBIS Meeting (Room 21)

October 29 (W)
12:30-1:00, Halloween Parade/Thrill the World!
PTO Provided Dinner (Details TBA)
4:00-8:00 Conferences

October 30 (H)
PTO Provided Dinner (Details TBA)
8:00AM-8:00PM Conferences

October 31 (F)
No School – Teacher Comp Day

Have a fabulous week everyone!