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Staff Newsletter for 05/01/2017

Hi Team,

We will have a special assembly this morning for about 10 minutes right at 8:30 to present Maddy with the results of our fundraiser. It should be no more than 10 min, and will be in the gym.

Important end of the year stuff:
This is our last typical tutorial cycle. We will have students with homeroom teachers the last two weeks of school. Students will be “checking out” with their homeroom teachers during this time. We will have more information about that later.

Upcoming Calendar Events
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Please see the email from Sandy about the events. Starting with a yummy breakfast this morning!

Tuesday is the Orchestra Concert at 7 pm.

We will have a Friday schedule on Thursday for the Poetry Out Loud: KMS Edition event.

Empathy is the Hard Part

“Empower is not a bad word”

What to do on Lame Duck School Days - Let’s not phone it in this last month of school, but there are days and times when we need to fill the time.

Have a great week!


Staff Newsletter for 04/24/2017

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar Events:
Board meeting tonight. Here is the Board Report for KMS. Tonight, we will also be recognizing our volunteer of the month, Ambee Hill, who has served in the office every week for the whole school year. If you’re available to come support her, that would be wonderful.

On Thursday, during lunch, there is a webinar in the collaboration space about trauma-informed strategies in schools. You’re invited to view it. I’ll share the link of the recording when I get it after the fact. The Trauma-informed School: A New Safety-Net Approach to Ending Serious Discipline Issues

Choir concert on Thursday Night.

aimsweb and MAP assessment windows start the first week in May.

PEAKS Makeup testing is happening this week. We will call down students who were absent.

Please talk with your teams if you have not yet about the summer math academy. Melissa and Katherine have worked hard to make that awesome, even doing math outside of work!

May 1 is the deadline to nominate teachers for Alaska Teacher of the Year.

The Last Stretch
We have just one month left of school tomorrow. There is still a lot of good that can be accomplished! I saw this video on Facebook and thought it was applicable. It ain’t over ’til it’s over!

Our success at Kodiak Middle School is because of our repeated behaviors. Our failures are also because of our repeated behaviors.

To Boost Higher-Order Thinking, Try Curation



Staff Newsletter for 04/17/2017

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar Events

The High School counselors are coming down to talk with 8th graders about courses for high school next year today and tomorrow. They are coming to Mrs. Grupp’s class on Monday and anyone who doesn’t have Mrs. Grupp or is absent will meet them in the library on Tuesday.

There is a spring band concert this Thursday in the High School Gym. On Thursday, students in band will be out of class for dress rehearsal.

This Friday teachers will meet in Department teams. We will start in the library for celebrations, and then break to your respective department meeting areas. Please let me or Mrs. Haffeman know if you need one of us there.

Moving between depth and complexity

Narcissistic Teaching and how to change it.

Both of these articles today are from Ian Byrd, a gifted and talented teacher with a pretty extensive web site about reaching gifted and talented students.

Have a great week!


I reached a milestone on the podcast today! 100,000 downloads. Wow. I never imagined that this would be this successful. First of all, thank you to all of you for listening to this podcast for the last three and a half years.

This is a really difficult post to write, because there are so many great episodes with amazing leaders that all of them can’t be in the top 10, and so I have included a few honorable mentions below, which are some selections from the top 20 and maybe even the top 50.

Truly, though, I have learned so much from every single interview I have done over the last three years. Listening to the entire back catalog of Transformative Principal is like a Masters in Educational Leadership.

If you implement just 1 thing from each interview, I am sure you will be a top educational leader in your area very quickly. These people are amazing!

So, let’s get to the list!

  1. Helping Great Teachers Fly with Rick Wormeli and Todd Whitaker Transformative Principal Special #nassp16
  2. This interview with Rick Wormeli and Todd Whitaker was really amazing. Not only did these two spend 30 minutes after a keynote with me, they also spent a few extra minutes answering my specific questions and really encouraging me. These guys are amazing.

  3. Dealing with Toxic Staff with Randy Sprick Transformative Principal 143
  4. One of the difficult things we experience in schools is dealing with people who choose to be toxic. Randy gives some great advice here to help us

  5. Stop Stealing Dreams with Seth Godin Transformative Principal 131
  6. When I emailed Seth Godin to invite him to be part of the podcast, he very graciously agreed. Be sure to read “Stop Stealing Dreams

  7. How to Listen to Students with Amy Fast Transformative Principal 133
  8. Somebody mentioned that I should read Amy’s book, “It’s the Mission, Not the Mandates.” So, I thought I should reach out and have her on the podcast. She has a fascinating story!

  9. School-Wide Meetings with Jonathon Wennstrom Transformative Principal 124
  10. Jon Wennstrom was on the leadership summit last year, and this is the interview that I knew would be awesome.

  11. Failure is not an Option with Rachel Yanof Transformative Principal 135
  12. This is a great interview that talks about how Rachel’s goal is every single student in College when they graduate. Powerful stories from Arizona.

