News You Can Use - Volume 2
From the Principal's Desk
High Expectations for Every Student
Our mission statement says we provide quality instruction that fosters high expectations. Norma shared "what we permit, we promote" at a recent faculty meeting. It's easy to say we have high expectations for every student. To put that in action, I ask you to elaborate by describing to me what you accept academically or behaviorally from students. The answer to that will determine how high your expectations are. In his book, No Excuses University How Six Exceptional Systems Are Revolutionizing Our Schools, Damen Lopez wrote a chapter titled "High Expectations for Every Student." One key concept he identifies for achieving high expectations states: We are not in the business of discipline. We are in the business of teaching behavior.
In his blog, Doug Curry writes about hope and hopelessness. Setting high expectations and sticking with them when hope is low will lead us to providing quality instruction for our students. Hope is the way.
Hope or Hopeless–Which Side Runs your School
When you enter any school as a teacher, in particular a school with special challenges, which, by the way, all schools have, there will always be a struggle as to which you side you take.
There is the side of hope and the side of hopelessness.
There is the side where you look at a child who comes from difficult circumstances. He may not have a mother or a father. He may have been abused. He may just now be learning the English language. He has lived in generational poverty forever, and both he and his family really don’t know any other way to live. He may have siblings already incarcerated. His parents may be in and out of jail. Perhaps neither of them wants him anymore. He may come from a family that only sends him to school because it is the law. Education is not a priority. It is not seen as the way to anything. The family may be hungry, and so is the student. It may be all the family knows. Coming from this situation, the student may express, “I don’t care about this stuff” when faced with any educational task you lay before him. The student may appear to be hostile. The student won’t read in class because he never did learn to read, yet somehow he is in your 8th grade Language Arts class.
When faced with this student and others like him, which side are you on?
There is one side that thinks, “You know, this student only gets one chance at life. He may have been dealt a lousy hand of cards. But you know what? Our school is the answer for him. Give him to me! I will help him see what his future can be. I will help him learn to work hard and experience success. If he doesn’t know how to read, our school will teach him. If he is hostile, we will win him over. We will love him. We will show him the first light he may have ever seen in a life of darkness. If we love him unconditionally, and we refuse to ever give up on him, all of the bad things that have happened to him will become his strengths in the future. Collectively, as a school we can do that. We have that power to influence kids. He will be successful! We won’t have it any other way!”
The other side thinks, “What do you expect me to do with him? I can’t change what he’s been through. I can’t make him care. I have no power to make his life better.”
In every school you will find folks representing both sides.
Most teachers begin the profession on the side of hope.
However, teaching is hard, and challenges occur. Many teachers, when faced with adversity, slowly start moving to the other side if they are unable to handle the challenges that occur. If they don’t choose to leave the profession, they believe that the only way they can survive is to stay on the side of hopelessness. This way they won’t get their feelings hurt. This way they won’t feel like a failure. There’s kind of a protective cocoon that comes with being on the side of hopelessness.
When you stand on the side of hope, you risk failing. You risk failing and having everybody know it, because you were out there on a limb for everyone to see.
Sometimes young teachers leave the side of hope because there is pressure from their coworkers to join the side of hopelessness. Sometimes coworkers can’t wait to tell the rookie “the way things really are” in this school.
Sometimes these coworkers may have a real stake in bringing others to the side of hopelessness. Deep down these coworkers hate themselves for having abandoned the side of hope. It soothes the pain a bit when they successfully recruit someone else to come to their side.
Many teachers enter the profession at an age where they are far from complete in their own personal growth. They are still learning who they are and what they want from life. They may have never even learned how to be assertive and stand up for themselves in their own lives. Now they stand in front of 30 high school students every day during 3rdperiod.
Being able to successfully manage a classroom is often about how you view yourself. Are you confident in yourself? Are you able to acknowledge your weaknesses and faults? Are you comfortable when you realize that others know all too well your imperfections?
If you are not comfortable, you are in danger of going from the side of hope to the other side very quickly. You are in danger of feeling personally attacked every time a student makes a bad decision or challenges your authority. That normal little game that occurs in every classroom now becomes something much bigger to you. It becomes more about you and protecting who you are. When this happens, the side of hopelessness beckons you. If you don’t care, it’s much safer. You won’t get hurt. If your expectations are low or nonexistent, they are much easier to reach.
Some young teachers end up on the side of hopelessness because they have a series of bad experiences due to poor administrators. Maybe they are thrown into a rowdy class of 7th graders and offered no help or support. Instead they are blamed for the chaos that ensues. The choice now becomes one of leaving the profession or going to the side of hopelessness. If you are reading this come see Sherry for a jeans pass.
Many teachers enter the profession burdened by warped or unrealistic expectations. They are weighed down by the “shoulds” such as “kids should act this way” or “things shouldn’t be this way.” “Kids should come to school knowing how to act.” “We shouldn’t have to teach kids how to act—I am a history teacher.”
Teachers like this either leave or move to the hopeless side.
NEU schools are run by the people on the side of hope.
In NEU schools, it’s safe and fun to be on the side of hope.
