HMS Parent Newsletter

End-of-September 2015

The "Why Factor"

One of our main focuses at HMS this year has been on the "why factor." This comes from Tedx speaker Simon Sinek ‘s talk entitled, "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action." You can view the following link to view the video of Simon delivering this great speech:

The gist of this concept is that "people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it." When we start with the "why," the "what" and the "how" make sense. It’s when we miss the "why" that the "what" and the "how" don’t matter so much and frankly, don’t work. It is this leadership concept that has driven the work we have done thus far at HMS. Join us in this newsletter as we share our "why" with you. Your kids know our why, and our goal is that our why becomes their why… and in only one short month, we are seeing this beginning to take shape. We’re proud to share our work with you in this issue… and by "our work," we mean the work of all HMS staff, your talented kids, and you, the HMS parents. We are all one team, and this team is ready to thrive. We are ready to truly make our mark on Northwest Indiana, then the state as a whole, and then the country. Lofty goals? Absolutely. Would you want your child’s school to be any other way?

"Tight to the Right!"

The single most important "why" is school safety. With nearly 1,000 students passing at one time, our hallways are crowded. One simple concept has streamlined our hallway traffic. This summer, we asked our head custodian, Mrs. Marcy, to place black tape down the middle of our hallways, creating two lanes like a highway. (I do have to mention that the tape is EXACTLY straight and the angles are PERFECT.) The concept is simple: students stay "tight to the right," just like cars on the road. The results? Students can get to where they need to go easily and in a calm manner. Students feel safe because they know they are guaranteed a clear path on the right side. Traffic moves slower now, which results in fewer accidents. Students loiter less because we are moving them along to their next class, and they are walking with the flow of traffic. Teachers and administrators are in the halls monitoring traffic, saying hello to kids, and welcoming them to class. It is a beautiful scene, and we are proud of the way our students have met our expectations in regard to staying "tight to the right."

Crew Time

Every day after lunch, students participate in Crew time for approximately 10 minutes. Crew is held in the auditorium and is run by HMS administrators. Since we are all teachers, we really value our Crew time with the kids and we're quite deliberate in what we talk about during Crew. It's like our admin class with kids. Our weekly Crew schedule looks like this:

Monday: "Monday Blues"/Announcements

  • Weekly announcements, reminders, inspirational video or story, word of the week

Tuesday: Digital Citizenship

Wednesday: College and Career

  • Interviewing tips, grades, responsibility

Thursday: Performance Review

  • Positive Behavior Referrals (and candy!), review of procedures, celebration of things done well and reminder of things to work on; goals

Friday: Fun Friday

  • Fun videos

We are so proud of our Crew time, and we love that it gives us a chance to re-establish the kids' focus for the day. It's like a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. The kids have responded well to Crew, and they are doing a great job with Crew procedures. (Ask your child what a "Level Zero" means!)

PBR's (Positive Behavior Referrals)

Students and staff at Hobart Middle School have started a new program entitled Positive Behavior Referrals. The PBR's have birthed from our PBIS concept. PBIS is a behavioral system that focussing on celebrating what students are doing well. PBIS is a school-wide recognition system that celebrates positive behaviors . Students are celebrated and encouraged to make positive choices and decisions.

PBR's run hand-in-hand with our school-wide PBIS program. PBR's work by staff logging into a Google account. Staff can then recognize and nominate students for making positive choices. These positive choices could be indicative of classroom, hallway, or citizenship expectations. Teachers nominate students and give a brief description of what the student had done to earn the PBR. Students are then in turn recognized during Thursday's Crew time. An administrator gets on the microphone and announces winners a grade level at a time. Students who have received a positive behavior referral are recognized with a treat from the administrators! This had been extremely powerful at HMS to a point that our staff is now nominating other staff members. They are eager to point out all the great things happening at HMS!!

Word of the Week

This year, we have a school-wide initiative called the "word of the week." The words are from a list of assessment vocabulary, most notably from ISTEP. Teachers post and use the word of the week, and administrators focus on the word of the week during Crew time. Studies show that people need to hear and use a word many, many times before truly knowing the word. This week's word of the week is "convince."