The Bare Necessities

September 2018

Dear Colleagues,

It is hard to believe we are a month in! The first weeks of school go by in such a blur. I would like to thank you for making this a tremendous start for our students. The excitement on the quad has been palpable. I have had fun checking in with new staff members, and one of them remarked on how much they loved hearing that the most common intervention offered at this point in the year is "We need to love them up!"


Open House was an amazing success. I had board members, parents, fellow administrators from other buildings, and community members comment on the high level of professionalism and excitement that they felt walking out of your classrooms. They also enjoyed the pizza and ice cream, along with the helpful information provided in the resource fair. A huge thank you to the counseling office who upped our senior parent attendance by providing a special meeting relevant to them.


I am going into my fourth year as Principal, and seventh year as an administrator in this amazing place, and I still can't believe how lucky I am to be here. Thank you all.


In gratitude,


Erika

Reminders

  • One of the readings we did in the last staff meeting was from Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond. If you are interested in having a copy of this book, please e-mail me. We will be sending an order in next week. It is one of the best resources I have read on this topic.
  • Our computers are FULL of confidential information. Thank you for consistently locking your computer when you walk away, and closing your e-mail before projecting your screen to the class.
  • It is important for school safety that all staff know when we are having a drill versus when it is an unplanned alarm. It is equally important that we do not share the timing of drill's with students in advance. Thank you for treating this information as confidential.

Accreditation Time!

Can you believe it has been five years? AHS is up for accreditation again this year. We are scheduled for April 8-9. I have spent time reviewing what the team is looking for, and went as a member of an accreditation team last year. Because I have no doubt that we will be accredited, and we have the year to prepare, I am grateful for the opportunity to look at the best practices. It is a good opportunity to reflect on the areas that we are doing exceptionally well, and where we might focus on improvement.


In both the SALT team and PAC we will be conducting a self-assessment. Additionally, students, parents, and all of you will be completing some surveys to see how we are doing. Look forward to more information coming your way.

Learning Targets

I appreciate your thoughtful engagement in our discussion on learning targets last week. Giving students a clear destination, tied to the standards, is critical to student success. I have included an article that provides more detail on how to develop solid learning targets and the rationale.

Professional Learning Communities

The following message was sent via e-mail on 9/17. If you have already read it carefully, feel free to skip.



Professional Learning Communities continue to hold the highest potential for professional growth. With all of the important work we have the privilege to do, it is critical that we are leveraging this time for teaching and learning as much as possible. One of the concerns regarding PLCs at AHS in the past few years is they became a bit scattered and unfocused due to the number of PLCs folks were involved in. Additionally, as an administrative team, we were unable to take part in, or follow along with, the various PLCs. So, we are going to get a bit more streamlined.


In looking back over DuFour’s work he recommended strongly teachers be a member of only one PLC each year. In our framework that is a challenge. With that said, my preference is that you have one PLC that is consistent. For example, a Biology PLC that meets 3 times a month. If that is not possible, I would like for you to have a primary (class specific) PLC and one secondary (either another course, or a specific team). For example, if I am a Spanish teacher who also teaches on a 9th grade team, my Primary PLC would be a Spanish PLC and my secondary PLC would be 9th grade team PLC. Another example might be an Algebra 1A teacher who’s primary PLC is Algebra, and secondary PLC might be a book study on Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics. If you absolutely have to be on 3, please come see me and we can problem solve together.


This coming Wednesday at our PLC reboot meeting we have three purposes:

1. Make sure the framework for 2018-2019 PLCs is clear.

2. Know which 1 (preferred) or 2 PLCs each staff member is in.

3. Ensure that the A-Team knows when and where each PLC is meeting.


As always, if you are a singleton teacher of a subject, and your most effective PLC is with someone off site, we have set up virtual PLCs with folks from other schools using technology in the past. If you are in this situation, please let me know what your plan is.


The Schedule for the year will go like this:


First Wednesday: Staff Meeting

Second Wednesday: Primary PLC

Third Wednesday: Secondary PLC if needed OR Primary PLC

Fourth Wednesday: Primary PLC


To that end, please come on Wednesday with which PLC (or which 2 PLCs) you are planning to be in. The A-Team is designing a SharePoint notebook that will hold your PLC notes for the year. Everyone will then have access to what each PLC is working on. Once we have an idea what PLCs are meeting, we will ask for your assistance in making the regular meeting places consistent and somewhat “regional” so that administrators can find PLCs, observe PLCs in action, and participate as appropriate.


PLCs are our most effective form of embedded, teacher led, evidence based professional development. Thank you for your support in making this year’s PLCs even more impactful.

Evaluation Process

I have so enjoyed my first few days out in classrooms. Watching the skill with which you guide student learning is always inspiring. In a few weeks, the administrative team will be conducting observations for the purpose of inter-rater reliability. Do not be alarmed when you see us all coming at once! This is to ensure our feedback is consistent, regardless of who your evaluator is.


In the next month or so, we will be having our initial meetings. In these meetings, please be prepared to review your self-assessment as well as the data you are using to formulate your student learning goals. I so look forward to these rich conversations on teaching and learning as well as problems of practice. If you have any questions about the process, please reach out. We truly want this process to foster professional growth and are looking forward to the conversations.

Site Council

Tuesday, Sep. 25th, 4pm

I.V.C.

We very much need your help. Site Council is tasked with the very important work of implementing our School Improvement Plan. We will be working on one of the S.I.P. goals:


  • Reducing the Achievement Gap in Language Arts
  • Reducing the Achievement Gap in Math
  • Creating a safe and welcoming environment

This is a once a month commitment and it will be so much more effective if we have a representative group of parents, students and STAFF! Thank you in advance for considering.


Homecoming Week!

Monday, Oct. 1st, 9pm

AHS

Homecoming week is fast approaching! Look for fun spirit days ahead. Wednesday October 3 will be our homecoming parade, football game on October 5, and dance on October 6th. It is not too late to join the teacher dance! Come be a star-the kids LOVE it. If you have any interest in chaperoning the Homecoming dance on October 6th, please let Jay P. know. It is always fun to see kids dressed up and having a good time.
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