Millbrook Elementary Staff Notes

Week of September 19 - 23, 2016

Our Three Priorities

1. WHO WE ARE: Building our CARES community through Responsive Classroom, school-wide routines, and the IB Learner Profile.

2. HOW WE WORK: Building our community through distributed leadership and empowering teams. Supporting and building teacher capacity to lead their classrooms and develop caring citizens who achieve at high levels.

3. WHAT WE DO: Developing caring citizens who will change the world through excellent core instruction, monitoring the progress of each child using authentic assessment data, and differentiating to meet our learners’ needs.

Thought for the Week

Differences were not meant to divide, but to enrich. ~J.H. Oldham

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Walkthrough Trends

The NCSTAR indicator in our current School Improvement Plan for Goal 3 (What We Do) is "the school regularly looks at school performance data and aggregated classroom observation data and uses that data to make decisions about school improvement and professional development needs."

We will be developing a Google doc to capture our walkthrough data and systematically share it with all stakeholders as a tool for dialogue and planning with PLTs. During this week's walkthroughs, we observed these collective trends:
Areas of Focus (Visible Flow of Day/Lesson Plans)
*Daily schedules/flow of the day were visible in more than 90% of classrooms. Why this matters: It helps students know the predictability and structure of their day; supports smooth transitions, particularly with children who struggle with transitions; it serves as a visual anchor to support instructional pacing as well as the framework for the day's lesson plans. Next steps: Let's get to 100% of classrooms displaying visible (to students) flows of the day.

*Lesson plans were visible and available in 70% of classrooms. Often, plans were done but were not easily visible; sometimes teachers would stop teaching to get the plans and give them to us. We do not want to disrupt the flow of your teaching! While we are remaining flexible on format, we want to ensure a few consistent components are included in everyone's plans. Why this matters: We can't get to a destination without a clear plan and road map; ensuring that every child in every classroom receives a guaranteed, viable curriculum; to tailor quality observation feedback, we need to be able to ascertain the learning target and instructional goals in a daily plan. Next steps: We will get clipboards for every classroom as well as a hook to mount near the door. (Several of you already had this setup - thank you for the great idea!) Each teacher should print a copy of his/her plans and put them on the clipboard each week. This will facilitate us being able to align feedback to plans without disrupting your teaching. We will have these in place in classrooms by the end of this week. For this week, please print your weekly plans and have them in an easily accessible spot (on desk/kidney table/on counter near classroom door, etc.). Required components in weekly/daily plans: Daily learning targets posted (What do I want students to learn?); instructional activities with general time frame of each component to guide pacing (How will I teach it?); means for checking for understanding/assessing daily/weekly learning targets. (How will I know they learned it?) Many of you are already posting daily learning targets; let's make this a consistent practice in all classrooms to further strengthen clarity of our teaching and ensuring students know what they are to learn each day.

*GLOWS! Some of the many great things we saw in classrooms this week:

  • use of whiteboards to increase student engagement
  • students setting their own goals and sharing them with partners
  • use of non-verbal signals for getting students' attention
  • positive descriptive praise and positive narration as teachers noticed students following expectations
  • a classroom climate and tone of warmth and positive regard
  • greeting students at the doors as they entered first thing in the morning!
  • strong "CARE" language used in a teachable moment - "We don't ever laugh at friends; we know what it feels like when someone laughs at us."
  • use of chants as a refocusing tool - modeling joy while regrouping students
  • visual anchors used in K to support concepts of being open-minded
  • lots of very well-organized classrooms that are neat, clutter-free, and support student independence
  • morning meetings including community builders
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We are Open Minded

WHAT IS OPEN MINDED? We understand and appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.

WEEKLY FOCUS: We continue to build our shared identity as a classroom community and get to know each other's histories, experiences, and perspectives.

Kid-friendly definition: We respect all cultures and listen to different points of view.

Que respeten todas las diferentes culturas y tambien los diferentes puntos de vistas.

Looks like:

Talking to people

Listening to others’ points of view

Sharing cultures (artifact, story, connection)

Reading books about cultures

Sounds like:

We agree to disagree.

I understand where you are coming from.

How did you solve that?

Everybody is different/unique, and that is ok.

Open your mind

And you will find

We are all different

So just be kind

No matter the place

No matter the face

Open your mind and

Just be kind!

