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28 September-2 October - One More Week Down

posted Sep 27, 2020, 8:50 PM by HSD Principal

I'm writing this heading towards my first very late night on this side of the ocean. I had two days last week I had to stay up until midnight, but I've got a 2:00am morning coming up, so I'm still drinking coffee after 11:00pm. Good times.

We are quickly moving towards the end of first quarter. When we knew school would be starting late, we moved October Break back a week so that the first two quarters would be more balanced. That means that after you plan next week's work for your class, you will be halfway through the semester. Quarter grades are not official and are not recorded anywhere; they are just progress grades towards semester grades. However, your quarter grades should be accurate reflections of students' progress in your course(s). 

Since we are ending the quarter, we will be having Parent/Teacher Conferences next week. These are meant to be times for parents to connect with their children's teachers one-on-one to answer specific questions and address specific concerns. Given our distance learning reality, we needed to come up with a new way to hold these conferences, so... 
⚠️ Please do the two above things by end of day Wednesday so that I can send the sign-up sheet to parents. Better yet, just go do it right now and get it done. Also, make sure your grades are as current as possible this week since parents will be using that information to decide who they would like to meet with next week.

My expectation is that teachers would not have student conferences next week so you all could use that time for parent conferences. You may however, still choose to meet with students if you have the time and/or meeting next week would be important for your course.

You should have been getting notices about the weekly house challenges. Feel free to help your student house chairs by playing "cheerleader" and encouraging students to participate. Homeroom is probably the best time to do that since you meet on Fridays when the challenges are happening and all the students in your homeroom are members of your house. Points earned by participation in the weekly challenges will go towards Spirit Week, which will take place the last week of October.

Alright, I'm off to psych myself up for some middle of the night conferences. 

Have a good week.

21-25 September - In Our Cottage in Connecticut

posted Sep 20, 2020, 12:46 PM by HSD Principal

Nope. Wasn't ready for this:

We got to the States just in time for the first frost warning of the season in my parents' town. Our travel went really smoothly, now we just need to get over our jetlag and get used to working on an opposite schedule. I switched the time zone on my calendar and it broke my brain. 

ExCo sent out a survey for the Org Fair this week. If you are an advisor for a student group that is planning on being active this year, please make sure you respond to that survey so you can be included in the plans. If you are a new teacher, feel free to "attend" the fair to check out any groups you might want to be involved with.

Now that we have a few weeks behind us, you can evaluate how your student conferences have gone and adjust your schedule as needed. If there are weeks you do not need to meet, feel free to opt out. If biweekly conferences work well for your class, you may choose to do that. (Side note: I doubted my use of 'biweekly' here, so I looked it up. Merriam-Webster said, "Yes, 'biweekly' can mean both 'every two weeks' and 'twice a week.' No, there's nothing we can do about it.") Please do not meet any less often than every other week though.

On Tuesday morning we will have our next HSD Meeting. It will be focused on ways to help you keep your workload manageable. 

This week for homeroom, student leaders will make plans in consultation with Leah. If you do not hear from them by mid-week, you can check in with them to make sure plans are being made. There are still several of you who have not reported the names of your student leaders, which means your homerooms will have no plans and you will need to be the one to organize what your homeroom will do. I'll send one more email this week to ask for the leaders we don't know yet so they can be included in the communications in the future.

In two weeks, we will have our annual Parent/Teacher Conferences. Those are an opportunity for parents to schedule short blocks with you to discuss their children's progress in your classes. Because it's this year, we will hold those virtually in blocks over several days. You can plan on not holding student conferences that week (5-9 October) to redeem some time. You'll get more info on conferences soon.

To help parents make decisions about who they need to see during conferences, you all need to have grades posted in your classes. Each class was meant to have posted grades by two weeks ago now, but there are several classes that do not have grades. We are a month into school and that is too long to go without having feedback available to parents. Post grades now and plan to have something assessed and reported at least biweekly (in the "every two weeks" sense of the word).

Enjoy being warm this week.

⚠️ Post grades now!

