Dear District Staff,
I hope the summer break provided everyone an opportunity to spend extra time with loved ones; enjoy a few books; and also pause on occasion for quiet reflection. I’ve done a bit of reflecting during the past few months, with emphasis on several questions I first shared with you in my May communication:
Will I connect effectively with my students and provide them opportunities to deepen their understanding?
Do the types of questions I pose in class support my students’ learning and agency?
What would my students say if given the opportunity to assess the educational guidance and instruction I provide?
Who were my students when they first entered my classroom, and who will they be when they walk out at the end of the school year?
I realize teachers feel pressure to teach the entire curriculum before the year ends. But, you cannot effectively teach content if students aren’t listening to you. So, it’s essential we continue embracing a personalized learning approach that extends beyond simply assigning grades for each assignment. We need to provide an opportunity to dialogue with our students and provide specific feedback on assignments, while also providing students with time to revise and reflect on their work.
Talking with your students more frequently will provide you with insight into who they are, what they care and worry about, and how they learn. We are more effective teachers when we know our students. So, let’s be more deliberate about holding one-on-one conferences with each student to discuss their work, as well as any improvements that may be appropriate. Conferences of this type will become opportunities for you to discover new ways of presenting educational material.
If you ask yourself the above questions and follow the few strategies I’ve provided, your classroom should become a more dynamic learning environment. You will know for sure you’ve developed a more effective instructional environment when your students gain the metacognitive skills to reflect on what they’ve learned, how they’ve learned it and why it matters.
These are exciting times, and we are ready to start the year with renewed energy and a sense of focused urgency! All staff members should report to the New Brunswick High School auditorium (1000 Somerset Street) by 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 4. The day will begin with a presentation by the New Brunswick Education Association, followed by some remarks from me. Additional parking will be available at the Swing Space (40 Van Dyke Avenue), with a shuttle bus service beginning at 8:15 a.m.
On Wednesday, September 5, all certified staff members and security officers should report for professional development. Click here for the complete September 5th District-Wide Professional Development Schedule.
If you have not read my August 24th email, click here.
Dr. Aubrey A. Johnson