Common Sense

Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern News - September 28, 2015

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

Team TJ,

As the first six weeks marking period of the 2015-2016 school year draws to a close, students will have their first opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the concepts they learned during the past month and a half. Performance-based and authentic assessments will mix with traditional paper-and-pencil exams as students work hard to show what they know.

The time the students spend taking assessments should be minimal in comparison to the time their teachers and instructional leaders spend analyzing the data and prescribing interventions to ensure all students meet mastery expectations. I look forward to joining Principal and leader-led data meetings throughout the feeder pattern, held by grade level or content area. Teacher-prepared pre-work should guide the data-meeting discussions, in which time should be spent sharing best practices and strategies in support of low SE's, that are revealed by the data.

Have a great week with students!

Timothy J. Hise

Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern

ACP Fall Film Festival Registration is Open! Please Register!

Please encourage your teachers to attend the ACP viewings in the coming weeks. Elementary viewings will take place at Adamson HS and secondary viewings are offered at Buckner.

Registration is required!

TJHS Students Attend Districtwide College Fair

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Giving Suggestions to Colleagues Who See Themselves as Artists

from Marshall Memo #603

In this Harvard Business Review article, Kimberly Elsbach and Brooke Brown-Saracino (University of California/Davis) and Francis Flynn (Stanford University) share their research on how to comment on the work of colleagues who identify as creative artists (not necessarily in the conventional sense). The challenge is that these people are usually much better at giving ideas than taking suggestions. They often contribute in valuable ways to their organizations, but they’re resistant to feedback. Why is this? “We discovered that the problem centers not on ego but on identity,” say Elsbach, Brown-Saracino, and Flynn. “A healthy percentage of people in creative roles self-identify as ‘artists’ and react in unproductive ways when they feel that identity is being threatened… Their strength of feeling can energize them tremendously and sometimes drive them to achieve nothing short of genius. It may also make them resist useful feedback and great ideas if that input seems to put their core identity at risk.”

So how can suggestions (and criticism) be given to the artists among us in a way that it will be listened to and acted upon? The first step, say the researchers, is to understand what makes artists tick. People who fit this profile often prefer to work independently on projects and want the final product to carry their distinctive stamp. This is different from those who see themselves as problem solvers and are more comfortable collaborating with others and embracing any worthwhile idea. Artists tend to have a creative signature style (No. This is my idea. This is the way it should be), want control over how their ideas are generated, shaped, and executed, aren’t commercially motivated, and don’t take well to rules, power, and authority. “Non-artists may misinterpret these attitudes and behaviors as arrogance rather than as (at times unconscious) manifestations of creative identity,” say Elsbach, Brown-Saracino, and Flynn. “If they instead recognize why an artist colleague sometimes resists their ideas… productive collaboration becomes more likely.” They recommend four tactics:

  • Offer broad suggestions. When working with self-identified artists, specific input is threatening. Presenting a fully formed idea implies that you’re trying to impose your own creative stamp or are trying to take control of the process. One artist explained why he hated specific suggestions: “It’s almost like they’ve already decided on the way the project should go and have no respect for what I’ve done.” A more-effective approach is to give general suggestions, “seed” ideas, and inspiration.
  • Temper your enthusiasm. “Although artists believe passionately in their own ideas,” say Elsbach, Brown-Saracino, and Flynn, “they are more receptive to input from others when it is presented without emotion.” As one artist put it, “Too much passion about their idea says to me, ‘I don’t need you anymore’ and ‘I’m going to do this my way.’”
  • Give them space. Don’t push artists to react immediately to a suggestion. They often need time to think about its merits and perhaps figure out how it can be incorporated into their signature style.
  • Show respect and like-mindedness. It’s smart for colleagues to ask questions, be familiar with the artist’s previous work, understand the creative process that produced it, and generally “get” their thinking.

Getting insights into the artistic temperament and using these four tactics can “help managers enable all kinds of talent to flourish and create value together,” conclude the authors. “By taking the time to understand how your colleagues’ identities affect their perceptions and actions – and then behaving in ways that respect them – you reveal your own gifts as a collaborator and a professional.”

