The Monday Message
Office of the Principal; Monday, January 19, 2015
Duty Roster for the Week
Monday - No School (MLK Holiday)
Tuesday - R Group on Duty (All Admin on Duty)
Wednesday - M Group on Duty (Jackson)
Thursday - O Group on Duty (All Admin on Duty)
Friday - M Group on Duty
Reminder - At the request of several teachers, everyone is receiving a remind message on Thursday evening of each week, calling attention to the Friday duty assignments.
The Week Ahead
Black Week - Classes Meet 1-2-3-4-5-6
Monday (19th) - No School - MLK Holiday
Tuesday (20th) - (Report Cards Go Home), G40 StuCO Mtg (7:45am, Rm. 812), 8th Grade Walk-Over to IHS (9:00am), Admin Meeting (10:30am, Cafe'), Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Department Meetings (4-5pm, DH Classrooms), SIC/PTSO (5:30pm, FCR), C-Team Basketball Away @ Chapin Middle (5:30pm), iNSIDE iAM 6th Grade Recruitment (6:00-7:30pm, Cafe')
Wednesday (21st) - Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Principal's Meeting (12:30-4:30, DO Board Room), Team Meetings (during plannings as specified)
Thursday (22nd) - Crew 8:20-8:50, Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), C-Team Basketball (H) vs. Meadow Glenn Middle (5:30pm, Gym), iNSIDE iAM 7th/8th Recruitment (6:30pm, Cafe')
Friday (23rd) -School Board Appreciation Luncheon (12:00-1:00, Media Center),
Tasks to Complete This Week!
2. Make sure grades are completely updated in PowerSchool.
3. Attend Tuesday's Departments Meetings
4. Incorporate the topics specified in the weekly calendar in your lesson plans and activities. Make sure you are making specific connections to the experiences of our students as well as cross curricular planning and connections.
5. Everyone report to duty as scheduled. See roster here.
6. Read the Monday Message in its entirety (including the articles linked and inserted). Also view the video clips, reflect, and adjust your practices where needed.
7. Get your classrooms and hallway areas ready for the Magnet Compliance Visit. Your areas must scream the international and iAM theme. Also, your instruction on the day they visit must have global thematic connections.
6th Grade Inside iAM Recruitment Open House
Tuesday, Jan. 20th, 6-7:30pm
Irmo Middle School Cafeteria
For your future graduate of the class of 2022, there is something more important than grades and test scores. According to a recent study titled The Global Skills Gap (2011), employers rate knowledge and awareness of the wider world as more important than a candidate's degree or past test scores. In fact, according to College Board (2014):
"Students must learn in ways that prepare them to engage effectively in a world increasingly defined by global interconnectedness and global issues."
Now, for the first time, your student has an opportunity to do just that.
In the fall, Irmo Middle School, an International Academic Magnet (iAM) and an Expeditionary Learning School, will open its doors to an inaugural 6th grade class. As members of our iAM learning community, your student will:
-Grapple with global concepts;
-Engage with peers and teacher-facilitators to create high-quality work; and,
-Participate in small learning communities that are designed to help students navigate the joys and challenges of adolescence.
To learn more about the unique opportunities available at Irmo Middle School, please attend our iNSIDE iAM night on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 from 6:00-7:30PM in the Irmo Middle Café.
A formal invitation is attached to this email. For more information about our school or the informational evening, please visit our website.
You do not want to miss this opportunity!
7th/8th Grade Inside iAM Recruitment Open House
Thursday, Jan. 22nd, 6:30-7:45pm
Irmo Middle School Cafeteria
Dear Students, Parents, and Guardians;
Have you heard about the International Academic Magnet and wondered about the incredible things going on at Irmo Middle and how you can position your child for future growth and success by learning in a one-of-a-kind setting?
Now, that you have you heard words like
International Academic MAGNET, what about EXPEDITIONARY LEARNING, and PITSCO Education ?
Have you asked or been approached with questions like,
"How can I get more information?"
Are you looking for clear answers and explanations so that you are better equipped so you can enroll your student in an Expeditionary Learning school?
