Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall Festival A Huge Success! Go Team:)

Fall Festival was a huge success. I want to thank every single staff member for all your help in making this evening such a big success.  It takes a ton of work to pull an event such as this off and we appreciate each and everyone of you, especially our leader, Amanda Stevenson and her awesome team!  I loved the costumes, creativity and teamwork.  Both dance groups did an outstanding job in their first performances!  Thanks coaches!!!!  I sent some pictures to Theo Helm that I had taken during the evening to showcase on channel 2.  Many, many staff members showed up and I can't tell you how important that it is that you show solidarity and show the kids they matter. It also shows you in a different light and who doesn't like to see their teachers having fun OR Mr. Powelson with a lit Mohawk!!!!!  I appreciate you all!  Even Spence Ballus came, he is our Eagle Scout!

Not only was Friday Fall Festival, but it was a very important day for our school.  We were fortunate enough to be selected to host a very informative meeting with Dr. Beverly Emory, A.L. "Buddy" Collins (NC State Board of Education), Sara Riggins (Policy Advisor), Rachel Beaulieu (Legislative and Community Relations Director for NCDPI), Dr. Ken Simington, Dr. Janie Costello and via skype, Dr. Wayne Foster.  Our very own Connie Rogers and Sarah Huddleston were also present to add their expertise.  I felt the meeting went very well.  We received many compliments on the things we are doing here at DL.  Buddy Collins said that people in the community are "buzzing" about our successess. Your colleagues, Stephen Friel, Andrea Slusher, Julissa Knight, Beth Bostian, Debora Snider, Abadesa Ochoa (who volunteered to open her classroom) and Katie McGregor did an outstanding job.  I was just like a proud mama!  We also were joined by Celena Tribby and four teachers from her school. They were awesome as well.  The teachers served on two panels and were asked some very pointed, hard questions.  The questions ranged from those about professional development, class size, Dibels, TRC, Read to Achieve, and TWC.  We will put together a policy statement that we have been assured will be read in Raleigh.  Your colleagues proposed pay raises, appreciation and acknowledgement, more teacher work days where you can actually work and other key components that would be best practices.  they were articulate, poised and confident.  Thank you all for dressing so professionally. You looked great!  Thank you also for the quality of Bulletin Boards tied to CC in the hall. Let's keep that up as it is impressive.  I walked them down just about every hall in the school even though our time was limited by their schedule.  We had a chance to tell "Raleigh" what we thought and they listened.  I am so proud of all of you!!!!!!  Once again, team work paid off.

Week At A Glance.....

EOQ Continues as Monday is Math EOQ and Tuesday is 5th Grade EOQ-Science
Observations continue
"It Takes A Village" tutoring on Wednesday
Dr. Frazier and I will bt at NISL Training on Thursday and Friday
Please read last week's blogs for other important dates.

Last Week in the blog, I asked you to comment on why you do what you do or your choice of a few other things.  Besides Dr. Frazier, Connie Rogers and myself, there were only about 10 responses. Either people are not reading the blog or they are not taking it seriously enough.  We have 75 employees at least. Everyone should respond.  There are important dates that you need to know and the only place you will be able to find them is in the blog.  I thank all of you who read the blog, reflect on it and stay abreast of what is happening at our school.  You are helping to create a strong school community which we strive for every day.  I have a new challenge for this week's blog.
Leave me a comment on this topic, "Construct a quick response to: We want to know what we should include in our Policy Statement to Raleigh, What do you think they should know about real life in the classroom, school,  What do you love about your job and how can Raleigh help us to make it easier?"  To enter a comment, you scroll down to the bottom of the blog, youmay see 1 comment or no comments, click where it says comments or the word reply and add your comment.  Thank you!

Kennedy Center's Individual Schools of Distinction
Dr. Frazier and I and members of the Arts Team worked very hard to apply for this recognition. We had to include video footage of Arts teaching and performances that were uploaded to You-Tube, school academic and demographic data, arts via common core, and much more.  We made the deadline by 4 minutes but we did it!  Keep your fingers crossed.  So many great things are going on here!


  1. I would like to begin comments by saying that I believe our students definitely do experience "summer slide". I feel we do need to think about extending the school year a bit or even revisiting year round school as a possibility. It is a fact that kids go down at least two levels in reading over the summer. Literacy is my key concern in leading our school. Would love to hear your ideas about strengthening literacy instruction in our school:)

  2. Raleigh would help teachers tremendously by providing materials that are connected to the common core: videos(of real world application), test exemplars, worksheets with visual models for the students....other states have provide these types of supports but NC teachers must continue to spend precious time looking for said resources. J. Hart

  3. I agree that year round school would help. I attended year round school as a student and loved it. Also, providing a large database of resources would be helpful. This was done in VA when I was teaching there. Very helpful.

