Ms. Mac's Memos

Week of October 20th

Mission & Vision

Park Street Mission:

We Learn. We Grow. We Thrive.

Park Street Vision:

Our vision is to provide a collaborative foundation for successful learning and living through:

P- Positive Experiences

S- Supporting all students

E- Engaging with the community and creating

S- Students of excellence

Week at a Glance


  • Readers visiting 2nd grade


  • PLCs
  • Principal Phonics Call


  • AP meeting


  • Data meeting with Mr. Johnson during grade levels
  • GEM luncheon

Challenge for the Month...

October is my favorite month and fall is my favorite season. While surfing Pintrest, I found this Fall Bucket List. The challenge for this week (throughout this month) will be to choose something to do for yourself (or with your family) from the Fall bucket list.
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Instructional Spotlight

This week we caught Ms. Armour using the Writing Strategies book during her small group lesson. She picked a specific skill for the students to work on and plan out how to address it in the lesson. Ms. Armour kept the book out during the small group lesson in order to pull out key concepts and skills to teach students about that strategy.
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Capturing Kids Hearts (CKH)

Social Contract check-up:

Juan came out to walk classrooms and visit with us. We saw lots of great things from the Capturing Kids Hearts model. One of the things he encouraged us to do was to evaluate our social contracts for common language. Some key words he encouraged us to add in or ensure were on every contract were:

  • Effort
  • No put downs
  • Respect

Take a look at your class Social Contracts and if these are missing, have a conversation with your students about adding them. Remember, your Social Contract is a living document.

Team Spotlight

This week we would like to spotlight the Kindergarten team. They have collaborated really well as a PLC and gone out of their way to support and help one another with instructional strategies and best practices. Way to go team!

Reading A to Z

Many of you are using and would like to use the Reading A to Z site. We are going to purchase it as a school. This is a great resource for guided reading, but try and use real books over Reading A to Z. Keep in mind, you will have to use your own paper to print the books. Lastly, the lessons that come with Reading A to Z tend to be less rigorous; therefore, it is more beneficial to use a Jan Richardson lesson with your guided reading groups.



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Coaches' Corner

A Technique for Self-Reflection: Video Recording

By: Jordan Catapano

It might be awkward. It might be funny. It might be embarrassing. But one thing it undoubtedly will be helpful. If you haven’t video recorded and watched yourself teaching yet, then now is the time to undertake this unique reflective task.

When athletes want to improve their performance, they “go to the tapes” and watch hours’ worth of recordings of themselves practicing and playing. They also study their opponents by doing the same thing. When politicians want to improve their message, they watch recordings of their previous speeches. One of the most tried-and-true methods for actually seeing and evaluating what you do is to watch yourself doing it. So, one fantastic method you could employ to make yourself a better teacher is to watch yourself teach.

“I Said That?”

When I’m teaching, I feel like I’m in complete control of what I say and do. I feel like I’m being clear to students. I feel like a good communicator. I feel like a good role model. I feel like an effective teacher. Don’t you?

Unfortunately, what we feel and what the reality is can often be two different things. Watching myself on a video recording helps show me the reality. It shows me that I do, in fact, ramble quite a bit. It shows me that I do pace incessantly around the classroom. It shows me that those jokes I thought were so funny actually fell flat. It shows me how many “umms” I actually say. It shows me how many tangents I go off on. It shows me how I mumble a little at the end of each sentence.

Basically, it shows me a lot.

When I video recorded myself, I was finally able to see myself as students see me. This gave me great insight into what I do well, but also into the many flaws that I have as a teacher too. While just watching myself doesn’t fix my flaws, it definitely makes them more apparent and gives me ample opportunity to reflect on how to improve.

How to Record Yourself and What to Look For

What’s best going into the process of video recording is to have a few questions in mind that you’d like answered. Try to think about some specific aspects of your teaching that you’d like to focus on.

Here are some sample questions I’ve used for myself:

  • How loudly do I speak?

  • Do I get off track at all? How often?

  • Do I do anything annoying or distracting with my voice, gestures, posture, etc.?

  • How clear are my instructions for activities?

  • How clearly do I communicate the big ideas in a lesson?

  • Am I interacting with students effectively?

  • What are students doing as I’m speaking?

  • Does my method of instruction seem appropriate for the content and goal I have in mind?

  • How much time do I spend talking about things that don’t need to be talked about?

