Principal's Newsletter

December 4th, 2015

WOWs

WOW to Mr. Button and Mrs. Giammanco for always including sped students into their classroom and talking with them on a regular basis and make them feel included in the activities. Thanks for including the paras too, the feedback for us and for the student is helpful.-Linda Carr


WOW to Room 51 –Jamie McCoy is a wonderful teacher and leader who not only listens to us but rolls up her sleeves and helps in ALL situations when needed.-Linda Carr


WOW to The ladies of Room 51 thanks for being a team and making the hard work that we do each day worth it!--Linda Carr


I would like to send a huge shout out to Barb Dannenmaier for her Random Act of Kindness in memory of her late husband, Bruce. Her generosity will help us to meet the needs of our Harvest Ridge students!

Thank you ! Thank you! Thank You! --Linda Murphy


WOW to Karyn Brockland for her diligence and help with a student of mine. Her expertise, masterful and thoughtful ideas are imperative to this child's success! Thanks to Karyn for all of her help!--Linda Murphy


A BIG WOW To EVERYONE that helped out with my class while I was out!!!-Carrie Alvernia


I would like to give a WOW to Lauren Goodall. Her flexibility, professionalism, and willingness to be part of any team is astounding and has not gone unnoticed.-Nikki Lovelace


WOW to my awesome team, Julie, Christina and Helen! You all are so helpful and supportive and I appreciate all that I am learning from you!--Jodi Fitzgerald


WOW to the first grade teachers for the rigor that I see when I come into your classrooms. I am impressed with the level of work that the students are doing and producing! I am also impressed when the students share what they are learning and are able to transfer it to our lesson as well. Way to go! --Jodi Fitzgerald


WOW to the second grade teachers for always making time to discuss our shared students. I am so thankful for your insights and willingness to always go the extra mile to help meet the needs of our students. You are appreciated!--Jodi Fitzgerald


Kellie and I would like to “WOW” Debbie Pryor for helping out with the robotics club last week when we had training! Without her help, we would have had to cancel the club last week and disappoint quite a few 3rd graders! Thanks Debbie!

Cheryl and Kellie


Rachel Stevens was hired last minute & has become a beneficial part of our 4th grade team and has worked above and beyond to teach students with effective classroom management. We appreciate all she's done for us & our students.--Nancy Jeffrey


WOW to Stacey Scheutte for coming up with great jobs for our Sped students that teaches them essential skills and builds confidence and self esteem!--Linda Carr


WOW to all the teachers here at HR who made my teaching here an unforgettable experience, but a special WOW to the 4th grade teachers- Michele Kelly, Julia Bax, Nancy Jeffery, Donna Baeten, and Cheri Hosea- who brought smiles to my face every day! –Rachel Stevens


WOW to Megan Klimkewicz who is doing everything a teacher does even with brand new Barrett at home! – Rachel Stevens


WOW to Brandy Leffeler for all the planning you do to bring happiness to Harvest Ridge.--Angie Regan


Thank you to my first grade team for being so flexible and always willing to help each other out! ~ Lindsey


WOW to all the staff who have worked with Alex Frisby for all the hard work and dedication you have put in to help him grow. You are the reason we have stayed in this school district. We love this school and this staff.--Mr. Frisby


WOW to Lisa Chamberlain for truly incorporating students with special needs into her classroom. When it comes to our shared student, Lisa expects him to participate in classroom routines and activities. She has created activities for him that are related to the unit of study, but on his level, as well as activities related to his IEP goals, and she takes data on his performance. She also always has a story to share about his amazing discoveries and antics! Thanks Lisa! – from Anya


WOW to Jamie McCoy for taking the time to implement communication strategies for our non-verbal students during class activities and making sure they are actively participating.--Anya


WOW to Kindergarten for the beautiful poinsettia. It was the perfect way to end a hectic day! --Dr. DeWeese

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Second Quarter Climate Survey

The window for the building climate survey will open on Monday, December 7th and remain open until Friday, December 18th. Remember Harvest Ridge must take the climate survey 4 times a year. The district has set the expectation that all areas must be over 80% that agree or strongly agree and there must be 80% participation.