If you answered YES to any of those questions,
this event is for YOU!
Irmo Middle School is hosting the second “iNSIDE iAM” magnet recruitment night combined with our annual Course Fair and Registration night. Beginning at 6:30PM in the school cafeteria, this combined event will provide parents and community members with detailed information regarding our magnet school and course offerings. Sarah Boddy (Expeditionary Learning School Designer) will also provide a glimpse into the exciting world of Expeditionary Learning and Matt Frankenbury (Vice President for PITSCO Education) will be on hand to show the amazing learning products that will be created in the STEM and Algebra Readiness Labs next year. In addition to a formal presentation, students and parents will be able to visit instructional booths to see and experience first hand the type of work that students will be doing in classes. Moreover, only at Irmo Middle will students have the opportunity to take:
Choice of four different languages
Introduction to STEM and Technology Systems
Introduction to Media Arts I, II
Check out the invitation and please plan to attend!
Magnet Federal Compliance Visit
Tuesday, Jan. 27th, 12-4pm
Irmo Middle School
Please mark Tuesday, January 27, 2015 on your calendars (Google invite coming). This is our first compliance visit from representatives from an organization representing the US Department of Education. They will conduct interviews with selected students, parents, and staff members - as well as tour classrooms and randomly speak to students/teachers. They do not want a "dog and pony" show, but rather are looking for evidence of our true progress in becoming a magnet school.
Here are the key take-away points to both inform and reassure...
1. After break, we will provide a "talking points" handout with possible questions and information to help inform your answers. Anyone may be asked questions by the monitors during the visit - it's important we are all ready.
2. We are still in implementation year one (last year was planning)...they don't expect to see us fully implementing everything yet. *Sigh of relief.
3. They do expect to see the ways in which we are transforming into a globally themed magnet. As ways to demonstrate this growth: all lessons on this day should have a global connection and student work/bulletin board displays in classrooms and hallways should be updated and theme-connected.
We have done amazing work over the past 12 months - and this will be our day to show off this work.
January Staff Birthdays
Windy Jones, January 2nd
Ashley Evans, January 3rd
Ashley Yandle, January 4th
Scott Thur, January 6th
Diane Falsetti, January 9th
I’esha Odom, January 13th
Carla Dupree, January 19th
Laurie Dobbe, January 20th
Vernon Sava, January 22nd
Heather Leeper, January 26th
Danielle Major-Murphy, January 27th
Frances Counts, January 28th
Antionette Langley, January 28th
Bryan Winfree, January 28th
Please join me in wishing these staff members a happy birthday.
1. Mrs Tina Stevens- Last week Mrs. Stevens helped coordinate our one of our School Board Appreciation events at the Basketball Game on Thursday. Our board members were our honorary officials and were recognized at mid-court. Both of the present board members lauded our efforts and expressed their sincere appreciation for Mrs. Stevens, our students, and the work being done at Irmo Middle." Way to go Mrs. Stevens! Join me in giving Mrs. Stevens a huge #iAM shout out.
2. Ms. Antionette Langley - It didn't take Ms. Langley any time to make her mark at IMS. She challenges and cherishes students every day in her class. Daily in the hallways, I frequently hear students speaking positively about her class, how much they love Ms. Langley and how much they are learning. Recently, a student shared a reflection with her. He stated " Mrs. Langley always had a sense of humor that I liked, and she gave the students what we deserved. Some teachers give students worksheets and say, “These are due by the end of class.” But no, Mrs. Langley made me feel like I was at home in her classroom, and I loved it from day 1. Way to go Ms. Langley! Join me in giving Ms. Langley a huge #iAM shout out.
3. Mrs. Kelly Thacker - Mrs. Thacker went to great lengths (in true IRMO fashion) to reach out to a parent whose student had not submitted their work. The parent contacted me and expressed his sincere appreciation for Mrs. Thacker going the extra mile. In his email, he stated "allow me to compliment Mrs. Thacker for her efforts with my son today. If she had not contacted his mother and I, we would not have been aware of the work he was missing and needed to turn in by today. She also stayed with him after school to make sure that he mastered concepts that he missed on his most recent test. We need more teachers like Mrs. Thacker in D5!" This is the type of home school relations that should exist in every class. Way to go Mrs. Thacker! Join me in giving Mrs. Thacker a huge iAM shout out.
