Important Upcoming Dates
- February 13 – Leadership Team meeting 2:30 in Melanie’s room.
- February 14 – NAEP Testing for selected 8th graders.
- February 18 – 22 – School Winter Break (we’ll probably still be digging out from Nemo.
Please, All Stay Safe
As I write this, it is Saturday morning and Nemo still rages here in Saco, Me. Opening my door to head out to the barn to feed the horses, I encountered snow drifts that were up to my waist. It reminded me of my childhood when every storm seemed to be “historic”. By the way, that was way before the great “Blizzard of ’78”.
Listening to the folks on the TV in Portland, all of them remind us how dangerous the traveling is throughout Southern Maine. I hope that we all heed the advice of these folks and stay warm and safe at home. I also hope that anyone who has lost their power will have it restored very quickly.
Also, it feels quite special to have our town mentioned by Al Roker and other national media for having the highest snowfall in New England with 33 inches in Gorham. Only two towns in Connecticut have had more!
As I mentioned at the Workshop Day on Friday, we have received the results of the October administration of the NECAP’s. I also told you that we would no longer be “reducing” our students and their learning down to a single number, the percentage of our students who achieved proficiency. We really need to measure who well our students are doing in so many more areas of their learning life that will have a greater impact on their future life.
As the commentary in Ed Week by Mike Rose, that I shared with all of you said, “the qualities that account for success in school and life” are those that develop the students “character or personality, like perseverance, self-monitoring and flexibility”. When we reduce student results to this mere number on an achievement or ability of the students, we lose sight of the traits that allowed a struggling student to “survive” the administration of the lengthy assessment. Shouldn’t the fact that the student was able to complete the test, or partially complete the test be accounted in the overall results.
All of that being said, we continue to outperform our peers in this state by a wide margin. In reading, 85% of our entire school achieved proficiency and in math 74% of our student achieved proficiency. Our writing scores for the 8th graders was equally as impressive as we improved the number of students achieving proficiency or above from 66% to 74%.
February PIE Meeting has been canceled
The Partners In Education, affectionately known as PIE will be canceled for the month of February. It had been set for Thursday, February 14th and, alas, the romantic in me thinks that all good husbands should be taking their sweethearts out to dinner that night (at least that is what my wife said…just kidding!).
We will have our regularly scheduled PIE meeting on Thursday evening, March 21st at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library. Hope to see you all there.
8th Grade Celebration
This gets filed under the category of “I can’t believe it time already!”.
We will need to get our parents of 8th graders who will be leaving us at the end of the school year together to plan the Celebration of Middle School activities. This event is usually held on the evening before the last day of school each year. Since we don’t really know the exact date, and won’t for some time, we usually meet after February vacation to organize the volunteers and decide what the theme for the evening will be.
I am proposing that we meet on Thursday evening, March 7th in the GMS Library at 6:30 to begin our planning. All parents are invited to participate in the planning activities and, in fact, we need lots of parents to make this last evening of middle school special for our students. Hope to see you all there.
Create, not Regurgitate
I listened, intently, to the words of our Governor LePage during his State of the State address on Tuesday evening, especially his words about education. In the interest of full disclosure, I do agree with him that the public education system needs to improve, I just don’t agree with how he wants to exact that improvement.
In his speech the Governor cited China, Finland and Canada as schools that excel on large scale, international assessments, and they do accelerate on this measurement. However, if you delve deeper into the how they excel, you will find many different reasons for it. In an article from Smithsonian Magazine by LynNell Hancock published in 2011 that looked at the schools in Finland, she asserts several differences in their educational system from ours. Most notably, in my opinion, is the fact that the people in the Ministry of Education are educators, not business people or politicians or military leaders. These are people who have worked in classrooms and faced the challenges of the classroom.
When she interviewed those who were in the classrooms, each of the teachers mentioned that they “are not much interested in the results of the PISA” but that they “do what they must” to help their students learn. They have chosen to help their students “learn how to learn”.
The article is interesting and worth reading. I think if we really want to improve our educational system, we could learn quite a bit from Finland, not just how they run their educational system, but how they support their families. I think that if the policy makers and politicians want to use these countries as an example of how to educate our young, they should also report everything that happens to support the young learners.
If you’re interested in reading the Smithsonian article, I have provided a link.
This whole train of thought was piqued, today, by a blog entry by Jay Posick, a Principal from Wisconsin, who writes about a conference he attended where Eric Shenigar, another Principal, was the keynote speaker. I am a regular reader of Eric’s blog and his Twitter feed and I have a great deal of respect for all that he offers.
At this conference, he spoke about student choice, opportunity, engagement, collaboration and creativity and how important these traits are to for our students. Jay contrasts Eric’s speech with the directives that come from the state about how to improve student achievement. From the sound of Jay’s blog, Wisconsin offers many of the same solutions for improvement as our Governor offered in his State of the State, and I agree with Jay, given the choices, I would choose creativity, engagement, collaboration etc.
Here is a link to Jay’s blog: http://jayposick.blogspot.com/2013/02/create-and-not-regurgitate.html