Please remember when taking the survey you are answering the questions based on our school. When leaving comments it is helpful to be specific. For example, the question about communication asks if there are channels of open communication. If you are leaving a comment on this statement it is helpful to know where you feel improvements need to be made. Teacher to teacher, administrator to teacher, administrator to staff, teacher to sped, etc.


Specific comments or ideas are also helpful for the question about shared decision making. It is asking if there are opportunities for shared decisions. Our current practice for shared decisions is through committee work, PLC meetings, and EDC meetings. If you have other ideas please share.


As I sent in an email earlier this year the purpose of the climate survey is to improve in areas for our building. Since receiving the last set of results the following action steps have been taken:

  • Harvest Ridge Committee Expectations (see below)
  • Committee Agendas include whether an item is up for decision or discussion
  • Committee agendas separate items that need input
  • Shared decisions are being shared in the Principal's Newsletter
  • Staff has the opportunity to recognize each other in the Principal's Newsletter


The items below are things we are still working on:

  • Getting information to areas without an EDC
  • More face time with the principal


The survey is anonymous. I only see the comments and building percentages. I have no idea how to even begin to figure out who wrote what. Even if I had that time and knew how, that is not what helps us grow. It is the ideas you share and the perspective you give that can help us continue to move forward as a building.

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Recent Shared Decisions

Building Committee Expectations

The expectations were drafted by administration based off staff input from October 19th PD day. The draft was shared with EDCs in October. Department Chairs took the expectations to their PLC team for input. At the November EDC meeting the team brought input from their PLC teams and decided to keep the expectations that were presented.


Parent Communication

In the parent survey there were comments made about teachers not responding to parents in a timely manner. This item was discussed at the October EDC meeting and it was decided to get input from PLC teams on an expectation for returning parent calls or emails. The input PLC teams submitted resulted in a building expectation of 24 hours to get back with a parent.


Placement of Student Teachers

We discussed having 6 interns next semester that will be student teachers in the fall. Administration asked EDCs to talk with their PLC teams regarding placement. Those names were brought to the November meeting and the student teachers have been placed.


Climate Committee

The idea of having a climate committee was discussed at the October EDC meeting. Input was sought and at the November EDC meeting all teams agreed that they weren't sure what that work would look like for that committee so it was decided to table the item unless a future need arises.


Monday Meetings

It has been a concern regarding the Monday Meetings to start them sooner to allow for less disruption to instruction. Input was sought from classroom teachers regarding the start time of the Monday Meetings from EDCs. The decision was made based on the feedback to move the start time up to avoid running into 4th grade specials time and to avoid major instructional disruptions.


Safety Changes

After feedback from the Fire Department the safety committee sought input on exiting the building more efficiently. The Fire Department was concerned that there was a large amount of people coming out of the front doors and if there was really a fire this is how they would most likely enter the building unless there was a particular part of the building visibly engulfed in flames when they arrived. They would need to enter in the front to get to the alarm system to determine the location of concern. The changes made to exiting the building are a result of input the safety committee gathered from their teams.

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Harvest Ridge Building Committee Expectations

Harvest Ridge Committee Expectations

2015-2016

Committee: a group of people delegated to perform a function, such as investigating, considering, reporting, or acting on a matter

Expectations

· All agendas will be posted to the Harvest Ridge calendar within 24 hours of the meeting

· Items on the agenda will specify whether it is a discussion item or an item for a decision

· If an item is ready for a decision it is the responsibility of the committee member to bring input from the PLC or group that the member is representing

· All minutes will be posted to the Harvest Ridge calendar within 24 hours from the end of the committee meeting

· It is the responsibility of the committee member to take information regarding discussions and decisions back to their PLC or group

· If a committee member is going to be absent from a meeting it is the responsibility of the member to find someone to come to the meeting or determine how he/she will get the information back to their PLC or group

· At the start of each committee meeting the group will designate someone to take the minutes and post them to the Harvest Ridge calendar

· Decisions will be made by identifying the problem or idea. Committee members will seek input from the appropriate stakeholders. Once a decision is made it will be share in the minutes and in the Principal’s Newsletter. Information regarding where the committee received input and the process used for reaching the decision will also be shared.

