Millbrook Elementary Staff Notes

Week of Jan. 11-15, 2016

Thought For the Week

We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile. ~Earl Nightingale

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Tapping In to What Fuels Us

January can be a hard month. The holidays are over, long breaks gone, and the weather can be depressing. When you add the changes, mandates, and challenges that are imposed upon us as educators, it can feel overwhelming. I want to revisit something I shared in the notes a few weeks ago - the power to choose our attitude. The first week back from break brought unexpected challenges...a COLD school, issues in the 3rd grade building, some I parent issues, starting our "super" observation schedule. I found myself feeling physically and emotionally stressed.


One thing I decided to take on is starting additional graduate coursework in literacy. While on one hand, it feels like my work and stress load is increased, it actually has the opposite effect - most of the time :). For me, learning is truly what fuels me. I love reading, considering best practices, and stretching myself intellectually. Added bonus...this coursework is grounded in practice, so I will be working with a small group of readers to put my learning in practice. I want to thank Andrea Jones for partnering with me so I can apply what I'm studying with a group of students. I met with them on Friday to learn a little about them as readers. Spending time focused on a few students - talking with them about what they like about reading, listening to them read, having discussions about what they were learning - it truly felt joyful. I wasn't thinking about low performing school status, what time it was and whether I had to be doing something in a few minutes, or reading emails. I also saw enthusiasm, excitement, and a few moments of magic with these kids. (You must meet Caleb in Andrea's class...his excitement over a book about constellations was completely priceless!).


That is why we do what we do. As you are assessing, many of you are seeing growth. Take time each day to find something to celebrate. When you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted - find what fuels you and focus your thoughts and energy on that. There is no more important work; know that I admire, appreciate, and respect all you do.

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Logistical Updates


  • REPORT CARDS AND GRADE DEADLINE: Report card grades are due Jan. 20, to be sent home with students on Jan. 22. If you need extra report card envelopes, please see Abby. All assessments must be dated no later than JAN. 15 in order to show up in Q2 Gradebooks. Remember in the HOMEROOM course you are to enter a current grade for conduct and work as well as comments for every student.
  • MATH MATERIALS: Quarter 3 Math Alignment lessons are arriving in classrooms. Please be sure to count out the sets you need for your homeroom and then pass along extras to anyone on your teammates. The original orders are based on current rosters. Contact Abby if you are missing anything.
  • ROOM CHANGES: The PD room is now being used as a classroom by 3rd grade while we address some facility issues in the 3rd grade building. We will keep you posted regarding where we will be able to move the PD room in the weeks ahead. Collaborative planning will be in the room housing the interventionists/coaches this week. (Sorry - I am terrible with actual room numbers and don't know which # it is! It is on the 2nd grade hall 3 doors down from the PD room)
  • LESSON PLANS: As we have started our "super" observations, I have very much appreciated the pre-conference planning conversations and hearing how your weekly planning has evolved using the new agenda format. As a reminder, please have the weekly plans out and visible in your classroom. We will begin informal walkthroughs this week in addition to continuing the super observations. I will be sharing school-wide data weekly from our walkthroughs as part of our SIP implementation monitoring, so look for data to be shared in next week's notes.
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Schedule of Events

Monday, 1/11: C Day; 2nd PLT 1:30 - 3:00; Intervention Team Meeting, 7:15, Leadership Team Meeting, 3-4:15; PTA Board Meeting, 4:30-5:30

Tuesday, 1/12: D Day; K Collaborative Planning Day; Magnet Mini-Fair 9:30 - 11:30 AM (MEDIA CENTER CLOSED); Arts in Action (4th Grade); 3rd PLT 1:30 - 3:30; Introduction to PYP PD (Nicole leads), 3:30-5

Wednesday, 1/13: E Day; 1st PLT 1:30 - 3:30

Thursday, 1/14: F Day; 4th Grade Collaborative Planning Day; 5th PLT 1:30 - 3:30

Friday, 1/15: Early Release Day; Specialist Collaborative Planning (AM); *Be sure to follow Early Release lunch and dismissal schedule; Afternoon PD: The ABCs of Behavior (Media Center) - starting at 1:00
Looking Ahead:
Monday, 1/18 - MLK Day Holiday
Tuesday, 1/19 - Protected Teacher Workday - We will gather at 8:15 AM in the Media Center for some whole-team PD; Detailed schedule will be shared by Friday 1/15 (You will have a significant amount of grade level & individual work time!)

Learning Corner

Since this week's PD will focus on classroom culture and managing challenging behavior, I wanted to share some wonderful resources from Expeditionary Learning. There are a wealth of short articles and videos on this site - check it out!

This Week's Inspiration

On the theme of finding joy in the journey and tapping what fuels us....take a look at this video from the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. (Ron Clark is a former NC teacher and the author of several great books!) This reminds me a lot of many of the things we did at KIPP...as you watch, think - What is possible for me? For us at MEMS?
BONUS! Some of you may remember last year when our team of teachers who attended the Magnet Schools of America conference presented what inspired and fueled them. As we continue to reflect on ourselves and our goals for 2016 - how will YOU spend your time?
The Time You Have (In JellyBeans)