Cordata Weekly Bulletin


Happy Monday, Cordata!

Take a look at some of the inquiry going on in third grade classrooms last week! Kids are exploring the ways in which things balance and move in preparation for a joint project they will be doing with engineering design students at Whatcom Community College.

Hope you find some moments to experiment and inquire this week as well!

Big picture

The week ahead - 1/14 - 1/18

Big picture

Those of you who are using Caring School Community resources are in the phase of the year when you can pick and choose from a variety of lesson focuses in the CSC materials. You can also utilize resources from Positive Discipline and Zones of Regulation! Here's what's on our SEL calendar this week. A focus on Respecting Differences, alongside a review of dismissal and bus expectations. You can find the dismissal and bus expectation information on the Intranet > Documents and forms > Positive Behavior Supports >
then look in Behavior Expectations Posters and Behavior Expectations Lessons.

· All general ed teachers – Review dismissal and bus expectations

· All general ed teachers – teach Positive Discipline lessons in Respecting Differences section

o It’s a Jungle out There p.85 in Positive Discipline – this lesson may take several days to complete. There is a suggestion to invite older students to be recorders for students who are not yet fluent with writing. Perhaps this is a lesson to do alongside a buddy class?

o Experiencing Differences p. 90 in Positive Discipline

o You Decided p. 91 in Positive Discipline

· All Specialists – If appropriate for your learning environment, review and reinforce the idea of forming a circle quickly, quietly and safely (see Forming a Circle: Quickly, Quietly, Safely lesson, p. 150 in Positive Discipline). Review encouragement, and practice what this sounds like in your learning environment (Encouragement Activities over several days, p. 81 in Positive Discipline).

Upcoming Dates

  • Jan 7 - Feb 8 - Assessment window opens - see winter column of district assessment schedule below
  • Jan. 21 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - no school for staff or students
  • Jan. 24 - 2:00-3:00 - Cert staff PD and collaboration time
  • Jan. 28 - 2:45-3:45 - Firm and Kind committee (this is a change from previously published Jan. 21)
  • Jan. 29 - Semester break, no-school day (I previously posted that this was a teacher work day, but that is not the case this year, it is a non-contract day. My apologies for the confusion!)
  • Jan. 31 - 1:00-3:00 - 1st grade SGC
  • Feb. 5 - 2:45-3:45 - Staff meeting in the library
  • Feb. 7 - 1:00-3:00 - Kinder SGC
  • Feb. 8 - 4:00 pm - report cards due for grades 1 through 5
  • Feb. 11 - NAEP testing for 4th graders
  • Feb. 11 - 2:45-3:45 - Firm and Kind committee meeting (This is a change from previously published Feb. 4)
  • Feb. 14 - 2:00-3:00 - Cert staff PD and collaboration time
  • Feb. 14 - report cards due for kindergarten
  • Feb. 21 - report cards go home with students in grades 1 through 5
  • Feb. 21 - 1:00-3:00 - 4th grade SGC
  • Feb. 26 - report cards go home with kinders
  • Feb. 28 - 1:00-3:00 - 3rd grade SGC
  • March 7 - 1:00-3:00 - 5th grade SGC
  • March 19 - 2:45-4:00 - THIRD Tech Integration session for all Cordata cert staff
  • April 23 - 2:45-2:00 - FOURTH Tech Integration session for all Cordata cert staff

Other News and Information

  • Computer tables will soon be moved out of the old computer lab/new Promise Kindergarten room. We're looking for a home for the black rolling chairs as well! If you would like one or more in your classroom or office, please come and get them early this week!

  • Report card deadlines will be in early February, as described in Upcoming Dates above. Teachers, please email Minh or myself (whoever completes your evaluation this year) to let us know when your report cards are complete and ready for review. Also, don't hesitate to ask for support if there are some that are challenging to write.
    For those of you with students in Life Skills who integrate in your classrooms, you will use a separate reporting document! This is a Word document that allows you to write comments, but not give scores. Specialists, you will use this form to report on students in Life Skills as well. Watch for an email with the necessary info to come your way this week.