  13. It’s the Mission with Amy Fast Transformative Principal 132
  14. Amy Fast repeats on this Top 10 list. You’ll see why here.

  15. Routines to Make Yourself More Successful with Karine Veldhoen Transformative Principal 160
  16. Don’t we all want to be better? Putting routines into practice is a difficult thing to master, but easy for anyone to start. It requires setting aside time to be intentional and plan appropriately! Don’t delay, get started on this today!

  17. Establishing PLCs with Geri Parscale Transformative Principal 087
  18. We all want to get to the point of having highly functional teams. Geri gives us the insight here:

  19. Changing Hearts with Scott Beebe Transformative Principal 129
  20. This conversation with Scott Beebe really came at a good time for me and I implemented many of the things he talks about, with great results.

Honorable Mention


The Gift of Failure with Jessica Lahey Transformative Principal 161

This was like a dream to me to interview Jessica Lahey. She is so kind and so generous and really helped challenge me to provide more opportunities for kids to learn successfully from their failures. And this will be in the top 10 shortly because lots of people are listening to this one repeatedly.

My Bad with Jon Harper Transformative Principal 169
A long time listener emailed me after this one and said, “This is probably your best yet!“ I love this interview as Jon and I talk about how to recognize your own mistakes as a leader and how to overcome them.

Positive Behavior with Chris Wejr Transformative Principal 021

I just love this interview with Chris Wejr. He really shaped my thinking early on in my career and it is powerful stuff when you talk about getting kids to do the right thing because it is the right thing.

Shameless Self-promotion!

RTI scheduling with Jethro Jones Transformative Principal 100

I’m plugging this one because my then-AP (@damonhargraves) and I discuss the ways that we made a huge impact in our school by creating a real RTI schedule. What does that mean? It means we created a schedule that gives kids what they need, when they need it, and allows for some choice.

Staff Newsletter for 04/10/2017

Hi Team,

Dr. LeDoux asked me to let you all know that Melissa Haffeman will be recommended to the board tonight as the principal of Kodiak Middle School for next year! Wahoo! Congratulations, Melissa!

Upcoming Calendar items:
PEAKS testing this week. We will use our Testing Schedule (here) on Tuesday and Wednesday and test with our first period class. Please refer to Lucy’s email from last Friday with the subject PEAKS Logistics. Thank you to Lucy for your diligent and fantastic work in getting this all organized.

We have a PTA meeting on Wednesday at 5:30.

This Friday is Grade Level PLCs. Damon, Melissa, and I will be meeting with your teams briefly to show you Microsoft Teams.

There is a Friday Night Live this Friday from 7–9 pm.

For 8th graders, KHS counselors will be here next Monday to talk about course offerings at KHS.

This is a great podcast episode about Creativity, Mindset, and the Future, with Seth Godin

I saw this article about flexible seating in a classroom, and thought you might find it interesting, too.

Caitlyn Tucker is a Language Arts teacher, and in this blog post, she describes how she uses Wunderlist

6 Alternatives to Reading Logs One of my principal friends did the first alternative on Snapchat with a leadership book and it was surprisingly engaging. You might try some of these with your students. Another one that is good is using something like Goodreads.



Staff Newsletter for 04/03/2017

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar Events:

This week, we will be giving kids the opportunity to register for classes for next year. Lucy will be communicating with those who will be impacted by that. Our master schedule is still not set, because it is based upon student needs and so we will be finalizing it after we know what the kids are interested in. If you would like to come down and see the draft, you are more than welcome to.

Friday is the trainmen for PEAKS testing. It is required for all staff and faculty, since we will all be involved in administering it. It will be in the library at 2:40.

Basecamp to Microsoft Teams
We have used Basecamp successfully for the last few years. Microsoft has a new system called Teams that is part of our Office 365 solution. It works similarly to Basecamp in some ways, but the real benefit is that it is part of what we are already using.

I’ve been using it for the last couple weeks for our Coordination of Care meeting and it is pretty slick. I’d like to join your grade level PLCs to show you how to work with it this week, and then add the rest of the team next week for the Friday early release.

If you see some invites for Teams over the next few days, you can get in and start playing, or you can wait for a walkthrough from me, Damon, or Melissa on April 14. You can see more about it here.

We are implementing this tool starting now so that we can use it for those who are attending summer PD events…

Summer PD
The Math academy flyer has been sent out from our Director of Instruction. If you are interested, please sign up for that, as I think it will be a great opportunity to help students and for you to learn some exciting ways to help our students. It is applicable to math, but also applicable to other things as well.



Hey, take care of yourself...

This is my newsletter to my team this week.

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar Events:
Today at 3:40, in the library, the new superintendent will be here to discuss what you want in a new principal. Please plan to attend.

This Friday, there is a dance, and we need chaperones. Please let Dianne know if you are willing and available.

For the regular board meeting in April, we are scheduled to present a volunteer of the Month. If you know of someone, please hit reply and let me know who and why they should be recognized.

