the RAH

October 22-26, 2018

from J-

One of my favorites duties in my role is the opportunity I have to visit our 35 elementary schools across our system. With 540 classroom teachers, and hundreds of other teachers and educators in various roles and settings, our ~2,000 students at every grade level are truly blessed to be part of Springfield Public Schools.

The purpose of this is to address the Scorecard. This is the data that your leaders have been bringing forward to you about the performance in our system. This data review is really nothing new- it is data we have been (or should have been) reviewing for years. The difference is that it is now condensed on a few sheets of paper, and being rolled out intentionally on an updated platform.

The Scorecard is not necessarily at the heart of this - it is what it represents that matters most. It represents, factually, the impact that we are making on our students when it comes to how they perform on standardized testing, their attendance, their behavior, and their view of school. In many aspects, there are some great celebrations. In others, there are less-than-desirable points. Concerning these lower points, I'm hearing a variety of responses. For some, there are elevated levels of stress. Others see it as a "bring it" opportunity. The response, honestly, tells me a great amount about the mindset of the adults. How we choose to respond to this is going to be a fairly accurate predictor of the outcome. Whether we believe we can or believe we can't make an impact, we are correct.

Data gives us the opportunity to be reactive or proactive. Whatever our approach, which does matter, let's no make excuses. Just don't. Excuses are a cop-out, and have zero benefits for our students. Going beyond the collective grade levels, and digging into subgroups of students provides rich information that create awareness and inform practices. Please accept this as an invitation to apply the humane use of data to drive excellence into our teaching and learning. Avoid being data-driven (which may lead to fear/stress), and instead be data-informed and purpose-driven (which drives positivity, hope, and being solution-oriented).

Of all that we have going on in our schools, my top two academic-related goals for all our elementary students are:

1) That our students have an academic & meaningful relationship with a caring educator who is their champion. Someone who inspires them, grows them, challenges them, and sees them for who they can become.

2) That our students read and achieve on grade level each and every year in these formative years. This has so much less to do with performance on standardized testing and so much more to do with their current and future success. Think about how better the quality of life is for the student who can read on grade level in elementary, then middle, then high school. Our work at the elementary level can be directly linked to our graduation rates. We are able to identify at a very confident level which elementary students are at risk of becoming a high school dropout: if it is predictable, it is preventable. Think about the variety in opportunities afforded a student who becomes an adult solely based upon their ability to demonstrate the foundational competencies of a learned/educated individual.

Your impact is greater than you give yourself credit for. There is a deep knowledge base about the artistry of teaching, and despite public opinion, not every person who went to school is actually an expert on what good teaching and learning looks like. You are the experts. Please reflect on our Activitate Kickoff from the beginning of the year. You are not "just a teacher;" you are a Teacher. It is a work and calling that is more important and challenging than ever before. Own it. Be Proud. Be insistent for your students, and thank you for being an educator!


Understanding What Data Is & Isn’t Good For

Implication for school leaders and educators- "Data analytics can tell you what is happening, but it will rarely tell you why."

6 Ways Administrators Can Reduce Teacher Stress

Simple ways administrators can help lessen teacher anxiety and help the entire school staff thrive.

from Mike-

Activate SPS - November 6th, 2018

Next month we will have our next round of Activate SPS learning at Kickapoo HS on the morning of November 6th. One of the three sessions will be an opportunity for us to get together as elementary principals in the library to learn from each other in roundtable-style discussions. We will dive into challenges and success strategies specific to the following topics:

1. SAFETY - What measures have your school taken, local resources mobilized, procedural changes implemented, to provide a safe and secure environment? How are you making these known to your stakeholders?

2. CULTURE - How can we keep the positivity and collaborative culture while remaining focused on our building data related to priority metrics and scorecards?

3. OUTCOMES - What practices are you driving to keep your staff/students focused on our ABCs?

Site Visits Form

J and I appreciate the great discussions we’ve been having with each of you during our site visits this year. This time gives us an opportunity to reflect on the impact our schools are having on students, how we as leaders drive the growth that takes place in our sites, and how J and I can support you as building leaders. One step that has helped these conversations to go deeper has been when the Site Visit Form has already been completed and you have had a chance to reflect on each of the three ABCs (Academics, Behavior, Coursework) prior to the meeting.

Moving forward, when Gisela schedules our visits with you she will include a link to this form on the Outlook calendar invite so you can complete the narrative, gather the accompanying data for each of the ABCs, and print your response prior to our visit.

Thank you for your efforts to keep your staff focused on the work they do that moves kids forward and makes a difference each day.

Warm Baths & Cold Showers

3 Simple Questions To Shape Professional Learning

from Catherine Castillo

Good afternoon! I have had several requests for “model” classrooms for Math Workshop. I am putting together a list of teachers who would be a good model for others to observe for Math Workshop. If you have a teacher whom you think would be a great example for others in regard to Math Workshop, please complete this form which provides their name and grade-level (completing this indicates they would be willing to be observed by other teachers).

It is my hope that teachers chosen as “models” would run a student-centered classroom and be a master at facilitating student discussion.

I will begin visiting sites in the next month and pay special attention to getting into these classrooms. I will then share a spreadsheet with each of you that you can use to coordinate visits for your teachers (if this is something you are doing at your site). I will also put together a graphic organizer that you can send with teachers as they observe other classrooms if you would like that resource.

Enjoy Parent-Teacher Conferences (& add to this list..)

24 Things Teachers Never Want To Hear From Parents

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