Fahari's Weekly Staff Memo: 12/4/2015 - 12/10/2015
On Culture with Jared Roebuck - Assistant Principal
What makes literacy powerful? Or better yet, what makes literacy dangerous? Over the next several months, our faculty and staff will undertake a study of what Patrick J. Finn calls “powerful literacy.” We’ve looked at Finn’s work relating to powerful literacy which he defines as:
Powerful Literacy - involves creativity and reason--the ability to evaluate, analyze, and synthesize while reading and listening and to persuade and negotiate through writing and speaking. It is the literacy of persons who are conscious of their own power and self interest. (Finn, 2009)
Our path towards making literacy both powerful and dangerous at Fahari begins with reflecting on our assessments of student learning. Assessments drive what happens in the classroom. Show me your assessment, and I’ll show you what you value. What do you want students to learn? What kind of learning and thinking is important to you? These are stories that your assessment will tell.
I’d like to offer three qualities of assessments that can lead to powerful literacy in your classroom. Assessments that are authentic, rigorous, and critical are more likely to lead students attaining powerful literacy. For the next several weeks we will unpack each of these qualities, and how they shape our assessments. We will highlight examples of assessments that meet this criteria already happening at Fahari.
To close, I want to be clear about why we are undertaking this work. Earlier this year, I reflected on the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has since won the MacArthur Genius Grant and the National Book Award. In his reflection on his own public school education as a black male he said “I was a curious boy, but the schools were never concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance.”(Coates, 2015) Another way of thinking about this is offered by Finn, “education is never neutral. It either liberates or domesticates… Literacy can be taught as a tool of critical inquiry or of passive transmission. It can be a vehicle for solving important social challenges or for accepting official explanations.” (Finn, 2009)
Whether we listen to Coates or Finn, the message is the same: Is our school community preparing students for liberation or domestication?
Let's make literacy dangerous at Fahari.
Thanks for all that you do.
Jared Roebuck, Assistant Principal
A Message from Fahari's Principal: Stephanie Clagnaz, Ed.D.
“Substantial research indicates that students’ experience of belonging in school contributes favorably to their emotional well-being as well as to a range of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes that affect learning (2000). The need for relatedness is a basic psychological need. When students experience belonging in the school community, their needs for relatedness are met in ways that affect their attitudes and their behavior. They like school and are more engaged in learning….For educators, an important part of this research is the understanding that children’s sense of belonging is contextual; to be highly motivated in a particular classroom, the students’ psychological needs must be addressed in that specific classroom….Although peer relationships have a strong affect on children’s attitude toward school - and themselves, the research is quite consistent that teachers have the strongest and most direct affect on students’ psychological experience in the classroom.”
And how does this relate to the work we have been doing on the Lemov technique called the Joy Factor? As I wrote back in September, Lemov tells us, “Kids, like everybody else, take pleasure in belonging to things. One of the key functions of cultures...is to make members feel they belong to an important “us”. Osterman and Lemov provide us with the same message: when we feel a sense of belongingness, our performance improves. This is not exclusive to our children. As I reflect on the many teams we have at Fahari and have witnessed so many of us give more than 100% as we develop our teaching and leadership skills. In teams, which give the adults in our community a sense of belonging, we exceed our own expectations for growth. It’s the same with our children. The more they feel like a part of “us”, the more secure they will feel and the better their behavior and academics will be. Whether we use Osterman’s word, belongingness, or Lemov’s technique, the Joy Factor, we are speaking the same language.
It is the responsibility of each member of our community to commit to finding ways to have the student and adult members of the Fahari community feel a sense of belongingness. Consider ways in which we intentionally provide opportunities for others to feel that they belong to “us”. In classrooms and beyond, each of us is called to consistently find ways to use the Joy Factor to ensure that all members of our community, particularly our beloved children, feel a sense of belonging to the “us” at Fahari.
- What have you intentionally done to make a child or adult feel like they belong to Fahari?
- What plan can you put in place to increase belongingness for members of our community?
From the Desk of Traci L. Douglas, Assistant Principal
C.S. Lewis once said “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” I have quoted C.S. Lewis quite a few times over the years, most often when talking to students about their behavior. The scenario: I come upon a situation where a student is doing something he/she is not supposed to be doing and upon catching him/her in the improper act, I address the misconduct. At some point during the interaction I state how important it is to do the right thing, at all times, including when teachers, parents or others with the ability to provide a consequence are not around.
When I reflect on our BHAG and specifically our vision to prepare our students for a life of leadership, I think about C.S. Lewis’s quote. What are we doing each day to instill integrity in our classrooms, in the cafeteria, and other places where we engage with students? How are we teaching into it and what are we doing in our daily practice to act with integrity?
This school year, members of the formal leadership team will be evaluated using Douglas Reeves’ Multi-Dimensional Leadership Performance Matrix. The second domain of the rubric is Personal Behavior and Professional Ethics. Subsection 2.1 is Integrity. Teachers will be evaluated using the Charlotte Danielson’s 2013 Evaluation Tool. Domain 4 is Professional Responsibilities and one of the school-wide priority components, 4f, is showing Professionalism. An element of 4f is integrity and ethical conduct.