  4. Until I taught in Title I school, I never thought year round school would be a good idea, but I see that this would be very helpful to our students.

    It would also be an excellent idea to have the senators and representatives in Raleigh to be required to spend one day a week in their home districts working in a Title I school to see what teachers must do every day. This would surely help them be more sympathetic towards teachers and the amount of work they are required to do.

  5. I agree with year round schooling. I spent my summer in Raleigh and they have many schools that are year round. I met several teachers who teach in year round schools and traditional calendar schools. I heard the pros and cons and feel that year round schools offer a wide variety of benefits that outweigh the drawbacks.

  6. We have to figure out a way to prevent reading failure. Schools are intervening but we need to look at prevention strategies. Safety nets are great but we use them after we identify a problem. What can we (schools and policy makers) do to prevent AND intervene?

  7. I believe such frequent testing (DIBELS, TRC) is ridiculous. We test our students so often that we do not have enough time to teach our students the material that they need to know.

  8. I am honored to be working at such a great school! Everyone seemed to have a great time at Fall Fest. =) One way to benefit our schools, is for the state people, (Raleigh), to visit. They need to sit in classes to see what actually happens day to day in schools. It is important for them to know exactly what we do. I hope everyone has a great week!

  9. As everyone else has said, "Raleigh" needs to see what teachers do in the classroom. They need to understand that teachers do way more than teach the common core... They should spend time in schools and classrooms understanding how students have changed over the years. Also, teachers need more resources and materials to help teach the common core to this unique group of today's learners.

    As far as year round school, I do agree that students may experience as summer slide; in fact, something happens even over breaks and maybe weekends, but I'm not necessarily sold on year round school. I would need to weight the pros and cons. There is something about ending a year, having a couple months to recuperate and prepare, and start all over, fresh and new in August...

  10. As many have said before Raleigh needs to understand how much teaching and intervention time is consumed by the constant testing and progress monitoring. I agree that we need to monitor our children's progress to ensure that our interventions are effective. However, we don't have adequate time in our schedules to work with our struggling students to help them grow. I love my job, my students, my coworkers but the pressure to ensure growth without adequate time is starting to take its toll.

  11. I also agree with what everyone has said so far. Raleigh needs to understand what we do in the classroom. There have been so many deep cuts to Pre-K that they need to understand why the Pre-K classrooms are so important to the students and how we help them to gain the foundational skills they need to be prepared for Kindergarten. I also agree that we need more resources and materials to help us teach our children.

  12. Things that should be known about real life in the classroom and school is that we live in "real time." Putting a timeline in front of us and telling us that this test has to be done by a certain time isn't realistic. Granted, a time frame is needed. However, the students and the teachers are human. We cannot always plan accordingly to how students will respond to testing, who will be absent, who will be in tears. If Raleigh truly wants to see student growth then allow us to teach and stop adding more and more and more testing.

  13. *Why does it take 4-6 lengthy passages to test if a child can comprehend what they read?

    *Why should teacher accountability be such a high focus when there is zero parent accountability? A lot of parents need to step up and be involved in their kid's's not just our responsibility to raise them. It seems the people who can make the biggest impact in a child's life can't be bothered to do so.

    *Why are teachers expected to do more and more when our salaries have been frozen for 5 of the last 6 years? The incentives we do have rely heavily on factors outside of our control, so it's hard to be motivated when the proverbial carrot on the stick is 5 miles out of reach.

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  15. I cannot answer for the teachers but I CAN say that I admire what they do each and every day!!!

  16. The good news is, by attending the meeting with the Raleigh crowd on Friday, I feel that first for the first time they made quite the effort to gain an understanding of what we do all day by simply talking with and listening to our teachers. Following a teacher for 8 hours straight (no break) would be a great way to get a feel for a teacher's day-to-day lives though. Teachers work SO hard and work SO many hours outside of school, I believe teachers should be paid more. We deserve it!

  17. I think that the State knows what real life is like in the classrooms, however it feels like our reality which includes many students with limited resources, lack of parental support and a home environment where education is not a priorty are not considered when all of the success of the student falls on the educator. We as teachers are here and take on the challenge, but feel defeated when the finger is always pointed at us when students are not achieving. Our jobs can be made easier if our state communicates that early education is a must and that parents are a child's first teacher. "IT TAKES A VILLAGE"

  18. Teachers need more involvement in selecting the materials that are purchased for the classroom. If we will be mandated to use a program, it should be one that has been classroom-tested with our children, is Common Core aligned, and has realistic implementation expectations.

