New Training opportunities announced by Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools has recently released a school year training calendar for their wide variety of professional development opportunities for community organizations, volunteers and staff.  

Topics for the training events include: 

  • Equity & Cultural Competency
  • Academic Curriculum & Instruction
  • School Community Partnerships
  • Data-Drive Practice & Systems
  • Social Emotional Learning & 21st Century Skills and Dispositions

The following is a statement of purpose for these training events as sited on the Seattle Public Schools webpage

Professional Development for Education Partners

The School and Community Partnerships Department is committed to offering supports that build the capacity of community based organizations and schools to align their work and effectively and authentically partner. 

Guided by our Professional Development Advisory Committee, which includes community based organizations, the City of Seattle, and Seattle Public Schools (SPS), we are excited to unveil our 2015-16 professional learning opportunities. Some opportunities are designed only for community-based organization staff and volunteers, while others are open to both to school staff and partners. 

Summer Learning Loss and how you can help

During the school year students from diverse backgrounds sit side-by-side in the same classrooms. While they start the school year at different academic levels, theoretically, they receive the same classroom attention to learn at similar rates.

The summer, however, is a different ball game. Families with means are able to
visit the library, pay for camps, and create other enriching experiences. These activities reinforce learning from the previous school year, and prepare students for the fall. This contrasts with students from low-income families, who often cannot afford the time or economic resources required to provide similar summer time experiences.

What happens - or doesn't happen - during the summer months can have a huge impact on student growth. For instance, some articles report that students can lose up to 2.6 months of grade level math skills over the summer. If students are already testing behind their classmates, losses such as these are significant.

To prevent Summer Learning Loss, you can help by supporting a student in your community with reading, writing and math. Here are a few opportunities still available to you as a volunteer this summer at the Seattle Public Library


Contributed by Caitlin Reddy, Youth Tutoring Program 

Don't resort to traditional discipline, ask "why" first...

In a provocative article, What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?, Katherine Reynolds Lewis demonstrates how research supports a needed change in our traditional disciplinary tactics used in school.  

Lewis states, "University of Rochester psychologist Ed Deci…found that teachers who aim to control students' behavior—rather than helping them control it themselves—undermine the very elements that are essential for motivation: autonomy, a sense of competence, and a capacity to relate to others. This, in turn, means they have a harder time learning self-control, an essential skill for long-term success.”

What’s more, children with learning disorders are usually the kids who are most often punished. “In a 2011 study that tracked nearly 1 million schoolchildren over six years, researchers at Texas A&M University found that kids suspended or expelled for minor offenses…were three times as likely as their peers to have contact with the juvenile justice system within a year of the punishment. Kids with diagnosed behavior problems such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and reactive attachment disorder…were the most likely to be disciplined. Which begs the question: Does it make sense to impose the harshest treatments on the most challenging kids? And are we treating chronically misbehaving children as though they don't want to behave, when in many cases they simply can't?”

Lewis further argues that “focusing on problem solving instead of punishment is now seen as key to successful discipline.”

Want to learn more? Here are a couple books recommended in the article:

Lost in School By Ross W. Greene
The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene


Contributed by Reeba Miller, Youth Tutoring Program 

Provide your students an inspirational way to express their love of books!

Kids learn and want to express themselves in ways that go beyond the written word and educators know that paper and pencils can only go so far in gauging reading comprehension. In the NY Times article, Five Artists, Five Book Reviews, artists have created book reviews using a multitude of materials. 

What is striking about the pieces and the accompanied blurbs is the evidence of deeper understanding, synthesis and exploration of the book they read. Passing this experience on to kids would enrich their reading comprehension and provide a unique avenue of expression. 

By: Josie Watanabe, Seattle Public Library


Grow your student's "Growth Mindset"

Let's teach kids that practice makes progress! Learn about growth mindset here! 

When it comes to teaching your student about math, how does she behave? Is she motivated and excited to learn a new math topic? Does she believe in her "innate" ability to do math or does she believe in hard work and practice? 

Believe it or not, having a "fixed mindset" (when you believe that you have an innate intelligence) can be very damaging to student's ability to face challenges and grow their abilities through learning.

As described by Jo Boler on her website, our brains are plastic which means that we able to rewire our brains by learning new abilities with practice. For example, the more a student practices a skill (such as adding mixed numbered fractions) the more he will "wire" his brain to understand and master that skill.

The belief in our ability to grow our intelligence is called "growth mindset." However, if a student possesses a "fixed mindset", he will never commit the time and energy to master new skills. This is because the student will think that the skill is too hard and that his innate intellect limits his ability to learn this particular new skill...if only this student had a tutor who could encourage him to try, practice, fail, practice and master this new skill! That's where you come in.

So, get out there and teach your students that we can all succeed with practice and that "practice makes progress!"


By: Gabbie Lanier, Youth Tutoring Program