We are excited to start this new year with over 800 students in Preschool through fifth grade! The year has gotten off to a great start thanks to all the hard work of our teachers, our students, our PTA, and parents. Our students are embracing our school rules which are; Be Ready, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible. I hope that you have found Bailey Station to be responsive to your needs as it pertains to your child and that you will continue to foster the relationship with your teacher as well as our school. One of the most important things we do as a school is to build relationships with our students. We need to know their unique and incredible stories in order to make sure that we are meeting their academic and social needs. The second most important thing for a happy school year is to communicate with your teacher and likewise, the teacher will be communicating with you! I know that when we communicate and build relationships with each other our children are the winners! You will find at Bailey Station Elementary that our children always come first in school decisions because their success is why we are here!
Our keywords for this year are "teach. engage. challenge. inspire." We are using the book, "The Wild Card" by Hope and Wade King to help challenge and empower our teachers to create lessons that engage, inspire and challenge our students. Teachers are urged to tap into their unique passions and to reach their true potential as a teacher so that every child can achieve success.
Please call on me if you need anything! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and the school number is 901-853-6380.
To a great school year!
Update on funding for the Playground
I want to take a moment to update you on where we stand money wise for our playground.
We have collected $62,186.35 as of 8.30.18. The money has come from the following fundraisers:
Playground Donations since August 2016: $7,948.67
PTA Donations from 2017 and 2018: $35,299.57
2016 Bear Fair: $6,592.36
2017 Bear Fair: $12,345.75
Total = $62,186.35
The playground quote from Play Power through Mid-South Recreation is $77,937.00.
Total needed to fund playground is: $15,750.65
We are very hopeful that this year's Bear Fair will provide the remaining money needed so that we can get started! Hope to see you at our Bear Fair on Sept. 13th.
Can giving grades and assessing mastery go together?
In August of 2016, I wrote in my blog about my take on grading and mastery. Even though I wrote this two years ago I still feel this problem is pertinent to all of us today. I believe that Collierville Schools has been proactive in looking at grading and providing principals with professional development on the practices that will best benefit our children. Even so, I feel it is still an area that we will continue to work on and remember to hold ourselves accountable for doing right by our students. The article is LONG....sorry!...I had a lot to say!
Can giving grades and assessing mastery go together?
Our school for the last two years has talked about grading and how to work an archaic system of grading into a standards-based world of mastery. We have found that it is very difficult. Not only is it difficult to put a grade on a summative that may not really show the true picture of a student’s ability, but it is also difficult to communicate with parents that an A on the report card does not necessarily mean their child has mastered the work given.
I have been reading the book, “Rethinking Grading” by Cathy Vatterott and I feel that she has really been able to put into words what the true problem is with grading. One point that she makes as she starts out her book is that our “grading systems often reward on-time task completion and punish disorganization and bad behavior.” That is so true! My faculty and I have been discussing grading and our beliefs about it based on our past experiences in school. We had been taught by our universities and our mentor teachers how to grade. We found that many times when we were grading papers, we would give extra points if the paper was turned in on time, or if a child had their name on the paper. We also found that many times we deducted points for late work, no name, etc. We noticed that we also were just trying to get through the curriculum….it was more about time and less about learning. We were told to cover the material and if the student was not able to cover it in the time that we were given then they just did not get it and were given a permanent grade, and we moved on. Oh my, bless our students’ hearts! We were like a cattle farm herding them through the gates and never looking back to see if they were really learning or if they were able to apply this knowledge to new learning!
There were two events that happened to my daughter when she was in high school that really made an impact on my thoughts about grading. My daughter hated reading and writing but persevered on an assignment given by her 11th grade English teacher with some assurance from me that I would help. The assignment was to write a paper on a certain topic, which also required her to read a book. My daughter read the book, wrote the paper with some help from me of course, but in all honesty, it was her thoughts! She turned the paper in on time, was excited that she had actually done something that was hard for her and when she received her paperback from the teacher it had a zero on it. Yes, I said it had a zero! She came home, showed me the paper through her tears and anger, which of course made me angry and I asked why? “What did the teacher say you did wrong?” The teacher said that her “margins” on the paper were incorrect and since she did not follow all the directions, she received a zero. I was furious! “What do correct margins have to do with the actual assignment or the work that my daughter had completed on the topic?” Why give a zero? I talked with the teacher with no luck and then called the principal and after much discussion, the zero was removed, but the damage was done! My daughter went to one of the best high schools in our city and if she had teachers who were more interested in following the rules and not so interested in the learning, then how many other children were going through this? To even make it more laughable, the teacher in one of her classes said that if she brought in some Kleenex boxes she could get five extra points on her test! Really! Kleenex boxes can raise a grade, but hard work and following through didn't seem to count! I found out that this was normal grading behavior for high school. Due to this assignment and others throughout her high school years where she was marked down for not doing something that had absolutely nothing to do with the learning objective, I knew that grading was a contributing factor to why our children were graduating high school but were not able to stay in college. They were dropping out after the first year of college or had to take remedial courses because they were not prepared. Our present state of grading, giving an A, B, C, D or F is more about student compliance with a system of rules than about learning.
