Sunday, October 13, 2019

Oct. 13 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this message finds you well, and thank you to everyone who took the time to come join us for Open House this past Thursday.  This past Tuesday, the McCall staff had a great afternoon of learning from executive function guru Sarah Ward.  She taught us that executive function is all about tapping into our nonverbal working memory, but yet, much of our instructions to students are delivered verbally.  Therefore, all of the strategies Sarah shared with us are about helping students visualize the outcome of the work we are asking them to do and assisting them with playing out in their minds what they need to do to reach those goals.  She challenged us to rethink how we utilize common executive function strategies such as using checklists and breaking down long term tasks into smaller chunks because those tools can actually cause students to increase their dependence on adults as opposed to learning how to reach their goals on their own if we do not implement them thoughtfully.

I am very proud of many of our teachers who began implementing the strategies Sarah taught us the very next day after the presentation.  We will be using our next faculty meeting in November to share with each other on how to put those ideas and strategies into practice.

Attached here are the slides Sarah used during the parent lecture on Tuesday night for those of you who are interested.

I would also like everyone to know that I have the good fortune to represent Winchester Public Schools in this year’s China Bridge Delegation.  The program is ran by the College Board - the same folks who write and administer the SAT - in conjunction with the Confucius Institute from China.  I will be traveling to China from October 20 to October 29 during which I will be visiting local K–12 schools, meeting with Chinese educators, networking with U.S. colleagues, attending presentations on best practices to teach the Chinese language, and gathering resources to build and support McCall’s nascent Chinese language and culture program.  I am very excited about this opportunity, but at the same time I understand my absence from McCall during these ten days means much of what I do on a daily basis will fall on the shoulders of my two assistant principals and other members of my admin team.  I am grateful for their support, and I thank all of you for your patience if our responses to your questions or concerns are delayed due to my absence.

As part of the preparation of the trip, the organizers asked us to set up an account with the application WeChat since gmail, Facebook, and many online communication apps we are accustomed to using in the US are blocked in China.  I am encountering some difficulty setting up a WeChat account.  I hoping there are people in the parent community who are experienced WeChat users and can help me with the setup process.  Please shoot me an email if you are willing and able.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate one special member of the McCall faculty who recently achieved a milestone in her career.  Ms. Jeanne Snodgrass, our Instrumental Music and General Music teacher, finished her teaching career with us this past Friday.  After instructing music at McCall and the Winchester elementary schools for over twenty years and teaching in public and private settings for over thirty years, Ms. Snodgrass will now shift gears and enjoy her retirement.  She plans to focus on her own musicianship (she’s a trumpet player), tend to her garden, and get more sleep than she has been getting.  You will still see Ms. Snodgrass working with students in private settings and teaching music at local organizations.  On behalf of the McCall community, I wish Ms. Snodgrass a happy retirement!

Happy long weekend!

James Lin
McCall Middle School

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