Millbrook Elementary Staff Notes

Week of September 7 - 11, 2015

Thought For the Week

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it. ~Greg Anderson

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Revisiting Inspiration, Purpose, and Joy

It's hard to believe we're into our 4th week of school - 3rd week with our kids. It's always important to reconnect back to the WHY as we continue to develop our WHAT and our HOW. With routines getting established, some of our special friends start to act in ways that test us. I felt it was a good time to revisit some of our personal commitments we made after reading Journey together during the workdays:

"Personal commitment: to encourage student leadership and independence more."

"Be consistent. Build structure. Be and create a safe place to take risks."

"Redirecting kids with a smile."

"Each day is NEW! Yesterday is the past!"

"Teach kids about their thinking so they understand how they learn."

"I will be there, supporting my students' educational and emotional needs. I will express to them all that happiness they bring to me daily."

"I will use visual anchors and give thumbs up. I will use manipulatives, include play, and use lots of pictures. I will bring love, passion, positive feedback, encouragement, joy, creativity, FUN!"

"High expectations! Power in words. Show greatness! Yes, we can!"

"Value people, all people, and what they bring to our community."

"Encourage students and staff to find an open window when all the doors are shut."

I am continually inspired by all of the passion and commitment this team brings each and every day. I appreciate you all!!

2015-16 Priorities: September Goals

On Monday, Sept. 14, we will have our first Leadership Team meeting. For those of you new to MEMS, we have one overarching team - School Improvement/Leadership Team (SILT) - that will have two functions. The Leadership component will focus on school-based practices, policies, and more of the day-to-day functions and logistics. The SIP component will monitor our ongoing progress on our School Improvement Plan throughout the year. We will differentiate our meetings to reflect this different focus (although the work will naturally overlap to some extent).

In next week's notes, you will all receive an updated work plan of our 2015-16 priorities. As we shared at the early release day, we will be breaking down the year-long goals into monthly smaller micro-goals. Having the big goals backward mapped with incremental steps will allow us to better progress monitor our work to achieve our big goals by the end of the year.

These are our goals for September. By the end of the month, we want to see in every classroom:

Visible Practices

Classroom Environment

*Essential Agreements formed, posted, signed (REVISIT FREQUENTLY - use as classroom culture guide and tool)

Instructional Practices

*Common lesson plan template used to purposefully plan all components of literacy and math blocks

*Routines for partner work

*Identified levels and reader profiles of all students (MClass and other relevant data) - to be completed on teacher workday 9/23

*One common grade level writing sample as benchmark for September

Building Shared Knowledge

Shared understanding of purpose and function of all components of literacy and math blocks.

The MIST team (Nicole Grabiec, Abby Benson, Abbie Joyner, Carey Moore, Molly Groves) are all committed to supporting you as teams and individually. Don't hesitate to reach out if you need more support in any of these key areas during the month of September.

Schedule of Events and Updates for the Week

LOOKING AHEAD: We will have a Family Night on THURSDAY, 9/17 from 5:30-6:30. We want your input on the format. We know the traditional "Open House" has not had great attendance (mainly because families thought, 'I already met the teacher'), so we want to hear what you all want to do for the hour you'll have families visit. Note that with such a short time frame, it will have to be fairly informal, but we'd love some creative ideas other than "open house drop in" to get families to come out! Please give feedback to your grade chair and we'll finalize the format at our first Leadership Team Meeting on Monday, 9/14 at 3:00. PTA will be having their fall meeting from 5-5:30 that night.

Tuesday, 9/8 - D Day; 3rd Grade PLT 1:30-3:30. 2nd Grade Collaborative Planning Day

Wednesday, 9/9 - E Day; 1st Grade PLT 1:30-3:30; 3rd Grade BOY Testing

Thursday, 9/10 - F Day; Picture Day; 5th Grade PLT 1:30-3:30; 4th Grade Collaborative Planning Day

Friday, 9/11 - A Day; Kinder PLT 1:30-3:30.

A Few Logistical Updates

  • Carpool: As new grade level teams rotate on to carpool duty, please be sure to coordinate with Leilani Ostiguy who will brief you on the current procedures. We will line kids up by color rows to stage them for loading into cars. Also, the adults on duty in the gym now have single-page folders to manage a smaller group of numbers. Please help reinforce learning their carpool numbers - this is the #1 challenge that slows down our loading process.
  • Tardy Arrivals: We are starting a new process and need your help to create the system that is most effective in your classrooms! We want students who arrive after 7:45 to go straight to their classrooms and sign in (or be signed in by an assistant) between 7:45-8:00. We want to account for tardy arrival but also want students to be in classrooms more quickly. After 8 AM, students will be signed in at the office and will be recorded tardy there.
  • Breakfast: If students want to eat breakfast, they should report to the cafeteria first, not to the classroom. The distance to travel is too long for them to go to the classroom, then to the cafeteria and back. If they arrive in the breakfast line at 7:35, they will be instructed to bring the tray with them and eat quickly in the classroom. The cafeteria stops serving breakfast at 7:40 AM. If a 5th grader is late, they must eat the breakfast quickly and not save it until after specials. Food can potentially spoil if left in a classroom for an hour before a student returns from specials.

Learning Corner

As we continue to build routines to support learning, teaching habits of talking, listening, and how to work with a partner are critical. We will have some PD on Habits of Discussion on our 9/23 workday. Here are a few resources to help as you teach, model, and practice these routines:

Five Keys to Power Up Talk about Reading

Differentiate Reading Practice with Online Tools

Kindle Paperwhite - Celebrating the Joy of Reading