Words to the Wise
Jeff Endres' Blog Page
Throughout the school year, I will be using this space to share some thoughts and musing on things that I believe will be helpful to the the Hamilton Middle School Community. It is my hope that everyone who reads these posts will find at least one thing positive to take and use.
Posted 10/10/2018 at 9:09:42 AM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
I recently read the following:
The mediocre teacher tells
The good teacher explains
The superior teacher demonstrates
The great teacher inspires.
~William Arthur Ward
While the quote specifically speaks of teachers, I believe that we all can be teachers, of a sort. As a principal, I want to be inspiring to my staff. I want to help them to be as successful as possible in their assignments. If each member of the team is successful in his or her role, then ultimately, students are going to be more successful. And that’s why we are here, to help students to be as successful as possible. I also want to inspire the students. When students are inspired, they try harder, pay more attention, participate more, and which all leads to greater success. I want to inspire our families and community. While the schools provide the curriculum for academic success, the family and community must work together with the schools to ensure the overall child’s needs are met to ensure the overall success and wellbeing of the youth in our care. One of the things that I will be working on this year is to try to find better ways to inspire. How can I inspire you? Please comment below!
Asking for Help
Posted 8/27/2018 at 3:10:46 PM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
Ask for Help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.
It is true that one of our main objectives, as educators, is to prepare our students for life beyond school, to become independent, productive members of our community. The above quote may seem counterintuitive to this notion, but it actually works with it hand in hand as part of becoming a self-sufficient adult. No one in today’s society can exist, live or thrive in isolation. Could one go live in the woods, hunting and gathering, living off the land, isolated from all other humans? Yes, theoretically. Illness, loneliness, companionship, family. These are things that make true isolation difficult (not to mention today’s reliance on cell phones, television, and the drive-thru windows)!
While the teachers of today do strive to build independence in our students, their primary focus is to help, assist and guide the students through the process. We value students’ desire to “do it” themselves, but to be truly successful, there needs to be a partnership between the student, the school, and the home. This triumvirate, working as a well-oiled machine will help ensure a smooth and satisfying transition into adulthood. Students need to ask for assistance from their teachers, administrators and counselors when they need help. They need to reach out to their parents when they are having difficulties. Teachers need to figure out how best to help students, building strong, caring and honest relationships with the students and their families. Families, reach out to the schools when you sense things just aren’t how they should be. Together, we can all make sure that success is attained! I want to wish everyone an enjoyable, challenging, and productive school year! Please feel free to contact me or any other adult at the school, if needed, because, as the Beatles so beautifully put it: “We get by with a little help from our friends.”
What Do Grades Mean?
Posted 9/18/2017 at 9:40:07 AM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
Greetings! This is the first post for the 2017-2018 school year and it comes immediately after the first set of interim reports were sent home. Side note: If your student did not bring his or her interim report home, they were distributed on Friday, September 15.
First, an explanation of the report. On your child’s report, you will note that there are no letter grades, only percentages. These percentages, at the MS, are a combination of Assessments, Classwork and CBA’s (when we have them). Classwork is worth 20% of the student’s grade, CBA’s are worth 20%, and Assessments are worth 60%. Please note that while behavior and effort are important and require, they are not reflected in the grade for a course.
So what does the grade mean for a particular class? Grades are meant to be a way for the school and teacher to communicate with the student and family, what a child knows and is able to do. While this seems like a simple and straightforward notation, it is so far from that. Each course has multitudes of standards that they are working on in any particular grading period and a single percentage may or may not indicate the true knowledge and ability of a student. So how do students and parents get this information? The seemingly easy answer would be to change the grade card to include all of the standards. While cumbersome and lengthy, this would be a great tool to help everyone be on the same page. There are several problems with this type of report that would need to be solved. How would we deal with athletic eligibility through the Ohio High School Athletic Association? How would GPA’s and class rank be determined for entrance into college and other post-secondary opportunities? What percentage of standards would have to be mastered in order to get credit for the course? While these roadblocks may seem insurmountable, research, planning, and communication would help overcome any bumps in the road.
In the meantime, I urge and challenge all students and parents to be in communication with the teachers about how each child is progressing on the standards for each course. Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences, email teachers, call the schools. Be as informed as possible so that we can work as a team to help each child to be successful!
The Pressure is on!
Posted 1/12/2017 at 10:33:49 AM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
***Disclaimer*** While this is entry is just now being shared, it was written the week after Thankasgiving, thus the OSU-Michigan reference.
The Pressure is on!
