April Update

Region 6 Newsletter

The Home Stretch

We've made it.

Less than nine weeks to go. We can see the finish line. We can smell the beach and the BBQs in our future.

We aren't, however, done with our work quite yet. The needs of our students are still very much with us, and it is up to us to finish the school year strong.

How do we do that? By being reflecting, by getting input from others, and by planning ahead.

In her 2014 Edutopia Article, "Closing Out vs. Fading Out" Petra Claflin encourages educators to work with staff to identify areas of strength and areas of need. This group conversation then leads to the creation of a summer action plan.

Get your students in on the action too. Using the Responsive Classroom Approach, http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/columnists/charney/charney008.shtml

We might be in the last quarter of the school year, but our kids still need us. We have the power to improve their lives today and next year.

Thank you for all you do, and thank you for remembering to always put your students first-




Effective Leadership: Curriculum and Use of Time

Instructional leadership not only requires principals to deeply know and understand teaching and learning, but also requires the capacity to ensure effective and intentional strategic planning as a result of data analysis. It also requires the principal to ensure the use of standards aligned curriculum, higher level assessments (both formative and summative), and a critical look at teacher performance and development through rigorous evaluation methods. The operational leadership side is equally as rigorous.

The topic this article will address Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, and Effective Use of Time.

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Effective practice of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is going to make a huge impact in the performance of the school. With new evaluation systems in place, the principals are required to be instructional leaders. Teachers need to be able to go to their principal to seek support with instructional and assessment strategies that will lead to positive student outcomes.

This is why it is so important for principals to be in the classrooms conducting regularly scheduled walk-throughs and observations. Not only is it important for principals to see the teaching, it is important for principals to consistently and regularly review lesson plans. The principal should determine if the lesson plans include rigor in instruction and assessment, if the lesson aligned to State Standards, if checks understanding are in place, and if the lesson will engage the students.

All of the data collected from these observations and lesson plan reviews will help drive professional development. Instead of drive-by PD, now the PD will be very intentional, aligned to your mission/vision, goals, data, and needs of the school. As an effective leader, the building principal will ensure that the strategies and practices learned in PD are being implemented by conducting walk-throughs and observations.

Data review systems should be in place and are an integral component of school improvement. Teachers will need to have time to look at the data, but the data discussion needs to move from focusing on the “what” to focusing on the “how.” Specific error analysis can help teachers determine their own strengths and weaknesses in instruction and to identify instructional strategies to help address those areas. The next step is to determine HOW the teacher is going to teach to address these particular students. This requires teachers to not only focus on the percentage of students who did not master the skill. Teachers need to identify what kind of learners they are, and how information can be presented differently to reach all of learners that have not mastered the content.

Effective Use of Time

Scheduling can be a nightmare when you have to consider lunches, specials classes, prep times, intervention times, and many other challenges. Effective building principals prioritize instructional time for both ELA and Math and ensure interventions are in place for students not meeting grade level expectations. This can be a daunting task, but to maximize the opportunities, it may be helpful to bring other people to the table that may have ideas about how the schedule can be improved.

Keeping a schedule stagnant for the sake of not changing it is not helpful to teachers, but especially not for students. The additional piece that we talked about somewhat already is the need of collaboration time for teachers. If it’s not scheduled, then it must not be important. Scheduling is a part of communicating your expectation. If you expect it, then is should be in the schedule.

Effective Leadership: Curriculum and Time Resources

News to Know

Recognize Your Best Teachers!

During this year’s upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week – May 2-6th - the U.S. Department of Education wants to say thank you to some great teachers. Help us reach our goal by recommending a friend, a colleague, your child’s teacher or any teacher who inspired you! There are no other criteria beyond it being someone who YOU think deserves some thanks. Tell us about a teacher you want to highlight along with a few details about why and how we can reach them. We hope to directly contact each nominee, but cannot guarantee that we will be able to be in touch during that week, thus we may also use this information for additional teacher highlighting purposes throughout the year. We look forward to your recommendations and thank you for your help in this endeavor!!

Funding Opportunity: Kids Caring for the Community

Kids Caring for the Community sponsored by Carpenters Local 1005, 599 & 1485 and Millwrights 1076. All Lake, Porter and LaPorte County public elementary schools are invited to participate in the Kids Caring for the Community by submitting community service projects their schools have accomplished. We have four different sessions that schools can participate in throughout the school year. Each submission earns an entrance into a drawing for $500.00 for their school. There is one winner in each county (Lake, Porter & LaPorte) each session. Those schools who participate in all four sessions will be put in a drawing for $1,000.

The final window for the year ends May 15th, so act quickly.

Earth Day

The Chicago office of the Student Conservation Association has a great service day opportunity for all ages coming up on Saturday, April 30th at Indiana Dunes. We are looking to bring 300+ volunteers to the Dunes to help with several Earth Day projects including a beach clean-up, trail maintenance, and invasive plant removal. We’d love to have students from all over Indiana join us for the fun! All students who participate are eligible for service credits!!

Here is the link to the event and registration: https://www.thesca.org/find-your-park-earth-day-chicago

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Upcoming Professional Development Opportunties

The Northwest Indiana Education Service Center has several upcoming exciting professional development opportunities:

  • April 27: Financial Literacy and Today's Youth
  • May 17: What Most Schools are with Close Reading and Complex Text that aren't Likely to Improve Reading Achievement