Mill Creek Middle School Principal Jamie Bronson and Assistant Principal Brett Pederson hold a monthly “Coffee Hour” where parents are invited to come and chat informally about what’s happening at Mill Creek.
Here are the notes from their Tuesday, November 13, 2018 Coffee Hour discussion.
Introductions (Share out name, child’s name and team)
Parents also discussed team names and how creative they can get. Unbeknownst to admin apparently one of our teams “Road Work Ahead” has a connection with a Vine video. One parent discussed how whenever they pass a “Road Work Ahead” sign they get to hear their children reference it. (A great eye roll was given by the parent as it is ALL the time!) LOL!
See the video Vine – Road Work Ahead
Parent Teacher Conferences
Parents brought up student led conferences and some parents shared that they enjoyed the format while others mentioned they wished they had more face time with teachers. Jami shared that conferences can be a very challenging thing once students move beyond only having one primary teacher. The format that Mill Creek has adopted has evolved over time and is intended for greater exposure to the entire team of teachers while also empowering the student to be a part of the process as it’s their education.
A parent shared that they wished they had some time to speak to the teachers without the student present as there may be sensitive items to share. Admin appreciated the feedback from parents and indicated that they would share with the teachers. They shared that Mill Creek teachers are highly reflective and are always modifying conferences in an attempt to meet the needs of everyone. Parents indicated they understood that there is a finite amount of time to meet and also indicated often the parent’s themselves only have a small amount of time to meet. It is a constant balance of allocating time to be fair to all parties involved.
The parents shared that they appreciated how teachers expressed that if they didn’t get enough time they were happy to set up later times to meet or to connect via email.
Traditional, Hybrid, and Full Summit, Oh my!
A parent asked how things were going with offering three different types of delivery models with instruction. Jami indicated that things seemed to be going smooth and that parent feedback has been that parents very much appreciated having a say in where their student was placed. Admin has shared that this has greatly increased the man hours it takes to schedule the whole building but that they like that parents have a say in the decision making process. Mill Creek will continue to try to offer options as long as there is demand for delivery models.
A parent shared that there seems to be some divisiveness with parents regarding the delivery model that they chose. The parent has a student in the Summit model and she mentioned that on occasion a non-Summit parent has been less than friendly after hearing the team that she is on. Another parent agreed and said that it appears that sometimes people are judging you based on the delivery model you’ve placed your child in. Lastly, a different parent shared this really isn’t an issue with kids, as most kids don’t care as long as they are placed with friends and that this is a parent issue and perhaps a sign of the community that we all need to reflect on.
Brett and Jami shared that this was unfortunate to hear as this really shouldn’t be a divisive issue. You know your kids best and they are all receiving a great education. Jami and Brett reiterated that all Mill Creek teachers, regardless of platform, are excellent and that you can’t go wrong with any team or delivery model. At this time the district supports offering a variety of delivery models and parents need to meet students’ needs. They shared that a long time ago one family’s success was a victory for the entire community but that all too often now there is a competitive environment amongst households when it comes to academic achievement and extracurriculars.
Jami shared a conversation that dovetailed well with this discussion that took place last year at our November Coffee Hour…..See discussion summary below in italics from November, 2017:
“Facebook And The Fear of Being Judged”
Much time was spent talking about adult Facebook posts and the need to present an image. One parent shared, “People don’t see from my vacation photos with me arguing with my daughter to get one picture where she smiles. However, when I post pictures it looks like we are having the best vacation ever!” The other parents laughed and quickly related to those battles with their children. Parents also shared, “I am afraid to be honest and share my kid may have struggled on a test as I would then be judged.” Jami shared a lot of parents reach out to us about this problem. They want to be real and genuine with neighbors and friends but worry greatly that they will be judged. Jami shared it creates pressure on families and parents to keep up with others.”
A Counseling Newsletter was sent out last year that addresses these issues.
A parent asked about the use of Canvas on the traditional team. Canvas has replaced teacher websites as a means to keep resources and calendars available online. It has the capacity for students to turn in assignments and receive grades but right now teachers are using it as a way to provide their class resources online. Some teachers at the high school are using it as well as many universities in the area. We have a few graduates of the Michigan MAP program and their classes all used Canvas.
A parent brought up chromebooks and asked if there was a policy regarding the amount of time and use spent on them. Admin shared that the staff has been engaged in a great deal of discussion over the past year about using technology in a deliberate fashion when needed. Teachers are cognizant of excessive screen time and try to make sure that when they use computers it’s for a specific purpose. Brett and Jami shared that the biggest issues with screen time and inappropriate use of technology still centers the most on cell phones. Our experts from MSU that came to speak about technology and mental health last year indicated that the excessive screen time use is happening outside of school hours on non-school related activities. With this being said the staff is very deliberate in how they use screen time and don’t take that responsibility lightly.
