The Monday Message

Office of the Principal; Monday, March 16, 2015

ibuzz February Edition

2/28 iBuzz News Show

Quote for the Week!

Sometimes it is the people that no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine. ~ The Imitation Game!

Duty Roster for the Week

Duty Roster

Monday - Teacher/ Student Holiday (No Duty)

Tuesday - R Group on duty (Thur on Duty)

Wednesday - M Group on duty (Sava on Duty)

Thursday - O Group on duty (Inabinet)

Friday - M Group on duty


Reminder - At the request of several teachers, everyone is receiving a remind message on Thursday evening of each week, calling attention to the Friday duty assignments.

MAP Testing at Irmo Middle

Tuesday, March 10th, 8:15am to Wednesday, March 18th, 3:30pm

Irmo Middle School

Click here for the MAP schedule.


We cannot convey enough the importance of students doing their best on MAP testing and teachers working closely with your classroom neighbors in ensuring that students have an environment conducive to optimal results. Please speak to all classes about the importance of MAP testing.

The Week Ahead

Black Week - Classes Meet 1-2-3-4-5-6


National Nutrition Month, National Social Workers Month, National Women's History Month, National Youth Art Month


Monday (16th) - Teacher/Student Holiday

Tuesday (17th) - St. Patricks Day (Be Lucky, Wear Green), Student Government Mtg (7:45am, Rm. 812), Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Admin Meeting (9:30am, Cafe'), Department Mtgs (3:50pm, Dept Chair Classrooms), Irmo Cluster SIC/PTSO Mtg (IHS Auditorium; 7:00pm)

Wednesday (18th) - Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Restorative Practices PD Orientation for Admin (9-11am, FCR), Principal's Meeting (12-4pm, DO Board Room)

Thursday (19th) - Grounds Maintenance (park vehicles off the curb), Crew (8:20-8:50)

Friday (20th) - Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), First Day of Spring, Girls Night Out, World Water Day, International Day of Happiness, World StoryTelling Day

Tasks to Complete This Week!

1. Teach like a champion every period, every day!

2. Renew your pledge to honoring our Teacher Behavior Commitments

3. Attend Tuesday's Department Meetings after school (3:50pm; Designated Locations)

4. Incorporate the topics specified in the weekly calendar in your lesson plans and activities. Make sure you are making specific connections to the experiences of our students as well as cross curricular planning and connections.

5. Everyone report to duty as scheduled. See roster here.

6. Read the Monday Message in its entirety (including the articles linked and inserted). Also view the video clips, reflect, and adjust your practices where needed.

7. Review this week's Crew lesson and prepare for Thursday.

8. Continue working with your bubble kids and planning additional instructional activities and supporting lessons to ensure that they meet their goals on the spring MAP assessment.

March Staff Birthdays

Tammie Hardy, March 11th

Brandi Clarkson, March 25th

Marilyn Constante, March 31st


Please join me in wishing these staff members a happy birthday.

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We have several shout outs this week:


1. Mrs. Sandra Jensen - Join me in congratulating Mrs. Jensen on a job well done with the Ronald McDonald Charity Basketball Game. Our students were buzzing with excitement as they got to use the game that so many of them love to do a good deed for charity. Because of Mrs. Jensen's leadership and the involvement of Becan Floyd, we were able to see another example of IMS embracing the EL design principle of service and compassion. Let's give Mrs. Jensen a huge iAM shout out!


2. Mrs. Haley Calore - Join me in congratulating Mrs. Haley Calore and our orchestra performers for an amazing job in the recent concert festival. Because of the hard work of Mrs. Calore, our students, and their parents, our orchestra earned an Excellent rating at the South Carolina Music Educators Association Concert Festival. Let's give Mrs. Calore and all of our orchestra performers involved a huge iAM shout out. They represented our school in a distinctive manner and performed exceptionally well. Congrats Mrs. Calore and students.


3. Mrs. Regan Moore and Mrs. Jen Cook - Once again, Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Cook have found a way to supplement their classroom instruction with grant monies. Last week, we were notified that Mrs. Moore was awarded a 250.00 Richland Soil and Water Conservation District Service Learning Grant to advance the learning outcomes of our students. We also received a Donor Choose grant to help launch the project. We our students in engage in meaningful learning and service, they performance better academically and as a result, get better outcomes. Let's give Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Cook a huge iAM shout out!.


