01.03.16 Staff Update

A Communication Tool for the Seven Hills Staff

Personalized Learning at Seven Hills: Recharged. Refocused. Ready for Action.

January 4th Professional Learning: Recharged. Refocused. Ready for Action.


Our work on Monday will include refocusing the lens for the spring using what we have learned about our Mind Styles and Covey's Circle of Influence. We will also take a reflective look at our campus Instructional Focus, updating progress made and identifying next steps. Tips and strategies for effective classroom management will be shared, and grade level teams will work in PLCs to accomplish tasks aligned with the campus Instructional Focus. It is going to be a great day of working and learning, and I am hopeful that you will leave recharged, refocused, and ready for action!


Schedule for Monday:


  • 8:00 - 8:15 arrive, mingle, get materials ready, get coffee
  • 8:15 all staff meet in cafeteria for opening
  • 8:30 Breakfast is served (staff will get breakfast and return to the cafeteria for PD)
  • 8:45 - 11:30 Professional Learning
  • 11:30 Lunch
  • 12:30 - 3:30 (we will vote as a staff to determine 30 minute vs 1 hr lunch) Professional Learning: Grade Level PLCs


Several staff members have district directed PD in the afternoon. Please see the schedule below for district PD:


District Afternoon PD: (12:30 - 3:30)


  1. Gates: Program Re-Evaluation (PDC-A)
  2. SPED: IEP Training (Board Room)
  3. Counselors: Counselor PLC (PDC - B)
  4. Art: PLC (Granger Art Room)
  5. Music: PLC (Hatfield Art Room)



Attire for Monday: casual and comfortable


Food for Monday:


  • Breakfast provided by Rhome United Methodist Church
  • Lunch provided by the campus - baked potato bar



Be Prepared for Monday's Work With the Following:

  • Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern graphic organizer from our last staff meeting. If you were unable to complete one, use the description above to help write down a few examples in each category.
  • Mind Styles from August Staff Development
  • Progress Monitoring Binders/Student Data Binders
  • PLT/Shine Time information, materials, etc.


As I prepared for our work and time together on Monday, I came across this short article. I am a worrier by nature. Remember, my Grandmother always told me, "Kim, don't borrow trouble!" As we review the Circle of Influence and refocus our lens for the second half of the year, I encourage you to worry less and focus on success!


http://www.success.com/article/why-you-need-to-stop-worrying-about-failing


From the December 12th S'more:


Circle of Influence:

In our meeting last week, we engaged in a discussion focused on shifting from a reactive lens to a proactive lens. We reviewed Covey’s Circle of Influence, and defined the difference between the circle of concern and the circle of influence.


  • Circle of Concern: things that worry, bother or frustrate us
  • Circle of Influence: things that we can do something about


When we focus our efforts on those circumstances/items within our Circle of Influence rather than our Circle of Concern, we are able to shift to a more proactive focus. I don’t know about you, but when I have a reactive focus, I feel more stressed, have a never-ending “to-do” list, and am more easily frustrated. While the workload may not change, when I have a proactive focus, I feel more accomplished, less stressed, and certainly less irritated. What then is within our Circle of Concern and what is within our Circle of Influence? I have taken the list our group brainstormed of campus initiatives currently impacting teachers and identified those initiatives within our circle of concern and circle of influence. We spent a little time brainstorming a list of what is in each category, and I asked each staff member to create their own graphic organizer reflecting shared items and tasks/items that were different.


After brainstorming, we then discussed the need to prioritize those initiatives/tasks/etc. Teachers are, by nature, “rule followers.” We want to do everything, and do it well. While I completely understand this, I also know that it is an impossible undertaking. Part of shifting to a more proactive lens, will require prioritizing initiatives and expectations. It will also take acceptance of the fact that while we are all super teachers, we are not super-human. We cannot accomplish everything on the list, and if we attempt to tackle everything, we risk not doing any of it well. When you can identify those initiatives and/or expectations that will have the greatest impact on student success and your own personal growth, and can give yourself permission to let those be the focus of your circle of influence, your lens will shift.


After stating the obvious and thinking back to the ideas we brainstormed, I am sure you are thinking…”Great Blackburn, but there are too many things on the platter to even begin prioritizing! And, new things keep getting thrown my way! Where do I even begin? How in the world am I supposed to prioritize when EVERYTHING is important?” (I’m not too far off am I?) :)


You begin by accepting that your Circle of Influence begins with student achievement. What expectation or initiative requires the most attention or most teacher learning to ensure student achievement? Once you have identified this, you will see that many of the items on your list are connected, and you will be able to more easily prioritize based on an “if-then” approach (If I can do X, then Y & Z will fall into place). I know those “rule follower” mind styles need someone to just tell them what to focus on first. Unfortunately, I cannot do that. Every teacher is different, and is working from a different point in their learning and with a different group of students. But, what I can do is establish minimum expectations, and communicate/demonstrate that our goal as a campus leadership team is to support each teacher where they are. At a minimum:


  • All decisions should be framed around the question, “What will have the greatest impact on student achievement and teacher growth aligned with district mission and vision?”
  • All instructional decisions align with the Seven Hills Instructional Focus (PoP).
  • Teachers have clarity about campus and district expectations/non-negotiables, and understand which initiatives are expectations and which are goals we are working toward (implementation year).

Updates and Information

What's Happening Next Week at The Hills?

  • Monday, January 4th:

Professional Learning Day


  • Tuesday, January 5th:

Students return


  • Wednesday, January 6th:

Math Curriculum Preview (K-5)


  • Thursday, January 7th:
Staff Meeting, 3:15 -4:30 pm

Kim off campus at DLT (am)


  • Friday, January 8th:
Principal's Coffee, 7:45 - 8:45 am

Evacuation Drill


Save The Date: (please add these dates to your calendars)

  • Million Word Challenge Promotional Program: Zoo Program at 10 and 11 (more details will be sent next week)
  • End of Six Weeks and 1st Semester: January 15th
  • Early Release Days (please communicate to parents): January 15th and 16th
  • PTA Teacher Luncheon January 14th
  • Student & Staff Holiday January 18th (Please communicate to parents)


Happy Birthday To:

Dora Chazarreta 01/06

Staff Member of The Week!

Kelly Bryan: Did you know that Kelly is one of the few people who have true green eyes? Only 2% of the world's population have true green eyes!


Hayley Sample: Hayley has an obsession with sloths! This obsession may or may not have encouraged an unsuccessful campaign for President of the Greater DFW Chapter of the International Association of Sloth Enthusiasts!


Learn more about Hayley and Kelly when you stop by the "Star Staff" board in the Teacher's Lounge!

Information and Reminders:

  • Holiday "Bow"tique Item Delivery: All items purchased in the Holiday "Bow"tique will be delivered by Friday, January 8th. We hope you enjoyed this lighthearted treat!
  • PDAS 45 Minute Observations: I want to provide a little clarification about how PDAS observations are being scheduled this year. I understand that this may be a new scheduling practice for many of you. Please know that the "dog and pony" show isn't what Leslie and I are interested in. We want to see high quality instruction, we want to see what happens every day in your classrooms. Take a deep breath - :). Teachers turned in a form indicating two different one week windows of time that would be their preference for observations to be completed. Our goal is to schedule everyone in their first choice. Teachers also indicated two different 45 minute blocks of time for the observation to be completed. We will notify you of the week we have you scheduled, but in an effort to avoid multiple reschedules (because of unexpected circumstances, etc.) we will not schedule a specific date and time. You know the two times of day that you indicated as your preference. If you indicated you wanted to schedule a pre-conference, your evaluator will work with you to get that date and time set.