March Volume II
“Culturally responsive teaching means reflecting and being willing to listen and change in order to respond positively and constructively.”
Zaretta Hammond author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain
Please find below the summary of the MSAA Finance Board meeting with Commissioner of Education, thank you 1st Vice President for your exemplary notetaking.
Please also make note of the DESE/MSAA Statewide joint convening on Monday, April 12th with Dr. Nicole Christian Brathwaite as we continue our discussions on trauma and anti-racism. Registration link is below.
Additionally I have included three new articles and a fourth link to the new Sesame Street resources on anti-racism. The first is a New York Times article on how to keep your children engaged during April Break. The second article is about ways in which teen anxiety can be used in a positive way. The third is an article about Dena Simmons who is an expert on social emotional learning and how teaching students of color about SEL strategies without racial context can be damaging.
Finance Committee Meeting with Commissioner Riley
March 11, 2021
On March 11, the Finance Committee met with MA DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley. To start off the meeting, MSAA President Kathleen Duff asked the Commissioner to put himself in the shoes of a Principal charged with leading during a pandemic and asked how he would feel. Commissioner Riley responded, “I would be like many principals and I would have gone back...We are behind getting kids back in school than the rest of the country. We are the only state that gave people two weeks of training. I am confused by where this is coming from.”
We then discussed MCAS testing. Commissioner Riley stated, “We thought the Biden administration would cancel. We can shrink the window, we can shrink the test. We are doing all that we can do.” When pressed that we could also be shifting the testing window to the fall to allow us to focus on getting students back to school this spring, Commissioner Riley stated, “for right now we are going to try to get the testing in K-8 this spring. It is possible that we may move the high school to the fall.”
Michael Connelly, MSAA Assistant Executive Director, then discussed the MSAA Mentor Program and asked for DESE’s endorsement of the program. Commissioner Riley stated that he is a “huge believer” in the importance of a strong mentor program for administrators. He further stated, “I have heard good things about your program. I can’t give you a formal recommendation without going to a bid process.” Assistant Executive Director Connelly purported that while DESE’s endorsement was important, the position of MSAA is that every administrator needs a high quality mentor and we see the benefit of administrators getting mentors from outside of their districts. He stated, “This is not about MSAA and mentoring - this is about advocating that every administrator gets a qualified mentor.” Leldamy Correa, the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff will reach out to MSAA to get the RFR process started.
Our conversation then shifted to school opening guidelines. When asked specifically about guidelines around music, he shared the guidance from the summer that was updated on March 1. It can be found here and here. Commissioner Riley stated, “I am a huge supporter of the fine arts but recognize that we have to balance out the safety aspect.”
When asked about the guidance regarding recess, the Commissioner stated that updated guidance is coming soon. 2nd Vice President Garden shared with the Commissioner that the current guidance that required cohorts not to mix made coverage very challenging when all children are back in person full time. The guidance has since come out in the March 22 FAQ document which can be found here. While cohorts are encouraged to be separated, this is no longer required.
We stressed the importance of recess for social emotional growth and that it should count towards time on learning. We asked the Commissioner why the current time on learning requirements did not allow for recess to be counted. Commissioner Riley stated, “I do not know the specific answer. We will find out from our lawyers. I am sure there will be an opportunity for more discussion.”
David Keim, 2nd Past President and Principal at the Miller Elementary School in Holliston, spoke about his districts struggle to meet the five hours of time on learning if he could not count recess. Holliston has been back fully in person five days a week for K-3 since September. Principal Keim shared the challenges that adding 30 minutes to their day would cause including bus routes. Commissioner Riley stated that he would have David Curtin call to talk through the specifics. He stated, “We know a bunch of elementary schools have been back in since September. Kudos to you guys! Rob can walk you through the issue...We will see if there is something statewide regarding guidance on this we can look at.”
We brought up the challenge of finding qualified staff right now who are willing to work in person during a worldwide pandemic. Commissioner Riley stated, “We did create emergency licensures. We also supported a program for high schools seniors who are in good academic standing to go help at recess. These are the creative solutions we are going to have to come up with to make this work.”
