"Super" Spruce Scoop

Volume 2 Edition 13

December 7, 2015

Single-Gender Middle School

Balch Springs Middle School has teamed up with Fred Florence Middle School to become a single-gender S.T.E.A.M. school. They are currently at the back end of the writing process in preparation for submission of the School Choice application. If approved, Balch Springs Middle School will serve female students from the Balch Springs and Florence attendance zones while Florence will serve the boys from the two attendance zones. Currently, 450 female students from Balch Springs in grades 6-8 are in the pilot program which is going very well. Thank you to Clarita Rivera, Lisa Falcon, Lauren Peterson and many others who have committed hours of their time to create this great opportunity! Linked above is a nice article posted in D Magazine this week. Please take a moment and read it. Mr. Malonson provides a compelling rationale for why we need these schools.


  • Danielle Petters for her leadership in helping the administrative team and her coaches at Spruce develop planning protocols for the English and math department.
  • Clarita River, Lisa Falcon and the science department for delivering very good instruction. We observed five science classes this week and saw very impressive instruction and demonstrated excellent planning ! See pictures below.
  • Umoja Turner and a few of his teachers using a read aloud to integrate a standard into the lesson. It is a seamless and engaging way to teacher author's purpose.
  • Ms. Cassidy at Moseley Elementary School for using time during the math block to provide small group instruction while other students were engaged in meaningful centers.

"Trudy" What else needs to be said?

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"Super" Leaders Having Some Fun

The "Super" Principals in the Spruce feeder pattern took some time to enjoy fellowship and participated in a white elephant gift exchange. Some of our gifts were typical and would be expected at any exchange while others were a bit extraordinary. As the second year of this white elephant exchange, a mascot of sorts has emerged; "Trudy" was the very last exchange given; it was more like a hot potato. Last year, we had "Rudy the Raccoon" as our mascot. It will be fun to see who the mascot will be next year.

Guided Reading

Linked here is a video posted on Curriculum Central of a Dallas ISD teacher sharing her view of guided reading and how she sets up the learning for her students. She explains how there is flexibility in what students can do when they are not at the guided reading table; whether it be centers or independent reading / work. The video is confirming the work our elementary teachers are doing around guided reading and centers. Let's continue to expect and manage daily implementation.
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Marshall Memo

Tips for Working with Adult Learners

In this article in Literacy Today, Florida administrator Sloane Castleman says that one of the most positive developments in the last decade is the shift from one-shot PD workshops to instructional coaching. Effective coaches, she believes, have the potential to give teachers “growth opportunities embedded in the workplace, relevant to the specific needs of each learning and teaching community, and sustained over time.”

The problem, she’s noticed, is that not all teachers are open to working with an instructional coach. When working with colleagues, coaches need to constantly ask themselves, “What am I doing that’s conflicting with the developmental needs of adult learners?” Castleman identifies the following:

  • They have a deep need to be self-directed.

  • They are intrinsically motivated.

  • Their life experience is an excellent resource for learning.

  • They prefer learning opportunities that address immediate problems.

  • They’ll learn best when a coach meets the demands of their social roles.

    Castleman has four principles for staying tuned to teachers’ developmental requirements:

    It’s all about relationships. “Instructional coaches need to demonstrate humility and a genuine respect for the knowledge, experience, and abilities of others,” she says. “In a field that is complex and constantly evolving, instructional coaches should resist the temptation to tell their colleagues what is best and should cultivate collegial conversations and collaborative explorations into best practices.”

    Trust is essential. Teachers need to feel safe in exposing their weaknesses and asking for help in areas of need, which means they must believe that coaches won’t convey negative evaluative information to administrators. “If teachers can’t trust their instructional coaches,” says Castleman, “coaches can’t help teachers learn from their mistakes and take important professional risks.”

    Involve teachers in PD decisions. Program choices should be made with teachers’ challenges and wishes in mind.

    Orchestrate collaborative learning opportunities. Teachers need forums in which they can share their diverse life experiences with colleagues. “Instructional coaches have to look for creative ways to connect teachers so they can learn to take action as a community,” says Castleman.

“Digging Deeper: Unearthing the Roots of Teacher Resistance to Instructional Coaching” by Sloane Castleman in Literacy Today, November/December 2015 (Vol. 33, #3, p. 14-15),

http://bit.ly/1lUwSJJ; Castleman can be reached at scastleman@st.pauls.edu.