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News From the Principal's Desk

Owning our emotions is part of good, emotional health.  Owning our emotions is part of being accountable for what we say and do.  Owning our emotions provides a great role model for each other and also for our children.  Owning our emotions is easier said than done at times! 

Part of the human condition is we allow our emotions to get the best of us in our interactions with others and we allow our default scripts to play inside our head.  Yes, I am back to the “internal monologue” we have talked about on and off this year.  The power of our internal scripts and how quickly our brain turns to them in times when emotions can run high and opinions differ is significant.  Our brains take the path of least resistance and so we tread the same ground we have done many times in the past, which may or may not serve us well with others. 

As we work with each other at school and with your children, we want to encourage one another to slow down when emotions rise, and mentally “press pause” before responding.  During that pause time we want to play the internal monologue that says something like this, “I am in control of my thoughts, and my emotions, and I can choose how I respond to this event or situation.”  Furthermore we can say to ourselves, “If I don’t have to respond right now, pressing pause, can give me time to think through the best response.”  My brain doesn’t always work this way, but each day I have the goal of thinking like this – rationally, slowly, and in a way that builds relationships up rather than tears them down.  Realizing that nobody makes me mad, scared, annoyed, or insulted is a powerful thing in my life.  It gives me the power to “control me “ and allow you to “control you,” which is a healthy place to be.  Please think about this message as it connects to you, your children, and your families, and talk about it over the next few weeks at home.  Thank you!

Best Practice

Over the course of my years in education I have always loved my visits to classrooms to look for and many times “rediscover” what best practice is in our school.  Most of the time this does not mean a practice that is necessarily the latest and greatest fad to come along, but a practice that is and has been effective because it has stood the test of time.  This week I would like to shine a spotlight on two of those practices at the middle school. 

  • Balancing whole group instruction with small group and independent work is a best practice. When teachers plan lessons they need to consider the learning needs of all students.  We definitely have some students who love whole group work because they will consistently have their hands up, want to volunteer in class, and will engage in the lesson every time.  We also have students who thrive on working with partners and even alone and for whom a large group instructional model does not engage them in their learning.  Teachers will look at the concepts, skills, processes, thinking skills, etc., that are the goals of the lesson and work to match those lesson goals with the right instructional make-up of the room and class.  The key is to continue to mix and match the group setting with the lesson objectives and the needs of the learners.  Attention to this detail makes for a strong learning environment and one that fosters student engagement.
  • Balancing teacher talk with student talk is another best practice that ensures teachers have time to listen to students, which is another critical element for student engagement and success.  We (teaching staff) are the content experts and sometimes we can have too much to say.  Allowing students a chance to share their thinking, for us to hear their brains at work (listening to their metacognition) allows us to perform those informal and on-the-spot assessments and give real-time feedback to students.  This can occur in whole group, small group, or independent work time during class.  Too much teacher talk and students may disengage with what is being said, and too much student talk may find the lesson going down the wrong path. 

There is both a science and an art to teaching, which you can see in these two best practices.  Knowing “why” a strategy is good is only part of teaching.  Knowing “how” and “when” the strategy is good and being able to adjust on the spot is an art and something that makes our staff at MMS strong in their practice. 

AIR Testing Information

Prior to spring break I sent out information about our spring AIR assessments we administer at the middle school.  These are state mandated assessments in all four grades in reading and math and also in science for grades 5 and 8.  We appreciate your help in having your child in school on these days and moving any well doctor or dentist visits away from these days.  If students would happen to miss one of the tests, we will be pulling them out of class to make them up on another day.  Following is our schedule for the AIR assessments: 

  • Tuesday, April 16th                             Reading           Grades 5, 6, 7, and 8
  • Wednesday, April 17th                        Reading           Grades 5, 6, 7, and 8
  •  Tuesday April 30th                              Math                Grades 5, 6, 7, and 8
  •  Wednesday, May 1st                           Math                Grades 5, 6, 7, and 8
  • Thursday, May 2nd                              Science           Grades 5 and 8 only 

Please give us a call at 561-5555 or email us if you have any questions regarding these assessments.  Thank you!

Dates to Note:

  •  Wednesday, April 10th – 9:15 a.m. – PTO meeting – all are welcome to attend!
  • Wednesday, April 10th – 7:00 p.m. – 5th grade Human Growth and Development evening sponsored by the PTO (a parent should accompany their child).
  • Monday, April 15th – 7:00 p.m. – 7th grade parent meeting to hear about Washington D. C., 2020!  Please plan on attending this meeting in the school cafeteria.
  • Friday, April 19th – No School. 

For other important community announcements impacting our students don’t forget to click on this link Student Opportunities to find out more about club sports, youth and community sports, and other activities available to our middle school students.  

  • Madeira school sponsored summer athletic camps is now featuring boys basket camp. 

As the fourth quarter continues, please continue to check Schoology to monitor your child’s progress, and email or call a teacher at 561-5555 if you have any questions about an assignment or grade.  We want every student to finish the year strong!

Thank you, 

Tom





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