President Duff brought up the anxieties of those administrators trying to plan end of year activities such as graduation and proms without further guidance from DESE. President Duff stated, “We are flying the plane as we build it here and people are anxious.” Commissioner Riley replied, “Thank you for bringing it up with us. We appreciate that. We have been working through what proms and etc. will look like with the Covid Medical Team. It will depend on what phase we are in...we will give as much head’s up as we can though I am leary about giving it too early and then having it overridden by the state.”
Speaking to people’s anxieties, Commissioner Rileystated, “Look, I know change is hard...The medical stats support a return to in school learning...The numbers are down; vaccines are up...And we have done more for the health and safety of our staff and students than anyone in the country...only state that gave professional development for 10 days, one of only states doing pooled testing, we are the only state who bought air purifiers...While I hear that people have anxiety about doing this...we have been thoughtful. We have tried to be over the top thinking about our students and staff.”
First Past President Mark Wood shifted gears to talking about the need for some flexibility with the three feet rule in the vocational tech realm for project work. Commissioner Riley stated that “The doctors are loathe to give exceptions to the three feet rule...They may be more willing to give bend with small groups...We are trying to take all of our signals from the medical community...We want to make sure we are doing all the right thing from the medical science.”
President Duff shifted the conversation back to MCAS stating, “There are so many of us in the field who see the testing as a mental health stressor on the students and feel we are bringing the children back to assess them. Can you request a waiver from the state legislature?” Commissioner Riley stated, “We could certainly ask them but the problem is that the federal government has to do this first...We have cut the test in half, we have delayed the window...We did everything they said we could do.”
Further speaking to his reasons for pushing MCAS forward, he stated, “I believe we need testing for diagnostic purposes to know where our kids are. I have always believed we didn’t need as much testing...I’m glad we were able to cut it back...I am smart enough to know that if districts don’t test they will lose their money...we are going to push it as much as we can...we have stripped out all accountability...I said that two months ago we are trying to give as much relief as we can.”
When asked about when middle school MCAS dates would be released, Commissioner Riley stated, “We should be able to get that out in the next week. Like elementary school, we pushed it off by a month or so.” He further stated that the test is going to be in person. “They are looking at a remote option for those who are at home.”
When asked if a waiver could be given to those schools who use the MAP assessment, the Commissioner shared his hopes for changing MCAS for the future. He stated, “Prior to the pandemic I put a working group together to change our current test...We are looking into a new system that replicates what good teaching and learning looks like...We are trying to do at the state level something else...We have a network building high quality tasks...We are going to try and marry an assessment to it that is very different than MCAS. Be on the lookout for all of the stuff around Kaleidoscope and task building.”
MSAA 1st Vice President
Elementary Principals - April 12th* Statewide Convening
In collaboration with the Massachusetts School Administrators Association (MSAA), the Department’s Early Learning Team would like to announce that registration is now available for the next professional development in our year-long professional development series for elementary principals related to early learning. The next convening will be held on Monday, April 12th* from 3:00-4:30. The session will include a 60 minute presentation with Dr. Nicole Christian-Brathwaite focused on trauma informed practices for students, staff, principals and families followed by break-outs for the principals to connect and network with each other. If you are interested in joining us, please register here.
*Note: this date reflects a change from the original calendar.
Virtual Massachusetts Student Council Conference - Spreading the Magic of Student Council Friday, April 9th- Saturday, April 10th
Closing Message from Bill Gaine
On behalf of MSAA and Executive Director, Bill Gaine: Stay safe, stay strong, and take time for yourself.
MSAA Assistant Executive Director
MSAA Matters Newsletter
Middle Level and Elementary Committee Liaison
Ring Central Gatherings
Latest Articles, Videos, Websites this Edition
DESE INITIAL FALL SCHOOL REOPENING GUIDELINES
Arts: Chorus, band, theater, dance, and visual arts • Physical education (revised03/01/21)
MSAA Position Papers
RING CENTRAL GATHERINGS
See member email for links to these gatherings!
There will not be a meeting on the Monday holidays.
