Our Last Week of School

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Summer is here!

Congratulations to each and every one of you on another successful school year!

As we end another year it is important to take time to reflect on what we have done well. Personally, it has always been hard for me to stop and reflect on the things I had already done.  I was always focused on moving towards the next thing, trying to cross one more thing off my never-ending “to do” list.  As I have gotten older (and hopefully a bit wiser) I have tried to take more time to  “stop and smell the roses.”  I hope you do this for yourself.

Below is a blog post from Robyn Jackson. She always seems to know what we need!  I hope you take the time to answer and reflect on the questions she discusses in her post.

Ten Questions To Help You Reflect On Your Practice This Year

When I was a teacher, I remember vividly those last few weeks before school let out. Exams, graduations, end of the year parties, packing up my classroom, then, finally, the last day of school! I remember looking forward to sleeping in a couple of days, before starting school or my summer job. Ahhhhh. Summer.

When I became an administrator and had to work through the summer, I was still excited at the end of the year. I could come into work an hour later, sit in my office, and actually get some work done! Plus, we spent a lot of time planning big things for the coming school year.

One of the things I didn’t do a lot of was reflect on the past year. I figured that I could do that in August when I returned to school. So, I’d put the past year behind me and immediately began thinking about the summer ahead or the upcoming school year.

But here’s the thing. Without taking time to reflect first, my plans for the coming school year were already doomed because they were uninformed by the valuable lessons I’d learned.

So, before you kick back and take a much-needed break for the summer, I want to encourage you to take some time to reflect on the past school year. Spend an hour or even a half-day looking back at all that you’ve learned this school year while those lessons are still relatively fresh. That way, you won’t forget the most valuable things you’ve learned and you are less likely to repeat your mistakes next school year.

Here are 10 questions to use in your reflection:

  1. What were the highlights of this school year? Where did you feel most successful? Where were you “in your zone?”
  2. What do these highlights have in common? In other words, can you spot a trend that helps you understand when you are at your best?
  3. What were the low points of the year? When did you feel the most disconnected to your true genius?
  4. What do those low points have in common? What trends can you spot?
  5. What did you try this year that you have never done before? What lessons did you learn?
  6. What do you want to try next year?
  7. What will you do differently next year? What do you need to stop doing? What needs to be adjusted or refreshed in your practice?
  8. What are you curious about? What do you want to learn more about?
  9. Why did you become a teacher? Do you feel that you lived that purpose this year? If so, why? If not, why?
  10. How have you grown as an educator this year? In what ways do you still need to grow?

Now, share the most valuable thing you learned…

Please feel free to tweet the most valuable thing you learned this year.  You can use the hashtags: #csdpowerofwe  #whatmatters

https://mindstepsinc.com/2017/05/ten-questions-help-reflect-practice-year/

Week-At-A-Glance

Monday, May 29
Memorial Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL
Tuesday, May 30
State of the School Address – 9:00a.m. and 7:00 p.m. – Volunteer Appreciation
7th Grade Change Project
Kindergarten Water Day
1st Grade Author’s Tea
Wednesday, May 31
Last Day of School (5th Grade Moving Up) (6/7 Dance)

June 1-2 – Teacher Workdays
June 1 – CSD Graduation at Belk Theater

Week of May 22, 2017

Dear Staff,
We just want to thank each and every one of you for your help and support as we made it through another round of state testing. Each one of you stepped in to help in various ways as we dealt with a variety of different problems! We were moved to tears a few times for the love shown to our precious students and to each other. A huge thank you to Angela for taking this enormous task on! We all appreciate what you do!

And now there are 6 days left….  Hang in there, folks.  You are doing a great job!  We got this!

Love you,
Juli, Leslie, and Marianne

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Nuts/Bolts/Reminders:

Attendance:  You will need to print out copies of each child’s attendance report…one to send home with the child in their communication folder and one to file in their cum folder during Teacher Work Days!  Please wait until the MORNING OF THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, WEDNESDAY, MAY 31 to print these out!!!  See your email for specific instructions on how to print these from PowerSchool.  6/7 Teachers, we will handle for you. Let us know if you have any questions.

