Bulldog Bulletin

January 15, 2016

Strategy Launch: Blast-Off

Each year when we transition from a teacher rubric-focused cycle to a student strategy, it is exciting to watch the hard work TLT has done in field testing-from the analysis of data to teaching the chunks, and tweaking them into a strategy that has impacted student achievement of the students in field testing. In many ways it is like the first day of school when we welcome students. Teachers put many hours into prepping rooms and lessons in the same way our TLT prepares a strategy for rollout in cluster.

You approached the overview cluster openly and ready to learn. As we reflected, we appreciated your engagement and thoughtful questions. You will give and score the pretest before cluster and bring back your student work along with the completed quantitative and qualitative data sheets.

Let the learning begin!!!

Thinking and Problem Solving

TLT has worked hard to foster an environment that has a rigorous approach to thinking and problem solving and a comprehensive way of documenting this "over multiple observations." In the past, we have relied solely on evaluations to document thinking and problem solving. This year we have conducted classroom walk-throughs as well as giving you the opportunity to invite TLT members to your classroom to observe thinking and/or problem solving.

So, at the halfway point, what results have we seen as a result of this change of practice?

  • Deeper understanding of what thinking and problem solving looks like in light of more rigorous College and Career Readiness standards
  • Intentional planning and teaching of thinking and problem solving
  • Increased instructional feedback for teachers
  • Increased evaluation scores
Thinking: from 3.17 (2014-2015) to 3.31 (2015-2016 thus far)

Problem Solving: from 3,12 (2014-2015) to 3.24 (2015-2016 thus far)

Great job, everyone!!

Parent Communication

It is critically important that we continue to partner with parents as we work with children on a daily basis. This is the time of year that we see a spike in referrals, and communicating with parents is vital. If students are beginning to struggle either academically, socially, or behaviorally, contact parents before the problem becomes much larger. Let's continue to be proactive in our communication with parents.

Data Meetings

As the NWEA scores begin rolling in, there are several next steps we need to do as we analyze the data. First, once reading and math are complete, you will want to make sure that you are having students track their data and that individual conversations are happening where necessary. I will be meeting with each team to review the data once we have finished testing. You will receive a form that you will complete to prepare for those discussions. We will be looking at percentages of students who met their growth target, percentages of students who did not, and then we will talk about support those students are getting and additional strategies to try with them. You will receive the form on Tuesday and the meetings will be the first week in February.

Two Truths and a Lie...or Two Facts and a Myth About PBL

Treats on Tuesday for all who play.........

Directions for Playing-Identify the lie/myth and why you think so in an email to me by Monday evening for a treat in your mailbox on Tuesday.

1. PBL makes school seem more like real life. It's an in-depth investigation of a real world topic worthy of children's attention and effort.

2. PBL is the same as "making something," "hands-on learning," or "doing an activity."

3. In a project, students design the process for reaching a solution.

From Central Office

Today’s Focus: Growth

“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.”
– Babe Ruth

What strategies do you use to recover from failure and try again?

What is it about failure that scares you? How can you overcome this?

How does your team help build your self-confidence?

How do you support others in overcoming their fears?

Master and Mentor Teacher Addendums will be sent to out to the schools early next week. Each leadership team member will receive two copies of the addendum. The teacher AND the principal should sign both copies, keeping one and one returning the other to the HR office for our records. Please convey our thanks to these folks for their patience. [NOTE: Master and mentor teachers have been receiving the salary augmentation; this is just the paperwork part of the process.]

Principals, please post/share this information in locations where classified staff receive mail/school announcements. Thank you.

Attention Classified Employees:

The School Board approved wage increases for 2016. This is the first time we will make these changes in the New World payroll system. The new hourly rates will be realized on the January 29th pay check. Between now and then, our systems are being updated to reflect the new wages and experience levels. Please be patient as it will take some time for all of this new information to be rolled over. In the near future, you will be receiving an Employment Acknowledgement letter. You will not need to sign and return this to the administration office this year, unless there are inaccuracies. Please double check the information when you receive the acknowledgement. You may refer to the classified wage scales for 2016 on the GCS webpage in Staff Services, Benefits section. Thanks for your attention to these matters.

Strategic Planning:

All GCS Staff are invited to one the following meetings to learn more about the Strategic Plan (GCS 2025 Plan) on which the school district is currently working. We hope you can attend one of these!

Wednesday, January 27, 7:30 a.m. at GHS Auditorium

Wednesday, January 27, 3:15 p.m. at Parkside Cafeteria

Thursday, January 28, 7:30 a.m. at GMS Media Center

Thursday, January 28, 3:15 p.m. at GCS Board Room

The reason that we are not holding meetings at every school is that when we do that, it takes about six weeks to make it around to every building when coordinating schedules. This Strategic Plan has some urgency to it, as Marketing & PR, Academics & Programs, Facilities, and Resource Utilization are all topics that the plan will be addressing. We are really hoping that many of you will be able to attend one of the meetings. Thank you for your understanding.

Snow Days

An issue about designated snow days has arisen. The old contract stated that school had to be canceled 10 days prior to a designated make-up day in order for the corporation to use it. However, that is no longer the case. The snow day language is no longer in the contract. So, any day designated as a make-up snow day will be used in the order stated on the calendar. For example, if school is canceled on February 9th we will make it up on February 11th. This means all staff is expected to be available for the designated make-up day and vacations should not be planned for them.