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January 4th and 5th

January 4th is a half meeting day and a half work day. A tentative schedule is provided below. January 5th is tech fest at Francis Howell North High School. Students return on January 6th.


8:00-8:45- PLC time to update smart goals


Rotating breakout sessions on Climate Survey Results, SIP Achievement Updates, Behavior, and Technology

Your specific rotation will be provided later, but everyone will attend all sessions.

8:50-9:30 Session 1

9:35-10:15 Session 2

10:20-11:00 Session 3

11:05-11:45 Session 4

11:45 Whole Group Wrap Up

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Sub Plans and Behavior

This is just a reminder that you include in your sub plans how to handle behavior. Make sure your subs know about the minor and major forms and that you have made them available for them.
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Student Engagement Strategies

Many of the administrators in the district are participating in a book study using the book Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner. The strategies in the book are intended to increase cognitive engagement. As we move forward with this instructional focus I will start providing some of those strategies.


Has this ever happened to you?

You can have the best lesson and read the most intriguing stories, but if you've lost your students, your wonderful lesson wasn't as wonderful as you had hoped. For me that was a huge wake-up call, that one math where I looked up from the overhead and realized no one was with me. See, in my head, it was going great! But it was going great for me, not for them! --Courtney Cislo, 5th grade teacher


Chalkboard Splash (can also be Whiteboard Splash or Chart-Paper Splash)

In chalkboard splash all students record their responses onto random or assigned spots on the room's chalkboards or whiteboards, or on pieces of chart paper. After recording their responses, students are asked to analyze peer responses for three things: similarities, differences, and surprises. If you don't have multiple chalkboards or whiteboards, or if you want to hold on to the comments for later reference, use several pieces of butcher paper or chart paper instead.


How it Works

1. Create a sentence starter, prompt, or question for which you would like all students to see all of their peers' responses.

2. As students generate responses, ask them to copy their responses onto random or designated places on the chalkboards, whiteboards, or chart papers.

3. Debrief by asking students to walk around, analyze, and jot down similarities, differences, and surprises, perhaps using a form like the one below.

4. Ask students to get into small groups and share what they noticed in terms of similarities, differences, and surprises, before asking for volunteers to share.


Debriefing Form (the titles below would be in a 3-column chart)

Similarities

Differences

Surprises




Examples

A 5th grade teacher used it to wrap up a lesson on Paul Revere's historic engraving of the Boston Massacre. After analyzing the event from two different points of view, students were asked to select a spot on the whiteboards and sum up their viewpoints with a quick draw of their own engraving. Before taking their seats they walked around and looked at the various drawings representing their classmate's different points of view. Then they used the chart above.


Another teacher labeled 5 whiteboards with 5 different character names from a novel being read in class. After students analyzed character traits in small groups, they were asked to write these under the whiteboards that were designated for each character. Similarities and differences were discusses as students explained their reasoning for choosing specific character traits.

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SPED FAQ From OT

Are your students ready to learn while sitting at their desk or on the floor?

Many students have low tone and slouch when they are sitting at their desk or on the carpet. Improving posture or changing posture can improve handwriting and focus/attention in the classroom.


Are all the desks in your room the same height? Are all your students the same height? Adjusting the height of the desk and finding the right chair will help your students become more engaged in their learning by sitting up and having their feet flat on the floor.


Simple accommodations could be to get phone books or a foot stool for under their feet or lowering the desks to the proper height. You may also select movement breaks that will strengthen the core.

