Middle School Update

September 25, 2015

Habit Stacking

I read an interesting article this week about habit stacking. We all know that when we make something a habit, it is easier to continue doing that thing. The idea of habit stacking is to create a short routine consisting of several simple habits. For example, we've asked teachers to make a habit of having Bell Ringer activities in every class. You could make a beginning of class routine, including a greeting, writing assignments in the agenda, handing in/returning papers, doing the bell ringer, etc. This is an example of habit stacking. The article has some other great suggestions for including in our daily classroom habits, including play and reflection time into our classes daily.

SEW Schedule

Monday: Regular Schedule
Tuesday - Thursday: Chapel Schedule

  • 5 Minute SAT's

  • SEW Service during Chapel Slot
  • Bible during MS Activity Block
  • 8th grade switching E and G blocks
  • 7:00 PM Optional Services
Friday: Regular Schedule (NOT a Friday schedule)

Important Dates

Sept. 29-Oct. 1: SEW

Oct. 2: No Uniform Day (10 RM donation to Care and Share)

Oct. 2-3: JV Volleyball Tournament @ ISKL

Oct. 6: MS Concert, 7 PM (grades 7-8 only)

Oct. 7: End of Q1

Oct. 8: First Day of Q2; End of Q1 X Blocks

Oct. 12, 8 AM: Grade Verification Deadline

Oct. 12-16: School Safety Week

Oct. 13: MS Divisional Meeting

Oct. 14: Parent Teacher Conference, 2-6 (1/2 day schedule)

Oct. 17-25: Mid-Semester Break

End of Quarter

The quarter ends on a Wednesday so that we have time get report cards and parent conferences done before our break. If we ended the quarter on the last day before break, we'd end up spending a good chunk of break finishing up grades for this quarter. Here's a tip: If you don't get something graded from first quarter in time, or several kids need to redo an assignment, or you have kids missing the last day or two of the quarter, just put those assignments in your gradebook for Q2. All you have to do is put the assignment date as Oct. 8 instead of the 7. It's worth it to save your sanity!

Learning is Loud

This is another great article I found this morning about student engagement in classrooms. The three main goals in this article are setting teacher time limits (like the 7 minute rule), organizing the room to facilitate collaboration, and engaging every student voice. All of these are good classroom practice that we already know, but this article may re-energize your teaching in this domain.

Active Learning: The Four Horsemen of a Fixed Mindset

Last week I shared about my personal experience of getting honest feedback from my students, and I concluded by saying it takes a growth mindset to receive and implement student feedback. When I planned my topic for last week, I didn’t know that Karl would also be writing about the concept of mindset in his Friday newsletter. He did an excellent job introducing the main concepts related to mindset. Here’s a brief overview of what he wrote about a growth mindset, which is what we want for ourselves and our students:

A growth mindset person believes that abilities and talents can be developed through hard work and effort. They embrace challenges because that is a way to improve and get smarter. They persist in the face of setbacks because they see them as part of the process and not an issue of success or failure. They have less fear of failure because they do not see it as an ending point or a reflection of who they are.

Today, I want to focus on four fixed mindsets that can shut down the growth mindset for a teacher; I learned about these when I was taking a professional development class last year, and I could see myself in all four of them. They’re nicknamed The Four Horsemen because they’re fixed mindsets that wage war against good teaching!

These are four possible responses that teachers can have when they receive feedback from students (or others) about an area to improve.

#1: You’re wrong; I rule! This is the temptation to deny the feedback on the basis of years of teaching experience, past successes, and the students not knowing anything about what it takes to really be a good teacher.

#2: You’re right; I’m rotten! This is the temptation to take feedback about one specific area that needs improvement and take it as a negative judgment against overall teaching ability. This defeated attitude shuts down the teacher; it leads to discouragement and not to growth.

#3: Blame it on the rain! This is the temptation to make excuses for why things aren’t going well in class. Here are some of the excuses I’ve made to myself: “It’s after lunch, my students are so hyper, my students are so quiet, we keep having interruptions to the schedule….”

#4: Optimist Without a Cause This is the temptation to take let feedback bounce off without truly listening to it because you think it’s not really important or urgent.. “ I need to change? Great…I’ll do that sometime…. My students are telling me I talk too much and don’t give opportunities for discussion? Alrighty…maybe next year I’ll work on that.”

Like I said, I have made all of the above excuses to myself, and when I heard these identified, I realized how often I’ve been guilty of shutting down feedback with my own fixed mindset. Once I decided I wasn’t going to make these kinds of excuses anymore and was committed to growth, I was much more open to hearing from my students! Next week I’ll share a few different examples of feedback tools and talk about how to create one that fits best for your needs.

By Susan Allen

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