The Friday Forecast

Office of the Principal; Friday March 7, 2014

Quote for the Week!

“Don't be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. Otherwise it will be too easy for you to look with blame... at your past, which naturally has a share with everything that now meets you.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

The Week Ahead

Gold Week Schedule 6-2-3-4-5-1 PASS Writing Preparations

Monday (10th) - National Women's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Tuesday (11th) - G40 Student Government Meeting (7:30am), Deadline for Finishing D5 PD Survey (Dept. Heads), Administrative Meeting (10:30-12:00), District Leadership Meetings

Wednesday (12th) - Project ACCESS District Meeting (1:00-3:00pm, Media Center)

Thursday (13th) - Cultural Competency Workshop with Dr. Donna Elam (3:50-4:50, CAFE)

Friday (14st) - National Pi Day, iAM #IrmoSTRONG (Formerly Strive for Five) Assembly

Tasks to Complete This Week!

1. Put into action, interventions with your bubble kids and discuss during data team meetings.

2. In all classes, prepare all students for PASS Writing. In addition, prepare all rooms for PASS testing. Check your TAM's for the criteria.

3. Participate in District Leadership meetings Tuesday afternoon. Department Chairs, please send complete and submit survey data by 4:00pm (3/10/14)

4. Attend and participate in the Cultural Competency Training (Thursday afternoon - 3:50-4:50pm).

5. Attend and help supervise during the iAM #IrmoSTRONG PBIS Recognition Event (Friday during 6th Period)

6. View the trailer (American Promise)! It will be the anchor text for Thursday's work with Dr. Donna Elam which is a major requirement for Project ACCESS.

Upcoming Major Events

PASS Writing

Tuesday, March 18th, 8:30am to Wednesday, March 19th, 11:30am

6051 Wescott Rd

Columbia, SC

8 days and counting until we administer this assessment.

Data Team FishBowl #2

Monday, April 7th, 10:15-11:45am

Irmo Middle School Staff Development Rool

April 7th, Irmo Middle will participate in our second Data Team FishBowl. Again, we will be visited by Melissa Biggerstaff, Christina Melton, and Reggie Dean for our Fishbowl exercise. 7th Grade Science will be inside the fishbowl. 8th Grade Science will be on the outside of the fishbowl. The fishbowl exercise will be held in the staff development room. All teachers were given handouts to help us prepare to shine during our January PD workshop. Mr. Hutto and I visited Data Teams on 1/9/14 to answer any questions and assist with the preparations for these visits. We will again be participating in a conference call with Mrs. Biggerstaff (Tuesday April 1st) to help us prepare. Below are the updated "final" readiness documents. If you have any questions, see me or Mr. Hutto! Next week, Mr. Hutto and I will visit the data teams involved to answer any questions and assist in the readiness process.

New Link Readiness Materials - Important Information!!!

Expeditionary Learning Summer Institute at IMS

Monday, June 9th, 8:30am to Wednesday, June 11th, 3:30pm

The Center for Advanced Technical Studies (Multi-Purpose Room)

Because of the make-up day from the snow, our EL Summer Institute will be 2.5 days (beginning on June 9th) instead of three. We will only work until 11:45 on 6/11/14.

March Staff Birthdays

Tammie Hardy, March 11th

Judith McCray, March 24th

Carol Worley, March 24th

Amy Brown, March 25th

Brandi Clarkson, March 25th

Marilyn Constance, March 31st

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

Duty Roster for the Week

Duty Roster

Monday - I Group

Tuesday - R Group

Wednesday - M Group

Thursday - O Group

Friday - M Group

Nuts and Bolts

Attendance (Staff)

As I shared with you during last week's meeting, we are greatly concerned over the number of teacher and staff absences each week. I have run the report and will be taking the necessary steps to address the volume and frequency of teacher & staff absences. I want to reiterate how absolutely critical it is that everyone to make every possible effort to be at school every single day. I will join you in the effort to be here daily for our students and staff. I certainly understand that when major events arise, it will necessitate an absence. When you absolutely have to be out, you are asked to follow the proper protocols (subfinder, subplans, departmental communication) so learning can continue while you are absent. Remember, if you are on duty, that needs to be communicated to your substitute as well. In particular, I want us to watch Monday/Friday absences where we are normally short on subs across the district. When this happens, we will have no choice to start using teachers to cover (unfilled sub classrooms). Make every possible attempt to be here every day.

