Friday, July 27, 2012

Beginning of the Year Business, 2012-2013

This post is dedicated to some beginning of the year business. There's a lot of information, all of it important, so please take your time and read carefully.
1.  Building Development: Collegial Learning Walks (CLWs)
This year, I would like to invite you to participate in Collegial Learning Walks with me.  The purpose of Collegial Learning Walks is to build capability and collegiality in our teaching community.  The focus of a collegial learning walk is to look for what is working in a classroom. Participants refrain from judgment and criticism and instead look for possible responses questions like these:  
  • what is working in the context of this classroom?
  • what might I learn from my colleagues?
  • how might I transfer this to my classroom practice?
The whole process will take one class period, each visit lasting 5-10 minutes followed by a short debrief outside the classroom.  We will learn the process together and improve on it as we practice it. Please click here for more information about Collegial Learning Walks.
2.  Professional Development Plans
Each teacher in the building must complete a professional development plan (PDP) and have this turned into to me on or before Monday, September 10, 2012.  This year, given our district-wide study of The Art and Science of Teaching, you will write your PDPs around one of the ten design questions in that text.  Please take some to review the chapter that interests you before your draft your PDP.  You have these options for your PDP:
  • You may write your own based on your own interest, or
  • Your department may decide to write and engage in a professional development plan together.
Either option requires that I meet with you or with your department to review what you have written, for a copy of a blank PDP click here.  For a sample of what a PDP might look like this year, click here.
3.  Evaluations
If this is an evaluation year for you, you will be hearing from your primary evaluator.  Your primary evaluator is the principal with whom you will meet to discuss your summative evaluation at the end of the year.  The observations contributing to your summative, however, may be completed by one or more of the principals.  Your primary evaluator will let you know which of us will be completing classroom observations with you.
Our district study of The Art and Science of Teaching will move us toward understanding expectations for a new evaluation instrument to be implemented next year (if all goes as planned).
4.  Required Staff Training
There are some revisions to the Required Staff Training.  In order to be timely about completing one aspect of the training in particular, we will have a mandatory faculty meeting on August 27, 2012 from 3:30-4:30pm in the Auditorium.  Dr. Riss and Mrs. Holliday will be present for part of this meeting.  However, it will not be comprehensive, so you will still need to take some time to review the other Required Staff Training.  Please click here for the link to the PowerPoint and to the Training Tracker.  Once you've completed the PowerPoint, please complete the Training Tracker, print it off, and turn it into Ms. Edwards in the office.  You must have this completed by September 10, 2012.
We may review other aspects of the required staff training as necessary throughout the year.
5.  Scheduled Workshops
The Art and Science of Teaching
We will begin the study of The Art and Science of Teaching on August 10th from 8:30am to 12:30pm (there are some other agenda topics for this time as well).  We will begin with the introduction and design questions 1 and 6. In order to accommodate our study of this text, we will hold a required second faculty meeting a month.  These will be on the fourth Monday of the month.  Given the important nature of this text and how it connects to a future teacher evaluation instrument, these meetings are mandatory.  If you miss, we will schedule a time to make it up.

Blackboard Engage
Blackboard Engage is our new web software.  Many of you attended training over the summer; however, Dr. Simpson has scheduled a building training for the morning of 8/31.  If you did not attend a summer training, you are required to attend this one.  If you attended the summer training and would like to attend this one, you may, or you may work in a structured setting on implementing Blackboard Engage in your classroom.
Although the district has set December 2013 as a deadline for when we all must be using the new software, I expect that all teachers will be using the calendar function of Blackboard Engage by 9/17/12.
Other Dates, Times, and Topics
Last year, I received some great feedback on my anonymous survey regarding meeting planning, so please click here for a list of meeting dates, times, topics, and possible venues.  This is definitely a work in progress, and I will do my best to update it often.
6.  Hixson List Servs
This summer, I worked with Jason to update our Hx List Servs since many were out of date.  Most have been revised (e.g. teams), some have been eliminated (e.g. departments), and some have been replaced (e.g., electives, PE, and SSD are now by department).  Please review these in Outlook, they all begin with "Hx", and submit a tech req if you would like to revise or add a list serv.
7.  The Hixson Network
There will be changes to the Hixson Network made through the year as we transition from School Center to Blackboard Engage.  I will also be using the calendar function for the Network on or before 9/14.  I do not anticipate that this changes will cause too much of a disruption; however, I wanted you to be prepared for a more dynamic site than the sites I have used previously.

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