MESPA Monday Memo
September 26, 2016
From the Executive Director:
October is Prime Time!
As a native of New England, I have long savored the month of October with its crisp, fall weather (even more so when the Red Sox are in the thick of the things).  And as a career educator, I have long believed that October is prime time for learning in schools – for students and for adults.    

Time is our most precious resource in schools.  As leaders, we need to ensure that we get the maximum use out of the limited time we have to engage with teachers in meaningful learning and improvement work.   Here are a few reminders as we prepare to turn the page to October…  

1. Revisit Your Opening of School Goals: Many principals devote a lot of energy to preparing creative and uplifting opening of school presentations.  This is certainly important to getting things off to a good start.  Keep in mind, however, that just because you emphasized it (whatever the “it” is) on opening day, does not mean it is not going to happen without follow-through and planning.  Having heard the focus once and having now settled in with their new classes, teachers are often in a much better place to revisit a goal or area of focus for the school in October.   

2. Plan, Plan, Plan Your Meetings: As with location in real estate, planning is critical to making the most of the faculty and team meeting time that we have available.  In reviewing your goals for the year, think about the aspects of the work that are the most substantive, that require the most mental energy, or that involve the most change.  October is a great time for “heavy lifting.”  Plan your meeting time accordingly.  

Somewhere along the way, I was told that for meetings with meaningful content (Shouldn’t all our meetings involve this?), I should spend three hours planning for every hour of meeting time.  While smaller team meetings may not require quite this much time, certainly I found over the years that meetings involving the entire faculty did.   And if your district provides the luxury of early release time for professional learning, using the time well becomes even more critical.  

The key to planning is being clear about desired outcomes and having a “lesson plan” that will enable participants to interact and get engaged.  Sometimes it can be helpful to use the structure of a protocol.  I have found the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF) to be an excellent resource for protocols that help structure conversations and working together:  

3. Schedule Yourself:  October is also prime time for starting the teacher evaluation process.  If you have not done so already, sit down and make a schedule for yourself.  Set goals for completing observations and stick to them.  Don’t make the mistake of waiting to the weeks before evaluations are due. Who knows what else will be vying for your time and attention at that time?

Wishing you a productive prime time.  Go Sox!

Rick Rogers

P.S. Take note that two of our workshop offerings for school leaders in October are on time management strategies for the evaluation process and making our meetings more effective (see below).
From the MESPA Blog
This Week’s Post: “Life is Good in the Tri-Town School Union”
by the Tri-Town School Union Principals and Director of Tech Ed.
This collaborative posting shares how a three-town Community Read of a comon book ( Life is Good:  A Book: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride by Burt and John Jacobs) led to the creation of a monthly theme in schools, library and community built around ten “superpowers” identified in the book.  The slogan for the year:  “ Be the Good for Others and Yourself.”   Read more at:
Join Us at the MESPA Fall Conference!
“The Connected Leader”
Keynote Speaker: Alan November
Thursday, November 3, 2016
MESPA Educational Center in Marlborough

Alan November is a leading thinker and international leader in the area of educational technology.  His annual “ Building Learning Communities” summer conference in Boston attracts educators from all over the world. Come hear Alan talk about how school leaders can be role models and support teachers in how technology can transform teaching and learning for the 21st century.  The conference will also include breakout workshops provided by current principals in Massachusetts. 
For more information and to register, go to: Registration is limited to 100 participants so sign-up soon!
Principals Supporting Principals:
Join Our New Regional Principals’ Support Groups
For information on group locations and meeting times and to register,
Groups begin in October so join today!

Groups will meet at a regular, specified time 8 times per year for two hours. Each group will be co-facilitated by an experienced, sitting principal and a retired principal/consultant. Groups will also communicate between sessions using Voxer, an app that combines voice and text messages to enable asynchronous group communication. Meetings will have an open agenda format with each group member having an opportunity to share issues.  The facilitators will guide the conversation, drawing on the insights and experiences of group members to help engage the group in reflective dialogue and collaborative problem-solving. 
Double Your Learning Network:
Two Twitter Chats in October!
Wednesday, October 5 – 8:00-9:00 pm
Join the state-wide Twitter Chat about the state of social-emotional learning in Massachusetts.
Moderated by John D’Auria, President of Teachers 21.  

Wednesday, October 12, 8:00-9:00 pm
To encourage our members to participate in #exSEL,
#mespachat will move to the second Wednesday of October.

New to Twitter chats? Here’s a helpful how-to guide .
Professional Development Workshops
Choose In-Person or On-Line
Working in partnership with Ribas Associates, MESPA is providing 31 workshops (including on-line options) for teachers and school leaders in the areas of:
  1. Addressing the Social-Emotional Learning Needs of All Students
  2. Strengthening Collaborative Teacher Teams
  3. Developing Leadership Skills
  9 On-Line Workshops, including:
  • Working with Students with Behavioral Issues (Opens 10/4)
  • Eight Brain-based Teaching Strategies for Developing the Cognitive Context for Learning and Other Brain Based Strategies (Opens 10/11)
  • Executive Function: Implications for Teaching and Learning (Opens 10/17)
22 In-Person Workshops, including:
For Teachers and Principals
  • October 13:  Eight Brain-based Teaching Strategies for Developing the Cognitive Context for Learning and Other Brain Based Strategies
  • October 18:  Questioning Strategies and Checking Understanding for Differentiation
  • October 25: Examining Student Work in Supportive Teacher Teams
For School Leaders
  • October 6: Educator Evaluation Time Management and Time Saving Strategies
  • October 17:  How Can We Make Our Meeting and Teacher Meetings More Engaging and Effective?
  Your teachers can register at the membership rate if you are a member.
A complete program of studies and registration form can be found at:
Thank You for Joining or Renewing!
It’s Not Too Late:
Choose MESPA only ($299) or MESPA/NAESP ($534)
For a membership form:
If you have questions or need assistance with processing membership,
contact Victoria Ellison (
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