Please join me in giving each of these individuals a big IRMO MIDDLE shout out!
Tuesday January 27th, our compliance officers will visit Irmo Middle School to assess our progress and implementation of our magnet. In order to make sure you are ready, you must take care of the following:
1. Make sure your classroom screams the theme of globalization and iAM.
2. Your instruction on the day that they are here must have global themes/references.
3. Review the talking points document (linked here and inserted below), and take some time on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday to prepare all students.
Attendance (Staff) - Update
Last week the teacher attendance rate was 94% (18 absences) and the entire staff attendance rate was 94% (41 absences). Our goal remains 97%, so we fell short in meeting our goal again last week. Let's rebound with a better week. As always, it is absolutely critical that everyone make every effort possible to be here each and every day. I will join you in those collective efforts. When you need to be out, please follow the proper protocols and prepare excellent plans for your students. Remember, if you are on duty, that needs to be communicated to your substitute as well.
Student Dress Code - Reminder
This week I confiscated some blankets being carried around by students. Blankets are not permitted at IMS as it becomes a safety hazard. If you see these items, politely confiscate them. If you encounter resistance, call for an administrator. Keep in mind that every time we allow this to happen, we weaken our own policy. Exercise good judgment in sending students out of class for these violations.
The Magnet Minute & EL Corner
Crew: Here is the link to this week's Crew lesson, which will be taught by faculty crew leaders early this week. See any of the faculty crew leaders if you have any questions.
What are you doing to integrate our magnet theme? You have been thinking about project design during your work with Sarah and Jen throughout this semester. Our EL work plan goal for this year is: all teachers will design and facilitate one high-quality project with kids. The next steps for this work are below:
1. By January 23: complete and submit your project plan. Many have already started this work. Here is the link to the folder where the templates are being stored - and I've also attached the template form in Word, if that's easier.
3. Between January 23 and January 30: Sarah will look at all project plans and provide feedback.
4. The week of 2/2-2/6: We will meet again in small groups to: revise plans and begin thinking about project assessment (formative and summative), daily lessons, and the timeline for implementation. During this week, we will get "into the weeds" on the details that go along with facilitating the work with kids.
From Mr. Thur
No entry this week
From Mrs. Inabinet
No entry this week!
From Mrs. Young
No entry this week!
1. Set kids as the priority every day. As educators, we have many demands, pressures, and expectations exerted upon us. The best teachers understand that putting kids first can inherently accomplish anything else on the list. Test scores, standards, grades, motivation, behavior, and attendance are examples of things that can be increased by setting kids as the priority. What does this mean? Setting kids as the priority means genuinely getting to know kids, their strengths, interests, passions, aspirations, frustrations, backgrounds, and areas for growth, then acting upon this knowledge in planning for instruction and engaging students in learning. The best teachers know this transcends the content of any manual (which can have value as resources and tools–just not end goals).
2. Treat discipline/behavior as a content area to support student learning. Just like Language Arts, Math, PE, Music, Foreign Language, etc., behavior is an area in which kids need our support to learn skills to grow. Math teachers do not send a student to the office if he fails a quiz, then expect an administrator to spend an hour or two teaching the concepts to him, call home, assign negative consequences, and expect the student to return with a positive attitude and ace the quiz; however, some educators treat disciplinary infractions this way. The best teachers meet students where they are behaviorally and accept the responsibility of supporting them as needed, just like they do academically.
3. Relish the opportunity to support student learning in the area of behavior. The best teachers know that working with students–and families–through behavioral infractions is a fast track way to building positive relationships. The disciplinary process provides teachers an opportunity to show kids they matter, and families they care. These situations take time, energy, and firmness; but so do teaching kids to read, understand fractions, and speak a foreign language. Educators who pass off these fast track opportunities to others not only pass off the opportunity to build and progress relationships, but often create just the opposite: adversarial relationships with students and families.
