Monday, May 23, 2016

Wrapping Up the Year

Wrapping Up the Year
See the end of the memo for some ideas!

Need to Knows
Positive Referral Link:

Technology / Website Permission Request Form
Updated Spring Calendar (Grades, SOL, Exams, Etc):

Over the next couple of days/weeks, students will be making up missed SOLs and taking expedited retakes. Please be sure to read Ms. Pryor’s emails to ensure students arrive at their testing location on time.

Next year’s schedule as we switch to an A-B day schedule will be as follows:
  • Mondays and Wednesdays will be A days
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays will be B days
  • Fridays will rotate between A and B days. We will “flex” Fridays to balance out the schedule to ensure an even number of A and B days
  • There will be no anchor days. This schedule best suits the needs of our students participating in CATEC, internships and students attending college. This decision was made by a collective group of teachers and counselors.

Please be mindful of student computer collection times and whatnot. If you’ve collected computers from seniors, please send them to downstairs purple this morning.

Please see Ms. Menefee’s email regarding contracts and check-out procedures. In addition, all staff computers will need to be updated before the start of the school year. This process takes approximately half-a-day. You may turn your computer into Garry at the end of the year to have your computer re-imagined or coordinate with him over the summer. Otherwise, expect to be without your computer for a period of time at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

Shout Outs
Great job by Lisa Haney for organizing our Awards Ceremony. From what I understand, we had better attendance at this year’s event than ever. This is a testament to the culture that each of you has helped foster--we are a Mustang Family.

Calendar Items
May 23: Senior Trip, Senior Grades Due @4
May 23: A-day
May 24-26 Regular Bell Schedule
May 26: Senior Art Show and Awards Ceremony
May 27: Graduation Practice and Senior Picnic
May 27: A-day bell schedule
June 1: Graduation
June 8: Contracts due

May 24: John Baran
May 26: Irvin Johnson
May 27: Derek Frazier and William Trent
May 28: John Konoza and Lisa Haney

Worth Your Time
How a Valedictorian’s Beard Barred Him From His Own Graduation Oh vey! An insanely pathetic story; glad this wouldn’t happen here--and that’s not because we don’t have valedictorians

Twelve Effective End of Year Activities (see below for 3 of my year-end activities)

Here’s My Ritual
I gave each student a certificate. Each certificate represented something that I would forever remember the student for. I avoided the standard, “Highest Test Average,” “Highest Grade,” “Best Attendance,” in favor of “Smile that Lights Up the Room,” “Most Likely to Challenge Me” (and that’s a good thing, “Most Sympathetic.”

As a class, we’d have some fun with the presentations, sometimes I’d read the award and the students would attempt to guess the recipient. Often, I’d include a narrative to go along with award.

I started the practice early on in my teaching career. To this day, I’m amazed at how such a little gesture meant so much. Three years after receiving “Smile that Lightens Up the Room” a student, who I was teaching again as a senior, asked, “Are you giving awards again at the end of the year?”

“Probably,” I replied.

“You know I thought I had a horrible smile, until I received that. I smiled more because of it.”

To this day, I’m amazed and touched by how, when I run into students in public, they still remember their award years later.

Pass the Envelope
Another year-end activity I used:
  1. Each student is given an envelope and is directed to write their name on it. In addition they are given strips of paper (the same number of strips as there are students in the class).
  2. Sitting in a circle, students pass the envelopes clockwise.
  3. Each student writes a positive statement about the student whose envelope they receive.
  4. After writing a statement, the envelope is passed. This continues until each student has had the opportunity to write a positive statement about each classmate.
  5. Students are then given the opportunity to read the statements out loud and see if they can guess who said what. Often they are surprised that seemingly the person who they thought knew them least, wrote the most heart-warming comment. Reading aloud was always optional.
  6. It helps to provide students with some parameters, such as “no comments about physical appearance.” Honestly, some students truly struggle to write something genuine. To me this was more a reflection on how I failed to engage students socially in the learning process.
  7. As students read the compliments, it was almost a guarantee that at least one student would cry. Paper strips were never left behind as students eagerly took their envelopes with them.

Student Impersonation
As the year comes to a close, it’s time for us to reflect on year that was and look forward to the upcoming academic year.
Reflection should be simple, deliberate and continuous.  When we reflect, we improve. When we improve as individuals, our students benefit. Improvement begins with reflection.
As teachers, our ability to lead is linked to how we reflect on our own practices. A couple of years ago, I read an article suggesting teachers invite their students to impersonate them. What would the students say? How would they portray you? Would all students depict you in the same way? Would the top students’ portrayals be the same as the struggling students’?
Allowing students to impersonate you takes guts and a certain amount of confidence. I summoned up the courage and allowed a couple of my classes 15 minutes to prepare their impersonations. Some of the students developed pretty elaborate role-plays. The entire process was both rewarding and eye-opening and pretty humorous.
What did I learn from my students’ impersonations?
1.     I say, “m-k” instead of “OK” a lot.
2.     I never stand still (I didn’t need them to tell me that).
3.     I speak loudly (they probably felt “loudly” is an understatement and would more accurately be I yell).
4.     I’m hyper, emotional, positive (perhaps too positive) and patient, but not equally patient with all students.
5.     I lectured too much.
6.     I ask a lot of questions.

If you’re not up to having students impersonate you, please think about having your classes complete a year-end survey.

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