14-18 September - Last Update from the Philippines

posted Sep 13, 2020, 8:15 AM by HSD Principal

Hopefully you have all heard by now, but in less than one week my family and I will be flying back to the States. We leave on Friday night and land mid-day Saturday in New York. For the next few months at least, we'll be 12 hours opposite Faith Academy, but I will continue to teach and principal. It's very surreal going from "I don't think we're leaving," to being on a plane in two weeks, so you can be praying for our family.

On Tuesday, our morning PD (it still feels weird calling it ASERT) will be on emotional health. See Marla's email for details. The Zoom link is also on the HSD calendar event.

I'll be around for our Wednesday HSD lunch this week. After this week, I can make no promises. 

On Thursday and Friday this week, the admin team will be meeting for our Admin Retreat. You can be praying for us during that time as part of it will be spent trying to make decisions about how to move forward with this school year.

This week, make sure you have grades posted that reflect students' progress in your classes. And report students who are struggling using our academic reporting system. You should be getting an email about it Monday. 

Since many students have back-to-back conferences, it is important that everyone stays within their scheduled conference times. Some students have been late to conferences and have said they were released late from other conferences. With such short conference times, even being a few minutes late can really throw the schedule, so make sure you are not keeping students past your time.

Our students who receive learning support are starting to feel the time crunch with the distance learning schedule. Many of those students should be receiving extra time to complete assignments, but that system collapses a bit when everything is due on Friday each week. To allow those students the time they need without coming up with many different plans in different classes, please do the following:
  1. If an assignment is due mid-week, allow a one-day extension as needed.
  2. For weekly work due on Friday, allow them until Monday morning to complete the work, again as needed.
Most of these students do not want to take extra time; they would much rather be able to finish their work in the allotted timeframe. But when they rush to do that, comprehension drops markedly. Several of those students also struggle with executive functioning issues, which makes it hard for them to plan their weeks and come up with reasonable schedules. I will email you the list of students who this affects separately.

Even though we cannot meet on campus, several clubs and groups are still operating this year. ExCo wants to help those groups connect with interested students, so they are planning an online Org Fair for Friday, 25 September. ExCo will be sending out a survey soon, so if you sponsor or advise a student group, sign up on that survey to make sure you're represented and students can find out about you.

Next time I'm writing here, it will be from a cottage in Connecticut. 

Hold down the fort for me.

See you soon.

7-11 September - Does this feel normal yet?

posted Sep 6, 2020, 7:46 AM by HSD Principal

It's September already and we're jumping into our third week of distance learning - only five weeks until October break for those of you who are counting. 

I have not heard of any problems with students accessing work or understanding what is expected of them, so you must all be doing a good job of instructing students and making your classwork clear.

If you do have students who are experiencing problems with distance learning, we are going to begin our academic reporting this week. You will receive an email on Monday reminding you of how to flag and report students who may be getting into academic trouble. Those reports will be due by 8:00am each Tuesday morning so they can be pushed out to parents and students. 

Since last week was the first week of conferences, some students didn't make a plan in time and missed those initial meetings. If you have any student who missed last week, please email them to remind them of their scheduled time and the expectation that they attend their conference each week. If students miss conferences from this week on without contacting you to reschedule, you may apply whatever response you have set up for your class (e.g. demerit, conference grade penalty).

Tuesday morning, we will have our first All Staff Meeting at 8:00am (Philippine Time). We will be using the Head of School Zoom that we have used for other all staff events. See Marla's email for more details. 

On Wednesday, we will have our usual All Staff Devotions at 8:00 and HSD Zoom Lunch at 12:00.

Homerooms will meet again this Friday at 9:00. There were a few snags getting sessions last week going (but we did end up with some great artwork!), so we're not going to penalize students who did not attend. If any students did miss your homeroom, please email them individually and remind them that they should plan on being in homeroom each week. 

On Friday, we will have our first chapel of the year. Since Reuben is serving as both the middle school and high school chaplain, we will have combined chapels for the near future so he's not repeating his efforts. I believe the plan is to release chapel at noon on Friday so the premiere can be viewed together.

