Sunday, April 15, 2018

4th Quarter Relationships

The beginning of the 4th quarter marks a challenging time for us. It's probably the busiest and most stressful time of the year; not just for us but for our students as well. Because of that we sometimes lose focus of what matters. We become hyper-focused on content and curriculum for the final push towards AP tests, SOLs and culminating assessments.  

We must never lose our focus. I've never heard anyone say, "I became a teacher to ensure my students pass the SOLs." We became educators to help our students reach their potential. Before we reach their minds, we must reach their hearts and souls. 

Relationships always come first. 

Kenny was one of the most challenging students I ever taught, and  as a freshman, I had him in 3 classes. A capable, but underachieving student, Kenny lacked peer relationships and abused drugs and alcohol. No doubt part of this was due to a trauma-filled childhood. 

Thankfully, and because of a lot of purposeful actions, my relationship with Kenny had improved throughout the year. This isn't to say our relationship was a great one--heck, it might not have even been a good one--but I was usually Kenny's biggest advocate.

Kenny was on court probation and double secret school probation. His administrator had met with all of us and said, "Kenny can't get any more referrals."

On this day in May, I was feeling the pressure. Days before the SOL, I wasn't feeling confident that the 29 students in Kenny's class were going to pass the SOL. In typical teacher-speak, at the beginning of class I reminded the students how many days were left before the SOL and how important it was for everyone to put forth 90 minutes of hard work. 

But there was Kenny walking around the class and distracting his classmates. Without drawing attention to him, I quietly addressed his behavior as others worked on the Do Now. Within minutes Kenny was misbehaving again. Again, I attempted to refocus him. 

By the time we wrapped up the Do Now, which never exceeded five minutes, Kenny needed redirection at least 3 times. My patience was being tested and his classmates were becoming increasingly agitated. 

As we shifted to the next learning activity, I stood between a bookcase and a group of student desks when Kenny bopped up and said, "Dog, I need to go." 

"Kenny you need to sit down and work. And I'm not your dog." 

"Whatever dog!" 

While I didn't blow my mind, I know my next comments were sarcastic and demanding. They didn't go over well with Kenny. He stormed out of the classroom and slammed the door. When he returned, there was a referral waiting for him. 

After class I walked down to the main office to meet with Kenny's administrator. My classroom was about as far from the main office as possible, and as I made my way down the halls, my frustration and dare I say, anger, grew. I was done with Kenny. To my dismay, the administrator immediately challenged me, "Why were you so sarcastic?" 

"Because I was trying not to lose my cool. This is it for Kenny, right." I wanted Kenny out of my class and out of the school.

"Reed, think about it. You've worked as much with Kenny as anyone ever has. Is he going to learn anything from another suspension? From a probation violation?

We went back-and-forth for several minutes. Kenny was going to be assigned ISS. I left his office feeling unsupported and angry. 

After replaying the entire scenario in my mind several times, I realized my sarcasm was unnecessary (there's no place for teacher sarcasm). The next day I took a chance and went down to the detention trailer and had a conversation with Kenny. I started by apologizing for my sarcasm, hoping this would open the door for Kenny to apologize and take responsibility for his actions. 

It did! While we didn't get to the root of why Kenny continued to misbehave, Kenny and I developed a plan of action. With administration approval, I offered Kenny the chance to come to my class. 

I'd love to say that this turned everything around; it didn't. But we did at least m this point forward that Kenny became a good student. He didn't. But we were able to coco-exist for the remainder of the year and our relationship became stronger. The administrator had challenged me. I had taken for granted my work and my relationship with Kenny. 

Relationships always come first. Before we reach their minds, we must reach their hearts and souls. 


Need to Knows 

All Staff Faculty Meeting April 19 at 8am. 
Local Grants Available!! Deadline for applications is April 20th.  Information about the program can be found at:

Shout Out
Great job to all those who attended prom as chaperones and especially Ms. Stott for her work on organizing this great event for our students!

Field Trips and SOLs 

All Staff Faculty Meeting April 19 at 8am.   
April 19: Music Concert, 7pm 
April 20: Pep Rally 

April 25: Invenio: CTE Showcase 6-8:30
April 27: Poetry Slam

April 21: Rita Taylor (custodian)

Useful Information

Activity Period Calendar : No activity period because of Pep Rally 
Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website or any resource that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list. DART approved list

Worth Your Time


Bell Schedules

Pep Rally Schedule (Anchor Day), April 20th
No Mentorship or Club Day, No Long Lunch
1A: 8:55-9:35 (40 minutes)
1B: 9:40-10:15 (35 minutes)
2A: 10:20-10:55 (35 minutes)
2B: 11:00-11:35 (35 minutes)
3A: 11:40-1:15
1st lunch: 11:35-12:05
2nd lunch: 12:15-12:40
3rd lunch: 12:45-1:20
3B: 1:20-1:55 (35 minutes)
4A: 2:00-2:35 (35 minutes)
4B: 2:40-3:15 (35 minutes)
Pep Rally: 3:15-3:50
Please wait for the band or an announcement to dismiss your class.
AM CATEC: Students leave 9:55 (10:10-12:15 at CATEC; student will miss 3A)
PM CATEC: Students leave at 12:05 after eating 1st lunch. Students may return for the pep rally. 

Statement re: April 20

Dear Parents and Guardians:
Next week on Friday, April 20, we anticipate that some of our students will participate in a nationwide student walkout at 10 a.m. As we understand from media reports, the walkout is designed both to call attention to gun violence in schools and to promote school safety. The date of April 20 was selected because it was the day in 1999 when the Columbine shootings occurred.
As was the case during the student walkout that took place on March 14, Albemarle County Public Schools will not encourage or discourage student participation in next week’s walkout.
What makes the student walkout next week different from the one that occurred last month is that we anticipate that some students may leave school at 10 a.m. on April 20 and not return to class. Any student who walks out next Friday and does not return to school will be counted as absent without excuse for the remainder of the day, unless a parent or guardian provides a written note requesting that their child’s absence be excused. As outlined in our school handbooks, any student who leaves without a parent’s express permission may be subject to discipline.
More importantly, parents, guardians and students should understand that once a student leaves school grounds, the school division no longer is able to provide for that student’s safety. Students who leave school grounds and do not return do so at their own risk.
Elementary and middle school students will not be permitted to leave school grounds unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Beyond asking participating students to turn in any written note from a parent or guardian excusing their absence, we will not engage students in conversations about their participation in the April 20 walkout; those discussions should occur between students and their parents or guardians. There are several online resources that you may find helpful, including:
Although we expect that any student participation in the walkout next week will predominantly impact our high schools, given the visibility of this issue, we want to share our practices on student free speech expression with all parents and guardians.
Over the next several days, staff in our schools will focus their efforts on ensuring that our learning environments on that day will remain safe and productive in serving the needs of all students. Please feel free to contact the principal at your child’s school or my office (434-296-5820) if you have any questions. As always, we invite and value the input of all members of our school community.
Dr. Nicholas King
Student Services Officer
Albemarle County Public Schools