Class Placement Parent Feedback (see email from May 15th) – Please make sure you have sent home this survey to parents if you have students who are entering a new loop in August.  This applies to 1st, 3rd, and 5th.  We ask that 7th grade NOT send this form as they have another plan in place for making advisory placements for 8th grade.  Thank you!

Report Cards:  Please have your report cards done by Thursday 5/25 so admin can edit.  If you need any help with conducting assessments or completing report cards, please let us know.  6/7 Teachers, please send your 3rd trimester narratives to Sarah Hoff.

End-of-Year Closing Document: Please read this document carefully and adhere to all instructions.  Let admin know if you have any questions.  Thank you! https://docs.google.com/a/csdnc.org/document/d/1OLLSosyAGY0BnfVWWUgbpsELKP2VO8QYyfmd3h63P7o/edit?usp=sharing

High Priority! Collect all textbooks, novels, calculators, etc. in a timely fashion and please do not wait until the last minute.  It is critical that all teachers are incredibly careful about distribution and collection.  Please do not wait until the last minute and PLEASE communicate with parents and students about missing items.  When a parent hears the replacement cost, they are incredibly motivated to help the student locate the missing item.  We must be good stewards with our school resources.

School Improvement Feedback can be submitted by filling out this form:  https://docs.google.com/a/csdspartans.org/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd5IFItM3arRpRPi-Me_PlHSb-fabEO39lhYcxAeYp1vObilw/viewform?c=0&w=1

Week-At-A-Glance

Monday, May 22nd
Marianne and Leslie out
Belnap to the Pines
Posey to Huntersville Oaks
Tuesday, May 23rd
Rising 6th Grade Advisory Placements – 1:00 in Marianne’s office
Wednesday, May 24th
1st Grade Emerald Hollow Mine Field Trip
7th Grade Ropes Course Field Trip
Holocaust Museum Family Night 5:00-8:00
Thursday, May 25th
Report Cards due
Kindergarten Oceans Play (Elementary Gym)
Teckenbrock to Huntersville Oaks
7th Grade Ropes Course
Rising 4th Grade Class Placements – 11:00 in Marianne’s Office
4/5 Lead Teacher Meeting – 1:00 in Amy Teck’s Classroom
Holocaust Museum open to public
Friday, May 26th
Required Teacher Workday
NO SCHOOL for students
Kindergarten Screening

Upcoming Dates
May 29 – Memorial Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL
May 30 – State of the School Address – 9:00a.m. and 7:00 p.m. – Volunteer Appreciation
May 30 – 7th Grade Change Project
May 30 – Kindergarten Water Day
May 31 – Last Day of School (5th Grade Moving Up) (6/7 Dance)
June 1-2 – Teacher Workdays
June 1 – CSD Graduation at Belk Theater

Week of May 15, 2017

Dear Staff,
We hope everyone had a wonderful time at the retreat. In lieu of reading/writing a blog this week, we ask that you take some time for personal reflection of the topics/ideas addressed this weekend. As we go into the next two crazy weeks ahead, we hope that you cling to the “big ideas” that keep us grounded to our CSD mission and vision. Above all, we hope you know that you are loved, valued, and appreciated more than words can say. It is an honor and a privilege to be on this journey with you!
Much love,
Juli, Marianne, and Leslie

Week-At-A-Glance

Monday, May 15th
4th Grade Economics Fair
Senior Take Over Day
Last Day of 6/7 Arts Electives
Tuesday, May 16th
5th Grade Science EOG
Last Day of 6/7 Branch Electives
Baby Shower Emily Schultz at 3:15 in Jessica James classroom
Wednesday, May 17th
Master Calendar Planning at High School 3:00-4:00
Thursday, May 18th
2nd Rescue Ranch Field Trip (Sapp/Christian)
Erskine’s Class Field Trip
3-7 ELA EOG’s
Friday, May 19th
2nd Rescue Ranch Field Trip Belnap/Renaud
Erskine Field Trip
3-7 Math EOG’s