4. Ms. Cynthia O'Reilly, Mr. Trey Simmons, and Mr. Johnny Cooley - This past week, Dr. Hefner received a very nice note from a parent lauding the professionalism, collaboration, and togetherness of Mr. Cooley, Mr. Simmons, and Ms. O'Reilly. As the student and parent were working through the scheduling process, they had many questions. When getting those questions answered, she discovered that Ms. O'Reilly, Mr. Simmons, and Mr. Cooley were very encouraging, respectful of all programs, and a willingness to think outside the box to create a customized learning environment for the students. Actions like these are long lasting and will surely increase the number of students and families who chose iAM in the future. Here is an excerpt from her correspondence "I realize that there is a certain innate "competition" to different programs, especially in magnet schools. However, I was impressed with the teachers in their compliments toward the teachers in the "other" programs and the way they encouraged my daughter to have the broadest education possible, even if meant not being in their particular class.You have some incredible teachers at Irmo Middle and my family appreciates them very much. Let's give Ms. O'Reilly, Mr. Simmons, and Mr. Cooley a huge iAM shout out.

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AdvancED Accreditation

I have been informed that Irmo Middle School will not be visited as part of our District's AdvancED visit. The schools that will be visited are as follows:


Leaphart Elementary

Oak Pointe Elementary

Crossroads Middle

Dutch Fork Middle

Chapin High School

Spring Hill High School.


In this week's Principal's Meeting, I will learn if there are any additional things for us to do to ensure that as a school system, we are reaccredited. When I get that information, I will pass it along to you.


Attendance (Staff) - Update

Last week the teacher attendance rate was 96% (12 absences) and the entire staff attendance rate was 96% (29 absences). This past week was a much better week. Thanks so much for your dedication to serving our students every single day. We fell one point short of accomplishing our goal. I am confident that we will rebound even stronger this week. I continue to remain optimistic that we will have an average attendance rate of 97% for the year. We can make that happen by everyone coming to work on a daily basis. As always, it is absolutely critical that everyone make every effort possible to be here each and every day. I will join you in those collective efforts. When you need to be out, please follow the proper protocols and prepare excellent plans for your students. Remember, if you are on duty, that needs to be communicated to your substitute as well.


ESEA Waiver

During our February PD Workshop, I informed everyone that as soon as I received any new information regarding the ESEA Waiver, I would forward that information to you. I have obtained that information in both long and short formats as well as a video. Here is the link to the long format, short form, and video


Teacher Behavior Commitments (Feedback from Student Council)

Last week, I had my quarterly meeting with the student leaders on campus. During that meeting, we addressed the following areas (1. App for Bullying, 2. Teacher Consistency with rules and procedures, 3. Lunch Seating, 4. Chromebooks vs. Personal Devices, and 5. Buzz Note Procedures). We have some very strong leaders who truly care about our school and who are very observant. In a mature and articulated manner, they communicated their concerns and asked for assistance. To ensure that we have a successful spring, I am asking the following of all staff members:


1. Renew your pledge to our teacher behavior commitments. The students are observing that some students are being shown extreme favoritism while others are yelled and screamed at, written up and treated unfairly (their words). They articulated that teachers and staff members are not being consistent with rules and procedures. Remember to honor our norm of assuming best intent. When interacting with students, be positive and professional at all times. When you have to address misbehavior, do it discreetly and with dignity.


At Irmo Middle, we believe that the best management tool is creating engaged and motivated students. When classwork is personally meaningful, is appropriately challenging, and invited creative and critical thinking, it brings out the best in student behavior. The same group of students who may be considered "behavior problems" or "unfocused" in one classroom may be "model students" in another classroom where the work is compelling. We also believe that classroom management is most successful when students are motivated to be their best selves. This is most effective when students are primarily motivated not by compliance to rules (though compliance is necessary) or by external rewards and tracking systems (though for some students may be helpful). The most effective management comes when students are primarily motivated by their aspiration to be good and positive classroom community that they respect and value. If they feel disrespected, they will respond as middle schoolers typically do.


2. Hallways and Transitions - Spring time is in the air. We all need to be visible during all transitions. At every turn, students should see an adult who is monitoring their behavior and holding them accountable for being a positive and focused member of our school community. When you see undesirable behavior, intervene (positively) and redirect. If you need assistance, report the student and behavior to the guidance and/or administrative teams.


3. Lunch Seating - I am witnessing an increase in undesirable lunchroom behavior. The volume in the cafeteria is escalating and I am seeing students up and moving around. I have directed the Assistant Principals to address this behavior. I need your help too. Please talk to your homeroom classes about the cafeteria expectations. Walk them to the cafeteria and make sure they are seated in the proper locations. It was in my long term plan to give them a little freedom by now but that was based on their maturity and cooperation.


