I have several topics to introduce this week for the Friday Focus. Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!
Annual Parent Survey
The Dresden School Board, in conjunction with the staff at the Richmond Middle School, asks for annual feedback from parents and guardians so that we can celebrate our successes and identify opportunities for improvement. Staff will review the results of this survey over the remainder of this school year. We will use the results to help guide our ongoing work and discussions and also to aid in setting our building goals for the 16-17 school year.
The survey questions and format were created using a combination of previous survey questions, staff and parent topics, resources from Harvard School of Education, and in consultation with a community member with expertise in survey development and evaluation. Some questions and topics repeat year to year while others are more specific to a goal or shorter-term effort. We realize some questions are easier to answer and others feel a little more open or difficult to respond to. We appreciate your efforts and time as you work through the survey and we will consider each response.
The survey can be found via the web at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PTLHRT2 or you may request a paper copy from the RMS office. The survey will remain open until Friday, March 18, 2016.
RMS Inservice Day
Monday, March 14th will be our second inservice day of the 15-16 school year. This time around we are going to try something a little different. As a staff we have been working on the topic of "Social Responsibility" during some of our staff and team meetings. Staff have been engaged in some professional development under this broad topic and several sub-committees have started to pursue initiatives in student engagement and leadership, community service, master schedule, and supporting a positive school culture. While we recognize that most of this work traditionally resides with the adults in the building we also believe in the power and value of involving our students in these efforts. We have invited any interested students to join us and learn alongside us on Mondaymorning with the hope that they will add their ideas, feedback, and questions to the discussions. You can read the invitation we sent students below:
Message Sent to Students This Week:
"Come join the RMS staff on the teacher inservice day Monday March 14th to participate in workshops designed to make RMS a stronger, more socially responsible community. Your voice is key to shaping your experiences, in and out of the classroom, at RMS. Bring a friend for breakfast from 8-8:30am, and then join a discussion with a Vermont Principal about his experiences working with students on incorporating student voice in school leadership, service learning, social justice, and personal learning plans from 8:30-9:30. After the presentation, we will meet in smaller groups from 9:40-11:20 to discuss ideas about ways we can continue to develop some of these practices at RMS. Students are welcome to join for just the presentation or for both the presentation and the breakout conversations. If you are interested in participating, please email or see Mr. Lepene or Ms. Yates"
If you have the opportunity to encourage your child to spend a few hours with us on a non-school day we would appreciate it. We promise a good breakfast and an authentic opportunity to help shape the growth of our school.
Shadow A Student Day #2 (If you would rather not read my summary, please skip ahead to the next section)
On Thursday, I was able to participate in my second Shadow A Student Day. This time I was invited by 6th grader Raghu V to follow his schedule. In addition to spending the day as a RMS student I also am participating in a national effort of sharing the experience as part of #shadowastudent dayorganized by School Retool. You can learn more about this group at shadowastudent.org. Here is a brief summary of my day:
Homeroom: I joined the Desaulniers homeroom for announcements, the pledge of allegiance, morning greeting, and a discussion of the math exhibit. Students had great insights about the exhibit as they were prompted by Mrs. Desaulniers to try and figure out the mathematical connection and purpose with each station.
French6: Once again I found myself in a language course where I did not have the background. I did my best and had some wonderful support and encouragement from the students sitting by me. I particularly enjoyed the song and dance piece led by Mrs. Goodling. The vocabulary Pictionary was also a hit. In addition I found myself thinking about the experience of our students who are ELL (English Language Learners) in our core classes. Like last time, trying to keep up in the language was tiring but the activities that involved gestures, movements, and visual clues helped tremendously.
PE6: We reviewed different exercises and fitness activities with Mr. Atkinson before working at stations in groups. A variety of strength, balance, and agility exercises certainly tested me. I felt a bit like I was in PT and was reminded of the voices of those in the past who have emphasized the importance of flexibility and core strength for my overall wellness. Mr. Atkinson put a careful emphasis on how to safely do each exercise and students responded.
Strings: I had to step out of Strings for a few minutes but when I returned I was treated to a performance and lesson where students were offering their opinions about the plot, setting, characters, and story being told by the music. The energy and enthusiasm was contagious and the stories created were humorous while reinforcing the same vocabulary they use in their English classes. Ms. Rommer kept them laughing, playing music, and telling stories. Though I don't play an instrument I was able to join right in.
Study Hall: Took the time to catch up with email and appointments. Like many of the students having the time to get a few things caught up felt great.
Math6: Today was test day. I joined the class in taking a test on percentages. It was fun to engage in a subject I used to teach and also to be in the testing mode again. While I had the answers correct the students took great pleasure in finding out from Mr. Kitzmiller that I was getting a "zero" for using pen and a wifi enabled calculator! I'll look forward to the retake...
English6: Class began with a wonderful performance of the "prefix" song by two of my 6th grade classmates. Follow that, Mrs. Sylvester used the period to conference with individual students about their recent work and reading contracts. I used the time to ask students about what they were reading as well as to do some silent reading myself from a book I started a while ago, "Creativity, Inc." Some of the students were interested in what I was reading so it was fun telling them a little about why I had picked the book.
Science6: In science we visited the library-media center for a co-taught lesson by Mrs. Desaulniers and Mrs. Putnam-Pouliot. Students are working on their invention/innovation research projects. Through a specific topic students are getting instruction in research skills, source evaluation (ask them about the web site eyebrow test), note-taking, organization, and presentation creation. I decided to do some research on the iPad touchscreen technology while I worked through the supporting student research guides. I'm looking forward to seeing the student presentations in a few weeks.
Social Studies6: Today the class was entering the final days of their colony simulations. I joined a group and participated in the decisions we made about trading, farming, hunting, and land acquisition. We had some interesting twists and wildcards with tough weather, a bear attack, and a mix of success and failure in hunting. Though our numbers were small our colony survived and continued to the next day.
Like last time, I thoroughly enjoyed my day as a RMS student. I was welcomed, encouraged, and supported by our students and teachers. Students again impressed me with their knowledge, productivity, and questions. I was able to create some new connections with students I might normally not have the opportunity to talk with. For me, one of the best days I have had at RMS. My thanks to the students and staff who made this possible. An especially big thank you to Raghu who had me as his shadow for the day. I hope to complete a shadow day with our 8th grade before the year is over. In addition, I intend to encourage and support other staff members in doing the same.