Class Changes (Very Important)

Thanks so much to everyone for standing at your doors between class changes. An area to pay close attention to is the hallways from 8:13-8:20 and dismissal at 3:35. We must unite and be consistent with this practice. Remember, not only do we control the classrooms but also the the campus common areas as well. Students should not be loitering, hanging out, visiting vending machines, or using this time to socialize. They only have five minutes to get to class. We are not doing a good job of ushering students to class as evidenced by the 604 referrals that have been written for tardies (38%). As it relates to lunch dismissals, make sure you follow the approximate time frames for the beginning and ending of each lunch period.


As discussed in last week's faculty meeting, all contracts this year will be disseminated electronically. Ms. Cullinan will be sending out the next steps via email. I do have to inform the DO (by March 19th) of anyone that will not be coming back next year. If you know for certain that you will not be returning, please let me know so I can inform the district office.

Enrichment Adjustments

Enrichment is one of our daily structures. Like it or not, we must all commit to it in order for it to function efficiently.

1. I expect all teachers to adhere to the structures and not operate outside the protocols.

2. Check the google drive documents and proceed accordingly. Refrain from sending students to areas of the campus without first checking the document.

3. Our Junior Leadership Program students should be released on their meeting days.

4. Make sure you report to duty on the days scheduled. Don't leave your colleagues shorthanded. Remember, supervision is everyone's responsibility.

If you have any questions, please see any member of the administrative team or the grade level coordinators (Mr. Carter - 8th, Mrs. Vickie Davis - 7th).

Master Schedule (14-15)

As communicated during Tuesday's meeting, we have completed the draft of next year's schedule. In order to provide each teacher with planning time equal to what's being offered in the other middle schools, our class sizes will increase considerably. Before we get too far down the road, I have scheduled a meeting with Dr. Melton to review our projections. As soon as I get the green light, we will release the schedule framework and begin completing the supporting structures that will enable this revision to be a success.

PASS Writing Readiness

We have eight days until the PASS Writing exams. Our goal if for 78% + to score met and exemplary. We will not get there if everyone is not helping to prepare students. Mr. McCloy and Mr. Hutto have sent out some readiness exercises that I expect everyone to be using to prepare students. In the meantime, here is the link to the SDE site which has a number of resources to help. Below are specific links to sample items, instructions, etc...Everyone can help (especially, the exploratory classes).

March 18 Writing Test, Day 1 extended-response item (writing prompt)

March 19 Writing Test, Day 2 multiple-choice items

March 20-25 Make-up tests may be given on these days.

Here is the information that will be in the newsletter and that has been disseminated to parents via our social media system.

Snow Day Make-up

The general assembly has agreed on H.4576 that gives school districts the flexibility to forgive school days missed due to the winter storms. Before the days can be forgiven, each district must use all of the make-up days in their 13-14 calendar. A proposal will be submitted to our board of trustees during the March 25th meeting to forgive all days missed in Lex5. June 6th will now be a school day (1/2 day). The last three days will be half days. We will use the morning of June 7th as our check-out day for all individuals who cannot get checked out by 5:00pm on June 6th. The assessment calendar previously distributed will be revised this week and sent out to everyone (by Mr. Hutto) via email.

Student Dress Code

As the weather warms up a little, we will see an increase in students violating the dress code. I want all enrichment classes to review the following expectations:

1. Getting to class on time (Tardy Policy)

2. Dress Code

3. Class Behavior

SPED Corner (Updated)

Spring IEP Update

All spring IEP meetings are planned to be scheduled in the next 2 weeks. All case managers have submitted their meeting requests, and Mrs. McNeil is now in the process of scheduling the meetings. Please thank her when you see her, as this is a significant logistical undertaking.

For meetings this year, to maximize student instruction, we are going to be working around the general education teacher as much as possible. As the meetings are scheduled, instead of missing class or planning every day to attend one or two meetings, we are instead planning on scheduling multiple meetings consecutively for the general education teacher to attend on a pre-determined, designated day. We are planning to provide you coverage for that day in your class, and that way you will not be consistently out, scrambling, or missing your needed planning time. As the schedule and plan is developed, we will update you.

