Staff Weekly Update

April 7, 2016

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With April being National Poetry Month, it is only fitting to include an acrostic poem about spring that is, sadly, not so true as snowflakes were still falling from the sky this morning. Oh well, we can dream...

Thank you for all that you do!

Aaron & Lewis

Visiting Poet, Bill Buczinsky, Information from Literacy Coach Cassidy

Bill Buczinsky, poet/ performer, will be visiting Apollo on April 22nd to kick off the "Celebrating Diversity Through Poetry" assembly. He is planning to do one assembly with the primary grades and one with the intermediate grades. Then he is spending all day here on April 25th and 26th working with grade levels K-6th for an hour doing a Poetry Workshop.

He is also joining us on the evening of April 28th for an "Open Mic Night." During this time students can share their published pieces or work in progress with families and friends. This is also the evening of the International Family Night.

For more details or to get an idea about what his program includes please view his website. Here is the classroom schedule for April 22nd, 25th, and 26th. If you have specials at this time, the PFA teacher will relieve you and stay with your class. Let me know if you have any questions.

Bill's website:

Happy birthday to our staff members who turn a year older this month...

  • Yael Fuerst - 3.24
  • Lizzy Cassidy - 3.31
  • Krystal Hanlon - 4.2
  • Joanna Makowiecki - 4.6
  • Liz Clancy - 4.10
  • Connor See - 4.13
  • Mary Sue Hoffman - 4.21
  • Michelle Nowicki - 4.28
  • Janelle Root - 4.29

Upcoming Dates

Monday, April 11th

  • PARCC testing
  • Office Team Meeting @ 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, April 12th

  • PARCC testing
  • Coffee with the Principals @ 10:00 a.m.
  • 6th Grade Team Meeting @ 10:25 a.m.

Wednesday, April 13th

  • PARCC testing
  • 5th Grade Tier Meeting @ 8:55 a.m.
  • Spring Pictures
  • Apollo Ambassadors Meeting - Lunch/Recess
  • 3rd Grade Tier Meeting @ 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 14th

  • PARCC testing
  • PFA Tier Meeting @ 7:50 a.m.
  • 4th Grade Tier Meeting @ 8:55 a.m.
  • Core Team Meeting @ 1:00 p.m.
  • 1st Grade Tier Meeting @ 2:00 p.m.
  • Girls in the Game @ 3:00 p.m.

Friday, April 15th

  • PARCC testing
  • Family Friday @ Lunch
  • Ambassadors classroom visits @ 2:30 p.m.
  • D63 Charity Basketball Game @ 5:30 p.m.

Teacher Teams As Powerful Engines of Change (Marshall Memo)

In this article from Usable Knowledge, Leah Shafer reports on a study by Susan Moore Johnson, Stefanie Reinhorn, and Nicole Simon (Harvard Graduate School of Education) on what makes effective teacher teams. The research took place in six Massachusetts schools and involved content teams – focused on curriculum, lessons, and pedagogy – and cohort teams – focused on behavior, individual student needs, and school culture. The researchers found that five factors consistently contributed to a team’s success:

  • There was a clear, worthwhile purpose to meetings.
  • Teams met on a regular schedule, there was enough time for the business at hand, and the time was considered sacred.
  • Trained teacher leaders facilitated team meetings.
  • Administrators offered ongoing, engaged support and attention to the meetings and held teachers responsible for what they were supposed to accomplish.
  • Administrators looked for collaboration skills when hiring and gave teachers continual feedback that augmented the substance of team meetings.

Effective teacher teamwork had a positive impact in each of the schools, including:

  • Greater curriculum consistency across classes and grades;
  • Sharing the work of lesson planning;
  • Increased rigor and expectations for students – getting them to think “bigger and deeper about tough concepts”;
  • A support network for new teachers;
  • Opportunities for skill-sharing between veteran and novice teachers;
  • Frequent feedback from peers on lesson plans, behavior management, and pedagogy.

“Many factors contributed to these schools’ success,” says Johnson, “– careful hiring, frequent feedback on instruction, strong norms for both students and faculty, student supports, and skilled management – but it was teams that knit these components together for the good of students.”

“Teaching Together for Change: Five Factors That Make Teacher Teams Successful – and Make Schools Stronger” by Leah Shafer in Usable Knowledge, February 29, 2016,

Do you have a morning duty next week? If you are not sure, check the schedule here (or use the picture below).

Also, don't forget to check the Indoor Recess Schedule in the event of undesirable weather.

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