Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Last Day of Meetings

What I learned today during our final day of in-service trainings:

- Our attendance policy is entirely punitive. No incentives encourage or reinforce positive behaviors. Last year the policy did not change student behaviors, so the detention times are now doubled. I think the person in charge does not understand that the student behavior is a symptom of the disease: the students' attitude towards school. We need to cure the disease or else the symptoms will continue.

- We used an entirely ridiculous decision-making model and discussion process, but somehow came out with a result the majority supported. The admin team gave us two hours to create a new (though previously) state-mandated culminating project. Instead of starting with the end-goal in mind and working backwards (you know, like teaching), we threw random ideas (time to use, resources, etc.) onto paper and then voted on it. The decision: give the project to social studies, who wanted it, to embed into their senior classes. We still don't know what the product will be. We just gave the work to someone else.

- Lunch was pretty good: wraps.

- My department rocks my socks! We worked together for an hour and completed every item on our agenda with time to spare. I am so fortunate to work with 19 other language arts teachers who can discuss issues and not individuals, debate dilemmas and not personalities, and create solutions and not add more difficulties. Our new journalism teacher said to me, "we have a great department leader. This department is amazing. You all just love your jobs." How cool is that?!

- Our cheerleaders truly want to unify the school and change the climate. They created over 120 signs, one for every teacher and visible staff member in the building, which welcome back each person by name. I know I'm biased because my wife is the cheer coach, but I actually believe these girls are serious about their mission and can make visible and lasting changes. This is not last year's squad.

As I said the other day, "I can't wait for classes to begin!" Can you tell I'm excited?


Mrs. Chili said...

I'm excited for you - and looking forward to taking this ride with you. Living vicariously through high school teachers is one of my favorite pass times - I learn SO much from you!

Mimi said...

Sounds like you have a great team to work with..I hope that helps to override some of the ridiculously frustrating stuff this year.

The Science Goddess said...

I learned today that most people (including the ass't. principal) want our attendance policy to be more punitive...and tied to grades.

Yes, I know that kids who don't come to school usually can't demonstrate enough learning to earn credit---but the whole idea today was to just flunk them outright without ever giving them an opportunity to try. Ugh.

DrPezz said...


It's as if they have never heard of the honey vs. vinegar cliche. Or of educational research. :)