Once I establish a few areas that I want to look at, I procure a video recording device from my AV department and get to work. It’s rare that I’ll record just one lesson or just one classroom. What I’ve found works best is if I record lessons for about a week in at least two settings. What happens is that the first day or two the recording kind of makes both me and the students a little uncomfortable. We’re extra cognizant of it and this affects how we behave. After a few days, however, it just becomes part of the classroom and we all forget about it being there.

Usually, by the way, I just put the camera on a tripod in the back of the room and let it run on its own. Occasionally I’ve asked students to operate the camera for me if the lesson involves more moving around.

After recording myself in multiple classes for a week, I don’t sit down and watch every recording. That’s a lot, and I don’t recommend you try to watch all of it either! Instead, I identify a few of the lessons I’m particularly interested in. I find a nice private place where no one will ever find me, and I prepare myself for the awkward experience of watching myself.

How to Evaluate Yourself

There’s no getting around the initial discomfort you feel when you watch yourself. But it’s temporary, so don’t sweat it. It really is incredibly eye-opening to witness your own teaching! When watching, it is extremely easy to become overly critical of yourself. We have an image in our heads of how we look, sound and behave, and the camera has a way of deconstructing that image. That’s OK.

Your first task is to resist becoming too critical of yourself. Your second task is to simply identify one or two key areas that stand out as areas you want to focus on. If you try to suddenly target all kinds of things about your teaching that you want to work on, you’ll get overwhelmed and frustrated. Focus instead on just acquiring those one or two “takeaway” kinds of insights that you can then go back into the classroom and work on.

Don’t neglect, by the way, to identify at least one awesome thing you did in the video. Find a reason to pat yourself on the back. Watching yourself isn’t about changing yourself – it’s about improving in areas that need improvement and also celebrating how we merge our personality with our teaching.

And Then …

Make some definite goals for yourself based on what you observed. Video has a way of pointing out some of our biggest defects and highlighting our largest strengths. If you watch yourself but do nothing different afterwards, then the exercise has been worthless. If, however, you identify those small areas that you’d like to make growth in, then it gives you a definite aim and purpose.

Consider repeating the process later in the year. This might give you an opportunity to self-reflect on the improvement that you’ve made, and help you identify further areas for growth you could possibly focus yourself on.

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No Tricks...just treats

We love our Spooktackular staff! We will have Halloween treats for you on October 31st in the front office conference room.

Staff Shout Outs... (please submit shout-outs by Thursday at 3pm)

1. Ms. Kern, Mrs. Langdon and Mrs.Morton

Thank you SO much for taking a day or two to help me keep the garden watered during Fall break! Your willingness to help is not unnoticed and I genuinely appreciate you all! Many hugs!

2. Mrs. Turturro

Mrs. T is an outstanding teacher. I love being in her warm and inviting classroom, and her teaching skills are amazing! I have loved working with her this school year.

3. 5th PLC - Soto, Martin, Mosely, Olusegan, Hatheway, Bradley

Thank you for your patience and assistance!

4. Stephanie Sims

Thank you for always being so kind and helping me out!

5. Homecoming Committee

You all made Park Street proud. You" Roared" all the way. Thank you all! Go Park St. Panthers.

6. Nurse Nicole

Great job with the 3rd and 5th grade Hearing and Vision Screenings.

7. Dana Mo

Thank you so much for your assistance in keeping data on my students!

8. D. Tichenor

Thank you so much for sharing!!

9. Becca Kerns

You are an amazement. You always smile and make time for each situation thrown your way. You make people feel important. You are loved....and appreciated!!!!!!

10. Mrs. Dixon

You always have a smile on your face and kind words to say. You brighten my day each time I see you. You make a difference to the kids and the staff.

11. Mrs. Celedonio

Your students adore you, respect you and learn from you. You are gifted in your ability to modify daily plans for all levels of learners. Your students are blessed that they have your undivided attention and expertise. I am grateful for all you do to support our children each day.

12. Dana Mosley

Thank you for taking time out of your day to come and help 5th grade with getting ourselves prepared and fully-informed about the MTSS process. You're the best, Mo!

13. Lisa Cabrera

Thank you so much for all you do for our intensive babies in 5th grade. You work so, so hard! You are so appreciated!!!

14. Brian Katz

Mr. Katz, you make every day for your students a fun and adventurous day!

15. Kristi Hall and Christine Rodriguez

Thank you both for planning an exciting field trip to the Yahoo Farms. Our kiddos were so well behaved and enjoyed the pumpkin patch!

16. Nicole Renshaw

Thanks for creating meaningful activities for students during Super Specials.

17. Ms. V

Thank you for being #ALLIN all the time!