PASS Writing Update

In an effort to make things run smoother for students with PASS accommodations, I have been working to schedule groups earlier. I plan to have this done by Tuesday, March 11. Once the schedule is made, I will then provide Mrs. Inabinet a copy for her to include in the overall student roster, and let the TA's know their groups.

In the past, I would have students with accommodations meet in the cafeteria. In making this schedule early, providing the roster to Mrs. Inabinet to incorporate, and informing all teachers well in advance, my hope is instead for students to report directly to their assigned room. This will allow for less transition, which will hopefully help students focus on doing the very best they can.

Once the roster is finalized, I will provide each TA a copy, as well as other special education teachers to help inform the students of where they are expected to report. This plan will hopefully eliminate the need to first gather in the cafeteria.

Closing Thoughts

This week's Friday Forecast contains our calendar to guide our week ahead and events on the horizon. As we march onward, everyone must have a laser like focus on PASS testing, and making sure our spring is super successful. During my growth readings this week, I ran across a blog entry from a member of my professional learning network. The author provided some tips on how to get from January to June. Take a look:

We are well into the second half of the school year, and many of you are probably surprised that you've made it this far while others are cruising right along. This is very natural in all schools. I've put together what I think are some excellent tips for successfully making it through the second half of the school year. See which of these strategies can make the next six months a piece of cake in your classroom.

Tips to Get You from January to June!

1. Create "Me Time" Not Absences
This may one of the hardest things you can ask yourself to do. "Me Time" is not easy to find, but it is one of the most important things you can do during this second half of the school year. This time doesn't have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be every single day, but it needs to be your time. You can do almost whatever you want during this time -- as long as it is not school related. No checking papers, returning parent emails or lesson planning. Find something that's all about you, and do it. I love to play video games and make my "Me Time" about interactive gaming. No matter how bad my day was, playing the video game gets me in a great mood after an hour. In summer, I love to work on my pond or garden. These are things I can do when the world gets too loud, and they help me center. Find your "Me Time" activity and enjoy it.

2. Ask For Help
For some reason, asking for help is viewed as a sign of weakness or ineptitude. People are afraid to ask for help because they want everyone to believe that they're the best at their job all of the time. This is just a silly notion. Many newer teachers succumb to this idea, yet many veterans still hold onto it, too. In fact, asking for help is one of the smartest things you can do when your professional life gets crazy. If you have a mentor, go to him or her for help in dealing with a problem student or putting the finishing touches on a lesson. Asking for help is actually a sign of strength. Admitting that you cannot tackle something on your own is a brave thing to do. It shows that you have your priorities in order. It's not about your ego -- it's about solving a problem. Seek help when you need it, and January to June will pass in a blink of an eye.

3. Connect and Learn New Strategies
Sometimes we keep frustrations and fears bottled up and then ruin an entire summer break trying to deal with them. Bottling up is the worst way to spend the next six months of the school year. It's important to have people in your teaching life that can understand the problems you're facing and can offer some insight. They can be mentors, administrators or other educators you've connected with via social media or professional networking. These connections can offer a wonderful point of view that you hadn't considered when looking at your issue. Picking up new strategies via continued professional learning is key because learning new skills and strategies are paramount to the career longevity.

4. Reflection
One of the best things I've ever done is reflect on my teaching on a regular basis. I make sure there's time in my day to take a look at what happened and what I can learn from it. These daily reflections prepare me for the next day, week and school year. My blog is a place where I can write about my ideas or frustrations. I need to get them out of my head so that I can see what I was actually thinking. You can choose to reflect in a personal journal or a blog. Wherever you decide to reflect, make sure you do it on a regular basis. If every day is too much, do it every other day or every Friday. Find the time to think about what you're doing and what you can learn from it. These reflections will pay off years down the road when you encounter similar situations -- you'll remember how not to handle things based on previous reflections. A reflection here and there will have you ready for the end of the school year with a smile instead of a grimace. (Reed Gillespie, 2014)

It is my hope that the calendar entries and reminders will allow you to plan accordingly and carry out your responsibilities in an exemplary fashion. "Stay positive in the third quarter slump. Display motivation and look towards the future of iAM." (Amiee Holcomb, 2014)

Let's stand by each other and remain #IrmoSTRONG!

Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Principal

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