On the Move 3-16-15 - North Chicago CUSD 187

 On The Move
Toward Excellence
Your D187 weekly update!
Winter 2015
Parent –Teacher Conferences will be taking
place across the district on 3/20 and 3/21.
Reach out to parents whom you would like to
hold a conference and remind them of the times!!
District Institute Day
March 19, 2015
On March 19 , all teachers will be working with
the Danielson Group, and certified staff will attend
professional development at Rosalind Franklin
University. These sessions will begin promptly at 8:00
am and will conclude at 2:30 pm. All paraprofessionals
and support staff will be working their normal
contractual day at their school sites, under direction
provided by principals. Parent conference will take
place at each school on March 19th from 3:30-7:30 pm.
3/18 – Report Cards due to
3/19 – Teacher Institute Day
3/20 – Parent Teacher
Conferences (8:00-11:00)
3/23-3/27 – Spring Break –
No school
4/3 – No School
5/25 – No School
***transportation to and from Rosalind Franklin will be provided by district.
More information to follow……
Attendance Matters
WAY TO GO AJK KNIGHTS!!!! Breaking 96% for
Attention ALL Staff
The Illinois 5 Essentials Survey is open. We are asking that ALL staff spend 35 minutes to complete the survey before March 13th.
The information collected through the survey is reviewed and analyzed to
generate a 5Essentials Report for each school. The 5Essentials Report includes
a breakdown of teacher and student responses and, most importantly, provides
a comprehensive picture of how schools fared on five factors that have been tied
to school improvement. The five factors are:
• Effective Leaders
• Collaborative Teachers
• Involved Families
Happenings around D187…
Beyond the Class - NMSA students participated in “SeaPerch Robotics” competition
held on Saturday, March-14 .
This year, Neal Math & Science Academy (NMSA) students took part in a STEM (science,
technology, engineering, mathematics) course during EPIC period, taught by Mrs. Agarwal &
Ms. Jurens. Students from Yeager Elementary also participated in the program, participating
on a team led by Ms. Schultz. Participating students were directed by a representative from
the U.S. Navy who helped students construct an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV)
called SeaPerch. Students participated in a state-wide competition at Naval Station Great
Lakes on Saturday, March 14th, 2015. Among other important guests, Governor Bruce
Rauner was in attendance at the competition.
This program provided a fantastic opportunity for students to
learn hands-on about basic circuits, buoyancy, simple robotics,
material science and innovation. The purpose of this activity was
to developed skills in planning, organizing, communication, team
building, time management and STEM literacy. During this
project students learned life skills which equip students to thrive
in the classroom and in the world beyond. We are proud of all of
our North Chicago SeaPerch scholars!
North Chicago CUSD 187
Approaching Parent–Teacher Conferences
• A two-way conversation. The parent–teacher conference is not only an opportunity for parents to
learn from you, but for you to learn from them. Nobody knows your students better than their
families. Their insights into their child’s strengths and needs, learning styles, and non-school learning
opportunities can help you improve your instructional methods. Your efforts to better understand their
aspirations and perspectives make parents feel respected and build trust with them.
• Emphasis on learning. You can make the most of parent–teacher conferences, and other forms of
family involvement, by “linking them to learning.” This means bringing events and communication
back to a discussion of strategies to support student learning. You can arm parents with knowledge
and suggestions for how to help their children learn.
• Opportunities and challenges. We all need praise and constructive criticism to grow. All parents are
proud of their children and need to hear about their strengths as well as their challenges from you.
This helps show parents that you value the unique strengths of their children and have high
expectations for their ability to succeed in school and in life.
Ideas for during the conferences
ü Discuss progress and growth. Starting with the positive, let families know about their child’s ability level
in different subjects and in relationship to his or her peers. Help families understand student data to
demonstrate progress against learning goals and to identify areas that need to be addressed.
ü Use examples. Walk parents through the assignments and assessments that are particularly
demonstrative of the student’s progress and abilities.
ü Ask questions and listen actively. Solicit family input into student strengths and needs, learning styles,
and non-school learning opportunities. Ask parents about their hopes and dreams for their child.
ü Share ideas for supporting learning. Provide suggestions for activities and strategies families can use at
home to help their child learn and grow.
ü Seek solutions collaboratively. Avoid judgments about what “they” should do and instead emphasize
how “we” can work together to resolve any problems.
ü Make an action plan. Spend the last few minutes discussing how you and the family will support the
student. Be specific about the kinds of things you will do, for how long you will do them, and how you
will check in with one another about progress.
ü Establish lines of communication. Describe how you will communicate with families (i.e., through
notes home, phone calls, email etc.) and they can contact you. Schedule a way to follow up on your
conference in the next few months.
Ideas for after the conferences
ü Follow up with families. If practical, contact parents (either by phone or in a note) who attended the
conference and thank them for doing so. Ask if they have further questions or concerns and send home
materials that can help them support learning at home. Contact parents who did not attend, as well, and
offer alternative ways to communicate about their child.
ü Communicate regularly. Communicate on an ongoing basis with families, with positive news as well as
updates on student progress and challenges. Also let families know about other opportunities for them
to be involved.
