Common Sense

Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern News - December 14, 2015

About the Title

Common Sense was a pamphlet authored by Thomas Paine in 1775-76. It was written to inspire American colonists to declare independence from British Rule at the beginning of The Revolution. This weekly, modern, online relative of that pamphlet documents the news, events, updates, and celebrations of the TJ Revolution - the educational sensation sweeping through northwest Dallas.

TJ Feeder Pattern News in Brief

Executive Director's Message

Team TJ,

The final week of the first semester has arrived - this is the final edition of Common Sense for 2015!!

We are about to be bombarded with data. Student achievement data will be delivered in the form of ACP results. Climate survey results will paint a picture of each campus' culture. And mid-year review will provide us a glimpse of the quality of instruction.

While winter break is definitely a time to relax; this is also an important moment to reflect. I look forward to partnering with school leaders over the course of the next few weeks to take stock of progress made thus far, and plan for even more success in the future.

Have a great week with students!

Timothy J. Hise

Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern

How to Help Teachers Stay in Love with the Classroom

from Marshall Memo #615

In this Education Week article, Scott Sterling says that after five years teaching middle school in a high-poverty district in Florida, he felt burned out and left the classroom. He misses the relationships with students and the feeling of making a difference in their lives, and offers five suggestions for what school leaders can do if they want to keep their best teachers from suffering a similar fate:

  • Orchestrate staff bonding and collaboration. Teacher collegiality shouldn’t be based on random friendships and cliques, says Sterling. Grade-level, subject-area, and cross-curricular meetings need to be built into the schedule, and agendas should focus on planning units and lessons and examining student learning results, not administrative matters (which should be handled in e-mails and memos).
  • Provide high-quality professional development. “Rah-rah speeches and deep dives into neurological research might be entertaining or even engaging,” says Sterling, “but they rarely translate into a difference in the classroom.” Better to ask teachers what will be helpful and organize truly relevant PD, some of it led by colleagues.
  • Give staff members a voice in schoolwide affairs. “Set aside some time, either during a faculty meeting or at a separate gathering, to have a constructive conversation about how the school is working for everyone,” he suggests. To prevent the conversation from being hijacked by a minority of negative staff members, conduct a survey beforehand that gives the whole faculty a chance to choose from a range of possible issues.
  • Challenge teachers within their success zone. “Successful teachers can sometimes get bored with being successful,” says Sterling. “Stagnation leads to burnout. Burnout leads to teachers leaving.” But it’s not always a good idea to assign these teachers to very challenging students or give them a radically different schedule, he says. Better to encourage pre-burnout teachers to try a new curriculum or a classroom practice at the edge of their comfort zone.
  • Find opportunities for district-wide impact. Some successful teachers want to move on to district-level or school-leadership positions, but many want to stay in the classroom. Smart district leaders find ways for these teachers to have broader impact and get the recognition they deserve – perhaps leading district webinars, temporary coaching assignments, or short-term interventions helping teachers at another school. “Coaching from district personnel is one thing,” says Sterling. “Coaching from a mentor-teacher who is still in the classroom every day is quite another.”

“Extinguishing a Burnout: Actionable Ideas to Keep Teachers Engaged in Their Careers” by Scott Sterling in Education Week, December 2, 2015 (Vol. 35, #13, p. 28),

Leadership Quote of the Week

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Week At-A-Glance

Monday, December 14, 2015
  • Walnut Hill ES - Mid-Year Review (8:45-10:45am)
  • Dallas Summer Solution Luncheon (11:30am-1pm)
  • Cary MS - Dollar General Special Event (2-3pm)
  • HCM Winter Hiring Event @ Bush ES (4-6:30pm)
  • AP Focus Group @ Haskell (4-6pm)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

  • ED Meeting @ Haskell (7:30-8:30am)
  • Foster ES Campus Visit (11am-12:30pm)
  • Cary MS - Mid-Year Review (1-3pm)
  • Summer School Planning Meeting @ Haskell (3:30-4:30pm)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

  • Thomas Jefferson HS - Mid-Year Review (9-11am)
  • Districtwide Principals' Meeting @ Hulcy (1-5pm)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

  • TJ Feeder Holiday Breakfast @ Original Pancake House (7-8:30am)
  • Foster ES - Mid-Year Review (10:30am-12:30pm)
  • Medrano MS - Mid-Year Review (2-4pm)

Friday, December 18, 2015

  • ED Meeting @ Haskell (7:30-8:30am)
  • School Leadership Meeting @ Haskell (8:30-10:30am)
  • AC Fall Cohort Debrief Mtg @ Burnet ES (11am-12pm)