Learning Together

Office of Instruction Newsletter - September 2022

Off to a Terrific Start!

Message from Troy D. Olin, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction

It is incredible to experience the positive energy that our staff and students brought with them on the first week of classes. From our kindergarten friends settling in and the numerous staff helping them navigate their first days, to our sixth-graders attempting to open the combination locks on their lockers and the staff teaching them how many turns and when to stop, to the excitement of our high school seniors experiencing their last first day of school at Gates Chili. Based on the number of smiles, it was clear that your time planning and preparing for a successful school year was worth the effort.

Thank you to our staff who worked with our students in the elementary and secondary summer programs, participated in the curriculum writing process, worked collaboratively with building and district leadership teams, and participated in professional learning throughout the summer.

Our team looks forward to collaborating with each of you to continue the great work happening throughout the classroom. We have new faces who have joined the team since the start of last year and one of them is Teri Marsh. Please join me in welcoming Teri back to Gates Chili.

Teri Marsh, Coordinator of Student and Staff Success

I am honored to be re-joining the Gates Chili team as the Coordinator of Student and Staff Success. As I begin my 20th year in education, I am fortunate to have had the privilege to learn and grow alongside some amazing students, educators, and leaders, first as a high school science teacher at Greece Olympia, and then an assistant principal at Gates Chili Middle School and Penfield High School. The experiences I have had in these roles have provided me with a great foundation, and I am excited to be back in Gates Chili and to continue to support the amazing things happening here every day for kids!

As I transition into this new position, my priority will be to first build relationships and gain insight into the intricacies of our UPK-12 staff and learning spaces. It is important for me to first understand what to celebrate, and then collaboratively work to identify ongoing and differentiated learning opportunities and systems of support to continue to enhance our instructional practices and support our district priorities. I look forward to meeting each of you over the next few weeks and working and learning together to help everyone thrive!

Summer Updates

This summer, teachers from more than 20 departments spent time collaborating to align and enhance their instructional units as we work toward our goal of organizing our curriculum in a way that will lead to consistent, equitable, rigorous instruction for all students.

A few highlights include:

  • Elementary art developed common projects and units. Stay tuned for more about their districtwide and vertically-aligned "We are Gates Chili" project!
  • K-5 Counselors updated their units to align with the new ASCA standards
  • 3-5 ELA focused on revisions to writing assessments
  • Elementary classroom teachers worked with School Nurse Teacher and Health Content Leader Madalyn Zulauf to update the nutrition unit at each grade level
  • Middle school science teachers developed common experiences for students that will be using their new outdoor classroom
  • Social studies teachers from middle school and high school levels incorporated resources from the Antiracist Curriculum Project as well as the Monroe County Race, Class and Inequities Project into their curriculum units
  • World Language teachers from middle school and high school worked together to begin updating their units to reflect the revised NYS World Language Standards
  • A group of teachers worked on developing our process, communication and requirements for the Seal of Civic Readiness. This special graduation designation will be offered to students beginning in the 2023-24 school year. We will begin sharing information about this very soon!
  • Performance tasks were developed by many departments to ensure rigorous learning activities.

Be sure to reach out to your content, department or curriculum leaders for more information about your grade level or course curriculum units in Atlas. If you are having trouble accessing Atlas, please contact Lindsay DiMartino.

This spring, we will again be offering an updated version of our PD sessions on the curriculum development process. This will be required for anyone planning to participate in next summer's work. More information about this will be coming later in the school year.

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Rigor in Gates Chili

In Gates Chili, “Excellence for All Learners” comes to life through an intentional focus on rigor within our curriculum, assessment and instruction. ​

For our students, rigor is a culturally responsive approach to their personal learning. Students are challenged to develop higher order thinking skills and apply a depth of understanding stemming from the integration of academic and social-emotional skills. Through inquiry-based and authentic learning experiences, these skills are routinely practiced, reflected upon and refined.

This framework helps to define our instructional focus and is used as an anchor for decision-making within the Office of Instruction. ​Last year, we spent time in your faculty meetings focusing on each component of rigor so that we could deepen our understanding of this framework together.

Moving forward this year, we will continue to visit your buildings, with a focus on applying rigorous practices through department-specific goals. Teacher leaders will be sharing and looking for your input as they develop a "Road to Rigor" plan that will outline your department's accomplishments and goals.

Look out for future issues of the "Learning Together" newsletter on the first Friday of each month this school year!