1st Monday of the Month High School Administrator Gatherings 3 PM
2nd Monday of the Month Assistant Principal Gatherings 3 PM
3rd Monday of the Month Middle Level Administrators 3 PM
April 19 Holiday
4th Monday of the Month All Level Administrators 4 PM
1st Tuesday of the Month PK-8 Administrators 4 PM
MSAA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Synchronous Online Workshops: dates as listed
Open now through May 15, 2021 - registrants may work at their own pace
Succeeding with English Language Learners Approved by DESE for Use Toward the 15 PDPs in ELL for License Renewal for Teachers, School Clinicians, and Administrators, five-part series; take one session or all,
English Language Arts/Literacy, presented by Dr. Cindy Crimmin, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Succeeding with Students with Special Needs: Approved by DESE for Use Toward the 15 PDPs in Special Education for License Renewal for Teachers, School Clinicians, and Administrators five-part series; take one session or all, Special Education, presented by Jane Hardin, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Teaching Face-to-face, Hybrid, and Remote for Maximum Academic and Social-Emotional Learning Growth, Curriculum and Instruction, presented by Elayne Gumlaw, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Classroom Management (with a component on remote teaching), Curriculum and Instruction, presented by Cynthia Marchand and Carol Gregory, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Low Socio-economic Status (SES) Students and Families: Strategies for Closing Achievement Gaps and Reducing Special Education Referrals, Curriculum and Instruction, presented by Dr. Roseli Weiss, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Understanding and Addressing Implicit Unconscious Bias in Our Schools, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, presented by Karen Dodd Antonelli, M.Ed. Ribas Associates and Publications Register
The Impact of Trauma on Teaching, Learning and Living in the Era of Covid 19 Two-module program,
Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, presented by Jane Hardin, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Succeeding with Students with Special Needs: A Certificate Program for Paraprofessionals and Assistant Teachers, presented by Jane Hardin, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Succeeding with English Language Learners: A Certificate Program for Paraprofessionals and Assistant Teachers presented by Dr. Cindy Crimmin, Ribas, Associates and Publications Register
Understanding the Differentiated Instruction Classroom: A Certificate Program for Paraprofessionals and Assistant Teachers, presented by Carol Gregory, Ribas Associates and Publications Register
SEL in the Classroom: A Certificate Program for Paraprofessionals and Assistant Teachers, presented by Deborah Brady, Ph.D., Ribas Associates and Publications Register
Positive Anxiety - Making the Shift ALL FIVE MODULES five-part series; take one session or all, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, Patrick Barbieri, Seaside Educational Consultants Register
How to Deliver Effective Feedback and Have a Difficult Conversation: What is the Impact of Covid-19 on Evaluative Criteria? - ALL FIVE MODULES five-part series; take one session or all, Leadership/Administration, presented by
Dr. Judy Ann DeLucia, Seaside Educational Consultants Register
Fostering a Culture that Includes All Students in an Inclusionary Setting Through Co-Teaching - ALL FIVE MODULES five-part series; take one session or all, Curriculum and Instruction, presented by Dr. Judy Ann DeLucia and Shannon Pirrello, Seaside Educational Consultants Register
Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: Creating Safe and Supportive Classrooms Across Every Learning Environment, ALL FIVE MODULES five-part series; take one session or all, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, presented by Maureen Gilman, Seaside Educational Consultants Register
Expanding Math Mindsets: Digital Tools & Resources to Engage Middle & High School Students five-part series; take one session or all, Mathematics, presented by Brian Skeffington, Seaside Educational Consultants Register
SEL for Adults five-part series; take one module or all, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, presented by Christopher Dodge, Seaside Educational Consultants Register for all 5 modules, To register for individual modules, email email@example.com
Creating Safe and Supportive Classrooms Using PBIS Strategies - ALL FIVE MODULES five-part series; take one session or all, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, presented by Maureen Gilman, Seaside Educational Consultants Register
Managing Student Behaviors in All Settings: Home, School, Remote, Curriculum and Instruction, presented by
Dr. Curtis Bates, Seaside Educational Consultants Register
For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org