The Friday Forecast

Office of the Principal; Friday March 28, 2014

Quote for the Week!

“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that have been weighing you down.” ~Toni Morrison

The Week Ahead

Black Week Schedule 1-2-3-4-5-6 / MAP Testing, Science Benchmark Testing, Emergency Drills


Monday (31st) - Combined Tornado and Fire Drill,

Tuesday (1st) - April Fools Day, International Fun at Work Day, G40 Student Government Meeting (7:30am), Administrative Meeting (10:30-12:00), G40 Meeting with the Principal, PD Workshop (3:50pm),

Wednesday (2nd) - Children's Book Day, World Autism Awareness Day, Principal's Meeting (District Office, 11;30am-5-pm)

Thursday (3rd) - RtI Meeting (SDR - 9am-12noon)

Friday (4th) - Global Education Day, Columbia International Festival (7th Grade Field Study)

Tasks to Complete This Week!

1. Daily, put into action, interventions with your bubble kids and discuss during data team meetings.

2. Participate in Monday's "combined" Tornado and Fire Drill!

3. Attend and participate in Tuesday's PD Workshop

4. Make sure all of your grades are updated in PowerSchool.

5. Pay close attention to and enforce the dress code, ID, and electronic device policies. Remember, our goal is not to write up every violation. That will not solve the problem.

Upcoming Major Events

Data Team FishBowl #2

Monday, April 7th, 10:15-11:45am

Irmo Middle School Staff Development Rool

April 7th, Irmo Middle will participate in our second Data Team FishBowl. Again, we will be visited by Melissa Biggerstaff, Christina Melton, and Reggie Dean for our Fishbowl exercise. 7th Grade Science will be inside the fishbowl. 8th Grade Science will be on the outside of the fishbowl. The fishbowl exercise will be held in the staff development room. All teachers were given handouts to help us prepare to shine during our January PD workshop. Mr. Hutto and I visited Data Teams on 1/9/14 to answer any questions and assist with the preparations for these visits. We will again be participating in a conference call with Mrs. Biggerstaff (Tuesday April 1st) to help us prepare. Below are the updated "final" readiness documents. If you have any questions, see me or Mr. Hutto! Next week, Mr. Hutto and I will visit the data teams involved to answer any questions and assist in the readiness process.


New Link Readiness Materials - Important Information!!!

Expeditionary Learning Summer Institute at IMS

Monday, June 9th, 8:30am to Wednesday, June 11th, 3:30pm

The Center for Advanced Technical Studies (Multi-Purpose Room)

Because of the make-up day from the snow, our EL Summer Institute will be 2.5 days (beginning on June 9th) instead of three. We will only work until 11:45 on 6/11/14.

March/April Staff Birthdays

Marilyn Constance, March 31st

January Cisco, April 1st

Cheryl Harrison, April 6th

Richard Geiger, April 7th

Jennifer Cook, April 8th

Elizabeth Magee, April 8th

Deborah Ware, April 9th

Willette Wise, April 11th

Marcelle Boland, April 14th

Sandra Dupree, April 16th

Nancy Robbs, April 16th

Calvin Eargle, April 21st

Natasha Smiley, April 27th

Susan Day, April 28th


Please join me in wishing these staff members a happy birthday.

Duty Roster for the Week

Duty Roster

Monday - I Group

Tuesday - R Group

Wednesday - M Group

Thursday - O Group

Friday - R Group

Nuts and Bolts

Attendance (Staff)

Attendance meetings have been extremely productive. I want to reiterate how absolutely critical it is that everyone to make every possible effort to be at school every single day. I will join you in the effort to be here daily for our students and staff. I certainly understand that when major events arise, it will necessitate an absence. When you absolutely have to be out, you are asked to follow the proper protocols (subfinder, subplans, departmental communication) so learning can continue while you are absent. Remember, if you are on duty, that needs to be communicated to your substitute as well. In particular, I want us to watch Monday/Friday absences where we are normally short on subs across the district. When this happens, we will have no choice to start using teachers to cover (unfilled sub classrooms). Make every possible attempt to be here every day.


Bell Schedule (14-15)

The schedule for next year is inserted here. Teachers will have additional planning for next year. To improve structure and reduce tardiness and traffic patterns, we will be clustering students based on their core academic teachers. They will still travel to exploratory classes. Mr. Hutto is putting the finishing touches on those assignments. Relax, room changes are minimal to non-existent and those are only intended to cluster kids for movement reasons.


