Sipley School Weekly Howl

Week of Monday, February 15, 2016

When students see the classroom as the large supermarket that values efficiency over humanity, many will fight back. When they perceive the classroom as the corner store, they feel welcome and valued (I hope all of you know the feel of a corner store - I may be dating myself...).

Discipline with Dignity

Danielson 4d: Participating in a Professional Community

Please take a close look at the rubric for 4d. The picture below is difficult to see, but you have access to the document in StaffShare. Note the distinction between NEEDS IMPROVEMENT and PROFICIENT in this area.


Teacher maintains CORDIAL relationships with colleagues to fulfill duties that the school or district requires. Teacher PARTICIPATES IN the school's culture of PROFESSIONAL INQUIRY WHEN INVITED to do so. Teacher PARTICIPATES in school events and school and district projects WHEN SPECIFICALLY ASKED.


Teacher's relationships with colleagues are characterized by MUTUAL support and cooperation. Teacher ACTIVELY participates in a culture of PROFESSIONAL INQUIRY. Teacher VOLUNTEERS to participate in school events and in school and district projects, making a SUBSTANTIAL contribution.

So you see that in order to earn a proficient in this area, you'll have to go above and beyond attending Monday Meetings, PLCs, mid-day collaboration, etc. Examples of regularly participating in a culture of professional inquiry include, but are not limited to, the following (and none of which include being invited by the principal)...

  • Attending and participating in Internal University courses or engaging in any other professional job-related coursework
  • Actively attending, participating in, and facilitating PLCs when coach or principal is not present
  • Engaging in professional reading on a regular basis AND applying it in classroom
  • Visiting other classrooms to observe colleagues
  • Meeting with colleagues outside the building to learn from others
  • Using the instructional coach to model lessons and regular implementation of what was learned
  • Trying something NOT required by the district (i.e. Genius Hour, Team Teaching, Guided Math, etc.)
  • Taking initiative to learn more about social emotional learning, math workshop, writer's workshop, reader's workshop, conferencing, etc. and then implementing it in your classroom
  • Not waiting for the district to provide your professional development, but rather taking the initiative to learn something on your own

Going to a conference one time per year does not constitute actively participating in a culture of professional inquiry. Also, note the word MUTUAL in the proficient category. Do you support your colleagues as much as they support you? Do you offer them ideas, resources, etc?

Please reach out to me if you need further clarification or advice on how you can strengthen this area, if necessary.

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Social Emotional Learning: Revisiting the Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment

Since Winter Break, the number of office discipline referrals have increased to concerning levels. This has caused me to analyze the collected information with some staff members and to plan for improvement.

To make time for discussion on this important topic, I am using time on Monday, February 22, 2016 to talk about social emotional learning (please take the PARCC Math Practice Test on your own, or even better, with your teaching partner - this was previously schedule for this date).

The Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment is our Tier I and nearly all staff have been trained in the Seven Keys. We will reconnect with the Seven Keys. While we reconnect, Kim and I will take staff beyond the Seven Keys to take a deeper dive into social emotional learning.

We will use mid-day collaboration time, beginning on February 23 and we will use as many mid-day sessions, as needed, to grapple with philosophical ideologies related to discipline and behavior. We will meet from 11:50 - 12:20, starting on 2/23.

During our mid-day sessions, we will learn new strategies that will help our students learn improved decision making in the absence of authority. I will ask classroom teachers to use the Thursday time when we do not have DEB to focus on SEL. This will be a dedicated time to teach SEL and it can begin right away. PLEASE DO NOT THINK YOU CAN ONLY TEACH SEL ON THURSDAY - YOU CAN TEACH IT AS NEEDED. As mentioned, teachers will learn strategies and become familiar with resources they can use to teach SEL. Until then, all teachers can open space for students to talk about their feelings, their emotions, or the classroom environment overall. All except Pete, Wendy, and Chris have been trained in Caring School Community, so classroom meetings are not new to a vast majority of you.

