Pride Post #61

Dear team,

It’s hard for me to capture how scary the first year of GCP was for all of us.  The kids were so scared that not a single member of the Pride of 2009 missed school for the first three weeks and we were so scared that the first time a student missed school (ironically it was Chevon) we were certain it spelled collapse for the whole endeavor.  In mid-November as kids started to feel the burn of the work and parents started to wonder if the long hours were worth it we realized we had to do something.  We had to make the growth we knew was happening visible to the kids and their families.

As Sutton reminds me, when Parent Pride Night was conceived we didn’t have older kids so we had no choice but to expect the kids to MC the show, lead the chants,  and perform their own writing.  After the performance, when kids were beaming and more than few parents were crying, it hit me that everyone in the cafeteria (I must admit I miss plays and performances in the hot, standing room only space) wanted desperately for the school to work, and the moments of doubt were natural when we were placing so much hope in an end we couldn’t see.

Bringing together the entire Pride and allowing the parents of 2016 to see at least part of our dreams realized in the Pride of 2009 is an extraordinary opportunity.  It’s going to be easy to be annoyed and easy to accept mediocrity in the coming weeks but I know we (kids, teachers, and parents) will produce a beautiful celebration of our collective work.

On to notes and other thoughts:

Barford will send out notes from our meeting with Ann Bullock.  Ann is ridiculously supportive of our work and is opening lots of doors to make licensure accessible for all of us.

This Friday we will have a Leadership Team Department Day in anticipation of Parent Pride Night. Math Department Day will be the final Friday before break.

As we work this week to plan while anticipating student’s confusion and misconceptions keep the new application of the iceberg metaphor in mind.  Most of the work in preventing student confusion (planning) is below the surface.  The notes from the meeting are attached, including the script from my fuzzy think aloud—further feedback is welcome.

Many thanks and much love,


To Dos and To Thinks

* Post an action step in the work room that came out of your one on two. Post your next unit, unit assessment and due date before break.

* Think back our earlier work with UKDs and make sure that the Ds are mastery objectives not agenda items.

* Experiment and expand your skillful teaching and learning repertoire.

o Practice your expanded clarity repertoire.

o Communicate clear UKDs, agendas, criteria for success.

o Use a new move to activate students’ current knowledge and uncover their confusion.

o Plan for and protect summarizing time in your lessons.  Try out one of the new ways we learned to summarize from Friday’s lesson.

o Plan and perform a think aloud.

* Draft your next unit and assessment according to the due dates you established.  Seek feedback from all of the brilliant folks around you.

* Let me know if there are any additions or suggestions for the parent Pride Post.

Ongoing reminders

* Take care of yourself and have fun with kids and teammates.

* Plan and teach thoughtfully.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *

This week I will try to…

ì Observe all teachers and follow up on one on two meetings.

ì Write a history of the school for the KPH yearbook.

ì Write Tim Newell’s rec letter for Emory-Riddle.  Behind on this one.

ì Plan Friday’s team development on checking for understanding.

ì Teach History/Writing to 2013.

ì Participate or help plan weekly rookie, leadership team, KIPP NC and board meetings.

ì Attend the first KIPP NC board meeting in Raleigh.

ì Help establish the TSC.

ì Meet with KIPP about the new principal competency model.

Upcoming Events and Due Dates

School-wide Spelling Bee

December 12

Parent Pride Night

December 18

Last Day of School in 2008

December 19

Winter Break

December 20-January 4

Teacher Development Day

January 5

Students return.

January 6

Maryland Alternative Spring Break trip arrives.

January 14-24

End of 2nd Grading Period

January 16

Grades due

January 19

Grade Verifications Out to Teachers

January 20

Grade Verifications Due Back

January 21

Report Cards Printed

January 22

Beth Napleton and her TFA team from to Gaston for their retreat

The week of February 2nd

2013 Ski Trip

Thursday, Feb 19-Saturday, Feb 21 (skiing trip to WV)

DPI team visits for the Title II monitoring visit.

March 10-11

End of 3rd Grading Period

March 20

All juniors take the SAT

March 14

Grades Due

March 23

Grade Verifications Out to Teachers

March 24

Grade Verifications Due Back

March 25

Report Cards Printed

March 27

KIPP Writing Project Meetings at GCP

April 2-5

2016 EOY Trip

Tuesday May, 26-Friday May 29

2015 EOY Trip

Tuesday May, 26-Friday May 29

2014 EOY Trip

Saturday, May 30-Wednesday, June 3

2013 EOY Trip

Friday, May 29-Monday, June 1 (Williamsburg)

End of 4th Grading Period

June 5th

2009’s Commencement Ceremony

June 6

Grades Due

June 8

Grade Verifications Out to Teachers

June 9

Grade Verifications Due Back

June 10

Report Cards Printed

June 12

Readings, Links, and Other ways to get smarter

1. Teaching and learning is an art and a science.

This is a lovely tool from Sonntag passed on by Jamaine Bennett who found this “vastly superior to the timer Mr. Dolan uses,”

Weaver and Bumgarner are selling out.

Check out the attached cooperative learning rubric  from Elana Karopkin [] the Associate Superintendent of Achievement First.  She

shared this at the Philadelphia meetings I went to.  I am just reviewing it now and it’s really a thoughtful and thorough way to provide accountability and clarity for kids

during group work.  If you are interested I have some more of their PD materials including a bunch of work on Socratic Seminar

This is worth trying.

Ms. Chen shared mind-blowing Powerpoint about mathematical misconceptions; it’s a big file so if you are interested let me know.

2. All students leave GCP with the desire and skills to choose the life they want and become the people they want to be.

The Marshall Memo article about student guardians as a solution to bullying problems pushed me back to an earlier incident in the cafeteria.  One small group of kids was being obnoxious and I realized that lots of kids want to stop poor behavior but lack the tools to do it.

I would love to look at the Daniel Goelman article linked here and referenced in the Marshall Memo.  The idea that right job is more than money or mission is a powerful one for kids (and grown-ups) to wrestle with:,%20but%20is%20it%20good%20work&st=cse

It would be wonderful if a kid picked this quote for their senior yearbook.

“The best thing for being sad . . . is to learn something.  That is the only thing that never fails.”
Merlin to Wart, T. H. White’s The Once and Future King

3. The students and teachers are passionate about ideas, their school, their community, and their growth.

Fascinating extension of action research—putting research about the effectiveness of the school in student’s hands.

Russell passed on this powerful example of both how lucky we are and how much education really means:

one of my best friends who i went to colby with and was in south africa with is working in afghanistan now.  he shared this quote with me. context is that a week or two ago some taliban militants threw acid into girls’ faces as they walked to school (since girls were banned from schools under taliban rule).

“I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”  – 16-year-old, Kandahari acid attack victim, Shamsia

This could study could help students find another reason to send love.

4.  Our school embraces the idea that this is a long term struggle to build strong people and an enduring community institution.

The economist Roland Fryer is leading the charge to provide monetary and other tangible incentives for kids who achieve academically.  His ideas are fascinatingly arguable (and he has worked with KIPP NYC).  He also has some insightful thoughts about innovation.  This is his appearance on the Colbert Report

It’s cool to realize that lots of policy makers and major funders are starting to zero in on human capital as the major level for raising teacher quality and student achievement.


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