4. Chromebooks vs. Personal Devices - Continue to remind students to bring a fully charged chromebook to school daily. This is their responsibility. In classes, I am seeing quite a few students who are not bringing a fully charged device to school and this is causing management situations that take away from instructional time. Also, when planning lessons, make sure you are using materials that can be accessed on any device. Remember, some of our students and families have chosen not to get the district provided device. They can still get this valuable learning tool. If you have some students and families who want to do so, get them to Mrs. Young (not during class time).


5. Buzz Notes - Students have reported a few problems with buzz notes that I want to bring to everyone's attention.


A). Buzz notes are rarely given to students who do the right thing every day. From the student point of view, they are given to students who misbehave in an attempt to change their behavior. Are we being conscientious about varying who we give buzz notes to and what for? I have asked Mr. Sava and the PBIS team to look into this for us and see if we need to make any adjustments. For the time being, make sure you are rewarding those students who display Integrity, Respect, Motivation, and Ownership.


B). Did you know that buzz notes are being reused by students inappropriately to sit with their friends in the cafeteria, go first in the lunch line, etc...I have asked Mr. Sava and the PBIS team to look into this for us and see if we need to make any adjustments. For the time being, make sure you are watchful of the buzz note process.


Legislative Update


1. New Math and ELA Standards - On Thursday, March 12, the Education Oversight Committee approved the new College and Career Readiness ELA and Math standards. The new math and ELA standards are inserted below. Begin reviewing them. The district will be providing PD to ensure that we are continuously improve in these areas.

The Magnet Minute & EL Corner

This week's Crew: This year, we will use Crew as a vehicle for launching The Pulsera Project, which is organized and led by the World Language teachers and students. Last year, this project was highly successful - generating nearly $3,000.00 and receiving recognition from district and network news outlets. To support the work again this year, please undergird Thursday's Crew lesson with a sense of enthusiasm and importance. This particular project directly promotes our magnet theme and "does good" for others in the world - a tenet of our mission statement and value system as an EL school. The link to the lesson is here and will be reviewed in more detail by team leaders. Gracias to Nancy, Nadia, and Rui for leading this work!


Note: We are going to experiment with Kahoot! school wide during Thursday's Crew. If this is new to you, please ask your team leader for more information.


Follow-up from Workshop 1.0/2.0 PD: As a follow-up to our Tuesday/Wednesday work with Sarah, please be accountable for the following task: think and plan a lesson (in a more specific, intentional way) using either the Workshop 1.0 or 2.0 structure. The link to the folder that houses all resources is here. In a week or so, a Google form will be sent to collect feedback related to your experience.


For your calendars, Sarah will return on Monday, April 13 for another round of PD workshops related to our EL work plan.

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From Mr. Thur

IEP Coverage

We have done our best this year to protect and honor your instructional time, and schedule IEP meetings around one of your planning periods. There have only been a very few, select instances thus far this school year where the meeting was required to take place during one of your classes. For those few instances, and going forward, if you have an IEP meeting scheduled at a time in which you will need coverage, please email Mrs. Waters in advance. This will allow her the time necessary to find arrangements for your classroom. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Annual IEP meeting update

As we get closer to Spring IEP season, Mrs. McNeil is continuing to sort meeting dates, times, and locations. This is a work in progress, and she is in the process of coordinating. As more information becomes available and meetings are ready to be firmly scheduled, I will pass that information along. Thank you in advance for understanding this big logistical undertaking.

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From Mrs. Inabinet

We have six weeks before ACT Aspire and eight weeks until SCPass. In preparation, I will continue to disseminate information that we will need to become familiar with as related to test administration.


Desirable Testing Conditions for both test, require each room to remove or cover all maps, posters, charts and bulletin board materials related to the subject being tested. As possible, students should seat in a block so all rows and columns have the same number of students and seats aligned both side to side and front to back. Dividers or other partitions are not allowed for ACT Aspire testing. Room Supervisors for Aspire are required to use the state developed Seating Chart for each day of testing.


In an effort to plan effectively, please indicate on the Room Needs google form any requests for assistance with wall coverage or room set up issues.


As the ACT Aspire is new and being evaluated and adapted by ACT frequently, it is helpful to review the information received so that we can follow up and prepare sufficiently. Please review the Room Supervisor Manual and feel free to ask any questions you may have.


ACT Aspire does not allow students to do other work or look at any material if they finish the test early.


Use of a stopwatch or interval timer to ensure the exact time is allowed for each test. A regular clock not a digital clock may be displayed on the Smart Board. To make sure that we have the correct format for timers, I am researching what would be the best fit.


If available, it would be helpful to attend ACT Aspire Training Session 4.