4. Recognize and celebrate positives (positively) disproportionately to negatives. Although the best teachers hold kids to high expectations, they still take the time to acknowledge achievements. They praise them, and also contact parents to share. This is very time consuming, but so is fielding negative calls from parents. The best teachers know this, and also understand the invested time yields much different results when placed proactively at the front end rather than reactively on the back end.
5. Remove teacher ego from student interactions. The best teachers always focus on student centered objectives when dealing with disciplinary and behavioral infractions. The root of the issues are addressed, and teachers support the skill in need. Incidents–especially disrespect and insubordination–are never compounded with punitive consequences because they were directed at the teacher, and are rarely outsourced for resolution.
6. Search for relationship building opportunities. The best teachers jump at opportunities like lunch duty, recess duty, hall duty, morning duty, after school supervision, extra-curricular supervision, and chaperoning. These environments are saturated with relationship building opportunities, as both parties can take off their “school caps” and engage on another level.
Perhaps this four day weekend provided time for us to examine our practices and determine how best to serve the needs of all kids. If kids are not at the top of the list, hopefully this offers assistance with any necessary revision. Our kids deserve it.
We Are Crew, Not Passengers; Together We are Smarter!
Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Principal
Improving Student Engagement in a Middle School
In this article in American Educational Research Journal, Julianne Turner, Andrea Christensen, and Meg Trucano (University of Notre Dame), Hayal Kackar-Cam (Northern Illinois University), and Sara Fulmer (SUNY Oneonta) report on their three-year intervention aimed at getting students more engaged in a middle school. At the request of the school’s principal, the authors led several PD sessions explaining the theory behind student engagement, gave teachers specific techniques for improving it, and closely observed classrooms to see if there was any change. Some teachers brought about marked improvements, while others saw no difference. The teachers who were successful in boosting engagement used specific techniques, “pulled” their students into greater engagement, and noticed a synergy among the key elements.
What did the researchers teach these educators? At a theoretical level, engagement is “the student’s psychological investment in, and effort directed toward, learning, understanding, or mastering the knowledge, skills, and crafts that academic work is intended to promote.” Here are four crucial variables, with classroom techniques for each:
• Belongingness – Students have frequent, pleasant interactions with others in an culture of concern for one another’s welfare. Teachers can foster belongingness by modeling and encouraging mutual respect and teaching students to work together productively.
• Competence – Students have a feeling of self-efficacy as they successfully interact with the classroom environment and meet their goals. Teachers can enhance competence by giving appropriately challenging tasks, continuously assessing learning, providing scaffolding and feedback, and letting students know that mistakes provide helpful feedback.
• Autonomy – Students have the space to satisfy their curiosity, choose to engage in schoolwork, and take the initiative to participate in class activities in accordance with their interests and values. Teachers can boost autonomy by nurturing students’ interests, competence, and relatedness; explaining classrooms tasks well; allowing multiple viewpoints; using non-controlling language; getting students to self-evaluate, ask questions, debate freely, and justify their thinking; and allowing students enough time to do high-quality work.
• Meaningfulness – Students see how classroom learning relates to their interests, values, and futures. Teachers can increase meaningfulness by building on students’ prior knowledge; addressing the central ideas of the subject; invoking universal human experiences and themes; giving opportunities for complex thinking; using concrete objects; sharing their own experiences and thoughts; inviting students to put themselves into the context of the topic; and getting students involved in extended conversations that build shared understanding.
“Enhancing Students’ Engagement: Report of a 3-Year Intervention With Middle-School Teachers” by Julianne Turner, Andrea Christensen, Meg Trucano, Hayal Kackar-Cam, and Sara Fulmer inAmerican Educational Research Journal, December 2014 (Vol. 51, #6, p. 1195-1226),http://aer.sagepub.com/content/51/6/1195.abstract; Turner can be reached at email@example.com.