PEAKS testing will be on April 11, 12, 13 starting first thing in the morning each day. Proctor training, which everyone should attend will be on April 7, during early release. If you can’t make it that day, please attend with the high school this Friday, in room D121.

Here are four resources about Social Emotional Learning:

  • Part 1: Characteristics of effective SEL programs
  • Part 2: Implementation strategies and state and district policies that support SEL programming;
  • Part 3: Teacher and classroom strategies that contribute to social and emotional learning; and
  • Part 4: Outcomes of social and emotional learning among different student populations and settings.

Read the reports here

Teachers have dealt with the impact of trauma on students for years, and research suggests that educators can moderate the effects of trauma by forging strong relationships with traumatized children and providing a safe and supportive learning environment. Education Northwest has published a free resource, “A Practitioner’s Guide to Educating Traumatized Children,” that provides insights drawn from the latest research, as well as a set of trauma-informed classroom practices for educators.

This article, Standards Based Grading Made My Kid Average gives some good insight into how to teach others about why we use standards-based instruction rather than traditional grading.

Sometimes, we need to relearn things as adults. This video clip is fascinating relating to how to relearn something as engrained as riding a bike, and how that can really take a long time.

Finally, please take care of yourself: The Elephant In The (Staff) Room - Why We Need To Talk About Teacher Wellbeing

Have a great week,


Staff Newsletter for 03/20/2017

Hi Team,

I hope you had a relaxing and restful spring break and enjoyed your time off work. I hope you actually took time off and got in some much needed rest and relaxation and rejuvenation.

As we discussed in our celebrations last Friday, we are going to have students choose tutorials today for a shortened tutorial cycle that will start on Wednesday. So, students will be in your homeroom classes to review expectations from this behavior matrix, dress and grooming standards and this behavior flowchart and this lunchtime flowchart.

Upcoming Calendar Events:

PEAKS window opens on March 28th.
We have a Friday Schedule this Thursday as we participate in games with our students during the last hour of the day. Please let Jen or Bryan know if you are interested in playing those games, and if you have any minute-to-win-it game ideas, please be sure to let them know about those as well.

This Friday will be department collaboration time! We will meet in the library for celebrations first, and then to our department meetings.

It may seem far away, but the end of the year will creep up before we can believe it!


“That Kid” - A reminder about the importance of respecting each of our students.

The Limitations of Teaching ‘Grit’ in the Classroom - “We are asking students to change a belief system without changing the situation around them.”

Some thoughts about personalizing learning by AJ Juliani.

And a word of caution about personalized learning by Dan Meyer



Staff Newsletter for 03/06/2017

Hi Team,

Welcome to our last week before spring break! It’s going to be a great week.

Upcoming Calendar Events
Today, we will have an assembly in the Gym during Tutorials. We are going to kick off our spring fundraiser and it is all about Mady. Read about her story here. She is a great student at our school who is really experiencing a heartbreaking situation: her arm will be amputated on Wednesday. Up until last week, she was going to get a new implant, but the FDA didn’t approve it, so we are going to raise our money to help her family with the bills.

We are going to kick it off with an assembly today. Please take attendance in tutorials and then bring your students down to the gym.

Tonight, there is an opportunity to meet the Superintendent candidates from 3:45 to 5:00 pm in the choral pods.

Choir concert tomorrow at 7 pm.

There is a PTSA meeting on Wednesday night at 5:30 in room 104.

Here are the shared resources from our Proficiency Scales Training last Friday.

Our Tardy Data that I mentioned last week has been updated for the full month of February, and I included grade level data as well. You will see that 6th grade is remarkably consistent in their tardies.

This graphic below came from the weekly newsletter that Randy Sprick (of CHAMPS fame) puts out. It teaches how to deal with misbehavior that is considered chronic:

Staff Newsletter for 02/27/2017

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar Items
Please take the School Climate and Connectedness Survey with your second period class some time during the next two weeks. It should take about 15 minutes to complete. The link will come from Melissa in a separate email.

This Friday’s early release will be a training about proficiency scales with the Department of Instruction.

Good news, our subs are asking for more information before they get to our school to fill positions. Please put your lessons in Aesop when you are requesting substitutes. It is helpful for the subs to know what they are getting. Sandy is happy to print them off for the subs, especially if they are in Aesop. Don’t let this request stop you from requesting subs early if you can’t get the lesson plans in right when you request it!

Some Data
The month is not over, yet, but here is our tardy data for the month. We had 299 tardies in February so far, compared to 454 last month. Our average tardies per student is 2.34 compared to 2.86 last month.

This article explains one reason why we don’t have bells: Squeezing the last minute out of a session.

Here’s a great article from Harvard Business Review about taking on new challenges.

And, a big thanks to our Student Events committee for putting on a great Engineering Night on Friday. I spent most of my time at the paper airplane station! Be sure to check out our Facebook page for some pictures!