And it may feel like this school year is just getting started, but our HR office is already working on staffing for next year. Getting the teachers we need is a team effort, so we are asking for your help to spread the word about our staffing needs. Do you know someone who may want to join our team?

That's it for now. Have a great week.

31 August-4 September - One Week Down

posted Aug 30, 2020, 12:25 AM by HSD Principal   [ updated Aug 30, 2020, 5:14 PM ]

Congratulations! You have made it through your first week of distance learning. I was able to talk to several parents during material pickup last Friday, and they were positive about how you all structured your first week and the learning their kids participated in. Thanks for putting in the work to make the start of the year successful; I hope you all can find a routine to allow that to continue. 

Last week, we discovered a few students who were inadvertently marked as inactive in Sycamore, which took them out of all their classes for the year. If you notice any missing students as you check your courses, please let me know. 

This view made me so happy this week:
Google Classroom and Sycamore being friends makes my life easier, and I hope it's making your lives easier too. As you work with assignments in Google Classroom, make sure you are syncing your assignments and grades into your Sycamore classes. (Here is the training video on that in case you need to reference it.) Sycamore is what allows parents to see due dates and grades; they don't have that visibility into Classroom. As you begin collecting and marking assignments, also remember to start flagging missing work (video on that) so that is clear to parents as well. 

Conferences should begin this week. Students should have all singed up last week, but I can imagine it will take a bit to work out the kinks. Please reiterate to students that conferences are important and track attendance each week. For at least this week, contact students who miss their conferences and remind them to attend in the future. Unless there are significant tech issues, students should have their cameras on during conferences so it's clear they are participating and engaging.

Homerooms will also being meeting this week on Friday at 9:00am (Philippine time). Last week, house chairs emailed their new students welcoming them into their houses, so by Tuesday you should contact your homeroom members, introduce yourself, and let them know how you will meet (provide them your Zoom or Meet info). You will get homeroom specific instructions in a day or two, but this first homeroom will be mostly a get-to-know-you session. If you need your homeroom list, you can find it on the 20-21 Homerooms tab on the house list sheet. Students' full names don't fit in the homeroom columns, but you can find them listed by grade on the tab for your specific house. Again, please contact your homeroom by Tuesday and be ready to meet with them for a half hour each Friday moving forward. 

Following homerooms this week, house chairs will meet with their new students from 9:30-10:00. So part of the homeroom plan will be for you to remind students about that. 

In case you ever need it, Mars has a new cell phone number. It's in the sidebar on the left.

Last year, Erin made icons to accompany our SLRs so that when you are working on one, you can indicate that in your presentation, assignment, etc. Here is the folder with all the SLR icons. Use them as you wish.

And, a note from HR:
Jessica Corbett, MSD ELL teacher has now also taken on the ELL coordinator position. She will be working closely with all three division’s principals (ESD, MSD, and HSD) as they all work together to create a stronger and more consistent ELL program at Faith Academy. She also wants to make herself available to you however she can. If you have questions about the ELL programming at Faith Academy please feel free to reach out to her with the following email: ell.coordinator@faith.edu.ph.

Tuesday morning at 8:00 will be our first HSD staff meeting. We will meet in the HSD Zoom Room, so please be prompt since our time will be short. 

A few of us enjoyed hanging out during lunch last Wednesday. If you would like to join, I'll open the HSD Zoom at noon on Wednesday again.

That should be enough to get you going this week. I am continually - and continuously! - thankful for you all being a part of our HSD staff this year. 

24-28 August - Let's Get Distance Teaching

posted Aug 23, 2020, 2:23 AM by HSD Principal

Well, I didn't quite meet my goal of being ready for the week by Saturday night. They are building a house behind us and the construction noise keeps me from making any videos during much of the day. Hopefully, you all will feel ready to jump into tomorrow, and to get you on your way, here is your first HSD update for this year.

If you missed any HSD sessions during the past two weeks, they are recorded and can be found through the menu above: Distance Learning > Teacher Resources 2020-2021.

Ahme finished syncing Sycamore sections and Google Classrooms a few days ago, so your classes should be linked up. It is likely that your rosters may not completely match however; students were enrolling and changing classes during and after that process. What is on Sycamore are the official class lists, so please go compare your Sycamore and Classroom rosters and manually invite any students who did not get included in the merge. Students have also been told to contact you if they are not in a classroom they should be in.