    The range of student levels in the classroom is overwhelming. I understand the justification that it is "damaging" to a student's self-esteem to be in "the low class." Is it less damaging to be in "the low group" (because let's be honest, the children know that the "blue group" is the low group) in a classroom where most of the other children are performing several levels higher? With the volume of things to be accomplished in a day--nevermind over the course of the year--I think we would see greater growth with more homogenous classrooms.

    Trust us to do what we do best. We are repeatedly told we are professionals, then all traces of autonomy are removed. We are told to use scientifically researched methods, but don't have the freedom to select the methods that work best in our rooms.

    Here's an analogy I ran across recently: A dentist tells his patients to brush and floss twice a day. His patient has not done this, and has cavities. Should the dentist's performance be measured by this? Ask a teacher. Every day, we are assessed based on our students' performance. While there is a place for this, it is not the most accurate measure of our ability. There are other stakeholders and variables which affect outcomes and cannot be controlled by the teachers.

    The things I love most about my job are quickly dissolving. I am grateful for colleagues who can support me and laugh with me.

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  19. My favorite part of my job is the moment when a student lights up because they found a book they love, especially when it is the first time that has ever happened for them. That is a huge moment in a kid's life, as I realized when I asked each of you for your favorite childhood book. Most of you related it to your relationship with another person, often a teacher that you loved who read the book to you for the first time. So I would say to "Raleigh" that teachers need more of that type of valued time with kids - reading, connecting on a personal level, and inspiring our students - and less time testing. We also need the tools, like more books or more digital reading tools, to encourage that reading spark in every student.

  20. Thank you so much to the teachers who represented our school on Friday! I greatly appreciate you all making sure that the State representatives know what we need as teachers and what will make the difference for us! I think that support from the State and all of us being assured that they are truly on our side is important to go into our statement (in a very professional way of course). We support each other so much here at DL and it makes a difference, but we could go a lot farther with continued, or more support from them. Also, resources are very important in our classrooms, my classroom especially, and I agree with needing more teacher workdays without trainings so that we can fully focus on our classrooms and getting the paperwork side of teaching completed while we are in the building and have all resources available.

    I absolutely LOVED Fall Festival! I really enjoyed myself and I love seeing the kids so happy and excited to still be at school after hours. lol! I hate that I missed the dance teams. I cannot wait to see them perform later this school year!

  21. It's great reading all these wonderful comments! I agree with most everything that has been said! As part of the Pre-Kindergarten team here at Diggs-Latham and a teacher of 3 year olds for the past two years at another school, I think it is important that "Raleigh" understands the importance of early childhood education, in particular, Pre-Kindergarten. We need to instill a love for learning at a young age that will continue not only throughout the rest of their schooling, but their lives.

  22. I think education is in a very vulnerable position. We are in a time where more and more pressure is being put on teachers and accountability is at an all-time high. However at the same time the monetary input seems to be at an all-time low. Teacher pay is unable to keep up with inflation and thus pushing future teaching candidates further away from the career. I think the ultimate fix is monetary. Yes we can implement programs, tutoring, best practices, etc., but if we do not have teachers who are qualified, motivated, feel needed and compensated fairly for their time we will never maximize a teacher’s full potential.

    Education is by far the best investment we can make as a country. In the Carolina Abecedarian Project, a study on early childhood education found that adults who had early childhood education were less likely to be depressed, used drugs on average less, and were less likely to be in Jail. All things that end up costing tax payers money, money which could be used for education. The study also found that adults who had early childhood education on average had higher incomes. Which from an economic standpoint, puts these individuals in a higher tax bracket, and contributes more to our county's, state's, and federal budget. Budgets that often have education first on the chopping block.

    I believe a complete overall of the education practice is in store. Testing is at an all-time high and uses valuable dollars we could be spending on other means in the classroom. It also takes away valuable minutes that we students could be spending growing intellectually.

    I believe what will make the biggest difference in education is money. Until we invest in our children's future, education will remain in limbo. Until then teachers will be forced to teach politicians agenda's which focus more on re-election than student growth and development.

  23. I agree with a lot of the previous comments. I truly enjoy my job and seeing my children grow. The paperwork load, for those of us in the Exceptional Children's department, increases every year. It would be great if that could be streamlined somehow. Also, most speech pathologists have heavy caseloads, mine is now at 44 with 9 in IST. We need more financial resouces to purchase materials for the large number of students we serve.

  24. As a first year teacher, I have had my eyes opened real quickly to what the life of a teacher is truly like. If only everyone else not in education could see this. I definitely think it would be a great idea for the state department to have days where they are in the schools, sitting in on classrooms and talking to teachers to see what needs to be done. It honestly breaks my heart to see how education has changed from the time that I was in school. Things are always changing and sometimes I feel that we should just go back to the basics.

    I am also struggling to find my balance between all of the testing that must be done and the actual teaching. It can make my head go crazy at times.