Time for more analogies! What do kicking field goals, interviewing for a job, and state assessments all have in common?
I’m sure those of you that watched the most recent OSU-Michigan game will remember Tyler Durbin’s first two missed field goals of the season! How horrible! I’m sure those of you that watched and root for the Buckeyes were on the edge of your seats as Tyler lined up for the tying field goal in the 4th quarter. Luckily, he nailed it and the Buckeyes went on to win in double overtime. Now imagine him missing that field goal and then speaking to the media after the game: “You know, I do very well in practice. I make those kinds of kicks all the time. And because I can do it all the time in practice and less pressure-filled situations, I still think that we should be in the playoffs. I mean, I guess that I’m just not a good at kicking FG’s under pressure, but that shouldn’t matter. As long as I can do it in practice, it should count!” Imagine how that one would go over on College Gameday!
Imagine someone interviewing for a job for which she is very qualified. She knows her stuff. She is perfect for the job. During the interview, she freezes. She is asked questions she hadn’t thought about. She becomes tongue-tied. She says some things that are incorrect, even though she knows the correct answers. It is the most miserable experience of her professional career. When they call to let her know that she did not get the job, she explains that she knows everything she needs to know to do the job well and correctly, she “just isn’t a good interviewer” and that they should hire her anyway.
Can you see where this is headed yet?
Was this the first time Tyler had kicked in a football game? Was this the first time he was under pressure to perform? Had he prepared adequately for this opportunity? Obviously, most, if not all, athletes prepare themselves for competition with hours upon hours of practice and preparation. I would even say that most have practiced these type of pressure situations multiple times and have mentally prepared themselves for this. In Tyler’s case, even if he missed his tying FG, he still would have another game to play, but it certainly would not have been versus Clemson in a National Semifinal game!
In the case of the interview, was the candidate qualified for the position? Did she have the knowledge to do the job? Was she a good fit? It’s hard to say! She didn’t get the job. Did she practice her interviewing with someone? Did she research the company and its background? Did she do everything she could to be prepared for this high-stakes situation? Would she get another interview? Would she have another opportunity to show her skills and knowledge to a potential employer? Hopefully. And hopefully, she will practice and “study” to be ready for the next time!
Our Cumulative Benchmark Assessments and State Assessments are a lot like the FG kicking and interview scenarios above. High Stakes! Only one shot! Major consequences for poor performance! Just like saying “I’m not good at kicking FG’s under pressure” or “I’m just not a good interviewer,” saying “I’m just not a good test-taker” won’t help! The only thing that will help is preparation, practice, and putting yourself in a position to perform to the best of your ability. If you are not a good test-taker, you have to practice more. You have to study more. You have to put yourself in similar situations so that you are more comfortable with these high-stakes tests. But, you are not alone! Your teachers are here to help! Ask for assistance! Ask for practice! Ask for ways to help you prepare! With these few ideas, you CAN become a better test-taker!
My Promise to My Children
Posted 12/5/2016 at 8:44:24 AM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
“My Promise to My Children”
For those of you on Social Media these days, I’m sure you’ve seen this posted in one form or another:
Here’s my update, for an educator:
My promise to my students
For as long as you are in school, I will always be an educator first, and your friend second. I will keep tabs on you and your grades, assign lots of homework, lecture you, make you read things that you have no interest in, assess you constantly, and hound you for missing work when I have to, because I care about you and your success. When you understand that, I will know you have become a responsible student and adult. You will never find a “boss” in your life who loves, prays, cares & worries about you more than I do. If you don’t mutter under your breath “I hate schoolwork” at least once in your life, I am not doing my job properly.Parents, take joy in the fact your students have multiple adults in their lives that want to see them succeed and do great things in life. Take advantage of this and recruit the help of the teachers and administrators at school during those difficult and trying times that young people can create. Let’s work together to help these wonderful, growing, learning beings that we all call “our kids!”
Planning for Success, or How to Stop Shooting Layups.
Posted 9/19/2016 at 2:58:51 PM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
When I was in grade school, I LOVED playing basketball! I practiced every chance I got. I practiced in the rain, I practiced in the dark, I practiced in the snow (after shovelling the driveway, of course)! I was great at making layups. I’d shoot layup after layup. I was a layup-making phenom. When it came time for the team tryouts, the coaches actually wanted to see the players do more than just make layups. They wanted dribbling, they wanted passing, they wanted jump shots, and they wanted defense. I hadn’t worked on those things. I wasn’t good at those things. I was good at layups! Boy, was I underprepared! Instead of practicing things that I didn’t like or things with which I had trouble, I focussed on the one thing that I liked and was good at: layups. I’m sure you can see where this is going…
In order to be successful in school, students need to focus on improving in areas that need improving. They don’t have to give up those things they love and with which they excel. They still need to hone those skills to keep them sharp. Our deficiencies should be our focus. If a student struggles with fractions, fractions should get more study time. If a student struggles with reading, he or she should find books he or she likes and read!
