Staff Weekly Update

November 13, 2015

We are a third of the way through our JOURNEY this school year as a staff. Today in your mailbox you should find the letter you wrote to yourself at the beginning of the year. Encompassing the efforts you can make to build a better, more connected Apollo Family, we hope this reminder serves to resurrect your commitment for this school year. It's never too late to make a difference!

Thank you for all that you do!

Aaron & Lewis

School Psychology Awareness Week

From the desk of our school psychologists, Sarah McCracken and Katie Swanson...

Helping Students and Educators Connect the Dots to Thrive in School and Beyond

All children have the potential for greatness and success. As educators, we can help them realize their vast potential -- achieving their goals, thriving in the face of adversity, solving problems, and continually growing as an individual – by helping them to “connect the dots” along the many pathways to success.

To foster thriving students and a positive school climate, your school psychologists (Sarah McCracken and Katie Swanson) would like to help you to “Connect the Dots and THRIVE.”

School psychologists are members of the school staff who:

  • Support students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach

  • We apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help students succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally

  • We provide direct support and interventions to students, such as individualized learning and behavioral assessments to identify students’ strengths and needs, academic and behavioral interventions, counseling, and social skills training

  • We consult with teachers, families, and other educators to improve support strategies and school-wide practices and policies. We are in a unique position to help ensure a positive school climate wherein children connect the dots and thrive.

There are many ways educators can help children connect the dots and thrive. You can:

  1. Encourage your students to set goals and to map out a plan for achieving, emphasizing that success comes from small steps to a long-term goal.

  2. Help your students internalize a sense that they can achieve by reinforcing the skills already developed and encouraging them to try new challenges.

  3. Help students realize that setbacks are not permanent or all-encompassing by helping them to see what the small steps are and how persisting and overcoming obstacles is a part of succeeding.

  4. Praise attempts as well as success and make sure that you focus on the effort put into the success.

  5. Demonstrate, through your own behaviors, how to identify and achieve long-term goals by thinking aloud, creating a pathway of short-term goals, and using problem solving and decision making skills along the way.

  6. Model perseverance and problem solving when faced with challenges or difficulties.

Together we can encourage all of our students to focus on their interests, strengths, and skills, challenge themselves, & persevere through difficult problems to reach their potential in school & in life.

With that in mind, how will you help your students “Connect the Dots and Thrive” this school year?

Upcoming Dates

Monday, November 16th

  • Daily 5 Cohort @ 7:50 a.m.
  • Aaron/Lewis @ Admin. Meeting - Afternoon

Tuesday, November 17th

  • PBIS Team Meeting @ 7:50 a.m.
  • Kindergarten Tier Meeting @ 1:20 p.m.
  • 2nd Grade Tier Meeting @ 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 18th

  • Staff Meeting @ 7:50 a.m.
  • 5th Grade Tier Meeting @ 8:55 a.m.
  • 3rd Grade Tier Meeting @ 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 19th

  • PFA Tier Meeting @ 7:50 a.m.
  • Guided Math Cohort @ 7:50 a.m.
  • 4th Grade Tier Meeting @ 8:55 a.m.
  • 1st Grade Tier meeting @ 2:00 p.m.
  • Parent/Teacher Conferences @ 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Friday, November 20th

  • Core Team Meeting @ 2:15 p.m.
  • Family Friday in the Cafeteria

Suggestions for Parent-Teacher Conferences (Marshall Memo)

Several National Distinguished Principals were asked to give pointers on how teachers should handle parent conferences. They noted that there is a tendency for teachers (especially rookies) to be apprehensive and defensive as they gear up to meet parents and overcompensate by preparing a speech filled with educational jargon. Here’s what these principals suggest:

Take care of the little things. It’s nice to provide refreshments and chairs outside the classroom for parents who arrive early and post a schedule and samples of children’s work for parents to peruse before and after their conference.

Be positive and personal. “Stand and greet the parent with good eye contact, a smile, and a warm handshake,” suggests a Kansas principal. Thank parents for what they do for their children. “Begin and end with something positive about a child,” says a principal from Maryland. “Often families are worried and nervous about seeing the teacher as well. Talk about their children in a personal way.”

Don’t be defensive when parents ask about the classroom. This makes it seems that the teacher is insecure or has something to hide. Take note of parents’ suggestions and follow up on them.

Show that you care. Don’t talk only about academics: “[P]arents want to hear that teachers like their child, in spite of any academic or behavior problems,” says a California principal.

Don’t let a conference become confrontational. If the tone gets negative, the teacher needs to stop the conference in a professional manner and continue it later with the principal present.

Be a good listener and watch the time. Have a agenda or script for the conference so it doesn’t run overtime, but also use active listening and give parents enough time to ask questions.

Don’t blindside parents. “Conference comments and report card grades should never be a surprise for a parent or a child who is struggling,” says a Connecticut principal. Parents should have received a heads-up on any problems in the course of the marking period.

Use examples of the child’s work. This is the best way to show parents the progress that’s being made – or the work that needs to be done to meet standards.

Don’t forget the ‘A’ students. These children deserve a full conference, not just a pat on the back for being great students.

Give and take suggestions. Teachers shouldn’t hesitate to suggest ways for parents to support their children’s education at home, and should also be open to parents’ suggestions on what will work in school (and also other information, such as a recent divorce, health issues, or attention problems).

Don’t use jargon or program abbreviations. Use simple and direct language in conferences so parents don’t need to bring a translator.

Have a specialist on hand if needed. If a conference promises to be difficult, it is a good idea to have a counselor, psychologist, or social worker sit in.

Don’t dwell on the negative, and suggest specific solutions to problems you bring up.

“Getting Teachers Set for Parent Conferences” by June Million in ASCD Communicator, February 2005 (#28, p. 5-6, spotted in Education Digest, April 2005, Vol. 80, #8, p. 54-56), no e-links available