Alas, Time to Look Forward

topperMiddle 01Important Upcoming Dates

August 26 – First Teacher Day, GMS Auditorium 8:00 am
August 27 – Workshop Day, schedule will be forthcoming
August 28 – First Student Day (6th Graders only)August 29 – All students return
August 30 – No School ( Long Labor Day Weekend)
September 2 – Labor Day (No School)
September 3 – School Pictures (Schedule will be forth coming)
September 3 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
September 4 – Faculty Meeting 2:30 in GMS Library
September 10 – 8th Grade Parent Meeting GMS Library 6:00 pm

Teacher Days Schedule

At this time, I haven’t received the finalized schedule about District activities on this day. If the past is any measure, however, I would expect that the whole district activities will be completed by 10:00 am and we will then have to conduct all of our Federal and State mandated announcements. You know, things like Harassment Policy, Privacy Policies, and the like.

We will provide lunch for the faculty on Monday in the cafeteria beginning at 12:00. While I am not sure what the menu will offer, I am thinking about cold cuts and salads, perhaps pizza. If you would like to promote a preference, send me an email.

The afternoon will be focused on GMS related issues (Common Core, Advisory, Learning Team work, District initiatives, Security changes, EICAL, schedule changes), most of which are very minor (with the exception of Common Core), but we should review them for consistency.

Tuesday morning will again focus on GMS needs. I hope that we can complete all of these very quickly, so that all with have more time in your classrooms.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again.

Moving to the Common Core

I realize that this is no secret to any of you, but it does require some thought and some real discussion as a faculty.Common-Core-logo

Beginning in the spring of 2015, all schools will be measured by an adaptive assessment to determine levels of student proficiency in the content areas of math and English/Language Arts. These assessments, we have been told, will be very similar to the current NWEA in structure. It is expected that they will be administered by computer and, as students answer questions correctly, or incorrectly, the test will adapt to the student.

We have done some considerable work to this point to get ready for this shift in how we do our business, but there is still quite a bit more to do in the coming months. The CCSS requires that our students be able to logically reason, support our arguments with facts, and then transfer our learning to a new set of challenges. They will no longer be asked to regurgitate, or memorize the answers. The learning expected of our students will need to last longer inside the student than the test. It will be required to support all additional learning and exploration.

So our math teachers and ELA teachers will work with students in developing these skill sets, but it will be required of our science teachers and social studies teachers to also support these skill sets. As a faculty, we will need to uncover more, and better, reading materials for our students. Materials that will both inform and engage our students to levels far greater that we have seen or expected. Variety of text, variety of interests and opinions will need to be exposed to our students in order to pique their strengths.

More on this later…

Changes in Security

When you return to school, you will notice several changes in our security plan. Over the summer, Norm and our Maintenance Crew have been very busy improving how we keep our students and staff safe from anyone wishing to do us harm.

We will spend some time during those first two days discussing these changes and how it will all work for us.

New Laptop Devices

Since I have been away on vacation I haven’t been checking my emails (now, that IS a realimages vacation!), so I haven’t heard anything about the new devices and when they will be ready of distribution. I have spoken to Mike Nash about the devices, however, and it appears that there will be some changes in the method of distribution and in how we control them. He expects to have the devices ready soon and we’ll get out notice when you can pick up your new MacBook Air.

Grade Level Parent Meetings

CLIPART_OF_15182_SM_2We are attempting to get our parents more positively involved in our school this year. This is not to say that our parents feel left out, I do think they all know that they can reach each of us at anytime through phone calls, emails or snail mail and we are always very responsive. No, this isn’t in response to any criticism or shortcoming, it is a real attempt to bring our community closer together for our singular purpose, educating our young!

During September and October, we will run a series of evening Grade Level Parent meetings, complete with an agenda, to work on how we all can do our jobs better and more efficiently.

If you have any ideas for agenda items, please forward them to Susie or me.

GMS Open House

As we have in all the past years, we will hold our annual Open House on Tuesday evening, September 3rd beginning at 6:00 pm until 7:00 pm. At this time you will all have an opportunity to meet our teachers and get a “peek” at the classrooms your child will inhabit for the coming year. You can also ask questions about the supplies lists, field trips planned, or that are being considered, how to volunteer in your child’s classroom or for other activities at the school.

On this evening, we hope that your children will come along with you, introduce you to their teachers and show you around their classrooms. I would love to tell you that we will have all of the children’s names indelibly etched in our brains, but, that would not be true! So, it really is important that the students help the teachers by being the “formal introducers” for this evening.

In our Lobby, we will have lots of information about clubs and activities, health services provided by the School Nurse, information on the Food Services available for families, you know, things like sample menus, how to replenish student accounts and other expectations. We will also have information about volunteering at the Middle School and what is required of parents to get them eligible, as well as other information that will be helpful in making this school year successful for all.

We look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday, September 3rd, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.

Another Clip from Ken Robinson

This clip starts out kind of slow, at least for me, but really finishes with some powerful messages about ourselves and our students.

Each year, when I address the students at the beginning of the year, I try to emphasize possible future paths for our students to see for themselves. I talk about how “in this room today may be the person who will build your house, or deliver your babies”. This one usually gets a “gross” response from the kids (that’s when they end their listening!), I do mention that there may be a Supreme Court Justice in this room, or an astronaut, plumbers and electricians or, even, the person who discovers the cure for cancer.

I try to get the kids to think that there is much that is possible and that they must help each other through this journey, or as Ken Robinson calls it a “Quest”. To hear Sir Ken talk about this idea of a “Quest”, it really makes sense when out into the context of education in general, and the education of these adolescents. Also, I have been doing this long enough to know that each of these statements holds some truth to it. I would bet that each of you have experienced this in your careers, if you’ve been around long enough.

Now, I am not totally delusional enough to think that the students hang on my every word. In fact, I expect that if you asked students about this part of my remarks, their response would be blank stares and an occasional “Huh?”.

In any event, I hope you enjoy this next installment of this conversations between friends:

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