Learning Together

Office of Instruction Newsletter - May 2022

Sending Many Thanks!

Message from Troy D. Olin, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction

Staff Appreciation Week

On behalf of the Office of Instruction team, we want to thank you for your commitment to each other and our students. With less than two months of school remaining and we would not have made it through this challenging year without each other’s support. The saying, “it takes a village”, is never truer than this year. There are so many examples of our staff stepping up and stepping in to meet the needs of their colleagues and our students. Thank you for making Gates Chili a great place to work and more importantly a caring family.

Innovation Coach

We want to thank Chris Amesbury for his dedication to the Innovation Coach position over the past six years. He has truly modeled our Spartan Way values while working closely with staff to provide professional development, co-planning and teaching lessons, facilitating learning labs, troubleshooting technical issues, and not to mention the incredible assistance as we navigated remote/hybrid teaching and learning. Good luck to Chris in the next chapter of his career.

As many know firsthand, the Innovation Coaches' role has evolved since we began our digital conversion journey years ago. Early on, much of the focus was on the tools (laptop, software, digital resources) and we quickly realized that it was not about the tools as we shifted to leveraging the tools to help redefine our instruction in meaningful and relevant ways. Although technology will certainly remain a component of the Innovation Coaches role, the focus will broaden to include coaching and modeling instructional and assessment strategies. Moving forward, we look forward to our coaches working collaboratively to provide support and feedback that enhances instruction and promotes student learning. The Innovation Coach position remains open through this Sunday, May 8th.

Authentic learning

It has been an absolute pleasure engaging with each building to explore and celebrate the amazing authentic learning opportunities happening throughout the district. Our students are fortunate to have creative and hardworking staff that provide these enriching experiences that engage them in developing ideas and pursuing answers and solutions.

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Inclusive Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction

This year, we have partnered with Shane Wiegand and Kesha James, co-leaders of the Anti-Racist Curriculum Project. Their team is committed to empowering students, teachers, and educational leaders with instructional resources on the local history of structural racism and civil rights in Monroe County. They support students and educators in the co-creation, implementation, and adaptation of curriculum that will allow students to explore and interpret our local history through rich primary sources. All of their work is rooted in the New York State Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CR-SE) Framework.

We want students to be critical consumers of information, share their unique perspectives, and work with others collaboratively to make claims supported by evidence. Ultimately, we want students to be informed and engaged citizens in our community.

Shane and his team have worked with our administrative team and social studies teacher leaders at every level. In February, all fourth-grade teachers went through a half-day session to explore resources for a unit on enslavement and resistance. Currently, these teachers are piloting this unit and resources in their classroom. This summer a team of teachers will work to adapt our elementary curriculum by embedding these resources as appropriate.

Next month, a team of high school teachers will work through a similar professional development session with Shane and his team. This workshop will support summer curriculum development.

All of this work is and will continue to be aligned to the New York State Social Studies Framework, with the Social Studies Practices at the forefront of the instructional design.

Secondary Teacher Leadership

As we shared last month, some of our teacher leaders at the secondary level will be celebrating their retirements at the end of this school year. This month we'd like to congratulate Rose Meyer-Love for her years of dedication to reading instruction and leadership at the high school as well as Florence Brasser Elementary School. Rose has served as the Building Reading Teacher and the 9-12 Department Leader for the AIS department for the past several years. We appreciate everything she has done and wish her all the best in her retirement.

Sandy Train has worked in Gates Chili for 26 years in many capacities. In addition to her years as a high school English teacher and department leader, she also worked as a district Instructional Coach and a 6-12 English Curriculum Leader while facilitating professional development opportunities. She has been a class advisor and Prime Time coordinator. Starting next year, she will be fulfilling the role as the HS building reading teacher and department leader. She is excited for to continue in a district leadership position and to be an advocate for students in need of support services.

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Cohort #3

On May 5, K-12 teachers and administrators completed the 30-hour Culturally Responsive- Sustaining Education (CR-SE) course, marking a third cohort of educators across the district who’ve deepened their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion. In our final circle, members were asked to offer their thoughts to those educators who have not yet taken the CR-SE course. Here are a few of their personal insights:

  • “I came into this course thinking I wouldn’t really get much out of it and that I was in a good place. I know now that I am just getting started.”
  • “Wrestle with the discomfort.”
  • “The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know, and there is so much more to learn.”
  • “I’m asking myself, ‘Whose culture are we being responsive to?’”
  • “We need to put in this work.”
  • “Make the invisible, visible…we need to shine a light on the things we haven’t looked at and have the courage to embrace the discomfort.”
  • “Intent versus impact and microaggressions…we all have great intentions, but the work of looking at ourselves, and how our intent really impacts…it’s about asking, ‘Are we really self-aware?’
  • "How do you use your power and privilege to enact positive change?”
  • “This journey is never over.”

Look out for future issues of the "Learning Together" newsletter on the first Friday of each month this school year!