Who runs your school? What are the conversations? How do we talk about the kids and the parents? Just listen and you will be able to discern which side runs your school.
Happy Birthday !
Feb. 6 - Mary Vick
Feb. 8 - Misty Warren
Feb. 9 - Megan Silva
Feb. 11 - Ashley Gunn
Feb. 14 - Tanya Henry
Feb. 16- Jenny Plumley
Feb. 17 - Caroline Laue
Feb. 2 - 5th grade Parent Night @ Durham
Feb. 3 - Faculty Meeting
Feb.4 - Souper Bowl Luncheon
Feb. 4 - Advisory Council
Feb. 5 - 100th day of school
Feb. 5 - Club Friday - 5th/ 2nd
Feb. 9 - Principals PLC- Sherry off campus
Feb. 11- Design Team Meeting
Feb. 12- Club Friday - 4th/1st
Feb. 13 - Teacher Job Fair
Feb. 15 - Professional Learning Day
Feb. 17 - Learning Leaders - Sherry off campus
Feb. 18 - Advisory Council
Feb. 19 - Club Friday - 3rd/K
Feb. 23 - Spring Pictures
Feb. 23 - Let's Celebrate
Feb. 24 - 4th grade time with Norma
Feb. 24 - Girl's Luncheon
Feb. 24 - Faculty Meeting
Feb. 25 - Boy's Luncheon
Feb. 25 - Design Team
Feb. 26 - Club Friday - 5th/2nd
Feb. 29 - Texas Public School Week
Feb. 29 - Hall of Fame Compassion due
Focus on Character
feeling or showing concern for the misfortunes of others.
"the victims should be treated with compassion"
"have you no compassion for a fellow human being?"
Links for books about Compassion:
This activity from Dr. Jean can be modified by interchanging the word kindness with compassion. While the examples will work well in primary classrooms, upper grade teachers can substitute more age-appropriate examples-possibly things you see in your own classroom.
Here’s a story that will help children understand why
it’s important to be kind to their classmates. Cut a large heart out of red construction paper and hold it in your
lap as you begin to tell the story below:
This is a story about a special friend named (imaginary name). He always came to school with a smile on his face and a big heart full of love for his classmates. (Hold up the big heart.) (Name) listened to his teacher, did his best work, and helped his friends. However, some of his friends weren’t always so kind. Joe made fun of his
shoes and broke a little of his heart. (Tear off a piece
of the heart and let it drop to the floor.) Ann said, “I’m saving this seat and you can’t sit here” at story time and broke a little more of his heart. Sammy wouldn’t share
his crayons (tear off a little of the heart) and Sara
called him a mean name. What are some other things
that might break his heart? (Let the children name
other things that cause hurt feelings as you let the
pieces fall to the floor.) By the end of the day his
heart was all in pieces and it was so sad.
Who can tell me how to put his heart back together? What are some kind things you can do for
your friends? As children name different acts of
kindness pick the pieces of the heart off the floor.
Glue the pieces together on a poster as a reminder to
have a kind heart. Encourage children to write friends’ names on the poster when they are kind and helpful to them!
Mrs. Stephens is up to something. She is asking for beach themed items. Please let her know if you have any of the following you are willing to loan her temporarily. She is in need of : Beach chairs, beach umbrellas, sea shells, a kiddie pool, beach balls, surf board, etc.... Any other beach items you would be willing to loan her would be much appreciated. Please label your items so they may be returned to you.
Teacher Shout Outs
Shout out to Sunshine committee for an awesome "soup"er bowl lunch !
Special thank you to Misty Warren and Angela Argumaniz for being such amazing counselors and meeting the needs of our students and our staff.
Special thank you to 4th grade team for working together to restructure systems to improve student learning.
Thank you to McHugh, C. Jones, and McElroy for seeing a need on our campus and coming up with a plan to ensure student safety.
Thank you to Christi Barnes for figuring out how to add accommodations to MAPs testing and being willing to share her expertise with math and data.
Thank you to Wetchensky, Hill, Redden, and Johnson for taking time out of their schedules for interviews.
Thank you to Mrs. Carla for embracing a new lunch count system.
Shout out to 3rd grade and Kinder who had excellent PLC's.
Shout out to Ms. Infante for being a beacon of light and reminding us that the positive energy you give is the positive energy you get back.
Shout out to all of our wonderful para's who give so much of themselves each day.
Thank you to Mae Baree and Denise Kirksey for greeting our families with welcoming smiles.
Shout out to Christi Cox who has received several compliments from teachers for the way she has taken on her new position.
Shout out to Mrs. Artzer who has embraced Norma's writing curriculum with her Kinder students. The writing she has shared has been great!
Shout out to each of our peeps who have duty in the morning and the afternoon. We appreciate your ability to help us maintain a safe environment for all of our students.
Shout out to the morning duty outside crew. They are outside through rain, sleet, and snow and we so appreciate it.
Thank you to the parent involvement committee for all of their hard work ensuring our black history program is a success!
Thank you to all the grade levels who have already began black history lessons in class.