Oct. 1st, 2018

Hi Parents!

I have to apologize. I’m normally much quicker at getting my first letter out to you. I’m not sure what happened to September. Poof! It disappeared. That’s ok because, in my opinion, October is so much better.

Anyway, last week I traveled to Atlanta to observe at the legendary Ron Clark Academy. It was amazing! I think it will end up being a career-changing experience for me. I learned so much that I want to bring back to my classroom. Very briefly, there are 4 things that I want to change or improve this year:

  1. Stronger relationships with my students
  2. Fun games and exciting adventures
  3. Stricter discipline
  4. Harder academics

Stronger Relationships

I’m going to work really hard to help your child love school. I want my students to want to be here. I think that starts with knowing his or her teacher knows and loves them. I’ll be eating lunch with my class several days a week. We will also make and share soup a couple Fridays each month as a class. Let me know if there’s anything I can do that would be meaningful for your child - attending a soccer game, a violin concert, etc.

Fun Games and Exciting Adventures

Along with stronger relationships, kids love surprises. I plan on having classroom activities that will surprise and entertain my students. These games will be for the whole class. I’ll send updates on Remind when those days come.

Also, I plan on taking some kids on adventures. These adventures will be off-campus and you’ll get notified ahead of time (for permission and waivers, if needed). Not all students will get to go - they will be based on things like homework completion, behavior, attendance, and effort. Most times, they will be surprises. So if you know, keep the secret until your child knows!

Stricter Discipline

While discipline has negative connotations, I’m really trying to teach your child how to interact with adults. We will participate in “The Great American Shake” and learn how to shake hands, talk to grown-ups with confidence, and make eye-contace. My goal is that your child gains self-confidence and sees him or herself as brave and self-controlled.

I’m also revamping my classroom behavior system and going old-school. For minor misbehaviors, students will put their name on a clipboard (discreetly, not embarassingly) without consequence. Further misbehaviors earn check marks. One check will earn students laps at recess, two checks will result in loss of lunch recess and a silent lunch. I will erase the clipboard twice a day.

For more major misbehavior, our school has identified behaviors that require a student to be sent to the office. There are policies and procedure that McKinley, as a school, has in place. Those are in the handbook. If your child’s behavior starts to go south, you will hear from me. It won’t be a surprise (unless I’m surprised too!). Please consider no-news as good-news, if you are concerned. I’ll use your phone and/or Remind to contact you. (Please, please sign up for Remind!!)

Harder Academics

While observing 5th graders at the Ron Clark Academy, I saw students performing tasks that I would typically associate with 8th-9th grade. Those 5th graders had only been at RCA for 3 weeks and were not “special” prior to attending. I learned strategies and procedures to help me teach more effectively and for students to grow. I’m not aiming for exactly the same thing, but I think raising my expectations will better prepare your child for middle school.

I am going to start increasing the difficulty of my lessons in math. In order for your child to be successful, I’m offering after-school tutoring. My only requirements are these: 1) Your child needs to personally request tutoring and tell me what they need help in. 2) You’ll need to provide transportation. If your child requests tutoring, I’ll contact you.

I expect that the four areas above will largely balance, but that there will be a transition period where the change is difficult. Harder classwork & higher expectations will be hard in the short term but beneficial in the end. If you are concerned, let’s chat.

Conferences

Our scheduled parent-teacher conferences are Oct. 31st- Nov. 2nd, However, that is a long time to wait if you have a concern. Please, please contact me either via email, phone or Remind text if you have need. I know we both want the very best for your child.

I cannot be in all places at once, so often your child may tell you something that happened at school that I am unaware of. I want to know. Likewise, your child has a 10-year-old’s perspective on school. Very often, I don’t tell my students all my plans. Sometimes, educationally speaking, I bluff with an ace-high and other times I sit on a flush. If you’re concerned, I don’t mind showing my hand. Let’s work together. We both want the same thing! Your child achieving his or her best.

Sincerely,

Mark W. Kane

kanem@billingsschools.org

www.markwkane.com

P.S. Text “@kane2018” to 81010 to get on my text message service called Remind. You’ll get updates and can even text back. It works great.