This morning, I noticed that I had several (almost 10) grade 10 student in my own classes who withdrew their enrollment this semester. Usually that process removes them from all classes, but somehow it got missed. I went through and removed all the unenrolled students I found from classes, so some of you may notice a few fewer students in your Sycamore sections.

Hopefully you have done so in your communications already, but make sure you encourage all your students to sign up for conferences. Next week is going to be messy if many students have not signed up.

There will be no Tuesday morning meeting this week to give you all a chance to get started. We will have our first Tuesday morning staff meeting next week on 1 September.

We will have Wednesday morning all-staff devotions. You should be getting an email reminder from Marla, but if you don't, I believe devotions will be in the head of school Zoom room we used during staff retreat. 

During lunch on Wednesday (12:00-12:30), I will open the HSD Zoom room for those who want to eat a meal together.  

Homerooms will not meet this week, but will begin next Friday, 4 September. Later this week, please refer to the master house/homeroom sheet (the link should jump you to the 20-21 Homerooms tab) to see who is in your homeroom so you can contact them, welcome them to your homeroom, and let them know how you will meet together this year (Zoom, Meet, etc.).

Material Pickup and Delivery:
  • This coming Friday, 28 August will be our first chance to get physical materials to students. If you have something you need to get out, make sure it is included on this sheet by Tuesday. If you are in country and are able to bring your materials to the HSD lounge, that would help us out.
  • Due to our drivers' schedule, HSD materials will be delivered on Thursday, which means we need them all prepped by Wednesday afternoon. Mars and Rose will make sure materials are organized, so it's important they are included on the materials sheet.
  • Parents who are able to may come to campus on Friday to pickup materials. All materials will be organized by department in the HSD lounge so parents can walk through and get what they need. We will keep lists of which students receive which books.
I think that should cover it for this week. I really hope that your first week goes well and there are not too many fires that you need to put out in the coming days. Please let me know if I can help get your year started. 

And don't put off preparing for next week until the end of this week. Since there are no conferences this week, use that time to get ahead.

1-5 June - Done.

posted May 31, 2020, 2:40 AM by HSD Principal

School's out for summer!

You are done. No more Zooming, no more grading, no more responding to emails about why something was not completed. You are done. 

No more meetings, devotions, or other gatherings until August. There are just a couple of things you need to wrap up:

Underclassman Grades:
Grades for students in grades 9 - 11 are due Monday afternoon by 4:00. Do your best to make sure all your grades are updated  - and posted! - by that time. For students not leaving Faith, there isn't as much of an issue with changing grades later, but it is nice to be done and not have to think about it. Also, at the end of June, we will roll over the year in Sycamore and your gradebooks from this year will not be accessible anymore. So you won't be able to just drop a number in your gradebook and see a new final grade.

Please include comments on any grades below a B-. Comments are preserved on report cards, so they are the only way we would know why a student received a poor grade (e.g. low assessment scores, not turning in classwork/homework, etc.).

If a student has failed to turn in summative work, feel free to give a grade of Incomplete (again, with a comment). You can do that by ticking the 'Incomplete' box under Grade Postings (see image below). But, given the nature of this quarter, it is up to your discretion if you decide giving credit and a modified grade is appropriate. As much as possible, we want grades to reflect students' attainment of course benchmarks and not how well they worked during online schooling. We will be looking at students who receive incompletes and seeing if there are instances for which we should give some additional time or allow students to make up work over the summer. If that applies to any of your classes, I'll be in touch in about a week.

You may overwrite a course grade for a student if you decide it's merited. Changing the entry in the 'Letter' column (see above) will change what appears on student's report cards, but if you want to change the grade on a transcript, you need to change the number in the 'Transcript' column. That is what gets ported over to student transcripts. That's important, so I'll say it again: If you want to adjust a student's grade, make sure you change the entry in both the 'Transcript' and 'Letter' columns. If you don't change the transcript number, I start getting emails asking why report cards and transcripts don't match. 