    Also, one of my best friends is teaching at a year round school in Raleigh right now and loves it! She said it is so nice because neither her or her students are getting burnt out because they have breaks every so often.

    Have a wonderful week y'all!

  25. Good afternoon from Cary, NC...I hope everyone has had a good start to their work week as I am busily soaking in new knowledge about Auditory Functioning!

    Fall Festival was great! I think our 2013-2014 Pep Squad & Dance honors gave wonderful first year performances, all students, staff and families truly seemed to have enjoyed themselves, and others conquering fears (like me going out in front of the audience in the gym on the mic!).

    To touch on last week’s blog, which I did read (just couldn’t seem to get around to commenting), I do enjoy my job, I do truly love being in the educational field. I was able to walk in as a new employee to the system and Hearing Impaired field last year as a language facilitator, for those of you who didn’t know. I LOVED watching mine & Suzanne's class blossom, meet and master goals, objectives and levels across the board of Creative Curriculum, the Auditory Learning Guide, Bloom & Lahey, etc. I was able to watch these children grow in more ways than I could ever imagine possible! (I think I will cry the day I hear Jahiem call Ross "McNeil" verses "Jim" which I am sure is out of association with the "gym").

    In regards to this week’s blog, I agree with EVERYONE! I do acknowledge that there is the "summer slide" students and even us professionals experience during this time. While there are pros and cons to any and every situation, I agree with Amanda Gordon that I would have to weigh them out as well after further investigation into year round schooling.
    I believe "Raleigh" needs to spend a day in EVERYONES work shoes, which let's face it do not come off until late into the afternoon with many of us taking work home. I agree 100% with newly engaged Ross (congratulations) and Powelson on their perspectives of teacher pay/salary and responsibility/accountability that we are all taking on. SO MANY educators are leaving our state since the others are offering more competitive pay. And I'll be the first one to say it and own up to it that, "I made this career choice knowing you do not do it for the pay." Yet honestly, is it even worth going back to school for when all incentives/benefits are of the bare minimum? I am continuing my education in the field because I love what I do, working with children to see them reach their fullest potential and live a happy successful life. However, we do have a small group of teachers at our school who have had to take on side/secondary jobs to make even ends meet! Bottom line, the pay is ridiculous and it needs to be raised!
    I would really like to see "Raleigh" spend time in "todays" pre-k, especially ours with E.C. getting hit with significant budget cuts too. Maybe even let "Raleigh" cover all the classified positions, ex:TA's, for a day or so and then re-think funding for schools. (SIDE NOTE: Don't you just love Pat Mcroys latest commercial where he says something along the lines of "less testing for students......and our teachers too (with a smirk on his face)?).
    We do need more teacher workdays, resources, teacher involvement/input, and workshops/trainings for classified staff. When I went to my first workshop last year, Language Facilitation, there were professionals who have been in the field for YEARS who said that they have hardly had ANYTHING! I am big on trainings, workshops, resources, networking opportunities, etc so for me this was hard to believe.

  26. I was extremely honored to represent Diggs-Latham on the discussion panel. I'm passionate about making sure people realize how hard all my colleagues work each day. We have so much to fit into the day along with teaching. Every opportunity should be made to have visitors into our rooms so they can observe a NORMAL day as a teacher.
    I also feel the more we keep the connection tight between school and home, we will see our students growth skyrocket.
    I love what I do each day! I believe in my students and know they will excel. They are part of the wonderful team of Diggs-Latham.

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  28. What I love most about my job is giving LEP students, who often feel like a failure in the regular classroom, opportunities for success. In ESL they feel more free and safe because everyone is just like them. They take risks that they won't take in the regular classroom. It would be nice if the people in Raleigh could truly appreciate the progress that these students make even when they aren't on par with native speakers in their grade levels.

    I'd like to go to Raleigh and conduct all of their sessions in German, and then hold them all accountable for not being able to perform. That is what we do to our LEP students everyday. Like it or not these kids are here, and they don't speak English. Even if they can carry on a conversation with you, that social English that they speak is so far removed from the academic language they need to understand to succeed in school, that it may as well be another language two. So technically these kids speak three languages; their home language, social english, and academic english. We need to give them the time they need to develop that academic language.

  29. I agree with many of you. Someone needs to "teach a day" in our shoes. Melissa's statement that "the pressure to ensure growth without adequate time is starting to take it's toll" struck really close to home. Teachers are required to progress monitor their own students in reading now. ( I agree that this data is needed and should be used) However this takes an average of 20 minutes per student. Following my premade schedule of 2-3 students per day to monitor my students as required, I use 40 minutes of my alloted 45 minutes of guided reading time. I'm trying everyday to find that balance between testing and teaching. Finding new ways to squeeze in just a few more minutes of teaching is now one of my current goals.