Monday, August 26, 2013

Communication about change from the middle school:

How many forms of communication about change are necessary to connect with constituents?

 This teacher has communicated in so many ways, there is no excuse not to know!
What is the best way to communicate?
Connecting, building bridges of influence, helping others grow regardless their position and enjoying progress are a few of the marks of master teachers.  Is this rare or is this the norm.  At Winfield Middle School, there are many solid educators striving to influence the future, one life at a time, all through exemplar communication. 
No longer.
To improve our communication from our teachers we are piloting a program called remind101.  This allows staff to send a text message to every parent signed up.  Homework reminders, test dates and class announcements would be the primary purpose.  So when you want to know what happened, look at your text messages!

Parents, connect via Remind101:
text @mrmccracke to 573/629-1051

Social Media:  Twitter: @mccracken63
We are also using twitter for PD, personal and professional development and connecting with other professionals, as well as letting parents and followers know about teams, schedules, play by plays and even scores. Like us on Facebook for other timely information about what is happening here.

Subscribe to this blog:
This weekly blog shares the Principal's perspective of a variety of leadership topics, from teaching, serving, building champions to Green Eggs and Ham, all surrounding education.  There are over 75 posts devote to the advancement and development of our educational growth.

A daily email from our Office
Everyday, our students hear announcements but seldom do they make it all the way home.  A duplicate written version is published every day and sent out via a group email. Feel free to call or email to sign up to receive these timely posts.

Traditional modes:
Of course the cell phone, text messages and email as well as personal visits and letter writing are also allowed and even encouraged.  Gone are the days when we could say, "I never knew." or "Nobody told me."  If the desire to know is there, the mode is there. 

What is your favorite form of communication?
Tom McCracken
Winfield Middle School Principal

From #onthemap to #pieceofthepuzzle

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Two of our staff back to school activities are...

This year we have opened with a puzzle theme!  Two lessons were stressed.

 Our back to school activities for teachers:

1.       Instead of sharing with a shoulder partner a few pictures of the summer everyone submitted a few pictures via email and a movie was made, set to the Beethoven’s 9th Symphony! Each picture was shown for 10 seconds and we all shared a verbal vine about the scene.  The variety of all the submitted pictures ranged from Spain to Florida, to family and friends, beaches and mountains, with and without people!  To conclude, we pondered how our experiences in this room, over one summer were far more than those of most of our students, maybe even over a life time!  We did more in one summer than they may accomplish in their lifetimes.  This granted us the permission to begin our academic adventure painting a picture of a physical adventure, traveling from a place of sure footing to uncertainty.  We connected the educational risks with those geographical risks surrounding travel, adventures and summer trips!  We thought of the joy these adventures brought to our own children and how their eyes lightened and memories were etched in their minds.  We wondered what it would take to being that same passion and enthusiasm into the classroom.

2.       Additionally, later that same day, we built a puzzle with pieces we received earlier that day.  However, one piece was deliberately withheld.  When asked to assemble the puzzle, things were progressing smoothly.  We got to the end and noticed the missing part.  Many applications to this missing piece were discussed.  We talked about the contributions each of us makes to the students’ lives.  Additionally we wondered if our students were feeling these same feelings of frustration when they almost finished their projects but were not equipped to reach the final conclusion.  Often, they could not reach the mark due to circumstances beyond their control.  This only reinforced the student’s perception that the true locus of control was outside their influence.  According to the students, success is unattainable and extenuating circumstances always prevent them from reaching the finish line. 

Therein lays the issue.  Students often follow this thought process:
With no opportunity for success, why even try? 
If I can’t win, why would I even play? 
If the chances of success are so slim, I won’t even risk it!

Our answer is simple.  We deliberately reach out to students, even if they push us away, especially if they push away.  They need healthy relationships even more!  A student must learn self-affirmation and positive self-talk!  A student must believe in himself or her own value, regardless of the situation.  A student must have a positive example, role model, caring adult or some support team that breaks the negative cycle.  This comes through a concerned adult, caring enough to share their lives with the student’s lives and willing to follow the green eggs and ham example. 

How do we help foster success?  Build a relationship.  Make a connection.  These simple actions begin to act as bridges or pathways or routes out of the negative cycles and allow students to court with success.  This lays out a foundation for a future attempt, and sets up an exit strategy for those attempts that fall short.  A pattern of persistence and determination becomes the norm.  The illusive success becomes attainable and reachable becasue the pupil learns how to win and how to fail!

Friday, August 16, 2013

WSD is "Construct, Renovate and Change"

Q: What does it take to build anything, like New York City?   
A: One brick at a time!
Thank you so much for the support for the students of our middle school.  This is a wonderful time in their lives and we here are honored to be a part of it.  We would like to share a few of the details surrounding some of the adjustments we are making here.

Parent: What did you do at school today?  
Student: Nothin.

No longer!
To improve our communication from our teachers, we are piloting a program called Remind101.  ( This allows staff to send a text message to every parent signed up.  Homework reminders, test dates and class announcements would be the primary purpose.  So when you want to know what happened, look at your text messages!

Research shows that teachers talking together actually helps students do better, especially when the teachers teach the same classes!  This is called collaboration.  We have grouped teachers geographically together by content this year:  math by math, grammar & reading together and sciences together!  This is designed to allow teachers to have lunch together every day, reducing competition and improving communication.

Therefore lunch will be based on the 4th hour class, and not grade level.  Math and most science classes will eat first.  English second, and everyone else, third.  Some may even be allowed to attend their Jazz Band class early.  Another benefit is the number of students served per lunch is better aligned.  No longer do we have one lunch substantially different than another.  Our kitchen staff truly appreciates this! 

That is why the rooms are arranged differently.  We understand it will be an adjustment but together we can and will work through it.

Last year our theme was #onthemap.  We feel we have done a good job of putting Winfield Middle School on the map, and not just because of our flood assistance!  There were successes in every department, grade level, and class! 

This year, we are focused on a puzzle.  We know there are many types but in each, every part of necessary.  Here at WMS, EVERYONE is necessary, vital and valued, especially our students.  

These are some bricks we are using at the middle school.  What other contributions are available?  

Watch your thoughts; they become beliefs.
Watch your beliefs; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.

Parents:  text @mrmccracke to 5736291051 to get the latest announcements and pertinent information from the Middle School.