Friday, 27 November 2015

Oakville Trafalgar High School PD Day

So, what were your Teachers up to on Friday, November 27th????

I'm so glad you asked.....

This past Friday OTHS Staff gathered for the day to reflect, dialogue, and plan collectively with a focus on our SIPSA (School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement).  The SIPSA is our school developed plan for any particular year.

Our three areas of attention this year will be:

a) Resiliency
b) Equity and Inclusiveness
c) Digital Citizenship

Last year (2014-15 school year) Administration asked staff to identify the areas of greatest student need.......and a lack of resiliency AND poor digital citizenship were the top two areas identified.
Equity and Inclusiveness was added to our SIPSA because - as a school board - we are working to acknowledge and engage staff, students, and our parent community around issues of equity and inclusiveness.  Through such engagement it is our expectation that ALL students will feel that OTHS is a welcoming and inclusive school - both in the classroom and in the halls.

Here was our Agenda this morning:

8:00-8:25   - staff breakfast
8:30-9:15   - Updates and thank you's + Setting the context for our day
9:20-10:45 - Staff rotating through three different rooms:
                    i)  Equity and Inclusiveness
                    ii) Resiliency
                   iii) Digital Citizenship
In each session staff leaders reviewed each area of focus and facilitated discussion around how classroom teachers could incorporate elements of each in their classrooms.

10:45-11:45 - Staff Wellness Activities (Yoga/Knitting/Games/Wellness walk)
11:45-12:45 - Lunch
1:00 - 2:30 - Department Meetings and Grade/Subject Team Time
2:30-2:50 - Wrap up and Review

Over the course of the morning there was great dialogue regarding our SIPSA and in the afternoon departments had an opportunity to drill down on subject and grade concerns and questions.
One staff member commented, "this is information we should be sharing with our parents as well as our students."   So, here are a couple of things for you to review:

Resiliency - You Tube Ted Talk clip - The Power of Belief

This clip covers topics we have discussed previously including Angela Duckworth's 'Grit Ted Talk' and Dr. C. Dweck's work on Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Equity and Inclusiveness - The HDSB Equity and Inclusiveness page served as our 'base' for discussions around this issue at OTHS.

Digital Citizenship - Staff leaders developed a fun clip of staff (acting as students) using technology in both appropriate and inappropriate ways.  A great discussion was then coordinated around issues of cell phone use in class; digital footprint; and how we might best address digital citizenship in classrooms across various subject disciplines.

Friday's PD activities have set the stage for future dialogue and learning that will follow over the course of this school year.  We're looking forward to taking steps toward moving our conversations from the students in our classrooms.

Stay tuned......

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

.....Second Term...

As we approach the colder December weather it is a great time to stop, pause, and reflect on the passing of the mid point in Semester One.  Last week Mid Term Report Cards were sent home (Friday, November 20th) and - for the most part - our students continue to produce excellent results.

Over the past week our Student Success Teacher and our Student Services staff have been reviewing achievement results and, in combination with Administrators, are contacting those students who have struggled (in one or more subject areas) over the first term.  These meetings will be expected to provide support, guidance, and direction for any student who continues to experience challenges or difficulty with their course work.  Please do not hesitate to follow up personally should you have any questions or concerns about your child's report card results.

Peace Week

Last week saw a number of activities working in support (and in partnership with the YMCA) of Peace Week.  Our students were out in force (in the Atrium) promoting a variety of school and community organizations working to support families in crisis in many nations across the globe.  In light of recent events our Peace Week activities helped students consider the tragic loss of life not only in Paris, but in Beirut, Japan, Lebanon, ......the list goes on......

We were very fortunate to host a guest speaker for our Grade 11 students last week as well.  Zac Ebrahim, author of The Terrorist's Son: A story of choice, spoke to a silent audience for over 45 minutes.  Zac recounted his life story and the amazing difficulties he experienced as a result of his father's life choices.  I'm sure I speak for all who were present in the Theatre when I say - it was a fantastic and amazingly heartfelt message.  I wish we could have had Zac remain at OTHS for another hour so that he could connect with our Grade 12 students as well.

Check out his story here:

Upcoming School Wide Assembly

We are very excited to be welcoming Anthony McLean to OT next Monday!  Anthony is a nationally recognized author and public speaker and he will be speaking to our entire school around the chronic challenge of Bullying and Harassment.

Anthony has connected with our Safe Schools Action Team and together they've mapped out some of the challenges faced by OT students.  We're excited to welcome Anthony to speak to our entire school population with a focus on local challenges experienced by OT kids.

Here are a couple of links to learn more about Anthony McLean.

Updates for Parents and Students

Protected Learning Time:  December 14th - January 27th, 2016

Beginning on Monday, December 14th and running straight through until the end of the semesters is what we call 'protected learning time'.  During this period all Field Trips and school-wide events are curtailed so that students may focus their attention on the final 4 weeks of classes.  During this final 4 week period staff will be conducting 'the final 30' which includes multi-day performance tasks or summative projects.  Staff do try to space these performance task days out over the four week period (and we have an in-school 'summative' calendar to try to ensure greater balance), however this will be a time of increased stress and anxiety for some of our students.

