Monday, September 26, 2016

Building Community One Circle At a Time!

Restorative Practices through Proactive Circles

Here at U-32, Teachers have been receiving training over the past few years at facilitating circles using the Restorative Practices approach.  Most TAs use this approach on a regular basis, circling their students to check in about the past weekend or talk about an upcoming event or simply to get to know each other better.  Some of my favorite proactive prompts include:  

  • If you could only eat one food for an entire year, what would you choose?
  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
  • If you could switch places with one family member for a day, who would it be?
  •  What are the 3 most important qualities in a friend?
This TA group was discussing cell phone use at school:

We hope that the building of many small communities throughout the building in TAs will also help to grow the whole U-32 school community.

Restorative Practices System of Response
Restorative Practices are also being used at U-32 as a method of responding to incidents of harm within our school community.  When investigating an incident we use questions related to the restorative process.  They are:
  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking of at the time?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • Who has been affected by what happened?  In what way?
  • What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
This process gets at the heart of what happened and why while focusing on remediation instead of blame.  The initial investigation often leads to a broader conversation involving both victims and potential offenders. In the past students have seen apology as the only way to make amends.  This process is clear that an apology is not part of the requirement nor is it an expectation, the expectation is that no one knows the outcome until the group discusses what happened and puts forth possible methods for solution. This process opens the door for students to take responsibility for their actions and to develop empathy with those who have been harmed.  It helps our community to heal and grow after harm or hurt.

This year we are excited to begin training a number of students in restorative practices.  The intent behind training students is that student will also begin facilitating proactive circles in TA and this training will allow us to begin to set the foundation for development of a restorative justice panel here at the school, giving students a greater voice in their school community.

Friday, September 9, 2016

What's this about Proficiency?

This year students throughout the state will be facing a new system of least it's new at the middle/high school level.  Instead of letter grades, students will be looking at a proficiency scales from 1 to 4 that will help them determine whether they have met the standards that they will be expected to meet in order to graduate.  Here at U-32 this will be most obvious for students in grades 7-9, but the classroom grading system may also impact upperclassmen as teachers transition into the system that all Vermont students will graduate under in 2020 and beyond.

How will this affect your student?

In May 2016, all of the School Boards in the Washington Central Supervisory Union (WCSU) adopted their Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs).  Our SLOs include:

Core knowledge of essential academic subjects, including:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematical Content and Practices
  • Scientific Inquiry and Content Knowledge
  • Global Citizenship
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Artistic Expression
  • Financial Literacy
Transferable skills and behaviors that prepare them for lifelong learning and success, including:
  • Creative and Practical Problem Solving
  • Effective and Expressive Communication
  • Engaged Citizenship
  • Working Independently and Collaboratively
  • Informed, Integrated and Critical Thinking
  • Self-Awareness and Self-Direction
While the Boards were working on defining student learning outcomes, teachers worked to document curriculum and define standards that students would need to meet in order to graduate from U-32.  There are   standards for every area of core knowledge and each of the transferable skills are also standard.  An example of a standard for core knowledge is our Literacy Standard #1:  Reading:  Comprehend, interpret, analyze, and evaluate a wide range and level of complex literary and informational texts.  Teachers worked last year to define performance indicators for each standard.  An example of a performance indicator for Literacy Standard #1 is:  "Determine the central ideas of the text and provide an objective summary."

When accessing the Infinite Campus (IC) portal, you may notice that your student's assignment involves multiple standards and therefore they might receive multiple scores from 1-4 (beginning to advanced).  Students will be scored on their ability to demonstrate specific knowledge and skills, not whether the assignment was completed and turned in.  Our new system will assess what they actually know and can do!

Open House Presentation from the Principal

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Changes in the U-32 Cafe!

Students should look forward to some changes in the food service program this year.  Our long time food service director, Rick Hungerford, has retired.  Though his smile and good humor will be missed, we are excited to welcome Brian Fischer to U-32.

Brian has been involved with every part of food service from sales training and procurement to distribution, not to mention a chef.  This will be his first school based position but judging from the food he served at the August School Board meeting, our inservice meals and the first few days of school, we are all in for a treat!

Brian says the road to U-32 was the one "less traveled, it was about the journey, not the destination, in the end he basically stumbled upon a terrific opportunity and took it."  Brian is excited to face the challenge of meeting federal requirements while serving "not just edible food, but enjoyable food" for students and staff.  When asked about the best way to give feedback, Brian stated that feedback will be requested of students at least four times this year via surveys and he hopes you take advantage of those opportunities to voice your opinion in order to affect positive change.  However, you are welcome to stop during the lunch band and let any of the cafeteria folks know how you feel about the food.  Verbal face to face feedback is great , such as "this was awesome!" or, "could you...?"  That said, during the rush of lunch a request that is detailed may be a bit much and could be forgotten later, but by all means make an appointment and Brian will be happy to sit down and talk.  Brian hopes to get back to the basics in his work as food service director this year.  That means cooking from scratch, raw ingredients, and fresh produce that is local whenever possible.  He hopes to transform the cafeteria into a space with a bistro atmosphere showcasing eclectic and ethnic foods.  Brian is also planning on engaging students on social media including facebook, instagram, twitter and the occasional youtube instructional videos.  He looks forward to working with Branching Out and Pilot students who are working on food related projects.  Brian hopes to learn as much as possible about the U-32 school community so that the changes made are appropriate to our needs.

Check out this month's menu!