Upcoming Dates
May 16 – Last Day of 6/7 Branch Electives
May 15 – Last Day of 6/7 Arts Electives
May 15 – 4th Grade Economics Fair
May 15 – Senior Take Over Day
May 16 – 5th Grade Science EOG
May 16 – Emily Schultz Baby Shower after school
May 18 – ELA EOG – Grades 3-7
May 19 – Math EOG – Grade 3-7
May 18-19 – 2nd Grade to Rescue Ranch
May 23 – 3rd Grade Poetry Slam
May 24-25 – 7th Grade Ropes Course
May 24-25 – Holocaust Museum
May 26th – Kindergarten Screening; Required Teacher Workday
May 29 – Memorial Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL
May 30 – State of the School
May 30 – 7th Grade Change Project
May 31 – Last Day of School (5th Grade Moving Up) (6/7 Dance)
June 1-2 – Teacher Workdays
June 1 – CSD Graduation at Belk Theater

Week of May 8, 2017

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Dear Staff,
A few weeks ago Joy shared the segment below in her weekly memo to staff. While this topic looks very differently in the lower grades verses, we believe these are worthy things to consider…so much so that we have dedicated the entire retreat to explore the notions of “diversity,” “otherness,” and “hard conversations.” We found Joy’s words to be timely and thought-provoking and wanted to be able to give K-7 staff members the opportunity to ponder them as a precursor to the upcoming retreat. Thank you, Joy, for your guidance and leadership as we navigate this unfamiliar terrain. These are the times that define us as a community, and we continue to be so grateful to be surrounded by people who challenge us to think deeply and push us to become more understanding and compassionate.

From Joy:

“Something to Ponder: I keep rolling around the topic of hard conversations in my head and I want to reiterate a few things and share my own personal experience this week with my own class of students. As I shared at staff meeting, it is absolutely critical that we facilitate deep and civil discussion within our school community. While I believe we all agree that it is never our intention to sway our students thinking about controversial matters, that should not translate to avoiding discussions. Please, please, please know that it is never my intention to give the message that I want you to avoid facilitating tough discussions. As I have heard many of you say, frequently, we want to teach kids how to think, not what to think. The more I reflect on this challenge, the more I believe that I mostly want to teach students to ask lots of questions. This journey of mastering civil debate is a critical part of our teaching environment. We never want to give our students the impression that healthy conflict is bad. We want to be transparent with our parents. If we have strong and loving relationships with all of our students, they will know that they are safe to think and question.

So….my class this week: On Thursday, we had a very direct and open discussion about the notion of having difficult and uncomfortable discussions and why we are not doing it more as a community. I reminded them that I believe that conflict is a good thing and that it enables us to talk and broaden our perspective which I think always leads me to better decisions and ideas. In short, when I am challenged and questioned as a leader, I make better decisions because the decisions reflect OUR perspective rather than MY perspective. I highlighted that in the past two weeks, we have had a Presidential Inauguration, Women’s March, Pro Life March, Cabinet Selections, and Executive Orders all in the news but I am not hearing folks discuss it at school. The discussion was great and the kids shared the same things that many of us are probably feeling; fear of conflict, fear of being attacked, fear of hurting someone’s feelings, fear of being misunderstood, lack of knowledge, etc. I told them that our staff has all the same feelings and that many of us feel inadequate to facilitate these complex conversations when we are all in the same process of exploration. I reminded them that our goal as teachers is always to ensure that discussion and debate happens in a safe and honorable way where all students feel respected. I also owned that many of us do not fully understand the complex issues which also makes us feel vulnerable as teachers. Lastly, I shared that we also want to make sure we handle our conversations in a way that doesn’t come across as trying to influence WHAT our students think but to instead, provide a place where they can continue their investigation of how to develop their own ideas. I reminded them that my job as facilitator is to help think of questions from all perspectives. We had a lengthy discussion about ground rules for healthy debate and I asked them to choose one of the topics above to discuss on Friday. They selected the recent Executive Order regarding Immigration. After class on Thursday, one student told me that she was very nervous about class on Friday; when I asked her why, she said that she was afraid she would get upset and that her emotions would take over and cause her to use words that do not accurately articulate her thoughts. I reminded her that we would sort through it together BUT that when our words don’t come out right, we just ask for the opportunity to restate. I had two students who also came after class and told me that they were sad they were going to miss class on Friday as they really wanted to “talk about this stuff.” My take away; they are curious and want to know but are afraid to ask. Friday rolls around (Mr. Johnnie joined for an impromptu visit so he can certainly chime in with his perspective) and I think the discussion went really well. I wanted to set the state for everyone to connect “real people” to the topic we were about to discuss and I also wanted to evoke empathy and consideration for others in the room from the get go so we started with two questions: 1) Does anyone in the classroom have family or friends who are directly impacted by any changes in immigration requirements? and 2) What do you each of you know about your own family’s heritage and roots? We immediately learned that three students in the classroom have dual citizenship and one student’s father was born and raised in Iran. These brave students shared their family stories. Mr. Johnnie shared that his family was searching their ancestry and identified their home countries in Africa prior to being forcibly brought to America as slaves. Wow…some important stuff shared right off the bat. The folks who shared were kind enough to share some stories about their families and what they knew about the “why” they ended up in America. We then moved into a basic K-W-L format for discussion. I led with, “What do you know or what have you heard and wonder if it is fact?” Kids shared and to be honest, we ran out of time. The discussion was calm. Different perspectives surfaced but it was handled beautifully. Everyone gave me a thumbs up at the end and we will continue on another day. I am sure that I could have done this in a better way and that I could certainly improve upon my approach and lesson, but my main goal was to stick my foot in the water of a difficult discussion in a classroom environment so that I could be reminded of the challenge that I ask you all to take each day in your classrooms. While I am 100% sure that I have students in that classroom who have very different beliefs and political affiliations, I do think that the discussion felt peaceful…..at least this time. No easy answers for sure but I truly want students to feel safe to ask questions and discuss these topics.