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Master Schedule for 2016-2017

When we return from Christmas Break we will begin to form a committee to look at the Master Schedule for 2016-2017. The goals for this committee will be to build a schedule that allows for subjects to be staggered by grade level and have a set intervention time for each grade level. Prior to leaving for the end of the school year it is the intention to have all pull out times as well as intervention times scheduled. It will be imperative that grade levels follow the same schedule next year to make this work.
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Assistant Principal Position

As many of you may know Joni has submitted a letter of intent to retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. The Assistant Principal position will soon be posted. You have been sent an invitation to participate in a voluntary faculty meeting on December 17th. All staff members are welcome to attend. During this meeting I will review the hiring process, select the interview committee for the building level interview, and seek input on the qualities you would like to see in our next Assistant Principal. This selection will happen through a drawing based on the various positions that the district recommends. You do not have to be present at the meeting to be selected. The entire hiring process will me facilitated by me. If you are interested in participating in the building level interview please submit your name to Jane no later than December 15th at 4:00. The building level interview will take place on January 15th from 8:30-4:30. The following representatives will be selected for the building:


Primary K-2 (1 representative)

Intermediate 3-5 (1 representative)

Art, Music, PE (1 representative)

Special Education (1 representative)

Reading, Library, Gifted, Counseling, ESOL (1 representative)

FHEA (1 representative appointed by FHEA)

PTO President (1 representative)

Other parents (2 representatives)

Administrative Assistant (1 representative)

Other support staff (1 representative)


If you have any questions or concerns about the process you should direct all of those to me.

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Where is Your Principal?

Monday, December 7th-- IEP Meeting, Administrative Team Meeting, Observation at Stanton Elementary in Rockwood

Tuesday, December 8th- PLC Meetings, Parent/Principal Coffee Talk, 5:30 and PTO, 6:30

Wednesday, December 9th- New Teacher Breakfast Club, Intervention Meeting with Melinda Scheetz

Thursday, December 10th- Behavior Steering Committee

Monday, December 14th - Administrative Team Meeting

Tuesday, December 15th- PLC Meetings

Wednesday, December 16th- EDC Meeting, SPED Check In with Kathy Russ

Thursday, December 17th- Voluntary Faculty Meeting, Behavior Steering Committee, NESTS

Friday, December 18th - Curriculum and Instruction Meeting

Monday, December 21st- Administrator Data Day

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Report Card Comments

It is hard to believe we are already talking about report cards again! A couple of teams have asked about report card comments this week so I want to take the time to provide a universal answer about expectations for report card comments.


The following statement is provided in the district report card handbook:

Each reported area of the report card has a drop-down menu of comments. Scores of 3 will not require a comment to be selected, but the option is available. Scores of 2 or 1 will require a comment to be selected from the drop-down menu to help explain a student's score. Comments can be elaborated upon in the comment text box. More than one drop-down option may be selected. The drop-down menu choices can be found here.


If you would like to provide your own comments instead of the canned comments that is fine. Students receiving a 2 or 1 should get comments. It is optional for a 3. Please keep in mind that while you are not required to make comments for a student earning a 3, the report card is about communication and reporting progress for a parent. While you and I fully understand what it means to get a 3, a parent may not. Also, a student who is receiving a 3 may still have areas to work on or perhaps you want to leave a positive comment about growth the student has made.


Please make sure you are reporting accurately about a student. For example, if a student is reading two years below grade level they should not be receiving a 2 or 3 on the report card. While we often want to protect parents from bad news, it is better to honest and accurate when reporting where a child is in relationship to the grade level standard. The report card is a valuable piece of evidence when we are looking at whether a child needs additional supports and should be reflective of the other data available. It is not a reflection of your teaching, but should be centered on the student and communicating to the parent about their child.


When it comes to students who have recently enrolled there is no magic number on the number of days a student has to be in attendance to receive a grade on the report card. if you have information regarding the child in a particular subject make sure to communicate that to the parent. Even if the child has only been in your classroom for a view days I would still recommend at least giving some positive comments about how you enjoy having them in class or how they are interacting with peers.

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Harvey Support Team

There have been a lot of questions regarding the Harvey Support Team especially since we have started the building Intervention Data Team. The administrators and counselors meet this week during PLC and determined the next steps for HST (Harvey Support Team).


Sherry and Latonya have created a list of students by grade level who have met 3 academic data triggers. There are currently 90 students on this list. The list will be revised and updated as we receive new AIMs data, second quarter assessment wall, and Galileo results.