ü Connect in-class activities. Create responsive instructional practices based on what you learned about
family cultures, home learning environments, and student strengths and needs.
D187 Star Staff
Forrestal Elementary School would like to recognize Ms. Suzanne Bauman as a D187 Star Staff
member. Ms. Bauman is a 1st grade teacher at Forrestal who recently attended the Erikson
Institute for workshops in early elementary mathematics. She also shares new innovative math
strategies with the Forrestal Staff. Ms. Bauman is known for establishing a positive classroom
culture that allows students to take risks and to take and active role in their education. Ms.
Bauman earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Illinois and has
earned a Master’s degree form Roosevelt University in Elementary Education. In 2015 she
graduated with a second Master’s degree from Concordia University in Educational Leadership
and has earned her Type 75 Administrative License. Ms. Bauman has recently been accepted
into the NC D187 Teacher Leadership Institute.
Toolbox Tidbits
Each issue, a new “tidbit” will be featured! When you use the tidbit in your classroom,
please email a brief summary of what you did and how your class responded!
From Marshall Memo 82: Suggestions for Parent Conferences
Several National Distinguished Principals were asked to give pointers on how teachers should
handle parent conferences. They noted that there is a tendency for teachers (especially rookies) to be
apprehensive and defensive as they gear up to meet parents and overcompensate by preparing a speech
filled with educational jargon. Here’s what these principals suggest:
• Take care of the little things. It’s nice to provide refreshments and chairs outside the classroom for
parents who arrive early and post a schedule and samples of children’s work for parents to peruse
before and after their conference.
• Be positive and personal. “Stand and greet the parent with good eye contact, a smile, and a warm
handshake,” suggests a Kansas principal. Thank parents for what they do for their children. “Begin and
end with something positive about a child,” says a principal from Maryland. “Often families are
worried and nervous about seeing the teacher as well. Talk about their children in a personal way.”
• Don’t be defensive when parents ask about the classroom. This makes it seems that the teacher is
insecure or has something to hide. Take note of parents’ suggestions and follow up on them.
• Show that you care. Don’t talk only about academics: “[P]arents want to hear that teachers like
their child, in spite of any academic or behavior problems,” says a California principal.
• Don’t let a conference become confrontational. If the tone gets negative, the teacher needs to stop
the conference in a professional manner and continue it later with the principal present.
• Be a good listener and watch the time. Have a agenda or script for the conference so it doesn’t run
overtime, but also use active listening and give parents enough time to ask questions.
• Don’t blindside parents. “Conference comments and report card grades should never be a
surprise for a parent or a child who is struggling,” says a Connecticut principal. Parents should have
received a heads-up on any problems in the course of the marking period.
• Use examples of the child’s work. This is the best way to show parents the progress that’s being
made – or the work that needs to be done to meet standards.
• Don’t forget the ‘A’ students. These children deserve a full conference, not just a pat on the back
for being great students.
• Have a specialist on hand if needed. If a conference promises to be difficult, it is a good idea to have a
counselor, psychologist, or social worker sit in.
• Don’t dwell on the negative, and suggest specific solutions to problems you bring up.
“Getting Teachers Set for Parent Conferences” by June Million in ASCD Communicator, February 2005 (#28, p.
5-6, spotted in Education Digest, April 2005, Vol. 80, #8, p. 54-56), no e-links available
From Marshall Memo 452 - What Kinds of Reports Do Parents Really Want on Their
“Decades of research show that grades don’t lead to deeper understandings, increased intellectual
risk-taking, or better performance on complex tasks,” say Jim Webber (University of Nevada/Reno) and
Maja Wilson (University of Maine/Orono) in this Kappan article. “Similarly, conversations based around
grades can’t produce these results either.”
So why don’t more teachers send home narrative and descriptive evaluations of students’ work?
Often, it’s because teachers believe that parents want grades, not verbiage. But Webber and Wilson’s
interviews showed that parents actually want detailed information and are often dissatisfied with the
conversations that focus mostly on grades. Online grading programs, while making it much easier for
parents to check on their children’s progress, are not providing this kind of fine-grained information on
day-by-day performance. Webber and Wilson want reporting that does a much better job informing
parents and sparking good conversations with teachers.
“Conversations create space for the complex dynamics necessary for communication,” they say.
“In a good conversation, participants feel as if they’re realizing things they’d only suspected before. A
good conversation moves – it builds and bends back on itself, pauses, gathers steam, takes turns, plunges
forward, and gathers itself into new understandings and connections. The full engagement of those
involved is required, as participants give voice to their experience to create and complicate shared
“Our interviews show that parents want teachers who observe their children carefully, develop
strong learning relationships, and communicate meaningfully,” conclude Webber and Wilson. “Parents
are telling us what they want: fewer grades, more description, and more shared artifacts of teaching and
learning. It’s time we listen.”
“Do Grades Tell Parents What They Want and Need to Know?” by Jim Webber and Maja Wilson in Phi Delta
Kappan, September 2012 (Vol. 94, #1, p. 30-35); Wilson can be reached at [email protected]