This week is teacher appreciation week and we take this opportunity to say thank you to each of our teachers for all you do for the kids.
Teaching, in part at least through the political process and the media, has become less than the revered profession it once was. However, in my opinion, it remains one of the most important, difficult and complex of professions.
Our schools, with teachers being the key service providers, continue to gain exceptional results in student achievement and development. It is the ongoing dedication of special people who teach our children that make our schools successful. Thank you teachers for all you do for the kids every day.
Pullman School District is fortunate to have a Pullman police officer that serves as a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO) in the Pullman Schools. The Pullman Police Department has been proactive toward school and community safety by assigning this officer to serve the community and youth of Pullman. The SRO occupies an office in Pullman High School as his “home base.” The SRO is the only person regularly in any of our schools who is legally armed (other law officers with business in the schools may also be armed but are not regularly in the schools). Though the SRO is based at Pullman High School, he makes himself available to other schools (elementary schools and middle school) when called and he makes regular visits to each school to teach safety and awareness curriculum. Each year the SRO teaches DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) curriculum in each 5th grade class.
Pullman School District is in the process of making WIFI access available exclusively to Pullman Police Department officers in specific areas of our school parking lots so that officers can be present at schools while also performing job related tasks such as completing reports, answering email, making phone calls, etc.
A good deal of discussion is taking place within the community about the need for and plans to improve security at Pullman High School through a redesign and construction of PHS if supported by the upcoming bond election. A joint Pullman Police Department and Pullman School District meeting is scheduled on Monday, January 14 to review security measures and interactions. This joint meeting is a continuation of that discussion and planning toward our fundamental goal of maintaining the safest environments possible for students.
The table below summarizes enrollment comparisons between September 4, 2012 and last year’s September count day (the September 2012 count day is this Friday, September 7th). Steady and positive enrollment trends appear to continue again this year.
District Student Enrollment 2011/2012 Comparison
Sept 2012 (unofficial)
Two kindergarten sections have been added beyond last year. Class sizes are trending a bit larger at the elementary grades in particular because of limited classroom spaces. Because enrollment in grades 1-5 is consistent at about 200 students per grade, there is no particularly large elementary grade level, except for kindergarten, to which it makes sense to add staffing at this time. Actual class sizes in grades 1 -5, without considering support staff such as special education, Title, counselors, PE, art, music, etc., are at just under 25. With specialists the staffing ratio is about 21:1.
At the middle level, math/science, language arts/social studies and PE staffing has been added along with some internal shifting of staff assignments.
High school enrollment is down somewhat from last year with students moving or choosing other programs/districts along with a small class moving from 8th to 9th grade for a net reduction in enrollment. Even so, added instructional and support staff have been added in ESL, Spanish language, English CTE, along with some internal shifting of staff. Because of the variety of electives, staffing is a bit less efficient at the secondary level.
A Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) has been added to assist with the implementation of RTI and utilizing data to inform instruction, a significant development in the new teacher and principal evaluation requirements.
So far 5 new paraprofessional educator positions have been added, mostly in special education. The special education preschool program is expanding into the afternoon with the addition of a certificated teacher.
All in all, positive enrollment trends continue to develop and we have been able to respond with additional staffing.
The community in and surrounding Pullman values and gives high praise to Pullman Public Schools. Thanks to the hard and smart work of its employees, students and families can find tremendous educational advantages in their schools.
As I went around to classes on the first couple of days of school I was pleased to see kids engaged in intentional learning activities. Class discussions, writing, reading, listening, and computing are just some of the activities I saw. Very few students were sitting passively. Instead, as it should be, most of the time kids were doing.
Teachers and principals continuously demonstrate a commitment to using the time with students productively. I saw many relevant and meaningful activities happening in classrooms and kids seemed to be enjoying what they were doing! For example, I saw students doing a pre-write exercise for a paper based on a unique topic that they were able to choose - one of their interests.
Way to go, teachers! Way to go principals and para-educators! Another school year has begun successfully, and importantly, meaningfully for students.
Way to go to all the support staff for making the school buildings and grounds, the food, and getting to and from school clean, pleasant, healthy and safe.
When preparing for students to arrive back to school the first thing teachers often do is deal with classroom procedures and rules.
Setting the classroom climate and culture are keys to a successfully managed classroom and to enhancing student learning. Establishing classroom rules or procedures that influence students to act in ways that enhance learning for every student in the class is the goal of every teacher. Nancy Flanagan in her EdWeek Teacher Blog asserts that, “We want kids to behave appropriately because they understand that there are rewards for everyone in a civil, well-managed school.”