I will be working with EDCs on December 16th to discuss how to facilitate a conversation with PLC teams on January 12th to determine if there are students from this list that need to be taken to HST. We will look at a protocol for looking at this list of students and making that determination based on a PLC conversation and input. During the PLC conversation on January 12th the interventionists will attend the PLC meetings to provide input.


For students who started the process last year a determination in their next steps will be based on the updated data. Meetings for those students will be scheduled appropriately based on the current data.


We have a number of new team members this year so if your team feels like they would like a refresher on the HST process please contact Sherry and Latonya and they would be more than happy to come to your PLC meeting and offer that support.


Thanks for your patience as we have worked through HST and the Intervention Data Team to determine processes to support students. Remember that all the interventions, support, and further testing we provide for students must be based on data. If you have concerns about a student please make sure you are tracking progress and collecting work samples.

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Faculty Meeting Follow-Up

I wanted to take a moment to follow-up on some of the questions that arose during the faculty meeting this morning. There still seem to be some concerns over the the wording of the statements and what to do with the "wonder" statements. Hopefully the following information will help clear things up a bit.


Remember the purpose of the statements about what is noticed is to provide factual feedback regarding instruction and student learning. It is not meant to be complimentary. Think about when you provide feedback to students. Statements such as, "good job," "great work," "you rock," or "awesome" do not provide the student with specific areas to work on or specific items that are going well. The same is true for the feedback we provide you on the short observation we make during a walk-through. We know there are great things happening in ALL classrooms and when we see them we do our best to point them out.


We are well aware that we have not seen the entire lesson, which is why the feedback is only based on what was seen in that observation. We cannot make assumptions about what happened prior to the walkthrough or what might happen after we leave the room.


The statements made about what we are wondering are provided to give you something to reflect on. A conversation with any administrator is more than welcomed. Our doors are always open! In fact, we genuinely enjoy our conversations with you as they help us get to know you as a teacher. It is also an opportunity for you to get some face time with administration and it is an opportunity for administration to learn more about you and your teaching and how to support you better.


The wondering statements are not intended for you to feel defensive as if you are doing something wrong. They are intended for reflection. They are also not intended for you to compare yourself to other teachers on your team or in the building. They are for your own reflection. They are truly something that we are wondering based on that brief observation.


We have gone back through all 133 walk through forms and reviewed and reflected on all of the factual statements. We reviewed the statements in the notice section or a statement written on the side recognizing a best practice. Below are some examples of statements that have been made in the notice and wondering section.They are not about affirmation of a positive or negative practice, they are factual comments about what occurred during that snapshot of instruction.


Examples of What was Noticed

We noticed the students led the conversation about the book.

We noticed students working on non-curricular related materials.

We noticed there were no objectives posted.

We noticed students working on a variety of tasks during daily 5 time.

We noticed students were unfamiliar with the routine.

We noticed you have made some changes based on prior feedback.

We noticed students were almost able to personalize the objective.

We noticed objectives were posted in two different locations with two different objectives.


While some people may or possibly could view some of them as unfavorable statements, they are facts based on what was observed during that time frame.


Examples of Wonderings

We are wondering if your schedule has changed.

We are wondering your next steps.

We are wondering how you plan for Daily 5 activities.

We are wondering how you assess the learning of the students.

We are wondering how you plan for your reading group assignments.

We are wondering how you monitor student work during independent reading.


All of these statements are genuine things we wondered during different walk throughs. They are things we can't or didn't see in the observation most likely because they don't occur during that time. All of them prompted discussions about instruction.


One way we could support you better would be to come to your PLC meeting and spend about 10-15 minutes reflecting on the wonderings you have received so far. You would not have to share the specific statement we could just provide a reflection protocol to help facilitate discussion and share ideas as a team. Another way that we can provide support is to collaborate with your PLC when you are planning together and writing objectives. Please reach out and let us know if your PLC would like any additional support.

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One Last Reminder

When sending a student to a counselor or admininstator unsupervised please make sure to notify that person that they are coming or check to make sure that they are there. Agitated students are coming to see a counselor and they aren’t there.