Whitford's Weekly Update
Teachers, at least the good ones, aren't going anywhere.
TV, iPads, worksheets, textbooks or the best lecture in the world won't do it either. Sorry to say it, but if teaching continues as it often has, student learning will continue on the same trend it always has as well. Because it isn't what teachers know, what a book has on its pages, or even what is shared via an amazing video or podcast. It is what the learner does with the information that matters. Do they just hear it? Do they just write it down on a worksheet? Do they just read it? If the student doesn't interact with the learning, if the students doesn't take it and use it, use it incorrectly, makes changes and then use it again, it probably won't stick. The more they interact with it, the deeper they learn from it, and the better they understand it. It's a long and arduous journey. Just ask Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.
So I know that some teachers have begun to worry that they will be replaced by technology tools, or websites, or who knows what in the future, but honestly I don't think they are going anywhere. If we really want to make a difference, then there may be some things we can change to make a bigger impact. I can't think of a better argument for hands on authentic tasks, Project Based Learning, and the maker movement, than the simple truth outlined in the video. If we want to prepare kids for the real world and the changing economy and the job market our students will face, then we need to change the way we have always done things, and take some risks that say it's not about standardized tests, its about learning by doing.
Educator Effectiveness - I learned a few great ideas at the last workshop I attended and I am going to approach our post mini-observation feedback sessions a little differently. I will be giving you a Danielson Rubric to fill out on the Observations I make and have you rate yourself. That way I think we can have some good coaching conversations and you can start to become familiar with the rubric and the expectations. I also learned of some new reports that we can use to have conversations on a 1:1 basis as well as school-wide. I also discovered that everyone should hit "submit" on their SLOs and PPGs, whether you are in a summary year or not. While it may not be reviewed by me (although we can sit down together and do that) you do not want it to be lost due to the fact it was not submitted. If changes need to be made, all I need to do is click on the "Request Revisions" button and you can make whatever mid-year changes you need to make.
Lunchroom Changes - as I have mentioned before, we will be making some changes to our lunchroom procedures when we return from Winter Break. Some of these will be driven by the physical changes taking place in the gym, and I am glad to say we have approval for some great improvements in there. One of the things we will be changing to align with the practices in other buildings, and to help develop independence in our students, is that we will have students serving themselves at the condiment table. Kids at any age are capable of learning how to handle the ketchup and ranch dressing bottles and they never will if we don't let them. After all, there is no use in crying over spilled ketchup or the use of too much Ranch. All students will also begin to scrape their own trays. We will also move the Milk Carton Dumping Location to the front side of the tray cleaning area. This way spilled milk will not be on Mr. Nuemann's side of the gym and clean up for his class will be quicker (at least on his side of the gym). This will free up the supervisors in the cafeteria to actually supervise students and monitor behaviors. We will be able to be much more effective with the cup system and provide students positive feedback and PAWS, which have been lacking in the lunchroom.
While we are not searching for silence in the gym, we do want to keep volume levels appropriate and encourage students that are using good manners. This is hard to do when our attention is on who needs more ketchup or who needs to ask to get up out of their seat. It just doesn't make much sense for a staff member up in the front of the cafeteria to walk all the way back to a student with their hand raised, to find out that they want more Ranch dressing and then that staff members walks all the way back up to the front to get it for them. Students should be able to get up and handle that themselves without permission needed. Yes, students should still ask permission to use the bathroom, as we do not want a mass exodus for that and we want to control the number of students in the bathroom at one time.
Enjoy - I want to thank you all for the wonderful cards, gifts and treats that you all have given me over the past few days. I am glad you enjoyed the personal Christmas cards and the gift cards, but you have to understand how good it makes me feel to give a little back to all of you that give so much to me and our students each day. I hope you have a wonderful holiday and get refueled by the time with your family, and the chance to step out of these buildings that you practically live in during the week (and many of you spend a great deal of time here on the weekends as well). Step away, clear your minds and take the time to truly enjoy your family and loved ones.......and for just a little while......stop thinking about school. It will be here when you get back.....and the kids will welcome you back with open arms. And I will too. :-)
Calendar of Events
5 Miller Support Staff Meeting @Miller Office (12:45pm)
6 IEP Meeting (TB) - Wells @Miller Office (10:30am)
Miller BLT Meeting @Miller Office (3:20pm)
Miller PTO Meeting @Miller Library (6pm)
7 4/5 Unit Meeting @Szeflinski's Room (11:30am)
8 Tom - Lunch w/Oakdale Staff @Oakdale (11:30am)
District PBIS Meeting @RKLC (3pm)
9 Smiles 4 Life @Miller -Zingler's Room
Tom - Lunch w/Camp Douglas Staff @Camp (11:30am)
Miller Christmas Party @Julie Zingler's House (6pm)
12 Grades 1 & 2 PALS Window Opens
Miller PBIS Team Meeting @Miller Library (3:20pm)
RTI Meeting @THS (3:30pm) - Tom, Amy, Lynette, Colleen, Deb, Sheila, Elizabeth
13 Miller IRT Meeting (SK) - Stoffregen @Miller Office (2pm)
Miller Staff Meeting @Miller Library (3:20pm) - this could go long
15 Tom - Lunch w/Oakdale Staff @Oakdale (11:30am)
Ed Effectiveness Coach's Meeting @DO (2:00pm)
Camp/Oak PBIS Leadership Team Meeting @Oakdale (3:15pm)
16 Tom - Lunch w/Camp Douglas Staff @Camp (11:30am)
Tom Out in PM - Elementary Principals Meeting @DO (1pm)
Spelling Bee Winners submitted to Steve Buss (3pm)
Miller Family Movie Night @Miller Gym (6pm)