Jami shared that there are some families that do not want their child bringing home their chromebook and we keep the chromebooks here at school so that they don’t have to fight that battle or monitor their use.
The Great Deer Incident Of 2018
The topic of the deer incident last week came up with the group. One parent shared that a Channel 7 reporter was asking their child questions in downtown even though they were not on the bus. The student indicated that one of their friends was on the bus and the reporter asked if they could text them and get them there. Not surprisingly the parent was not happy with this interaction. Another parent chimed in that the news crew was really honed in on finding upset parents and sensationalizing the event. Several parents shared that they were surprised that this was such big news. One parent shared that they hoped the bus driver was not in trouble as they understood the intent of their actions. They appreciated the very direct and transparent email that the district sent out.
Mill Creek Secretaries
A parent shared that they are always so impressed when they sit in the office and watch all the juggling that must take place by our secretaries. They deal with medical emergencies, parent requests, phone calls, documentation and the list goes on and on. Brett and Jami agreed and reinforced that we have amazing secretaries. Sitting in for them is one of the hardest jobs in the building. They are on the front line of everything that happens in the building and we appreciate everything they do for our kids!
Growth Mindset and Resilience
Parents also shared how much they like the emphasis of teachers to develop a growth mindset with students. A parent shared that they try to instill the growth mindset at home as well but it can be very challenging. One parent shared that they almost want to give teachers a disclaimer sometimes and tell them “I’m trying to have my kid work this out on their own, don’t worry I’m watching.”
Brett echoed how he is trying to instill a growth mindset with his own children and that it is indeed challenging as a parent. It’s not fun to watch your kid struggle and get upset when faced with obstacles but he knows he has to let them work through it. He referenced a book that he and Jami read this summer called “How To Raise An Adult: Break Free Of The Over-parenting Trap And Prepare Your Kid For Success” by Julie Lythcott-Hames, a Stanford Admissions Dean. The book highlights how over-parenting and over involvement is a real detriment to a child becoming an independent adult with perseverance. The book pointed out that over-parenting and over involvement doesn’t raise independent adults but older kids that still need their parents for most decisions and phases in their life including but not limited to job searches and negotiating a pay raise in their professional life! The book highlights that a casualty of over parenting is adults that struggle with problem solving skills and emotional and professional resilience. It’s an interesting read if you have the time and will definitely make you more measured in your approach to parenting to the benefit of your child.
Camp/DC Stories and Pictures
A parent shared how much they enjoyed the emails from camp and the pictures that Jami shared on social media. Often times these are passed on to various family members and give a nice snapshot of student trips. Jami shared that she really enjoys sharing the stories and pictures with families. She shared that it can be a double edged sword as frequently parents will email her on the DC trip with complaints like “Bus 7 has only had 2 pictures posted and Bus 3 has had 10 pictures posted.” She indicated that often times she may be addressing a medical emergency or other issue that she needs to address, only to find emails with an upset parent that hasn’t seen their child in a photo yet. Jami indicated that she understands the desire to see your child in a picture but that parents need to keep in mind that there are other things going on beyond just emailing stories and posting pictures when traveling with half the school across the country. A parent chimed in that they couldn’t imagine supervising and traveling to DC with that many kids. Yes folks, it’s a big undertaking…but we love it!
Summit And DHS
Some of the parents attending coffee hour have students that are on the Summit Platform. They indicated it was a very good fit for their student and have a desire for them to continue on with Summit in the high school. They asked if Summit was available at any high schools and if it would ever be offered at DHS some day. Jami and Brett shared that Summit originated at a California high school. They didn’t know if there were plans to offer it at the high school but that a group of parents have communicated to them that they would like to see it offered at the high school. Brett and Jami indicated that the best course of action would be to reach out to DHS admin to ask questions related to high school programming. A caveat to remember is that implementing something like Summit takes time and is not something that can happen overnight.
Support Group For Parents
One parent shared that they would love a support group for parents that share the common rules of no cell phones and no social media. One parent shared there is a program called, “Wait Until 8th” (8th grade).
They indicated how hard it can be to enforce rules that don’t allow personal cell phones and social media. They wanted to know of other parents so that they could galvanize. The parents joked about how crafty kids can get with negotiating why they need a cell phone or access to social media. The parents shared that kids will use all the leverage possible to try to shift their parents position and rules.
Parents may want to check out the Archives at Tech Talk Tuesday or sign up for the blog.
Next Coffee Hour – December 11, 2018 – 6:30 – 7:30 pm
There is so much to be thankful for….We hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Jami and Brett