Common Sense

Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern News - December 8, 2014

About the Title

Common Sense was a pamphlet authored by Thomas Paine in 1775-76. It was written to inspire American colonists to declare independence from British Rule at the beginning of The Revolution. This weekly, modern, online relative of that pamphlet documents the news, events, updates, and celebrations of the TJ Revolution - the educational sensation sweeping through northwest Dallas.

TJ Feeder Pattern "News in Brief"

Executive Director's Message

During the stressful month of December, as the first semester comes to a close, you may find a true Work-Life Balance difficult to obtain. Technology makes you accessible around the clock. High stakes accountability incentivizes longer hours. In fact, 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week in a Harvard Business School survey. Experts agree: the compounding stress from the never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt relationships, health, and overall happiness.


The following are a few tips to keep in mind for a Better Work-Life Balance.


1. Let go of perfectionism - As life gets more expanded it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going. The healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence.


2. Unplug - Shut your phone off and just enjoy the moment. Make quality time true quality time. By not reacting to the updates from work, you will developing a stronger habit of resilience. Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives, while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.


3. Exercise and meditate - Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state. Dedicate a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it’s exercise, yoga or meditation. And if you’re really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises during your commute or a quick five minute meditation session morning and night.


4. Limit time-wasting activities and people - Identify what’s most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities, not someone else’s. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities. From there, it will be easier to determine what needs to be trimmed from the schedule.


5. Change the structure of your life - Sometimes we fall into a rut and assume our habits are set in stone. Take a birds-eye view of your life and ask yourself: What changes could make life easier? Instead of trying to do it all, focus on activities you specialize in and value most. Delegate or outsource everything else. Talk to the “key stakeholders” in different areas of your life, which could include colleagues at work or a spouse. Find out what you can do to let go in ways that benefit other people by giving them opportunities to grow. This will give them a chance to learn something new and free you up so you may devote attention to your higher priorities.


6. Start small. Build from there. - We’ve all been there: crash diets that fizzle out, New Year’s resolutions we forget by February. It’s the same with work-life balance when we take on too much too quickly. If you’re trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there.


Have a great week with students!

-T. Hise


adapted from "6 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance", Deborah Jian Lee, Forbes Magazine. http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahlee/2014/10/20/6-tips-for-better-work-life-balance/

by Ben Johnson, www.edutopia.org


Our students don't always learn what we want them to learn, but they always learn something. Other than the curriculum, they may learn how to fight the system, or how to get the teacher mad, or how to avoid responsibility, or how to talk to friends without being noticed by the teacher. Working with the teacher or against the teacher, either way, learning takes place.


Recently, I asked a group of educators to answer the question, who is responsible for learning in the classroom -- the teacher or the students? Interestingly enough, the group of educators was split down the middle on their viewpoints. Half said the responsibility belonged with the students, and the other half said the responsibility lay with teachers.

It went back and forth for a while, neither side conceding. The fierce discussion hovered around the real crux of the problem: if the teacher says it's the student's responsibility, and the students say it is the teacher's responsibility, then no one is responsible. How many school classrooms have this problem with perceptions of responsibility? I know of a few.


As teachers, I think we all need to agree on the statement, In my class, every student will learn.


Two of my heroes are Mary Catherine Swanson and Jaime Escalante. Both of them accepted the mantra, I believe that every student will learn in my class. Mary Catherine Swanson, the founder of AVID, was not afraid to commit to every student learning in her class. She was an English teacher in San Diego and refused to accept that her students, perceived as disadvantaged, could not learn in advanced college-prep classes. Jaime Escalante, of Stand and Deliver fame, was not afraid to commit to helping all of his students learn. He had been given a remedial math class of what some considered the worst students and he took them all the way to AP Calculus.


Both of these regular, everyday teachers accepted the responsibility for learning in their classrooms (interestingly enough, both faced severe opposition from their colleagues and administrators for doing so). What did they do exactly? They simply got busy and went to work helping their students learn. That choice, all by itself, is how they became exceptional teachers.


How can I do that? I don't have those skills, or that talent, and I'm just a regular teacher, you might ask. We must become self-actualized. We cannot be dependent on others to do what we know we can do as teachers. We have to get to the point where the minimum is not enough, and finding solutions for challenges around student learning become our daily bread and breath of life.


When the teacher says, I am the one that makes learning possible in the classroom and I am committed to make it happen. And the student says, I will do everything that I can to learn. I am ready to learn. That is when the magic of learning really happens.

Lunch & Learn with Dallas ISD TEI Team

The TEI team is excited to announce optional lunchtime campus sessions called “Lunch & Learn with TEI” for teachers to connect with TEI staff members and receive answers to their questions about the Teacher Excellence Initiative. Please click this link if you are interested in having TEI staff members come to your campus to share information with teachers and answer their TEI-related questions during your teachers’ lunch period. If interested, after completing the survey a member of the TEI team will follow-up with you directly to confirm your session content and scheduling preferences. Given that DTR-eligible teachers will most likely use the winter break to complete the DTR application in preparation for the January 22, 2015 application deadline, the TEI team is suggesting that most “Lunch & Learn with TEI” sessions occur prior to the deadline.

Fishman Prize for Superlative Teaching

Region 10 State Accountability Training Offered for Principals

Region 10 will offer training on the Texas State Accountability System for Dallas ISD Principals in the coming months. The training will highlight the 4 indexes of the state accountability system. What subjects, which students, and calculation methods will be discussed for each index.


  • December 11 (2-5pm) - Buckner Building
  • January 21 (2-5pm) - Dallas ISD Administration Building
  • January 22 (2-5pm) - Haskell Building
  • January 27 (2-5pm) - Dallas ISD Administration Building


If you wish to register for one of the sessions, call 972-925-6714 or email cchernosky@dallasisd.org. Registration is capped at 30 participants per session.

Donors Choose Projects Likely to Be 100% Funded - Get Them Online Today!

from Andy Canales, Commit! Director of Literacy Initiatives & Partnerships


In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, we're planning to market DonorsChoose K-3rd grade literacy projects in SOC, Molina, TJ, BA, and White (both the week of Nov. 24th and Dec. 22nd) to help generate funding from the community. While full project funding is not guaranteed (as funding is dependent on project quality and community will), last year 84% of projects marketed by the Commit! Partnership were fully funded.


We're only featuring well-written projects that are within the $500-$700 range.


The deadline for teachers to upload projects online is Tuesday, Nov. 18th for the Thanksgiving blast and Monday, Dec. 15th for the Christmas and New Years blasts.

Leadership Quote of the Week

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Week At-a-Glance

Monday, December 8
  • Campus Visits


Tuesday, December 9

  • Campus Visits


Wednesday, December 10

  • Campus Visits
  • SBDM Training (Walnut Hill, Field, Cary, Knight) @ Walnut Hill ES (5-6pm)


Thursday, December 11

  • Campus Visits
  • Teacher Focus Group @ Foster ES (4-5:30pm)


Friday, December 12

  • Cycle 4 Data Meeting @ Polk (8-11am) - Burnet, Field, Knight, Polk, Saldivar
  • Cycle 4 Data Meeting @ Longfellow MS (12-3pm) - Jefferson, Cary, Medrano, Longfellow
  • Attendance for Credit Attendance Administrator Training @ Maria Luna Building (2:15-3:45pm)

On The Horizon

December 10: Teen School Board Meeting

December 10-19: ACP Assessments (K-5)

December 15-19: ACP Assessments (6-12)

December 17: Districtwide Principals' Meeting

December 18: Dallas ISD School Board Meeting

December 19: End of 3rd Six Weeks

Action Items