Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association
MESPA Monday Memo
April 10, 2017
Join This Week's Twitter Chat
#MESPAchat
Wednesday, April 12
8:00-9:00 pm EDT

Moderated by
#momsasprincipals
  Haven’t Tried a Twitter Chat?

Read this quick primer “Twitter Chats Made Simple” in the most recent Principal magazine. https://www.naesp.org/principal-marchapril-2017-technology-all/twitter-chats-made-simple
From The MESPA Blog:  
Move Over Twitter, It’s Time for Something Even Better…Voxer!
by Liz Garden, Principal, Florence Roche Elementary School, Groton, MA
In this week’s blog post, Liz Garden reminds us of the importance of having a network for support as a principal.  She makes a compelling case for using Voxer, a voice recording app. As she notes, “ There is something about being able to hear a person’s voice.  What I truly love about Voxer is that I can hear people’s voices.  So I feel really connected to people who are actually thousands of miles away from me, but are experiencing the same struggles and successes that I am.”

Liz goes on to share her experience with a special Voxer group called #momsasprincipals. The original seven #momsasprincipals will be moderating our monthly Twitter chat on Wednesday, April 12 from 8:00-9:00pm, and we will be talking about favorite things in education!  

To find out more about how to use Voxer for support networks, go to the MESPA blog at:  https://mespa2016.wordpress.com/
From the Executive Director: 
1. Perspective Taking: A Critical Social-Emotional Skill

Every once in a while, I read a piece that really grabs me..  Hunter Gehlbach’s lead article in the March issue of Kappan, “Learning To Walk in Another’s Shoes,” did just that.  Mixing both research and practical suggestions, Gehlbach, an educational psychologist at the Graduate School of Education at UC-Santa Barbara, makes a compelling case for why perspective taking  is a high-leverage skill to teach students.   

Gehlbach notes the “ tremendous energy and enthusiasm among school leaders” for the concept of social emotional learning, but cautions us to that “ SEL is a deceptively simple label attached to an enormously complex range of issues.”  He asks us to consider: “ Which social emotional skills matter most?” and “ Which of these proficiencies can educators realistically affect?”    

Gehlbach’s response is to suggest “ a single, teachable capacity that anchors almost all of our social interactions:  social perspective taking, or the capacity to make sense of others’ thoughts and feelings.”  He summarizes research showing four key steps necessary to develop social perspective teaching. He then goes on to describe three key strategies for teachers to use in teaching social perspective taking:
  1. “Make it your habit to ask for multiple perspectives.
  2. Encourage students to be social detectives, not judges.
  3. Provide opportunities for feedback as students learn to read others’ perspectives.” 
Gehlbach concludes by describing the benefits of developing social perspective taking: “ Once in the habit of trying to gauge other people’s ways of looking at the world, (students) will inevitably become more empathetic, more understanding, and more caring…and they will become more likely to reach out across cultural groups rather than withdrawing into their own clique.”   

To read the full article, go to:   http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0031721717696471 .  

2. Elementary Principals Science Network Kicks Off

In science, a catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction.  Last Friday saw a catalyst of a different kind: a new network of 18 elementary principals from across the Commonwealth met at MESPA for the first time.  This network, a collaboration between the Massachusetts DESE and MESPA, is committed to being a catalyst for improving the quality of science offered in our elementary schools.    Why is this important? 
  • Massachusetts has new (2016) standards in Science, Technology and Engineering that align with the national “Next Generation Science Standards” and which require shifts in curriculum and instruction.
  • We do not spend enough time teaching science in elementary schools.  Did you know that national research on science shows that only 19% of K-2 students and 30% of grades 3-5 students received regular instruction in science? 
  • Access to science is an equity issue.  All students deserve a quality science program - to have access to careers in science and math, but also to be consumers and citizens who can make informed decisions (Climate change, anyone?).
Watch this space for future information about the work of this network and resources they will help to develop and disseminate.  Meanwhile, take a look at this 3-page Quick Reference Guide on the STE Standards created by DESE with links to several helpful resources.   

Rick Rogers
New Job Posting
  Swampscott: Hadley Elementary School
For more information, go to: http://mespa.org/job-postings/
Survey Invitation:
Common or Uncommon Ground?
Principal Training and Religion in Public Schools
Have you ever wondered how Massachusetts principal training programs prepare principals to address religious-based issues in public schools? If so, then the study survey below may be of interest to you.  

My name is Denrod Fowler and I am a former vice principal. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Education Leadership at Lesley University. I am studying ways in which principal training programs prepare principals and administrators to address religious-based issues in public schools.  

If you are a principal and/or administrator, then I’m inviting you to participate in my brief survey. It is my hope that you will participate by going to the following link: http://www.questionpro.com/t/AM9XxZYaMC.  

I For questions, individuals can feel free to email me at - ReligionPublicSchool@gmail.com.  
Massachusetts School Building Authority 
“My Ideal School” Contest
(For First Graders)
Eight regional winners will be chosen, each of whom will receive a special prize generously donated by People’s United Bank.  One lucky grand prize winner will also have their “My Ideal School” contest picture featured on the cover of the MSBA Annual Report.  All winners will be honored at a special awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on May 31, 2017.  

This contest is open to all first-grade students currently attending a Massachusetts public school. Contest submissions must be postmarked by May 5, 2017, for consideration.  

For more information and a link to the Entry Form, go to: http://www.massschoolbuildings.org/programs/Ideal_School  
Click on image for more information.