Teachers are trained and have had experience with helping students to identify their deficiencies and then working with them to build skills. Just as an athlete takes direction from a coach, a student should take direction from his or her teacher. Parents, seek out the advice of the teachers to help your students. They would be happy to give advice, practice, and direction. They LOVE seeing their students grow and succeed!
Posted 8/29/2016 at 12:58:41 PM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
I love my kids...I really do. But, just like all parents, I can get frustrated sometimes by some of the things they do and say. When asked “Have you brushed your teeth?” and you get the reply “YEEEEEEES (eye roll and exasperated tone of voice included).” Then I ask “Let me smell your breath,” only to get the reply “I’ll go brush them again…” Frustrating!
One of the more misunderstood (by the kids, of course) reasons for my frustrations is the “I hope.” Hope is a wonderful thing to have. Hope is necessary. Without hope, we can be lost, struggling, and filled with discontent and discouragement. This isn’t the hope I’m talking about. The hope I’m talking about goes like this. “I hope I make the softball team.” “I hope I’m one of the featured dancers.” “I hope I run a better cross country race this week.” These aren’t occasions to invoke hope! These are all situations to work hard, to plan for success, to do everything you can to improve. Hope won’t help you hit the ball, throw strikes, or run the bases with speed. Hope also won’t improve your balance, perfect your pirouette, or keep your toe pointed on your grand jete. Hope isn’t responsible for making you run faster, improve your pacing and increasing your stamina.
Okay. Now that I got the parenting frustrations off my chest, I’ll get to the educational aspect of this post (Thanks for letting me vent!). “I hope I pass this test.” “I hope I get a good grade on my essay.” “I hope I’m on time for school.” Just like my kids hoping for improvement in softball, dance and cross country, hope isn’t going to help improve performance at school. In order for these improvements to take place, you must be deliberate, work hard, and focus on your goals. You want to do well on a test? Study. Every day! You want to write a better essay? Prewrite. Do a rough draft. Ask a friend to read and edit your work. Ask your teacher for assistance and advice. Don’t want to be tardy? Make a plan. Set an alarm. Set two. Pack your lunch and book bag the night before. Get to the bus stop on time.
These things aren’t difficult and don’t require much more than a plan, a little bit of hard work, and being deliberate. By setting out with a goal and then planning for success, any and all students can find the success that they desire. As the adults in their lives, we need to support them in their plans and lend assistance where necessary. I HOPE you find this post enlightening and helpful!
Don't Dig a Hole!
Posted 8/17/2016 at 3:10:09 PM by Jeff Endres [staff member]
Close your eyes. No wait! You can’t keep reading if your eyes are closed...PRETEND to close your eyes. Now imagine walking down a path through the woods. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and it is a glorious day to be taking a hike. Now imagine that you round a corner on the path and up ahead you see a log blocking the path. Realizing that you were extremely well prepared for this hike by bringing along a shovel, you decide to construct an earthen ramp to get yourself to the top of the log and then over it. You zealously set out to build your ramp by digging the earth and piling it into a makeshift ramp. You dig and dig and dig, continuously piling the dirt up. You dig so much and move so much earth to reach your goal. Eventually you tire. You stop digging and you look at your magnificent work! A job well done! As you sit to rest before continuing on your hike, you realize that the sun is at the horizon and you will not have enough daylight to continue your journey. As you gather up your belongings to head for home, you notice that someone had previously cut a large section out of the log and you could have walked right on through, with very little extra effort! What a waste of a beautiful day!
Now PRETEND to open your eyes and think about starting the school year and how the digging of the hole could compare to beginning a new school year. You can do things the hard way: spin your wheels, exert undue effort, and not complete your goals. OR...you can take the time to look around, see what is there for you, and use the help that is provided! The teachers and staff of Hamilton Middle School have the same goal as the students and families of our community: success for all. Be sure to follow their guidance, accept the help they offer, and don’t dig your own hole! Have a great start to the school year!
Posted 9/3/2016 at 10:18:37 AM by [anonymous visitor]
As teachers our goal is to see out students succeed and we are here to help with that in anyway possible