Secondary Spotlight

January 3, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy, Happy New Year to each of you! I hope you had a wonderful winter break! There is always so much talk about New Year's Resolution. I am sure each of you, at some point, have made a New Year's Resolution, but have you made a school New Year's Resolution? Take a moment, reflect, and craft a resolution you would like to make for your school this semester.

Over the break, I read the book, "The Fundamental 5", by Sean Cain and Mike Laird. This read provides a solid formula for improving instruction. Interestingly enough, the book begins with a comparison between effective instruction and a resolution to diet and lose weight. This resolution is a simple statement to make but without a formulated plan, the resolution often fails. Cain lists six reasons why most diet resolutions fail:

1. not having a good plan- "I will eat this cupcake and watch TV frame of mind"

2. not having the desire- "not having the intrinsic motivation for change, indifferent about the current situation"

3. procrastination- "I will start the diet over again tomorrow"

4. not having support- "giving into the temptation cupcake"

5. not recognizing the opportunity loss- "seizing opportunities that support your weight loss goal"

6. no method to gauge progress

The above 6 pitfalls of a diet resolution can also be found in the failure to provide effective instruction. Teachers must have a plan, have support from teacher leaders and principals, seek opportunities to learn from successful teachers, seize instructional opportunities daily, and check student progress constantly and consistently. The Fundamental 5 include 5 critical practices that represent the core of high yielding instruction:

1. Frame the lesson - I can statements/ learning targets and essential questions that reflects higher order questioning

2. Work in the Power Zone- this is proximity instruction - working the classroom - not sitting behind a desk or standing in front of the classroom

3. Frequent, Small Group, Purposeful Talk about the Learning

4. Recognize and Reinforce- this is the climate and learning piece- recognizing student successes and reinforcing this in the classroom

5. Write Critically- "writing is a systematic process for learning essential meanings"(Paul and Edder, 2007.) Writing should not be taught in isolation. Writing should be frequent, intentional, and purposeful (connected practice).

So, what does your school's New Year hold? Ask your teachers to draft their "New Year's Resolution" as it relates to instruction. How does it relate to your school's New Year's Resolution? This could be a great springboard to gather input for PD to include this semester or even a way to introduce the Fundamental 5 in your building. The January memos will highlight each of the 5 components in this book. I will also be referencing this book at our principal round tables as well.

Good luck with your school's New Year's resolution. Remember, a plan on paper is just that... words... It's all about the action steps we take. What will your next steps include?

Happy New Year!



  • Please make sure you have entered evidence into your PLP for November and December
  • High school principal round table January 5- 9:00-10:30 @ Grissom High School
  • Middle school principal round table January 19- 8:30-10 @ McNair Jr. High School

  • Self- Monitoring Plan
-Share with faculty

-Begin honors and AP recruitment

  • One on One Principal Data Meetings will be held on January 19th ( Finley's schools) to prepare for site data meetings the following week. We will also discuss your SMART goals and your next steps.

Upcoming Events

January 5- High School Principal Round Table -9:00, Grissom High School

- Students return

January 5- 13 STAR WINDOW

January 11- Report cards go home

January 12- Principals' Meeting- you will conduct Instructional Rounds on this day

January 13- Proof of Residency Window opens

January 14- Principally Speaking

Board Meeting- block schedule presentations ( all high school principals

are encouraged to attend)

January 18- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday- No School

January 19- Middle School Principal Round Table 8:30-10:00, McNair

January 19- Principal Data Meetings( Finley's schools)

January 20- Digital 1:1 tour ( school TBD)

January 21- Vertical team meetings ( location TBD)

January 25-29 SITE DATA

January 29- LTF training

February 1- ACCESS window opens

February 1-5 National School Counselor Week

February 2- Principals' Meeting

February 9- ACT WORK KEYS for 12th grade

February 12- BUILT IN SNOW DAY- possibly no school

February 15- BUILT IN SNOW DAY- possibly no school

February 17- LIFE PE Waivers due to Secondary Programs

February 24- Graduation Planning meeting with principals and senior counselors, 2:30-3:30 - Merts

February 27 - i Register for rising 6th through 12th grade- VBS 10:00-2:00

Resource Corner

The Gates Foundation has prepared a host of websites that provide resources to teachers - from rubrics to assessments. Check it out...

Math website for Algebra I and above

Thought for the Week

"The single greatest determinate of learning is not socio-economic factors or funding levels. It is instruction."~ Mike Schmoker