Class Changes (Reminder)

Thanks so much to everyone for standing at your doors between class changes. An area to pay close attention to is the hallways from 8:13-8:20 and dismissal at 3:35. We must unite and be consistent with this practice. Remember, not only do we control the classrooms but also the the campus common areas as well. Students should not be loitering, hanging out, visiting vending machines, or using this time to socialize. They only have five minutes to get to class. We are not doing a good job of ushering students to class as evidenced by the 604 referrals that have been written for tardies (38%). As it relates to lunch dismissals, make sure you follow the approximate time frames for the beginning and ending of each lunch period.


Duty Supervision

Several days ago, there was an incident during enrichment time where two students got into an altercation that was recorded via an electronic device. The recording went on for about two minutes before any staff intervention. This should never happen. I always tell parents that students are always a few feet away from assistance. When on duty, let's break up the staff conversation groups, circulate among the kids, keep your eyes/ears open and take immediate action when an incident arises and avoid all negligent situations.


Electronic Devices

Thanks so much for uniting with me in the effort to correct inappropriate electronic device usage on our campus. I am fielding many clarifying questions from students, staff, and parents. I will make this short and sweet:


1. Device usage privileges are suspended until we complete the following:

a. enrichment lessons on proper device usage on campus, how to be a digital citizen,

and how to establish an appropriate digital footprint.

b. all students sign a pledge to properly use devices on campus

c. all students take and pass an assessment with an 85% passage rate

2. When this is complete, we will consider restoring "leisure time" device usage privileges

3. Devices can still be used in classes for instructional reasons only (with the permission of the teacher). They must be put away and turned off at all times outside of classrooms.


EOY Exam Schedule

The exam schedule for the last week of school is as follows:

May 29th . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ELA (1), Science

May 30th . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ELA (2), Science

June 2nd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Math, Social Studies

June 3rd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Math, Social Studies

June 4th . Half-Day for Students . Exploratory Classes (Special Schedule)

June 5th . . Half-Day for Students . . .Make-up Exams (Special Schedule)

June 6th . . Half-Day for Students . . .Make-up Exams (Special Schedule)


Snow Day Make-up

Per my email from 3/26/14, June 6th will now be a school day (1/2 day). The last three days will be half days. We will use the morning of June 7th as our check-out day for all individuals who cannot get checked out by 5:00pm on June 6th. Mr. Hutto will be sending out an updated assessment calendar.


Student Dress Code

As the weather warms up a little, we will see an increase in students violating the dress code. I want all enrichment classes to review the following expectations:

1. Getting to class on time (Tardy Policy)

2. Dress Code

3. Class Behavior

Magnet Minute

Expeditionary Learning: And the results are in...Irmo Middle School, the International Academic Magnet, is officially the newest member school in the Expeditionary Learning network - making us only the third school in South Carolina to join this powerful, connected community of outstanding educators, administrators, and researchers. As it's been explained all year, EL is a "grass roots" network that will not enter into a partnership with just any interested school. Inquiring schools must demonstrate a very serious commitment and desire to impact teaching and learning for all students, and EL must be able to gauge personal "buy-in" from staff. Our year's worth of exploration through on and off-site professional development, coupled with the results of our recent readiness survey (detailed results will be shared at the upcoming faculty workshop), provided Expeditionary Learning with an overwhelming confidence that our school is committed to enacting change for the betterment of our students, our community, and ourselves as educators! Thank you ALL of your willingness, eagerness, and passion in regards to this new chapter of teaching and learning at IMS.


Thematic Instruction - Our last and final instructional theme for the year,Social Injustice, will continue on throughout April. If you have not a chance already, please teach at least one explicit lesson over the next month that ties this theme into your specific content. There has been powerful evidence of this theme across our campus already - for example: students heard about "Development Hegemony" in Hong Kong during one of last Friday's USC ambassador workshops and are exploring toilet inequities in Ms. O'Reilly's art classes.