I encourage everyone to think more about their classroom and our school. I would hope that your own professional inquiry (Danielson 4a) will lead you to some independent research or reading on this topic. I am currently reading Discipline with Dignity to learn alternative ways to think about behavior. I bought the book Friday night and I am nearly half-way done as I type this newsletter. I chose this book with some familiarity with the author(s) and it's close relationship to Teaching With Love and Logic, a philosophy or approach my wife and I use to raise Tyler and Allie.

Before we begin talking about SEL, I would like you to determine which mindset you subscribe to - one of intervention or one of prevention?

Those with an intervention mindset, according to the authors, assumes students are going to misbehave and thinks about what to do after it happens. Here is an example of an intervention mind-set: A teacher writes a number on the board that indicates the amount of play minutes the students get at the end of the day. Every time a student does something disruptive or inappropriate, a minute is removed. This mind-set basically says, "I'm just waiting for you to screw up. And when you do, I will be ready to catch you." This type of teacher creates fear inside the classroom.

Unfortunately, I think the way in which the three-step process has been used along with the consequences that are given to students (from my office - teachers have to think about their own classroom here - I am calling myself out with this statement), fall under this mindset. Our schoolwide consequences, used in the current manner, align with this mindset. Our school-wide consequences create fear in our school. And as many of you have learned, that fear doesn't alter behavior. In fact, our "consequences" are not consequences at all, they are punishments: something done to others with the goal being to achieve the proper amount of misery so that the behavior will not recur (i.e. time in office, detention, suspension). A consequence is what we do to ourselves, thus the outcome can't be predetermined. If you are late to the airport, your consequence is missing your flight - you do it to yourself. Punishment would be posting your name on the monitor in the terminal or making you write 100 times, I will not be late.... More on all this in the weeks ahead.

The prevention mindset is very different. It assumes students are going to behave appropriately and looks for ways to generate success. This mind-set gets students looking for positive things to do. Prevention starts with defining the difference between fair and equal. It doesn't mean that there are no consequences.... More on that in the weeks ahead.

Which mindset is defined by your actions?

The Three-Step Process

We are suspending the Three-Step Process. Upon further review and discussion, it is currently not being used as intended. We want to bring better support to our students who are in need and we want to foster an environment built on positivity and inclusion verse exclusion. If you have a student who has been leaving your room on a fairly regular basis, as part of the three-step process, please send the child to the office, if necessary. If a student is in need of that level of support, I want to make sure the student sees our social worker or someone who can work with that child to help them learn new ways they can improve their behavior.

Positive Reinforcement - Key #2

We are going to get better at positively recognizing all students and positive student behaviors. Please have PRIDE tickets on you at all times so that you can recognize all that our students are doing well. Each staff member should sign the back of the PRIDE ticket they give, as we have done in the past.

  1. One teacher will receive a Jimmy John’s lunch on Friday. A Ticket will be drawn on Thursday.

  2. We will have a PRIDE Prize Chest that student winners can draw a prize from. This will be in addition to their picture and name being called. STP has given us $800 for prizes. Our stretch goal is to recognize 100% of our students between now and the end of the year. Perhaps a random visit to the prize chest may be needed, in addition to the students called weekly! I hope to begin this in two weeks, once the items arrive!

A Glance at the Week Ahead

Monday - No School

Tuesday - Happy Birthday to Nicole DeLambo!

Tuesday - I will be out in the afternoon for the Grading and Assessment Committee Mtg.

Wednesday - 6th Grade PLC - 8:25 - 9:15

Wednesday - 3rd Grade PLC - 9:20 - 10:10

Wednesday - 4th Grade PLC - 10:15 - 11:05

Wednesday - 1st Grade PLC - 2:05 - 2:55

Wednesday - Kdg. PLC - 3:00 - 3:30

Wednesday - STP Meeting - 6:45

Thursday - 5th Grade PLC - 8:25 - 9:15

Thursday - I will be out of the building for my own evaluation 10:00 - 11:00

Thursday - IEP meeting that I will attend at 12:00

Thursday - 2nd Grade PLC - 1:15 - 2:05

Thursday - Title I/Principal meeting at 2:10

Saturday - Daddy/Daughter Dance

Inspiring Education and Innovation

In partnership with family and community, Woodridge School District 68 provides a comprehensive educational foundation for all children in a safe, caring environment, preparing them to be productive, responsible, and successful members of society.

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