Millbrook Elementary Staff Notes

Week of Dec. 7-11, 2015

Thought For the Week

Crystallize your goals. Make a plan for achieving them and set yourself a deadline. Then, with supreme confidence, determination and disregard for obstacles and other people's criticisms, carry out your plan. ~Paul J. Meyer

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Reflections: The WHY Behind the What and How of Planning

I've spent some time this week reflecting and checking in with some of you after our team meeting on Monday, and I wanted to take a moment to revisit the key messages:

*Our children have big goals and dreams. We have the power to set them on the course to achieving those goals by equipping them with the academic and character skills needed to be successful.

*Our student demographics put many of them at risk. We have bigger mountains to climb to knock down some of the barriers for them.

*The 'finish line of success' is a fixed mark (i.e., high school graduation, college readiness, resilience and coping strategies to navigate life's challenges). If some of our students are in the back of the pack, their race must be accelerated to reach the finish line.

*Achieving more than expected levels of growth for students who are behind IS possible. But it does take very purposeful, targeted planning and execution of lessons and use of time. Every minute counts.

*We have to be constantly reflective about our own practice. It is an empowering stance-- to look at adjusting and tweaking what we can control rather than feeling helpless by focusing on what we cannot control.

*One caring adult can be the factor that helps change the trajectory of a child's life. Remember the video of Kendall when he described the mentoring program he started in middle school as the turning point for him. If you'd like to view it again, here is the link:

*Each teacher has to internalize the lessons in order to successfully teach them. Collaborative structures for big picture planning and unpacking standards help us do this, but we each have to understand and 'own' the key teaching points and how we will ensure our students 'get it.'

*Part of being reflective is to critically consider what we need to STOP doing. "Divide and conquer" is good for tasks like homework preparation, newsletters, and other logistical tasks. It doesn't work for understanding and internalizing the content I have to teach my students.

*Go slow to go fast. There is nothing more important than deeply understanding and 'owning' our teaching so that we can truly focus on kids' learning.

*I believe in you and will do all in my power to advocate for you and support you in any way needed.

*We can do this. Sí, se puede. It's hard work but we WILL see success with consistency, fidelity, and persistence. Face brutal truths but maintain absolute faith. This I believe!

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It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Yes, the title is ironic :) - but it's time to start thinking ahead to assessment training and administration coming in January! Please review carefully and direct any questions to Abby Benson.

mCLASS Testing Window Dates: Jan 6th-29th

ALL grades K-5 will participate on January 4th in a fidelity training for inter-reliability that will occur at 2:45 in the media center. At that time a school-wide schedule will be distributed.

2-5 Reading & Math Benchmark Testing Window Dates: Jan.25th-29th

ONLY grades 2-5 will participate in a brief overview training with IRT during a grade level common planning time in January prior to testing. SSA students will need to take the benchmark assessment for enrolled accelerated class. All students 2-5 takes this mid-year assessment as there are no exemptions.

K-1 DPI Math Benchmark Assessment Dates: Jan. 25th-Feb. 4th

A webinar training will occur for ONLY grades K and 1 with IRT during a grade level common planning time in January prior to the assessments. All assessment data will be entered into eData platform. Kinder will be administered one-on-one via the computer.

NKT Testing Window Dates: Feb.8th-19th

ONLY kindergarten grade level this year. All assessment data will be entered into eData platform. Classroom teacher administers NKT using laptop. ONLY progress monitoring will occur for students who have score or 8 or below using Assessing Math Concepts platform. More information to follow.

ACCESS Testing Window Dates: Feb.7th-Mar.13th

Estok will provide a schedule for specific students 3-5 and Delaney will provide a schedule for K-2 who will need ACCESS testing. All testing will be done in the computer lab except kindergarten. ESL classes will be cancelled until all testing is completed; however Estok/Delaney will notify teachers when classes resume.

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Schedule of Events

Monday, 12/7: A Day; K PLT 1:30 - 3:00; Intervention Team Meeting, 7:15, Room 1409; Staff Meeting 3-4 PM, Media Center (Instructional assistants welcome but not required to attend). BRING YOUR LAPTOPS to the meeting.

Tuesday, 12/8: B Day; 4th PLT 1:30 - 3:30

Wednesday, 12/9: C Day; 2nd PLT 1:30 - 3:30; Teacher Leader Corps training (Eno, West, Bowers, Fowler); SpEd Team Collaborative Planning Day

Thursday, 12/10: D Day; 3rd PLT 1:30 - 3:30

Friday, 12/11: E Day; 1st PLT 1:30 - 3:30; PreK Family Engagement Day (No PreK students attend today)

Logistical Updates

  • Welcome New Teammate!! We would like to welcome Erin Carroll to the 2nd grade team! Erin is a recent graduate of the master's program at NC State and did her student teaching at Leesville Elementary in 2nd grade. (Fun fact...Cinda Aronson's daughter was in her class!).
  • A Record-Setting Week: Welcome to out World was the best yet with a huge turn out. There were 624 total number of people that came to MEMS last Thursday, including 289 students! This week, you will receive IB bags to give to the students who came to the event. Also, the Book Fair ended STRONG with sales of $7936.44 and at least $130 in online sales. Another record! Kudos to everyone who helped make these two family engagement experiences a huge success. :)

Learning Corner

This week's post highlights how daily planning ensures our teaching is targeted and focused, taking into consideration our own students as well as other factors that influence student learning. As you read it, think about your students and the unique factors of your classroom culture: what do you need to intentionally plan?

This Week's Inspiration

Again, let's get inspired by words from kids! This young man addressed an opening of the school year convocation for the Dallas, TX school district. Can you envision one of your students in him?
Dalton Sherman