The United States system of education has been in trouble for some time. The government brought in NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and even though there were problems with NCLB, one truth that came from this endeavor is that educators had to look at student learning and whether our students were actually proficient and not how well they obeyed the rules of the system. What we found was that grades given to students in class and proficiency on a standardized test were not the same. Yes, we all know that standardized tests are just one data source and it can be flawed, but it does give us some idea of how our students are learning. At the school level I would have students who were at the 95th percentile in Math, but were receiving a D in the classroom or the opposite, a student who had straight A’s in all subjects, but was below proficient in all areas of the standardized test. This is the moment that as a principal I knew we had a problem with grading! This is what started the discussions at the school level to look at our practices and to be sure we were grading only summative work that students had been given opportunities for feedback and opportunities to redo areas of concern in order for them to move to mastery. This is very hard to do if you still have to assign a grade of A, B, C, D, or F on a report card.
My hope is that through discussions with teachers, our community, and the district office that we can change the way grading is done in our community. We will look at our students as individuals who learn at different rates and in different ways and our job as their teacher is to give them many opportunities for feedback that will lead to success. Can we work within the grading system we have and still stay true to learning? I think we can especially in the middle and high schools. I think our elementary schools would best be served by using a standards-based report card that is about mastery. Elementary school is the foundational years that will forever "color" how well our students do in middle and high school. I think we can and should be transparent and authentic about student progress with our parents. We want to create students who are prepared for this new workplace and world. The job skills that are needed today will require workers who can solve problems without someone standing over them telling them what to do, workers who can think critically and make decisions, workers who will be able to communicate in many different ways with all kinds of people, and to know how to collaborate and be a team player. It is time to make a change in how we grade success for all of us, especially for our children!
Growth Mindset In The Classroom
Last year we worked very hard on helping students and teachers have a growth mindset. Students who have a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed through hard work, using great thinking strategies, persevering through hard challenges, etc. These students tend to see school as a place to develop their abilities and they are excited about challenges because they see them as opportunities to grow. Students with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed at birth and that it really does not change or might just a little if they practice. These students tend to see school as a place where their abilities are evaluated and they primarily focus on "looking smart" over learning and if they make mistakes it is a sign that they are not talented in that area. The students with a growth mindset worry less about looking smart and put more energy into learning.
We put a lot of time into this area last year and offered coffee chats for parents on this topic as well as information and videos for parents that you access through the Bailey Bear News. The newsletters from last year will be on our school web page soon so that if you wish to refresh your memory on this area or if you are new and want to know more about growth mindset you can read about what it is and why it is very important to us as a school!
If you would like to know more about our school management program called "Choices" please read below!
If you are a new parent this might be of interest to you!
There are many new parents at BSE and I thought I would take a moment to explain the philosophy of our school wide classroom management program called "Choices." Many years ago when I was a third-grade teacher I went to a third-grade conference in St. Louis, MO and attended a seminar entitled, "Helping Your Third Graders Make Better Choices". At the time I was searching for a better way to help my students manage behaviors that were not appropriate in the classroom. The punitive check marks, putting their names on the board, sitting in the corner were just not something that I felt was appropriate and it was not making a difference. Children in a punitive environment will mind for the moment so as not to get in trouble but they will continue the behavior over and over and never internalize better habits. Children need to be given opportunities to learn about and practice better strategies for dealing with anger, not belonging, jealousy, anxiety, and a host of other things that get in the way of learning in the classroom. Punitive actions from a teacher is a temporary fix. So, coming back from this seminar I started to overhaul the way I responded to negative behavior in the classroom and shared what was working in my classroom with other teachers. We adopted the strategies at BSE when it started in 2005 and we called our program, "Choices" An Interactive Discipline System". It follows in many respects the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) that has started to show up in many schools around the country and in Collierville.
Here are a few of the tenets of this system of discipline:
1. Discipline is teaching, not punishment.
2. Different behaviors merit different responses.
3. Goals are to remove negative emotion from interactions, focus on the issue, not the student, move toward responsibility and away from obedience, don't dwell on what happened "this time", and help students develop strategies for dealing with the situation "next time."
4. William Glasser states that students have five basic needs which are to be loved, have fun, be safe, and have some power and freedom in the classroom. When a teacher meets these five basic needs it promotes involvement, increases achievement, and reduces the negative climate of the classroom.
Get to know your Principal and Assistant Principals!
At curriculum night each classroom played a video that introduced the admin team to parents. Our hope is that this video helped you understand better what we do as administrators and what the school can do for you and your child. We hope that we were able to get across our message to you that you are welcome at BSE and we are here to help you!
If you were not able to see the video and would like to view it go to our school webpage it should be up soon! Our web page address is baileystationes.colliervilleschools.org.
In the October/November Bailey Bear News I will cover our TN Ready testing data and our goals as a school. You will receive your child's TNReady report September 12th. This report will let you know how they did on the test, areas of strength and areas to work on. We will discuss testing more in-depth in the next Bailey Bear News!