-School Priority #1 - Who We Are

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This Week's Logistics & Announcements

  • Round 1 Observations/Super Observations Begin
    Leslie and I will be scheduling observations beginning this week. The "super observation" includes a pre-conference, observation, and post-conference for all certified staff (regardless of your assigned observation plan in NCEES). If you still have not been able to log into NCEES, please let me know right away. The pre-conference template we will use is attached to this email. - School Priority #3 - What We Do.
  • New Teacher Community!
    One of our key priorities this year is to provide strong support for all teachers through our re-designed New Teacher Community monthly support meetings. You don’t have to be new to teaching … we’re designing it for ANYONE, but particularly to focus on new-to-MEMS teachers, new-to-the-USA teachers, as well as beginning teachers. We will highlight areas of focus so that if you would like more support in a given area, please join us! Beginning teachers (BT1s/2s) and their mentors are required to attend. It is optional for BT3s, VIF teachers, or anyone who would like to attend.
    This Week’s Focus: It is going to be a great time with fellow teachers as we support each other in the work of Responsive Classroom.
    Monday, 9/19 in the Media Center; Agenda:
    2:45-3:00--Snacks and Songs (your playlists)
    3:00-3:10--Good Things and Grounding (getting to know each other)
    3:10-3:45--Making the Rules Come Alive and Responding to Misbehavior (proactive plan, notes, and next steps)
    3:45-4:00--Mentoring Matters (follow up with mentors ONLY)
    See you then! - School Priority #2 - How We Work
  • mCLASS: The testing window closes in 6 days (September 26).
    Classroom teachers will need to complete any makeup testing for DIBELS if students were absent or new and missed the sweep schedule last week.
    The update for iOS 10 on iPads can be done; just remember to sync your device.
    Remember to complete the MSVs once the instructional level has been determined in the TRC to analyze errors as it will help guide instruction for small groups.
    When scoring the written comprehension tasks, 1) Refer to the standard first; 2) Read the sample responses for the rubric level "2" general understanding; 3) Reflect on the student's actual response--take it to your PLT to discuss or shadow score with someone if needed.
    The mCLASS leaders (Abby Benson, Carey Heale, Louise Glatthorn) are here to help and assist as needed with any issues.
    Our Early Release agenda for 9/30 will be a deep dive into our mCLASS data, including instructional implications and planning based on what we know about our students as readers and writers.

  • T-Shirt Reorders Available!
    Use this link if you wish to purchase: The cost now is about $24, but they will apply a discount since we previously ordered in bulk. If there are any line markings on the T-shirts, they should disappear after the first wash. Contact Abby Benson if you have any further questions!

  • Back to School Family Night!
    I am doing weekly School Messenger announcements each Sunday to families with key reminders about upcoming events. I will also do 2 additional School Messenger announcements this week regarding Family Night. You will see in this week's schedule (below) notes to send home reminders to families each day. This can be done in a variety of ways - having students include in the daily agenda/homework, Remind announcements, etc. We are trying to reduce making lots of paper copies of events, as this is time consuming and a drain on resources. We will also post signage at the entry and in the carpool line as a reminder. KEY DETAILS:
    *FREE hot dog supper (hot dog, chips, cookie) in the cafeteria available from 4-5
    *PTA general meeting from 4:45 - 5:00 in gym/cafe area
    *Classroom Rotation One: 5:10 - 5:40; Classroom Rotation Two: 5:50- 6:20 (repeat of rotation #1 for families with more than one child or for latecomers)
    *Good-bye and have a great evening! 6:30 PM
    *Grade chairs have logistics and specific details for classroom rotations. We are focusing on modeling Responsive Classroom priorities through a class meeting. Specialists and support staff will be asked to help serve/meet and greet/support clean up in the cafeteria from 4-5 and join a classroom for the classroom rotations.

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Schedule of Events

Monday, 9/19: A Day; New Teacher Community, 2:45, Media Center; SST Team, 2:30, Office Conference Room; Finish all mCLASS assessments; Communicate reminders re: Back to School Family Night

Tuesday, 9/20: B Day; 1st Grade Collaborative Planning Day; PLTs: K, 2, 4; Finish all mCLASS assessments; Communicate reminders re: Back to School Family Night

Wednesday, 9/21: C Day; Supply Orders Filled Today; Finish all mCLASS assessments; Communicate reminders re: Back to School Family Night

Thursday, 9/22: D Day; K Collaborative Planning Day; PLTs: 1, 3, 5; Finish all mCLASS assessments; Back to School Family Night! Hot dog supper (FREE!) 4-5; PTA Meeting, 4:45-5 in gym; Classroom Community Visits--Round 1, 5:10 - 5:40; Round 2 5:50 - 6:20 PM

Friday, 9/23: DUTIES: GOLD FRIDAY; E Day; Finish all mCLASS assessments (Window closes Monday, 9/26)


Learning Corner

The first entry is a blog post about the challenges of struggling readers, particularly as they get older. Great food for thought! The second is a GREAT idea to support writing and authentic homework with Family Dialogue Journals. It opens with a key tenet from Responsive Classroom: Knowing the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children. I'd LOVE to see some of you take this on...please let me know if your teams give this a try - I'd love to highlight it!

This Week's Inspiration

Protect your dreams. You want something. Go get it. Period.
Protect your Dreams

Millbrook Elementary IB PYP Magnet School

Building a Community of Caring Citizens

Who Will Change the World