My biggest take away so far…..we don’t have to know everything to have a discussion, we have to be willing to ask questions and seek answers from many different sources so we can gather info and figure out our own thoughts. I was able to facilitate this discussion without knowing or sharing the answers….and, in fact, I openly admitted that I am very confused and have many questions myself.”

How to Be a Culturally Responsive Teacher

Julia Thompson, a practicing teacher for more than 35 years, considers what it means to have a culturally responsive classroom and the steps necessary to create one. Adapted from the 3rd edition of her book The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide.

julia thompsonby Julia G. Thompson

In the early years of the 21st century, we are constantly and unconsciously bombarded with messages from the various societies that surround us. From restaurant choices, music, sports, fashion, and all forms of popular media to proceedings as significant as wars and threats of terrorism, we adults function in a culturally diverse world. Our students share that world with us, and they need our help in learning to negotiate the complexities of a multicultural society.

One of the most enduring strengths of the public school system in America is the variety of cultures that meet peacefully in thousands of classrooms each day. In classroom after classroom, students of all different races and cultural backgrounds study together.

At a time when school systems are scrutinized and criticized from many sides, classroom diversity is one of our nation’s greatest assets.  Click the link below to read more…..

http://www.middleweb.com/9471/culturally-responsive-classrooms/

Week-At-A-Glance

Monday, May 8th
Garren to Huntersville Oaks
Tuesday, May 9th
Coppola to the Laurels
Wednesday, May 10th
Admin out of the building – Yearly Reflection and Goal Setting
Nancy Lauro – Teacher Leader
Whitley to Huntersville Oaks
K-7 Mandatory Staff Meeting – EOG Training w/ Angela
Thursday, May 11th
Admin out of the building – Yearly Reflection and Goal Setting
2nd Grade Law & Order Performance
Westbrook/Sharp to Williams Place
Friday, May 12th
Staff Retreat! No School for students.

Upcoming Dates
May 16 – Last Day of 6/7 Branch Electives
May 15 – Last Day of 6/7 Arts Electives
May 15 – 4th Grade Economics Fair
May 15 – Senior Take Over Day
May 16 – 5th Grade Science EOG
May 16 – Emily Schultz Baby Shower after school
May 18 – ELA EOG – Grades 3-7
May 19 – Math EOG – Grade 3-7
May 18-19 – 2nd Grade to Rescue Ranch
May 23 – 3rd Grade Poetry Slam
May 24-25 – 7th Grade Ropes Course
May 24-25 – Holocaust Museum
May 26th – Kindergarten Screening; Required Teacher Workday
May 29 – Memorial Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL
May 30 – State of the School
May 30 – 7th Grade Change Project
May 31 – Last Day of School (5th Grade Moving Up) (6/7 Dance)
June 1-2 – Teacher Workdays
June 1 – CSD Graduation at Belk Theater