What Do Labels Do?

All too often we hear about different types of students:  high performing, struggling, honors, college- prep, college-bound, special education, English Language Learners.  Like any label, we use these labels to help us understand.  With benign intentions, we use labels to help us categorize our students.  However, I recently read an article from Education Week by Peter DeWitt entitled "Are Labels Preventing Students from Succeeding?" in which he asserts that these labels are in fact detrimental to student achievement and success. Dewitt raises the question, "Does the process of labeling students create a glass ceiling for those students?" In essence, when we label students "struggling" are we really limiting their chances of success by lowering the bar of expectation?  I often wonder this about our own ABRHS when we track students into different leveled courses.  Are students put into a box when they are labeled by the level course they take? There is ab…

Professional Learning Days - What do the teachers do on Professional Days?

In the second blog entry for the school year, we would like to share some recent work by the ABRHS Faculty.  On November 6th, the high school held its Professional Learning Day (PLD) for staff.  Professional learning happens in many forms; it can include outside classes and workshops, book groups, teacher observations, college and university classes, professional presentations and guest speakers.  Often times consultants and experts from a particular field of study may be brought to the school to meet with teachers.  Our most recent PLD we relied on our faculty to share their professional skills and knowledge with colleagues through a series of seventy-five-minute seminars.  Further, in this blog, I will share the list of teacher offerings; as you read through the list please reference the alignment with the three school improvement goals listed below:

School Improvement Goals
Goal 1:  School and Student Wellness
We will put our students' well-being at the center of teaching and l…

Off To A Good Start

In my opening day message to staff, I spoke of how excited I was to get the building up and running.  August is always a long month for me and I delight in our students return.  The start of the year is never perfect and never will be.  Operating a school with 1900 students and 200 faculty will always be filled with a level of unpredictability.  We are extremely fortunate to have great kids and great staff, but that doesn't mean that challenges don't arise on a daily basis.  Despite our daily challenges, the year seems overwhelmingly positive and I want to share with you some of the reasons why.

Ninth Grade Orientation Day
On September 4th the high school welcomed our ninth grade students to their first day of school.  The day was coordinated by our Counseling Department and included roughly one hundred upperclassmen known as "Student Ambassadors." Ninth grade students were welcomed in the auditorium by the Administration and Class Advisors.  Students were given a pre…

Welcome, Summer.

One of the many things about being in education is that there's a first day of school and a last day of school.  The opening and closing of the school year is always an exciting time and provides the unique opportunity for goal setting and reflection, a luxury not found in other professions.

With the end of the 2017-2018 academic year nearly upon us, I've spent some time looking back at this past year.

The crux of Mr. Dorey's opening day message to both students and staff encouraged all members of our school community to take care of one another, and I've been thinking about the many different shapes that can take and how I've observed people engaging in large and small acts of caring, supportive and kind behavior.  I've seen student clubs organizing hot chocolate service on cold mornings, random Post-It Notes decorating lockers with different messages of goodwill, students reaching out to trusted adults when concerned about friends, and even surprise tokens a…

Schedule Pilot

March Schedule Pilot
In 1998 the high school changed its bell schedule from a seven-period day to an eight-period day.  This change did not increase the number of classes students could take, but it did increase the length of the lunch period from 22 minutes to a full 47 minute period.  The reason for the change had most to do with maximizing room use as the increase in student enrollment was surpassing building capacity; the eight-period schedule with four full lunch periods freed up more rooms for scheduling purposes.  In addition, the day was lengthened in order to comply with DESE Time and Learning regulations.  This change in schedule was preceded in 1997 by a two-week trial run of two selected pilot schedules.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the high school began a self-study of the current bell schedule.  This study was prompted by school and community members wanting to look at the connection between student wellness and the bell schedule.  Much of this work coincided with …

Perspective on Vaping/E-Cigarettes

Based on conversations with colleagues, teachers, parents, and students, vaping (use of e-cigarettes) is a relevant issue that is somewhat of an unknown to many.  Questions have come up like:  How do we warn students of the dangers?  Is it safe for my child to do it?  Are they vaping in class?  Why isn't it a healthier alternative to cigarettes?  This blog entry hopes to serve as one small piece of education on the topic and a venue to share different perspectives on the topic.

High School Administration Perspective
Since the winter break administration has seen an uptick in student possession and use of e-cigarettes/vapes/Juuls.  (A Juul is a specific brand of e-cigarette that seems to be popular with students).  It is really important to educate anyone who is willing to listen to the dangers of e-cigarettes/vapes/Juuls.  We have and will take steps to further support our students in making healthy decisions.  Just a few of the steps we have taken or plan to take are:  individual…

Building Personal Relationships

At the start of the school year, each administrator is asked to submit professional and student goals to be used as part of our evaluation process.  Around mid-year, we are asked to reflect on our progress towards these goals.  As the high school administrative team, we chose one common goal:  To build personal relationships.   In simplest terms, this goal is about the administrative team being visible and available to staff and students.  It's about making personal connections whenever possible.  As we reach the mid-year point in the school year, I've been reflecting on some of our progress towards this goal.

Last Friday the administrative team hosted thirty-four seniors at our bi-weekly senior luncheon.  The admin team has set a goal of inviting every senior to lunch during the course of the school year.  Lunchtime conversations range greatly depending on the number of students and time of year, but I think it's fair to say that after each of these lunches we all walk a…