Matt's Memo

Davison High School - December 8, 2014

One of my favorite Quotes..

"The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."


Big image

Do you recognize these Davison Cardinals? Katy Thiel, Logan Richards, Leslye Long, and Nicole Dolloff!!

Just a few of the GREAT things I noticed last week!

Our Cool to Care campaign broke district records, helping to meet the overwhelming need in our community.

DTV getting it done sorting over 8,000 items donated by high school students and staff members. It was a tedious and tough job, but you got it done.

Our winter sports seasons getting underway, with full gyms and weight rooms. Great to see our Lady Cardinals on the hardwood getting up and down vs Flushing this past Tuesday

Our kids overwhelmingly positive, engaged and excited by our 12 days of Nice campaign. What a great feeling in the building this week. I am hoping next week is even better.

A highly engaged and participating staff for our Formative Assessment Professional Development this Wednesday. Great Questions and great information.

A very supportive team player in Sabrina Shisler going above and beyond to help our Chemistry guest teachers in Mr. Wallberg's absence. Thank you Sabrina!!

From the Twittersphere --Consider following....

TED Talks



michael fullan

Next Week!

Monday, December 8 - ACC meeting at 4:00

Tuesday, December 9 - Kiwanis ABC Award luncheon for our students. Choir concert at 6:30

Wednesday, December 10 - Late Start/ PLC time with your curriculum groups..more details to come in an e-mail. We will start in the AMR at 7:15.

Thursday, December 11-

Friday, December 12 -


Tuesday, December 16- Skill Center Field trip - Details and times TBD

Wednesday, December 17- Staff Meeting/ Breakfast in the AMR at 7:15

Thursday, December 18- Alumni luncheon in the AMR at noon

Friday, December 19-

What It Means to Be an Ally with Parents

DECEMBER 3, 2014 - Edutopia

As a first-year principal, I sat uneasily in a police station waiting for information about my ninth-grade student Michael. Suddenly, his mother Angela arrived, her eyes wide open, her forehead creased, her mouth set. She was calm but ready to go to battle for her son. Angela walked straight up to the counter and asked to see Michael, chiding the officer that it was unacceptable to hold a 14-year-old without clearly communicating the reason to an advocate. By then, we believed that Michael had been the victim of police brutality, although officers would soon charge him with resisting arrest.

Minutes later, another officer escorted us brusquely to an interrogation room and said that he would bring Michael. While we waited, I listened to Angela quietly share her feelings about the situation and the unjust outcome she was anticipating. As much as I wanted to offer answers, I focused my heart and mind on hearing her perspectives as an African-American mother.

This incident left me with lingering questions about how educators can become real allies to our parents, particularly across racial and class differences. What does it mean to be an ally? What behaviors foster an alliance with parents, and what can get in the way? Over ten years later, I understand that the first step is almost always listening.

As educators, we have been trained to act as experts. We wield knowledge as a professional panacea and struggle to simply listen when parents express their concerns and feelings. Lacking tools for reflection, we may jump to defend ourselves or discount the parent's version of events as a way to manage our own discomfort. But as listening educators, we can develop a toolkit that guides us gently in a different direction.

Here are four ways that listening educators can build meaningful alliances with parents.

1. Think Before You React

We all have sensitivities that can be triggered by a distraught parent. A parent's concern or issue may provoke feelings of defensiveness, judgment, or conflicting values. It is essential to cultivate mindfulness about your own triggers, to interrupt running negative stories that you hold about a parent, and to breathe deeply into the business of listening. As you notice your triggers and slow down your reaction, new interpretations and responses become available.

2. Be Fully Present

As you soften your defenses, work to become fully present as a listener. This requires that you cue your brain, body, and heart to open to whatever the parent has to say (even if it's hard to hear). Sometimes, I'll literally say in my head, "All you need to do right now is be present and listen." Presence requires that you set aside your phone, paperwork, and other distractions to offer the pure gift of attention to another human being. Believe me, parents will notice the difference, and a palpable sense of trust will begin to emerge.

3. Don't Offer a Quick Fix

As tempting as it may be to leap into problem solving, try not to go there first. Particularly when working across difference, your attempt at "solving" the issue may signal to a parent that you don't really understand his or her struggles. Instead, take time to honor and explore the complexity of the problem, asking questions to consider different angles. If a parent expresses concern around a child’s performance and asks if you have a bias against the child, you may feel insulted. But what if you said, "Wow, I don't want any of my students to feel that I'm biased against them. I care about them all. Can you share more about what I'm doing to create this perception?" It is also powerful to ask, "How can I become a stronger ally with you and your child?"

4. Commit to Following Up

Trust isn't built during a single interaction. It emerges over time when we listen, stay present, and circle back to establish open channels of communication with parents. If a parent brings you a concern, listen to and explore that concern, ask what support he or she is seeking, and set a time to check back in. Even when the primary issue is resolved, it's powerful to send an email, make a call, or walk up to the parent at school to say, "How are things going, really?" By simply reaching out, you will be helping to cultivate trust and alliance.

Parents know a listening educator when they meet one, but the good news is that we can all grow into this transformational approach to working with our families. I think back to my police station conversation with Angela and recall my urgent desire to tell her what I had done and would do to support her son. At the end of the day, my real work was to quiet my mind and listen to her voice. Through this simple shift, I learned so much more and became positioned as a real advocate.

Reminders for all..

REPEAT REMINDER- Please make sure you are not parking between the buildings unless you are a coach of a winter sport. These spots are reserved for maintenance, food service, technology, and winter coaches. Thank you for being considerate of your fellow staff members.

Please do not allow your students to use your keys or your fobs to get into classrooms or buildings. It is a huge security risk and a practice we do not want to have. I know it takes longer to have an adult let them into where they need to go, but we have to make sure an adult is doing the unlocking or fobbing. Thank you for your attention to this.

Please remember that the building is open to students at 7:00. If you let a student in before then, they need to be with you or walked to the North doors to wait with Mr. VanWormer.

REPEAT REMINDER - Sustained Silent Reading and D.T.V. are very important parts of our day. If there is something keeping these things from happening in your classroom, please let me know so that we can address it. 100% participation is the expectation.

Our Cool to Care campaign was successful because of your leadership, influence and support in your first hour class. In feedback received from kids, there were a few common themes that drove participation upward and the most prominent ones included you. A few comments to me included "My teacher stressed it" or "my teacher made it a big deal" or "my teacher reminded us all the time". A huge THANK YOU to all of you that engaged your students at a high level!!