Parents - Student absences for any Final Performance Task will require contact with an Administrator.  Many of these tasks are worth 10-15% of a final grade and we consider them to be equal in importance to a final exam.  Unexplained absences during this period are not acceptable to the school.  Please do your best to communicate immediately should there be a problem with attending school during this time period.

Final Exams are scheduled months in advance.  While we recognize that family vacations are important events.....please do not schedule them during this busy time of the school year.  All students are expected to write final exams as scheduled.  If there is any cause to adjust a student's schedule parents are asked to please contact Ms. Cammisuli (VP) in order to address concerns.

Inclement Weather

As we enter a period of greater uncertainty regarding our weather all families are reminded to take great care when entering and exiting the parking lot.  Please slow down....and be safe.

The Halton District School Board does maintain weather alerts on their Main Page and if we do have any foul weather please check there first.  Radio 680 am also have a great process for updating residents regarding any school or bus cancellations.

Let's hope the snow stays away (at least in Oakville) for another few weeks!

Thank you very much for your continued support of Oakville Trafalgar High School.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

We're really two months in ....

Greetings from the office....

Last night we hosted our first semester Parents' Night.  I'm hopeful that our families had a chance to connect with their child's teachers and that any questions or concerns were addressed.  If you did not have a chance to connect please e-mail any teacher directly and work to set up a mutually convenient time for an interview/meeting.
While events such as our parents' night can be a great chance to catch up....they can also be very busy and many staff members do not get the chance to connect with parents eager to clarify any issues that may exist.  Please don't hesitate to contact a staff member around any concerns.

For all Parent DRIVERS - you may notice two new signs posted above the doors along the parking lot.  In an effort to improve traffic flow early in the morning and after school we're hoping that drivers will drop off at the SECOND set of doors in the morning (to prevent blockages/congestion on Devon) and to pick up your son/daughter after school at the SECOND set of doors as well (or further along the pathway toward the south side (football field end) of the parking lot.  Thank you for helping us keep the parking lot clear......and safe.

Learning Updates

Over the course of the year I would like to share an interesting article or update on staff learning here at OTHS.  Below is a link to an interesting article that highlights something I feel strongly about.  Happy reading.

On the importance of travel.....

The OTHS Staff Learning Team will be working together on Friday, November 6th reviewing our 2014-15 School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and planning future learning opportunities for staff for the 15-16 school year.  Stay tuned for me to share a copy of the SIPSA for 2015-16.

Student Activities Section

RDC Update -  Our Red Devil Council continues to organize and coordinate events for students.  Last week students and staff were wearing their Blue Jay gear (or blue) to express support for the Jays as they began their series against the Royals.
Next week the RDC is coordinating a number of Octoberfest events for students.  These fun activities will take place during the lunch hour throughout the week.

Robotics - Team 1334 has begun another season working together to advance their interest and skills in STEM (Science, Technology, and Mathematics) related fields via a Robotics program.  Last week (October 16-18) Team 1334 travelled to Rochester, NY to compete in the Rochester Rah Cha Cha Ruckus - an early season competition with schools from New York State and Ontario.   Here is a write-up from Sydney outlining the weekend:

  "Last Saturday, 1334 travelled to Rochester, New York to compete in the annual Rah Cha Cha Ruckus competition. We took this opportunity to begin training and integrating our rookies and letting them get a feel for what upcoming competitions are like. We are very proud of our newcomers, as well as all members of the team! Although we were not chosen during alliance selection and did not make it past the qualification rounds, we did win two awards. 1334 took home the Most Food Donated award thanks to our stop at Walmart, as well as the Imagery award thanks to our shirts, devil horns, pitch forks, and of course the abundance of Ferkins. This competition was a awesome start to the season and a great chance for the team to pull together and show our spirit. It was a fun-filled, caffeine fuelled weekend and we can’t wait for the next competition. We would also like to congratulate the alliance that won the competition and their alliance caption 1114 on their win!"

Rugby Sevens Club -
The Rugby Sevens Club had great success at their two tournaments this past month.  This is the first year for a Rugby Sevens Club at OTHS (not to be confused with the Rugby Teams that play and compete in the spring) and the students and staff had a great time competing in this modified version of rugby.  Travelling to Mississauga and Brampton the Club managed to

Fall Sports Update

Each of our fall sports seasons are winding their way to an exciting conclusion.  Our Senior Boys Cross Country Team has qualified for OFSAA and will be heading up to Collingwood this Saturday (November 7th) for the OFSAA Championships.

Football and Boys Senior Volleyball are entering Halton Play-offs this week.  We'll be following their march to the finals over the next couple of weeks.

OT's Girls Field Hockey teams and our Junior Girls Basketball Team have completed their seasons.  While the players and coaches would have preferred a few more wins.....the teams competed hard and developed their skills for future success.  Thank you to the players and coaches for representing OTHS so well.

Key Dates in November

November 4     Take Your Kid to Work Day (Grade 9)
November 12   Parent Council Meeting
November 12   Open Mic Night
November 19   Grade 8 Parents' Night (all future OTHS families)
November 20   Mid Term Report Cards
November 30   Grad Photo Schedule begins