The two ends of the Integrity spectrum according to Reeves are described as:
Not Meeting Standards: The phrases “I’m working on it” or “I’m doing the best I can” are regarded as acceptable substitutes for commitments. The leader does not follow through with tasks, budgets, and priorities critical to the performance of his or her site or responsibilities.
Exemplary: The leader meets commitments— verbal, written, and implied— without exception. Commitments to individuals, students, community members, and subordinates have the same weight as commitments to superiors, board members, or other people with visibility and authority. The leader’s commitment to integrity is clear throughout the organization, as any commitment from anyone who reports to this leader is as good as a commitment from the leader.
The two ends of the Professionalism spectrum according to Danielson are described as:
Ineffective: The teacher displays dishonesty in interactions with colleagues, students, and the public. The teacher is not alert to students’ needs and contributes to school practices that result in some students being ill served by the school. The teacher makes decisions and recommendations that are based on self-serving interests. The teacher does not comply with school and district regulations.
Highly Effective: The teacher can be counted on to hold the highest standards of honesty, integrity and confidentiality and takes a leadership role with colleagues. The teacher is highly proactive in serving students, seeking out resources when needed. The teacher makes a concerted effort to challenge negative attitudes or practices to ensure that all students, particularly those traditionally under-served, are honored in the school. The teacher takes a leadership role in team or departmental decision making and helps ensure that such decisions are based on the highest professional standards. The teacher complies fully with school and district regulations, taking a leadership role with colleagues.
Where do you land on the spectrum? What are you doing to ensure that you move towards the highly effective end if you’re not there already? Realizing our BHAG is at stake if we, adults and students alike, do anything other than the right thing, particularly when no one is watching.
Family Engagement Updates
As we continue into this holiday season, it’s important that we look out for those in our community. Holidays can be a wonderful time for some and a tough time for others. As mentioned this week, we want to keep an eye and ear out for students and families who may be in need of additional support. The holidays can be a stressful time for many families who are already experiencing challenges or difficulties. Please refer any students to myself or the Counseling Team that you think may need additional support. Some signs of holiday stress may include, but are not limited to:
unusual behavior patterns
increased stress, anxiety, depression or withdrawal
pre-occupied minds; unfocused classroom behavior
recent family loss or hardship
inappropriate seasonal clothing
on-going physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches
Let’s do our best to ensure that we ALL have a safe and happy holiday season!
~Ms. Clarke, Director of Family Engagement
Culture Time with Edwin Santiago Jr. – Director of School Culture
Greetings Fahari Family,
Students and adults cannot agree on the purpose of a hallway. The students see it as the best possible spot to gather and socialize; while adults see it as a passageway we use to walk from one class to another. Here are a few things we should share with students to practice while transitioning:
- Level 1 means level 1. Students' voice levels should remain at a level 1 (whisper/low voices) in order to not disrupt other classes that are in session.
- No Bathroom Passes during transitions. Students tend to linger in the halls trying to socialize or gather in the bathroom causing them to be late to class. (Students must have passes to leave the class. No Pass = No Hallway.)
- Walk on the right side of the hallway in two lines. We are not in England. Walking on the left or both sides of the hallways in a disorderly fashion will most likely end up in a traffic jam or trampling.
- No running! Running can lead to injuries and chaos.
Operations Corner - Ms. Beverly Parsons
During the school year we will have a few soft and hard lockdown drills. I want you to ensure you know the difference between the two drills and that you know what is expected of you. Please do not assume that it is always a drill, we should follow procedures as if there was an actual threat to our safety.
What is a soft lockdown?
Implies there is no identified imminent danger to sweep teams, which means Leadership, Building Response Teams, and School Safety Agents will mobilize at the designated command post for further direction.
What is a hard lockdown?
Implies that imminent danger is known and NO ONE will engage in any building sweep activity. All individuals, including School Safety Agents will take appropriate lockdown action and wait the arrival of first responders.
What does this mean for students? This applies to soft and hard lockdowns.
Students should move out of sign and maintain silence - LEVEL 0
What does this mean for teachers? This applies to soft and hard lockdowns.
Check the hallway outside of their classrooms for students, lock classroom doors, and turn the lights off
Move away from sight and maintain silence
Wait for First Responders to open the door or the “All Clear” message, “The Lockdown has been lifted” followed by specific directions.
Take attendance and account for missing students by contacting the main office
What is a Shelter-In?
Implies there is a dangerous situation outside of the school.
What does this mean for students?
Remain inside of the building
Conduct business as usual
What does this mean for teachers?
Increase situational awareness
Conduct business as usual
The Shelter-In directive will remain in effect until hearing the “All Clear” message “The Shelter-In has been lifted” followed by specific directions.
~Beverly Parsons, Director of Operations
This week's schedule updates
Will it be an A or B week?
We will be following a B schedule this week.
Who will be out this week?
Please check the daily schedule for coverage updates*
Monday, December 7th, 2015
Traci Douglas (1/4 Day PM)
Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
Thursday, December 10th, 2015
Friday, December 11th, 2015
Thursday, December 10th, 2015
PGC Outreach 4
Thursday, December 10th, 2015
Holidays at Fahari
Monday, December 14th, 2015
5th and 6th Grade Honor Roll Ceremony
Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
7th and 8th Grade Honor Roll Ceremony
Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
December Board Meeting
@ Fahari Academy - 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
(Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org)