Laser Focus - As we begin to plan for next year, remember that transformation occurs "over time, not overnight" and that our laser focus for next year is Crew. In regards to Project ACCESS, 2014-2015 is considered year one for actual magnet implementation (of course, we are already well on our way!) - but that means that we will be challenged to dig deeper in our magnet theme on a more consistent basis. For instance, instead of one themed lesson per month - it's imperative that global connections start to become a component of every unit and reflected throughout each classroom in our school. BUT, our EL professional development focus is on Crew - not curriculum or instruction. This is just a calming reminder so that you don't begin to suffer from anxieties rooted in thoughts like: "I don't know enough about EL protocols!" or "How do I decorate my classroom to reflect EL for next year?" Remember: over TIME, not over NIGHT. In the spirit of maintaining a laser focus on Crew, three groups of teachers, counselors, and administrators will be observing Crew sessions in action at River Bluff High School at the end of April.

Student Advisory (CREW) at WHEELS

SPED Exchange

Spring IEPs update

Annual IEP season starts April 21 (Monday following Spring Break). Please continue to check you calendars as meetings are being scheduled and invitations are being emailed and added to the calendar daily. There are several different areas where meetings will be held, so please make note of the meeting’s location as well. If you have a conflict for a meeting you are scheduled for, please let Leisa McNeil know as soon as possible so that she can find a suitable representative to participate in your place at the meeting. This will allow all teachers enough time to plan accordingly, and allow this process to run as smoothly as possible. Thank you, and we look forward working with you in the meetings!

PASS "Thank You"

Thank you to everyone who worked with our students. You were very much appreciated, and we look forward to working with you again in May. You helped our students do their very best!

Finishing IrmoSTRONG

With the last quarter now upon us, please continue to work with the respective casemanagers on any questions or concerns you may have for your special education students. Collaboration and communication will allow the casemanagers to provide you the necessary support - through addressing student work, behavior, and strategies – that will help the student be successful. This final push will allow each special education student the opportunity to reach their full potential!

Closing Thoughts

This week's Friday Forecast contains a calendar to guide our week ahead and events on the horizon. This week, everyone must have a laser like focus on energizing your lessons and possessing a growth mindset. Make sure you review the image included.


Now for engagement! Imagine this, when watching television, all of us have come across, what we think, is a a really good show. Within the first minute or two of a TV show, we’ve made a decision: Is this show worth watching or not? The first few minutes of class are no different; students know whether the lesson will be engaging. In fact, some students decide before they get to class (based on the history) which results in tardies. To inspire and engage students in learning avoid these engagement killers:


  • I’m going to come around and check your homework.
  • Read through the roster to take attendance. Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, for example, only introduce the contestants after game play has started.
  • Give a graded quiz (students who do poorly may shut down).
  • Read announcements. Could you imagine a television show starting with the credits?


When students walk into your classroom their curiosity should be piqued and their imaginations stimulated. Excite them. Six simple ways to energize your lessons!


  1. Ask students to make a guess or a prediction. We kill the love of learning by simply giving the answer. By asking the question first, students will be motivated to find the answers. I observed a science class where the teacher had posted a picture of a robin's eggs on the projector. Individually students were asked to hypothesize, why are robin eggs blue? Every student was hooked. They wanted to know the answer.
  2. A two or three minute video clip can effectively introduce a topic or plant in their minds what they’re about to learn. The brevity of news stories lends themselves perfectly to this.
  3. Give students a prop as they enter your classroom. These can be elaborate or simple. A math teacher gave students a golf ball and asked them to count the number of dimples (he later showed them a way to accurately figure it out using math and not simply counting). A world history teacher gave students a piece of paper with a role that the students would assume throughout the class. Students were hooked.
  4. In a BYOD classroom, post a QR code for students to scan.
  5. Use art or music as a prompt. Ask students to respond to a song or artwork or have them create a drawing of their own.
  6. Have students respond to a controversial statement.


As an iAM teacher, our success depends on your ability to engage students in a very effective manner. If students aren’t hooked at the start of the lesson, chances are they won’t be engaged at the middle or end. Strive to start each class with an activity that will energize your students and inspire them to learn. What are some of your favorite ways to hook and engage students?


It is my hope that the calendar entries, reminders, and videos will allow you to plan accordingly, engage your students, and develop new ideas and strategies for maximizing your performance and getting us across the finish line with better results than last year.


Let's stand by each other, remain #IrmoSTRONG, and meet/exceed our performance goals.

Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Principal

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