The District Leadership Team has met twice since our last School Committee meeting. Our meetings continue to be productive. We have continued to work on sharpening our skills to provide high quality descriptive feedback to teachers so that teachers find it useful and applicable to their practice and we can work as a team to improve teaching and learning.
We are also working to address concerns brought forward by our teachers regarding the collection of evidence. The District Leadership Team has worked to norm our expectations for teachers’ collection of evidence and accompanying narrative. We will have consistent expectations, outlined in guidelines, for the next round of evidence submission.
The Team has also spent time further defining best practices related to educator evaluation element IA4:
(Well-Structured Lessons): Develops well-structured lessons with challenging, measurable objectives and appropriate student engagement strategies, pacing, sequence, activities, materials, resources, technologies, and grouping.
We synthesized our knowledge from learning visits conducted earlier this school year, the work the Leadership Team did last summer to define the standards, the work our teachers did to define the standards at the beginning of this year, and the work that the High Expectations Task Force has done to define the standards. Our goal is to create a single document with a common language to be used throughout the District in order to insure consistently well-structured lessons resulting in student learning. The Team’s next steps are to develop a plan for communicating with teachers and obtain their feedback.
Finance and Operations
Mulready Roof Bid
On Thursday, February 4th, general bids were opened for the replacement of the Mulready Elementary School roof. Out of the 11 firms that pulled bidding documents, eight responded with a bid. The bids ranged from a low of $705,000 to the high of $1,523,000 with most bids clustered around $944,000 to $1,020,000. We have not formally been notified by the low bidder that he will withdraw his bid due to an arithmetic error, but he did state this to the OPM when notified of the bid results by telephone.
That being said, the second low bidder at $944,000 is well within our budgeted amount for construction cost and includes a number of refinements to the existing school like skylights in all the classrooms, some miscellaneous masonry repairs, repairs to the entrance canopy and the replacement of the rear entrance overhang. The tight clustering of the bids (less the high and low) is a testimony to the quality of the bidding documents prepared by the architect, Raymond Design Associates.
We are looking forward to a warmer, brighter and more easily maintained school in the fall.
High Expectations Teaching
The High Expectations Teaching Task Force met on Monday, February 1st. Teacher participation in this group continues to be low. The group watched several video clips provided by Research for Better Teaching. “Research for Better Teaching (RBT) is a professional development organization dedicated to the professionalization of teaching. Founded in 1979 by Jonathon Saphier, Ed.D., RBT works to strengthen organizational culture and to institutionalize the study of teaching within schools and throughout school districts.” (RBTteach.org 2/5/16) The low participation of teachers on this committee continues to be a concern. The High Expectations Task Force is weighing two options to move towards the District Improvement Plan Strategic Objective of: Establish and maintain a learning environment based on a common understanding of high expectations among staff, students, and families.
The first option is having RBT come to the District to teach their graduate level class HIGH-EXPECTATIONS TEACHING: “Smart is Something You Can Get”. Participants will learn how to choose language, develop classroom structures, and use instructional strategies to motivate all students, but particularly to get low-performing, low-confidence students to change their stereotype about themselves. The goals of the pedagogy in this class are to create a learning environment where students will:
• Believe effort is the main determinant of success;
• Learn how to exert effective effort;
• Decide to invest in school;
• Feel empowered in their learning; and
• Achieve more.
The second option is to work with the “Teach Like a Champion” train the trainer model to move the District’s work forward. The “Teach Like a Champion” team is part of Uncommon Impact, Uncommon Schools' initiative to share knowledge, experience, and research about all students, particularly those not born to privilege, to achieve at dramatically higher levels.
Through ongoing field research and workshops, Teach Like a Champion’s team of educators is continually developing new understandings of how teachers, who "teach like champions", accelerate powerful student learning. (teachlikeachampion.com 2/5/16)
The District would begin with the Behavior and Culture module. The Behavior and Culture module is designed to build classrooms with strong behavior and culture in order to enable rigorous and engaging academic instruction to thrive. In this train the trainer model, participants will gain:
• An understanding of proven teaching skills that drive student achievement;
• Insights when describing the effective application of techniques by champion teachers;
• An understanding of the importance of practicing new techniques with teachers;
• A framework for what makes practice effective;
• Practice activities that will strengthen teachers’ capacity to apply effective techniques in their classrooms; and
• The opportunity to plan how you will implement these techniques in your school’s professional development program (teachlikeachampion.com 2/5/16).
At the Task Force’s next meeting, we will determine which approach best meets the needs of the District and move the District strategy for improvement forward. Once the decision is made, the work of this Task Force will be completed.
Superintendent’s School Visits
Quinn Middle School Wednesday, January 20th
Forest Ave. Thursday, January 28th
Quinn Middle School Monday, February 8th
Visit with District and School Assistance Center (DSAC) Director- Joseph Connors
The District’s level 3 designation entitles it to additional support from the Central Mass DSAC. This support takes the form of financial assistance to offer professional learning opportunities in the summer, as well as potential professional learning opportunities. This meeting has occurred annually. This meeting was unique in that Dr. Connors was inquiring about how the District has achieved the success that it has at Farley. The consistent improvement at Farley has been at a rate that has drawn positive attention from the DSAC and the purpose of the meeting was to uncover what parts of our improvement strategy could be replicable to other Districts. I look forward to the continued forward momentum of our District. We have wonderful educators and every day I see growth and learning in our administrators, teachers, and students.
Meeting with River’s Edge Arts Alliance Director
I continue to be excited by the renewed relationship with the River’s Edge Arts Alliance. Director Kat Gadreau reached out to me so she could communicate that the REAA is moving their summer program to Assabet Valley RVTHS. I was very appreciative of the advanced notice. This is a win-win situation for all involved. As the Committee is aware, Mulready will be offline this summer as the roof is replaced. This necessitates the District relocating many of our summer programs. Having the REAA programs at Assabet Valley RVTHS will provide us with more flexibility to do this.
Meeting with Jessica Healy Regional Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator
One of the things that makes Hudson so special is the collaboration between the schools, the Town and parents. The Hudson Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (HYSAP) has a new coordinator, Jessica Healy. I met with Jessica on Thursday to discuss my views on the needs of the community when it comes to substance abuse prevention. It also gave me the opportunity to highlight the work that is happening in the Hudson Public Schools around substance abuse prevention. Jessica invited me to be on the community panel after the community screening of “If Only”, a film detailing the dangers of prescription drug abuse. This event is happening on Wednesday, April 6th at 6:00 PM. The Grace Baptist Church is hosting the event given their large venue.
All enrollment numbers are up to date as of the writing of this report. They are unofficial numbers. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects snapshots of enrollment data three times per year October, March, and June. I will provide you with monthly enrollment numbers so that you can be aware of the amount of fluctuation that may or may not be occurring on a monthly basis.