Required compliance training for campus staff available online

Campus-based employees are reminded that required compliance training on a variety of health and safety topics is available online this school year. The sessions range from bloodborne pathogens, bullying and child abuse to suicide prevention, sexual harassment and type II diabetes. All campus employees are required to complete the compliance training by Sept. 30, 2018. A list of the online sessions and instructions to register are available here. Completed courses will appear on employees’ transcripts. Staff should direct questions to Jennell Johnson-Polk at (972) 925-3379. Similar training planned for central staff will be communicated at a later date.

Social and Emotional Learning training helps teachers ‘focus on the whole child’

It’s Monday morning, and a group of Dallas ISD teachers are learning how to use a Mood Meter, which will help them recognize their own—and their students’—emotions.

One of the summer professional learning sessions happening July 23 at W.H. Adamson High School is part of a continued district focus on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), which helps students develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to be successful in school, work and life. Through the Mood Meter, for example, students can reflect, name, and label their emotions in an effort to practice self-awareness, social awareness, and self-management. This helps the students practice the skills needed for success with support from their teacher.

There are 120 Dallas ISD campuses this school year that have partnered with the Student Engagement and Counseling Services Department to engage in a series of SEL professional learning sessions. These campuses have committed to implementing SEL signature practices. This summer, SEL professional learning sessions have also been made available to campus administrators and teachers across the district.

“There’s tremendous evidence showing campuses that implement SEL practices see a significant reduction in discipline incidents. ” said Juany Valdespino-Gaytan, Executive Director of Student Engagement and Counseling Services for Dallas ISD’s Teaching and Learning. “Campuses are excited about integrating SEL into their instruction and practices, and we can expect to see much more positive academic and classroom experiences for students.”

The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees in 2016 adopted a policy requiring SEL curriculum standards to supplement the TEKS, and guidance for teaching SEL. For campus leaders such as Dan D. Rogers Elementary Principal Lisa Lovato, the benefits are clear: students learn better when they feel better.

“Focusing on social and emotional learning helps us develop the whole child,” Lovato said. “And by focusing on the whole child, we are setting our students up for success.”

Districtwide program aims to boost consistency in teaching curriculum

About 1,500 Dallas ISD school employees convened on July 25 at Wilmer-Hutchins High School to officially kick off a districtwide program to foster best classroom practices by emphasizing teamwork.

Campus Instructional Leadership Teams (CILT) are made up of five people, including the principal and teachers, and will help guide a more effective and consistent implementation of curriculum across the district. The CILT program had previously existed, but had been shelved the past few years.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and members of his Executive Leadership Team touted the benefits of working together to help ensure the best results for students. After hearing from district officials, CILT members broke into smaller sessions based on grade level and subject to focus on specifics.

The kickoff will be followed by five additional CILT group meetings before each six-week grading period begins to pinpoint what aspects of the curriculum will be the focus.

Principal’s passion sparks direction for new IGNITE Middle School

While enrolled in medical school and doing night rounds at a hospital, Michael Gayles came to a life-changing decision: he would follow his dream of becoming an educator.

After graduating from medical school, Gayles went on to serve as a teacher at North Dallas High School and, several years later, as an assistant principal at T.W. Browne Middle School. Today, Gayles is helping open and serving as principal at IGNITE Middle School, the new Dallas ISD Personalized Learning transformation campus opening in August.

For Gayles, his goal for IGNITE Middle School is simple: help students envision their best possible life, and set them on the path toward making that life a reality.

“Growing up I didn’t have anyone who helped me think about what I was passionate about or possible career paths I could pursue,” Gayles said. “What I’m most excited about is how Ignite Middle School will help students discover their passions at an early age.”

IGNITE Middle School is seeing tremendous interest: more than 700 incoming sixth-graders applied for what was originally 150 seats. Due to the high interest, the campus increased its inaugural class to 230 students.

IGNITE Middle School is a Personalized Learning campus that will provide individualized instruction, not only based on each student’s academic needs, but also on their interests and goals. The students will take field trips to high schools, colleges and workplaces to help them better envision their future.

“The most important resource in a child’s educational life is their own potential. If we can ignite that potential, they will be unstoppable,” Gayles said. “Ignite is dedicated to helping students discover their super powers.”

IGNITE Middle School is opening thanks to the Office of Transformation and Innovation’ Public School Choice Competitive Proposal Process. The process gives educators the chance to create high-quality, best-fit options for Dallas ISD students to realize their full academic potential.

The Public School Choice Competitive Proposal Process, Version 5.0, is currently underway for any educator interested in rebranding their campus or designing a new choice school.