“Managing Yourself: Collaborating with Creative Peers” by Kimberly Elsbach, Brooke Brown-Saracino, and Francis Flynn in Harvard Business Review, October 2015 (Vol. 93, #10, p. 118-121),

Beginner's Guide to the Proposed Dallas ISD Bond Package

Keys to Increasing Rigor in the Classroom

from Marshall Memo #604

In this American School Board Journal article, editor Del Stover suggests some ways to ensure academic rigor at the classroom level:

  • Increase the number of challenging courses. “Research shows that most students rise to the challenge of higher expectations,” says Stover, “so offering more academically rigorous courses is likely to produce results.” The Houston Independent School District has made a point of boosting the number of AP courses in all schools, with a requirement that students take the exams. (HISD has also increased the number of International Baccalaureate programs.) Over the last six years, there’s been a 64 percent increase in Houston students passing AP exams.
  • Introduce academic rigor at an early age. “Waiting until high school to get tough is only going to backfire with students who are behind grade level in English and math,” says Stover. This means backwards-mapping from high-school exit standards at a college-and-career level all the way back to preschool.
  • Make sure everyone understands what on-grade-level instruction looks like. “Academic rigor is determined not just by what is taught, but how it is taught and how it is assessed,” says a report from the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media. Hamilton County, Tennessee, clarified academic rigor by describing grade-level expectations and what students should be doing to be on track for success.
  • Provide supports. It’s commonly believed that increasing rigor will lead to many students being frustrated, disengaging, and failing. But that will happen only if there’s a sink-or-swim philosophy of learning, says Stover. Effective schools assess frequently and, when difficulties are revealed, intervene quickly with targeted and efficient interventions.
  • Ensure equity. In de facto segregated, high-poverty schools, differentiation can be a proxy for lowering expectations, says Stover. If economic integration isn’t possible, educators need to be sure that all students are aiming at standards-based grade-level expectations.

“Up to the Challenge: Are You Doing All You Can to Provide Academic Rigor for Your Students?” by Del Stover in American School Board Journal, October 2015 (Vol. 202, #5, p. 42-43),; Stover can be reached at

TEI Tidbits

September 14-17

Principals will receive TEI teacher evaluation scorecards and should begin holding conferences with teachers.

September 18

Teachers will receive electronic versions of their scorecards via oracle self-service. Principals are asked to remain available until 8:00 PM on this date to answer any questions.

September 18-October 1

Teacher rebuttal window in Oracle for TEI evaluation scorecard

September 28

Teachers submit SLO Goal-Setting and PDPs in Schoolnet.

October 1

Principals must score and approve SLOs & PDPs by today.

October 6

TEI Expert Meting @ Foster ES (4-6pm)

Leadership Quote of the Week

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Week At-a-Glance

Monday, September 28
  • Deadline for Teachers to Submit SLO & PDP in SchoolNet
  • Campus Visits (TJH)

Tuesday, September 29

  • Campus Visits (TJH)
  • Districtwide ACT Testing - 12th Graders

Wednesday, September 30

  • Campus Visits (TJH)

Thursday, October 1

  • Deadline for Administrator to Approve SLO/PDP in SchoolNet
  • P3 Network Meeting (all elementary principals) @ St. Marks (11:30-1pm)

Friday, October 2

  • Leveling Moves Completed in Chancery
  • Deadline to Submit Campus Improvement Plan
  • 1st Six Weeks Ends

On The Horizon

Sept 28 - SLO/PDP Schoolnet Entry Deadline for Teachers

Oct 1 - SLO/PDP Schoolnet Approval Deadline for Administrators

Oct 5 - 2nd Six Weeks Begins

Oct 5-8 - Attendance For Credit Administrator Training @ Haskell

Oct 6 - TEI Focus Group @ Foster ES (4-6pm)

Oct 7 - TJ Feeder Pattern Principals' Meeting @ Medrano (8:30 am - 12 pm)

Oct 7 - Principals' Focus Group @ Haskell (4-6pm)

Oct 7 - 2015 Bond Town Hall Meeting @ Medrano MS (6-7:30 pm)

Oct 9 - Elementary Fair Day

Oct 14 - PSAT (Grade 10)

Oct 16 - Secondary Fair Day

Action Items