Here’s to a wonderful school year!
There is a lot of buzz going around about the “flipped” classroom described on the ASCD website reviewing new books including Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, by Jonathan Bergmann, and Aaron Sams.
In her blog teacher Mary Beth Hertz discusses the pros and cons of a flipped classroom. Ms. Hertz points out that whatever the flipped classroom is or is not, it has become an important catalyst for people to reflect on and refine their instructional practice.
Bergman and Sams, authors of the new book, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, along with several co-authors have created a three-part series of articles about the “flipped classroom.” In the first article, The Flipped Class: Myths vs. Reality, they discuss “what a flipped class is and what it is not.”
I trust you are enjoying the sunny & warm days of summer!
Over the past four years it seemed as though we would never hear good news again. However, even in times when the financial future has been uncertain, Pullman Schools have achieved some very important things.
Some examples in 2011-12:
We are still awaiting word from Olympia about the state 2012-2013 budget. However, the trajectory prior to the special session was more positive than we had expected earlier in the session. This is probably due in part to the McCleary decision and a slightly better state revenue forecast.
Assuming there are no surprises coming out of the legislature in the next days or weeks, I personally am more optimistic. The community has given us a huge vote of confidence in the nearly 80% passage of the M&O and Technology Levies. There are reasons to hope that the economy in our state may have hit bottom. Many in the community are talking about opportunities instead of disappointments. People are expressing more interest than ever in making comprehensive improvements to the high school. The entire atmosphere seems more positive.
I hope each of you can relax and enjoy spring break and get some needed rest and recreation with family and friends, or maybe solitude is your recipe for renewal. Whatever the case, enjoy!
Wednesday this week was an early release day for students to allow for teacher and principal collaboration. I was able to visit several groups working together at both Pullman High School and at Jefferson Elementary School.
The high school staff was fine tuning a school-wide rubric for evaluating paragraph writing. I gathered from the discussion that it will serve as a spring board for the development of a school-wide rubric for essay and research paper writing.
Comments from teachers included such things as, “the kids will have consistent expectations for writing in every class,” and “it will save us instructional time because we won’t have to spend time teaching so many unique expectations in every class.”
Discussion could be heard about whether there needs to be a different rubric for every grade level or one rubric that sets a single expectation for the entire high school. There was discussion about adding conventions such as spelling, format, and punctuation. In addition, one group discussed adding model paragraphs so that student will have access to examples of the expectations.
At Jefferson, each grade level of teachers were together combing over assessment data for each of their students, identifying common weaknesses and strengths and making plans together to help student struggling with specific skills and concepts. One group will have a paraprofessional, assigned to one of the teachers because of a large class, work with small groups of students from their three classes that have not mastered specific skills. Another group was exploring how to better align classroom core instruction with intervention specialist time. Still another group included one of the specialist in the discussion about how best to provide extra help for individual students.
I heard teachers speak about the gap between the highest and lowest achieving students. They discussed ideas about how to make sure each student is able to make progress. The conversations were not about getting through the content, but it was about each student’s learning.
These are only samples of many similar discussions I heard. It was evident that the teachers at these two schools put the time today to exceptionally good use. Every discussion I heard was evidence that the teachers and principals are entirely focused on helping students succeed and make progress from wherever their current skill level. They were not simply discussions; plans were made for actions that are expected to improve learning and student achievement and performance.
The weather has been challenging over the past three days in Pullman.
Weather predictions are never perfectly reliable since conditions can change in a short period of time.
Thank you to our facilities crews who worked through the night last night and continue throughout the day today. Because temperatures climbed, rain and freezing rain fell, and the ground below not being completely frozen, the snow, ice, and slush proved to be too difficult for our equipment to move. We solicited the help of a local contractor during the night. With some heavy equipment and our crew in support, most of the snow has been cleared. However, it took past noon to accomplish. There was simply no way to open our schools today.
In addition, transportation department staff assessed school bus route throughout the night and early morning. Driving buses and transporting students, especially in rural areas, was not safe enough for us to proceed, even if we had been able to clear the snow and operate schools.
We will continue to monitor weather conditions through the weekend. A decision will be made according to our typical procedures by 5:00 A.M. Monday morning. If delays or closures of schools are necessary that will then be communicated as it has this week via media, our automated calling system, and website.
Thank you to the staff for assisting and to families and the community for your understanding and patience.
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