This Week

Fahari's Weekly Staff Memo: 12/8/2014 - 12/12/13

A Message from Fahari's Principal: Stephanie Clagnaz, Ed.D.


Is your team guilty of ‘collaboration lite’?

As we studied at our recent professional development session, “collaboration ‘lite’ puts student achievement on a starvation diet” (Dufour, 2003). In a professional learning community, professionals are obligated to collaborate, seeking and applying best practices.

Dufour pushes us to consider what real collaboration is. Many equate collaboration with congeniality. They believe that celebrating birthdays and participating in social gatherings are evidence of a collaborative culture. Some leaders believe that engaging faculty and staff in decision making is evidence of collaboration. People of this mindset ask colleagues to co-plan Field Days and to participate in committees, viewing this as further evidence of collaboration.

While these activities can be worthwhile and make working together more pleasant, Marzano (2003) argues that there is little evidence that any of these activities have an effect on increased student achievement. None of these activities are to be criticized, but they will not transform a school. Focusing solely on these kinds of activities is what Dufour calls ‘collaboration lite’.

So what is authentic collaboration? Dufour defines it this way:

“...the systematic process in which we work together to analyze and impact professional practice in order to improve our individual and collective results. The first key term in this definition is systematic. Teachers are not invited or encouraged to collaborate. Collaboration is embedded in the routine practices of the school. Teachers are organized into teams and provided time to meet during the school day. They are provided specific guidelines and asked to engage in specific activities that help them focus on student achievement. Teams center dialogue around these critical questions:

  • What do we want our students to learn?
  • How will we know when each student has learned it?
  • What is our response when children have not learned?
  • What is our response when children have already mastered the objectives?”

Further, authentic teams focus on results. When they meet, they review student learning data to find the classrooms that are getting the best results. Then they ask teachers of those classes what practices they used to get the results. Teams that collaborate authentically put their egos aside to focus on student learning results.

This is the Fahari definition of collaboration! It is authentic and intentional! It is not an invitation, but rather, it is built into the way we do business here!


Where is your grade-level team on the spectrum of authentic collaboration? Where is your department on the spectrum of authentic collaboration? Where is your grade-level content area team on the spectrum of authentic collaboration? What is the next step for you and your team?

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Culture News

During our Inside Schools visit this week, I had the opportunity to sit with several of our students in two focus groups. In these meetings, I was reminded of the phrase “out of the mouths of babes….” As a school, students are our number #1 customers, so I was looking forward to hearing their thoughts on Fahari. Here is what our customers are saying:

  • When I’m feeling down, they keep asking me what is wrong. They help me feel better.”
  • “When I answer questions, they always ask me what I mean by that, and I have to provide evidence.”
  • “Even in math I have to defend my arguments.”
  • “I like the Restorative Circles. We get to know each other better.”
  • “Classes are fun. They find ways to make the work interesting.”
  • “If you’ve mastered a skill, sometimes they ask you to help out other students, and the teacher works with the students who haven’t mastered the skill.”

That’s just a few of the quotes we heard from students in each grade. What does this tell us? It seems to me that our students have a pretty good understanding of what we are trying to do for them each and everyday. It also means that the hard work and positivity that our teachers bring to the classroom is having a real impact on our students. I don’t know what our final review on Inside Schools will look like, but I hope that the words that our amazing children said about our school are featured prominently. As the quote referenced above reminds us, it is often children who have the most profound insight into what is happening around us.

Thanks for all that you do.

Jared Roebuck, Assistant Principal

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Family Engagement Updates

Despite rainy Saturday weather, our 2nd Families of Fahari PTO meeting was a success! We elected our new PTO President, Mrs. Ingrid Halley, parent of Khaliah Halley (5th grade). Mrs Halley comes with prior PTA leadership experience and is a great asset to the parent team!

We are continuing to look for candidates for the Vice President position of the PTO. If you know a parent who might be interested, please let us know. In the meantime, the PTO leadership team is moving forward in organizing and leading the parent body.

Special thanks to Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Ross, Mr. Mera, Mr. Tyler, Ms. Welch and Mr. Zoboi for contributing time on their Saturday to engage with our families. Fahari continues to be……….on the rise!

~Ms. Clarke, Director of Family Engagement

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Technology and Data Updates

Tech Tip of the Week: Backup Your Data

It is important that you backup important data on your computer periodically to ensure you do not lose access to your files. Our staff computers only backup what is saved to your personal H:\ drive. It does not backup what is saved to your Downloads, Documents, or Desktop. In the event your machine fails you may lose access to the information stored in these locations permanently. To prevent this from happening either backup your data periodically to a flash drive, external hard drive or whatever type of media you prefer. Another solution is to save your files on Google drive which makes them available on any machine you use since they are stored in the cloud.

Laptop Cart Charging:

When using the laptop carts be sure to plug them in to charge when they are in your classrooms. Make sure the switch in the back of the cart is in the down position to ensure they are charging. In the event a laptop is not charged, please plug it in so it can charge during the day.

Staff Personnel Master File

Please review the email that was sent to you about your personnel master file. It is very important that you review the document attached to the email and come to the meeting prepared with the items required to fill out your personnel file.

Thank you,

Jonathan Destine

Director of Data, Technology and Testing

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Next week's schedule updates

Who Will Be Out?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Adunni Clarke
Joanna Pannell

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Adunni Clarke

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
Jared Roebuck (PD - AM out)

Stephanie Clagnaz (PD - AM out)

Adunni Clarke
Daniela Luis

Kim Hunter (PM out)

Thursday, December 11th, 2014:
Stephanie Clagnaz (Offsite work day)
Adunni Clarke
Nicole Sherrick
Tamara Destine
Chante Watson

Friday, December 12th, 2014
Adunni Clarke
Frances Cuadro (AM out)
Natalie Edugene-Guiteau (PM out)

Kim Hunter
Matthew Leister
Shana Minto
Chante Watson

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, December 17th, 2014
Family-Teacher-Student Conferences

Friday, December 19th, 2014
Fahari Holiday Party

200 Fifth - 200 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY - 5:00pm - 8:00pm

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Early dismissal - 1:15pm
CRITICAL DAY - (No PTO may be used)

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Winter Recess

Monday, January 5th, 2015

CRITICAL DAY - (No PTO may be used)

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Fahari teachers, please remember to encourage students to return their completed school food applications. First homeroom to have all meal forms in will have a pizza party!
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Who is your secret snowflake?

Secret Snowflake participants: Please send little notes and/or treats to your Secret Snowflake! Remember to include hints as to who you are! All of the fun begins the week of Monday, December 15th.