March 16 11 am – 12:30 pm

March 17 3:30 pm – 5 pm

March 19 9:30 am – 11 am


Topics to cover: Review manuals, packaging and distribution of test materials, test administration, return of test materials. Please use the following link http://bit.ly/1Dukwv9 to the Google registration form, signing in at least 10-15 minutes before the start of the WebEx to record your attendance. There is no pre-registration. Once you have clicked on the WebEx link in the registration form and are waiting for the training to start, please make sure you refresh your browser periodically until the Join Now button in the upper right corner is live. There will be operator assisted call in lines for audio. Please call 1-866-408-9477 and an operator will connect you to the call. Listening in groups is encouraged. There will be no audio available through computer speakers for these WebEx.

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From Mrs. Young


  • Thank you to everyone for your help with Teen Tech Week - especially the homeroom and Crew teachers who conducted the lessons. Our hope is that the students use the information they were given to become better digital citizens.
  • Please ensure that you have a secure password (not a default) and keep it confidential. There have been incidents where students have been using staff credentials to access blocked sites and other information. Please safeguard your information.
  • With the launch of the new Drive user interface last year, the ‘Shared with me’ section was renamed ‘Incoming’ and the functionality was tweaked a bit. Based on feedback from people using the new Drive that they missed the ‘Shared with me’ functionality, it was brought back.
  • The assessment calendar (exam schedule) has been revised to accommodate Chromebook collection. This was sent out by Mr. Hutto on Feb. 26. Please be sure to take note of your department's final exam date. Details about final collection procedures will be shared once everything is finalized.


Readings and Resources


  • 6 new free Google tools to upgrade your classroom
  • Here's a way to create Word Clouds using a Google Doc: http://goo.gl/TfG5jV. It can be used with any Google Doc!
  • People using Google Docs can now use different headers and footers on the first pages of their documents. After inserting a header or footer in your document you’ll see a new check box―just tick it and you’ll be able to set a different header and footer on the first page. This comes in handy for:
  • Following academic formatting guidelines (e.g. MLA, CMS, APA)
  • Starting page numbering on the second page
  • Making a title page without headers or footers
  • There’s also a new Insert > Page Number menu that lets you customize how and where you start your page numbers―like on the bottom of the second page, for example.
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Closing Thoughts

This week's Monday Message contains a calendar to guide our week ahead, PD links, and events on the horizon. In February, I informed you that for the next ten weeks, I will be focusing my closing thoughts on the Expeditionary Learning Design Principles. The reason for this is to bring awareness to these guideposts, explain them, and challenge you to embrace and implement in your classrooms daily.


If you recall, the last edition of the Monday Message focused on EL Design Principle #4 Empathy and Caring. You were asked: Is your classroom culture empathic and caring? To what extent are students ideas respected in the learning environment? Do your students trust you? How can you adjust your current practices to reflect the needs of our students (particularly the ones with significant academic and emotional deficiencies?


This week, everyone is asked to focus on Design Principle # 5 - Success and Failure. With this design principle, EL teaches us that all students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities. When you work in a school where 53% of the students are on Free or Reduced Lunch, it is easy to get hung up on our shortcomings. When everyone returned back from the summer break, I challenged everyone to overcome obstacles, honor our commitments, and work together for the common good of all stakeholders. Everyone was reminded, that last's year's performance was a minor setback for a major comeback. This was stated with the success and failure design principle in mind.


In your classes, how are you addressing success and failure. Are you providing students with multiple opportunities to master subject matter (HW, tests, answering questions in class, behavior, etc....)? Are you providing students with access to challenging and rigorous curricula (with the necessary supports to counter failed attempts)?


The most powerful engagement and motivation is not created by clever structures. It is created by a sense of belonging to a positive academic community. It is useful to think of success and failure as fulfillment of three conditions:


  • A sense of competence (I can succeed here) - think of it this way, if students think you doubt they can complete the task, will they even attempt it fully?
  • A sense of community (I belong here) - how would you act if you feel as though you didn't belong somewhere. Do all our students see culturally relevant examples in the curricula on a daily basis?
  • A sense of choice (I am trusted to make wise choices here) - do we give students choices in assignments, texts to choose, etc...or do we just assume we know what is best for them and make the decisions for them.


Do you believe that all of our students can succeed? Are you creating the conditions for them to succeed? When they encounter failure, are you supporting their growth, development, and maturation so they can rebound and succeed?


Remember, working on culture and character is not a sometimes thing. Every time one person slacks off, it hurts the entire school. While we are doing this very important work, we must not put students on the outside looking in, we need them on the inside, helping us to solve problems by owning their work and striving to produce better outcomes. We will accomplish this as long we consistently display a We Are Crew, Not Passengers spirit.


Remember, Together We are Smarter!


Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Principal

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