Mars and I will update grades and generate report cards on Tuesday. 

Checking Out:
Normally, at the end of the year, teachers walk around their their checkout forms, getting signatures from various offices around campus. We will not be doing that this year, but I still gave you all a checkout form so you can walk through the kinds of things you should be paying attention to. 

You will not have student checkout forms or fine reports this year, but please keep a copy of your assigned textbooks in a safe and accessible place so we can try to track down missing books.

You do need to return anything borrowed from IT and make sure you're cleared with the library and business office.

In your classrooms, just make sure things are tidy and materials are stored safely. You may want to put personal items in your desk or closet to prevent possible damage during summer cleaning and maintenance. 

Everyone needs to return their mailbox keys if they've got them. But if you will be on staff come August, you do not need to return your classroom/lounge/etc. keys. If you are furloughing, turn your keys into Mars and we will keep them as a set until you return. If you are leaving Faith, yes, please turn in all your keys to the office. 

I think that covers the important things. I will be in the office this week, so feel free to stop by if you've got any questions. 

Once again, thank you for your flexibility and persistence during this final quarter. Nothing was perfect, but you all made it work. All our seniors were able to graduate, and we completed what we needed to to get done.

As of now, we plan to start classes again on 24 August (the earliest date currently allowed), but there is great uncertainty on many significant fronts. I wish I could be more certain about things, but we are in a bit of a holding pattern until we know what the government, DepEd, and LGUs will allow at that point. We are hoping to have more clarity in the first week of July, so as soon as I know anything, I'll let you know. But for now, try to fret about tomorrow; today has enough worries of its own. (I heard that somewhere.)

Congratulations, and thanks again.

You are done.

25-29 May - Graduation Week!

posted May 24, 2020, 7:44 AM by HSD Principal

Huzzah! We have made it through the semester!

We will have our final HSD staff meeting Monday morning at 8:30 in the HSD Zoom Room. The password will be in the email.

I was not planning on having HSD devotions this week, but today I changed my mind, so we will have devotions on Tuesday morning at 8:30.

Seniors' final contact day is Monday, 25 May. All of their course requirements should be submitted by this time. There may be a couple of extenuating circumstances - especially in a year like this one - so you may give a bit of wiggle room, but not too much, because...

Senior grades are due to be posted by 4:00pm on Tuesday afternoon. Please, please, please make sure you have updated and posted all senior grades by that time. We will be generating transcripts and official records beginning on Wednesday morning, and it really throws a wrench in the works if we need to change grades. I will assume any senior grades posted on Tuesday afternoon are updated and correct. If you can tell, this is a pretty big deal, so I'll send at least one email reminder about this as well.

The final contact day for underclassmen is Tuesday, 26 May. By the end of that day, students in grades 9 to 11 should only have culminating semester assessments left to complete. 

On Wednesday, 27 May, our final All-School Chapel will be released on YouTube. We will also have our final All-Staff Meeting that morning beginning at 10:00. You'll get emails with links for those two things.

Friday is the last day of the school year! [deep breath] There are not requirements for this day, but if you would like to have one last session with your class(es), you can schedule them during the times below:
    9:00 - period 1                    10:00 - period 5
    9:15 - period 2                    10:15 - period 6
    9:30 - period 3                    10:30 - period 7
    9:45 - period 4                    10:45 - period 8

On Friday, we'll hold our closing ceremony at the flag poles and stream it live at 11:00. That afternoon, our graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 will be released as a YouTube Premiere at 2:00. Links for both of those things will also be sent to you in a couple of days.

Grades for students in grades 9-11 are due by 4:00 on Monday, 1 June, to give you time to grade semester assessments. We are able to modify those grades later, so it's not as big of a deal if you need to change something after that time.

Before you end your year, make sure to complete your PD wrap-up. Instructions are in the ASERT box in the left sidebar.

For those of you who have been around, you may remember that students are usually choosing courses for next year by now. Given the late start to the school year and the uncertainty to what classes will look like, I am going to wait until the beginning of August for students to choose their courses.

