Teacher Times #26
April 15, 2013
Letter from the Chancellor about Common Core
As we move forward with our implementation of the Common Core standards, I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership. Elementary and middle school principals know well that the next phase of the transition will begin a week from today when, for the first time, students in grades 3–8 will take State tests aligned to the Common Core. Although high school students will not begin to take the new tests until next year, this message is for high school principals as well.
I saw leadership in action this morning when I visited the Academy of Arts and Letters in Brooklyn. Just as I’ve seen in many of your schools during my visits, Principal John O’Reilly and Assistant Principal Mel Jackman are cultivating a caring culture that is marked by high expectations for students and teachers. Their school community looks to them for leadership, just as your school community looks to you. What your school community sees when it looks to you matters enormously; a leader’s actions reverberate and impact—intentionally or not—his or her community.
As the annual round of State tests approaches, a natural reaction would be to turn the heat up on your teachers, who tend to respond by turning the heat up on their students. Instead, to the greatest extent you can, I’m asking you and your team to do the opposite, and turn the pressure down.
I have heard from our students, teachers, families, and principals that they are feeling anxious about the tests, which happens every year to a certain degree. This year, with the uncertainty about exactly what these tests will look like, some people are feeling heightened anxiety.
That’s why, as leaders, it is critical to keep in mind—and to remind our school communities—that these tests are a step in the process, not the process itself. Help build an environment in which your students, teachers, and families feel as confident and comfortable as possible. Set a tone that is supportive but not pressure-filled. It’s the kind of environment our students, staff, and parents need and deserve.
After all, for the last few years, you have led our students and teachers through a bold implementation plan. Across the City, students are writing more, engaging in more critical thinking, and solving more real-world problems than ever before. Have no doubt that we are strengthening instruction and doing better by our students.
Change takes time, and adding pressure unnecessarily won’t accelerate that process. Students will take the tests next week. Some students will excel with the skills that this year’s tests will emphasize, and some students will likely struggle with the increased rigor. The students of this City are resilient—they will put forth their best effort, and we will continue to build on all of your hard work.
After the tests, roughly the same number of students will attend summer school. Teacher evaluation and school accountability will adjust accordingly so no one is punished by the change in assessments. We will learn from the results of this year’s tests and we will adjust our instruction and interventions accordingly to ensure that our 1.1 million students are ready for college and careers.
Thank you for your leadership.
Dennis M. Walcott
MS Testing Reminder
Please remember to either cover your walls, or take down any information that may not be suitable for the duration of the exams.
When you leave for the day, please ensure that you lock the door and pull it shut behind you.
Work for Students on Suspension
Teachers must provide work to Mark after they receive email notification that any of their students are on suspension. Should be provided in a folder to Dean’s office well in advance of 2 pm of the day of the suspension.
Student Dress Code
The changing weather has brought about a change in wardrobe for students.
Please refer to the Tapco Handbook in reference to student's dress code. Teachers should contact the Dean's office if the dress code is violated.
The following should not be worn:
Boys: Tank tops
Sun glasses should not be worn in school
Girls: Mid-drift should not be showing
No Spaghetti straps
Skirts & shorts should not be over 3 inches above the knee
Sun glasses should not be worn in school
Time Card Punching In and Out
I am glad that we are able to fund as many per session positions as we do at TAPCo.
I have to be very firm about punching in and out for test prep and after school. If I added up all the times someone comes to me to initial their time card, I would have extra HOURS available to me to serve our school in more critical ways. This is very frustrating to me. More importantly, auditors DO NOT want to see times written in EXCEPT for off-site activities like school sports, academic fairs, etc.
There is NO REASON not to punch in and out. I don’t want it to get to the point where I will not initial any time card other than those above for off-site activities. In short, if you want to get paid for your hard work, you must punch in and out.
It is close to that point where I will not sign any more time cards no matter the reason.
I very much appreciate your cooperation moving forward.
All my best,
Permission Slip for After-school Test Prep
Professional Development Opportunities
Professional development and student opportunities are posted on the PD and Student Opportunities page. This week’s highlights include:
§ Participate in April or May: Overview of Orton Gillingham Teaching Methodologies
§ Participate in April or May: Implementing Orton Gillingham Teaching Methodologies
§ Register by April 9: Pre-K Non-Attendance Day - Science PD
§ Register by April 10: Bard Graduate Center Evening for Educators
§ Participate on April 23: Developing Leadership Capacity of Staff
§ Register by April 26: New York City Mathematics Project Twenty-Second Annual Conference
§ Register by April 26: Participate in the First Annual STEM Matters NYC Elementary Science Expo
§ Register by April 30: Professional Development for STEM teachers
§ Participate in May & June: Improving Classroom Behavior Work Groups
§ Register by May 10: Free Library Services Spring Exploratorium
§ Apply by May 14: Mark Rothko and Dedalus Foundation Art Scholarships for Graduating High School Seniors
§ Attend on May 16: “Sustainable Communities” World Savvy's Media & Arts Festival
§ Participate on May 22: Sharing Successful Practices for Students Who Struggle
§ Participate on June 1: Demystifying and Resolving Middle School Students’ Behavior
§ Participate on June 6: Chancellor's Conference Day - Science PD
§ Apply by June 30: Journalism Scholarship from St. Joseph's College-NY