Oaktree Newsletter

Friday, February 5, 2016

Vote for Ms. Alford for the FOX66 Golden Apple Award

Ms. Alford, a 2nd grade teacher at Oaktree, has been nominated for a Golden Apple Award!! Voting is now posted online at www.wsmh.com/goldenapple!! Voting will continue through Monday, February 29th.

Voting is UNLIMITED and every vote counts!

Tune in on Wednesday March 9th to "FOX66 News at 10" for the announcement of the winning teacher! The winner will receive a FOX66 Golden Apple Award in their name and will be recognized for their tremendous work on FOX66 throughout March!

Report Cards

Today is report card day. Each Oaktree student should be bringing home a report card with 2nd quarter grades. It never fails that I happen to get a phone call or two from concerned parents in the days after report cards go home. Here's a couple of tips for you from an educator's perspective as well as a parent's perspective.

  • Don't panic.
  • Good or bad, it's about your child not you. It's their turn to do 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade.
  • Celebrate the victories, even the small ones. Every kid has strengths. Start there.
  • Stay positive. Kids don't want to let their parents down and jumping down their throat about a low grade is not going to motivate them.
  • Our report card does not report proficiency more than it reports effort. This is something we are working on but it is not an overnight fix. We are also working to align our grading and how grades are weighted.
  • If you have a concern about a grade, please discuss it first with the teacher. The grade could reflect work that was not turned in or missing assignments.
  • Ask your child's teacher for a copy of your son or daughter's STAR reading or math assessment. This assessment provides a glimpse as to where kids are at in that moment in time, and even better, measures growth.
  • It's all about personal and academic growth.
  • Did I mention that it's all about growth?

In the big picture, I am encouraged by what I am seeing and reading research about in terms of moving away from grade level and age-based assessments to a focus on overall growth. It is my vision that we will also work with you to also provide feedback about your children's social and emotional growth and how we are developing their strengths.

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Smore Newsletter and Outreach

I want to thank all of you who have engaged in my Smore newsletter. I have included some screenshots of the outreach we have made and how far our message of whole-child, student-centered, innovative learning is going. It really is a small world!
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Good News Call of the Day

Here's a picture of me and one of our leader's Kyle, a 3rd graders in Ms. Horan's class. Kyle is one of the students who we made a Good News Phone Call to his parents. We want you all to know that we appreciate the great things our students do. Don't be surprised to get a Good News Call for your kiddo!

What is Growth?

If you have talked with me about kids, you will hear me say things like, we need to "develop kids" or we need to "nurture them" and give them what they need so that they "grow." Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day and feel like we are spinning our wheels. I know I've felt that way before. When in reality, we have come so far and grown so much.

One of my favorite stories that I like to tell in order to explain this is the story of my oldest son Brendan. Brendan loves hockey! He has since forever and always wanted to play it. The problem was that in Arizona and Oregon where he lived, there were no ice rinks within 100 miles of where we lived. So when we moved to Michigan, one of the carrots we dangled in front of him was the opportunity to play hockey. The first step, we told Brendan, was to learn to skate. We signed him up for skating lessons at the Iceland Arena. The first day was tough. He fell...a lot. There were tears, and he wanted to quit. I told him that he did not have to skate, but that we were going to still show up every Tuesday. I reminded him that this is what he wanted and that if you want something you need to work for it. Nothing good comes easy. A few minutes later he got back out on the ice and walked the boards. Each week we went back and each time he got a little better and fell less and less. We then enrolled him in a learn to play hockey program at Crystal Fieldhouse where he worked with coaches who encouraged him and cheered him on as well as providing him with technical instruction. In the spring, he hooked up with a Squirt team coached by an Oaktree dad, Kevin Maxwell. Kevin and the other coaches saw a determination in Brendan and continued to work with him and coach him up. Brendan grew and got better and better. This fall and winter Brendan continued with the same kids and coaches from spring hockey and joined the Burton Bulldogs Squirt team. In his first full season of hockey, Brendan, the kid who could not skate and almost quit 18 months ago, is the second leading scorer on his team.

Brendan has an example of perseverance and growth that he can go back to anytime he tries something new a struggles at first. This is not really about hockey, but about how we set goals and how we pick ourselves up when we fall down along the way. It's what our kids do, it's what we do. So the next time things aren't going well or the way you want, take a minute to remember how far you have come.
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