We are also holding delaying some other decisions about how next school year will start until we have more current information later in the summer. You will be hearing from me much more regularly this summer given the constantly-changing circumstances we find ourselves in.

Push through this last week, and we'll finally all get a chance to rest.

18-22 May - The Last Week of Classes

posted May 17, 2020, 1:05 AM by HSD Principal

[ These quarantine updates are shorter and have less information, but they take me longer to write and process through than the longer updates from pre-COVID days. But that seems to be how just about everything is going these days. ]

Here we are: the last week of classes for the semester. We'll be closing out this school year before we know it, and hopefully looking back on online learning.

We will have an HSD Meeting Monday morning at 8:30 in the HSD Zoom room. The password is in the Weekend Update email, but it's also the same as last week.

HSD devotions are Tuesday morning at 8:30, also in the HSD Zoom room. 

On Friday, we will ask students to check into all of their classes again. By that day, let them know what they should be doing during the final week - e.g. What day(s) should they check into your class? Is there a final assessment? Is anything due that week? Students should know everything about academic expectations for the final week before next weekend.

Next week: Here is an overview of what the final week of school looks like.
  • Monday, 25 May is the final day of school for our graduating seniors. All their course requirements should be submitted by this day.
  • Tuesday, 26 May is the final day of "classes" for students in grades 9-11. All work other than culminating assessments should be submitted by this day.
  • Wednesday, 27 May we will have our final All-Staff meeting on Zoom at 10:00. The final All-School chapel of the year will also be released on that day. Some semester exams will take place.
  • Thursday, 28 May some semester exams will take place. It's the last day to complete academic requirements. 
  • Friday, 29 May is the final day of our extremely disrupted semester and the 2019-2020 school year. There will be a live closing ceremony to wrap up the year, and our graduation ceremony will be shown as a YouTube Premiere at 2:00 that afternoon. Links for those things will be shared next week.
As you are finalizing grades for the year, pay attention to grades that you judge may not reflect a student's achievement. There are all sorts of extenuating circumstances from this quarter, and you have the prerogative to adjust grades as appropriate. I'll be giving more information about year-end grading next week, but just keep that in mind as you look through your grade books.

This too shall pass. Stay safe. Stay sane.

11-15 May - The Beginning of the End

posted May 10, 2020, 10:03 AM by HSD Principal

The year is (finally) winding down, and I hope you are all finding ways to make the most of your time in quarantine. Before you know it, this very disrupted semester will be over and summer will be upon us. We are still trying to figure out how to manage the functional end-of-year requirements (check out, room organization, document processing, etc.), and we are waiting until the 15th to make the call on the things that require coming to campus.

But, if you have a room or space that requires a significant amount of cleaning or organization, starting now, you may come up to campus to spend a few hours at a time a couple of times per week taking care of those things. It is not meant to be time just working in your room on things you can do elsewhere, but time that needs to be spent physically managing your class supplies or materials.

There is not a screencast to watch this week, but we will still have our HSD meeting Monday morning at 8:30 in the HSD Zoom room. We will be talking about the final weeks of the school year and how we're handling some recognitions. I'll record the Zoom session and link it here.

We will have HSD devotions Tuesday morning at 8:30, also in the HSD Zoom room.

AP Exams begin this week. Because the exams are in the middle of the night, students may postpone other class requirements the day before their exams (when they are preparing) and the day of their exams (when they are exhausted and sleep deprived from taking an exam at 2:00am). 

Academic Award nominations are due this Friday, 15 May. Just stop and submit them now if you haven't done so yet. 

The nominations for Outstanding Seniors have been submitted and it's time to vote between our finalists. You can also fill out this form by Friday, 15 May. Usually we vote between the top three nominees, but there were two very clear front-runners in one category and four in the other.

If you have not done so yet, I would encourage you to record a video message to our seniors - even if it's only a ten second congratulations. Send me your videos by this Friday, 15 May.

That's a lot of things due this Friday, along with your PD wrap-up (check the ASERT box at the left for the instructional videos). That's part of why we are taking Friday off from "classes" again. 

Do not grow weary of doing good; your efforts will yield rewards.

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