  • We will be completing the DESSA screener again this winter and spring. This data is important in documenting need for supports like our early childhood SEL program, and also helps us to document progress. In order to streamline this process and honor your valuable time, we will be trying something new with the winter assessment. Instead of a school-wide screener, we will ask classroom teachers to complete the DESSA mini only on those students who scored in the needs range in the fall. You will be able to skip over students who scored in the typical or strength range. More info to come . . . you can anticipate a start date around Feb. 4.

  • As I mentioned in the staff meeting, the Firm and Kind committee is looking for themes in the concerns that are raised regarding behavior at Cordata. We spent time surfacing concerns, and are now looking at how these align to the behavior systems we have in place. In other words, which systems might we adjust or enhance that would positively impact as many of the concerns raised as possible? You can take a look at the concerns raised, and you may add your own concerns that you wish for us to consider.

  • Valentine's Day is coming up. This can be a really fun day to celebrate friendship! It is also a time that I need to remind you of two important policies...
    -Student confidentiality - if you have students on the no-publish list, please reach out to families...technically, children's names shouldn't be on lists that are published and sent home, as is often done prior to Valentine's Day. Let me know if you'd like help brainstorming sensitive ways to handle this.
    -The Food Policy - This is important, and if you plan to have students eating treats in the classroom during a Valentine party, you will want to review this! Yes, I'm even talking about the treats they receive in Valentines from one another. You cannot follow the food policy when children eat treats that you didn't know were coming. I know, I know, I'm a Valentine party pooper...but read the food policy and know that it's student safety and your protection that I have in mind. I will paste the policy language in at the end of this newsletter, scroll all the way down. And as always, let me know if you have questions!

In closing . . .

You may have seen the Joining Hands Against Hate posters that are now available thanks to a partnership between Bellingham Schools and the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force. We have ordered one for each teaching space - please pick one up from Laura in the office if you'd like to have one in your classroom!

This poster is really resonating with some things that have been on my mind lately. In particular...

  • A common theme around respect and disrespect that seems to be emerging as we surface concerns in the Firm and Kind committee
  • Several behavior incidents that have recently come into our office that involve comments that are racially charged
  • A book study that I recently took part in along with other leaders in Bellingham. We read and discussed White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.

Martin Luther King Day is a good time to share this poster with our students, and to talk about what it means to each of us. I'm proud to work in a school full of educators who value diversity and teach equality. At the same time, we live in a society that is built on many structures that are inherently unequal, and the playing field is anything but level for children of color. Simply by nature of growing up in this culture, I have benefited from all sorts of privileges that come with the color of my skin. Despite the best of intentions, I know that my thinking is impacted by implicit biases.

The image in this poster is powerful. In addition to joining hands, there is ongoing work ahead for all of us to listen and learn and break down barriers.

If you're interested in reading White Fragility (or either of the previous books that our team has studied, also related to these themes - Our Kids by Robert Putnam, and Despite the Best Intentions by Amanda Lewis and John Diamond), send me an email or let me know in person. I will help you track down a copy of the book and would love to discuss it with you.

Big picture

Food Policy - taken from the Cordata Staff Handbook

Food Policy-

Students have access to breakfast in the classroom and school lunch each day. In many cases, they also have access to snacks throughout the day, using the share bowl with leftovers from breakfast. Those involved in after school clubs also receive a snack. When any other food is presented to children during the school day or in after school clubs, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • First and foremost, consider safety. If you are giving food to children, you must be aware of any life threatening allergies or food sensitivities. For a child with life threatening allergies to any food, you must get parent permission in writing before giving them any food. This applies even if you believe that the food you are providing doesn’t contain the allergens to which the child is sensitive. NO EXCEPTIONS!
  • The Bellingham Good Food Promise is our guide! When classroom celebrations involve food, it is an opportunity for teaching about a healthy relationship with food.
  • As stated in the Good Food Promise: “Food should not routinely be used as a reward, and is only an acceptable reward when offered as an instructional device as a result of careful thought in collaboration with a school administrator.” If you’re unsure, be sure to ask an administrator!
  • We do not celebrate individual birthdays with food. Parents will be asked NOT to bring food to school for classmate consumption for birthdays. If a parent brings food to school, please bring it to the office and the office staff will contact the family to make arrangements for pick up or disposal.