Back to School Letter to Students and Parents

Dear Students and Parents,

Can you believe it? Another school year is upon us! I am extremely excited to begin the new school year with you next week.  Yes, August 21st is YOUR first day; yet, I have been working hard all of July and August to make this school year amazing for all of us.

I believe in fresh starts and new beginnings. I want to let YOU know that YOU MATTER to me: I want you to enter my classroom with a smile, feel the joy of learning, and leave my class filled with confidence and a passion for becoming the best YOU can be.  I truly believe that EVERY student has a genius within and I will motivate and encourage you to utilize that genius to be a successful student as well as a successful member of society.

I want you to TRY your best and learn from all your first attempts. I’m a firm believer in FAIL before you SAIL, which means First Attempt In Learning leads to Successful Attempt In Learning. Learning is a process that requires time and effort and I expect you to try your best so that you can show yourself and the rest of the world how intelligent and capable you are. Yes, we all make mistakes; and it’s our duty to learn from our mistakes so that we progress and improve.  I’m not perfect and I don’t expect perfection, but I do expect you to work hard and show the world your genius!

I promise to value your opinion and your thoughts.  Please be honest with me when you are struggling or need extra help on a concept.  I am here to assist you in the learning process. And, I ask you to promise me (and yourself) to NEVER GIVE UP and continue striving for the best you can be. I believe in you and I know you can achieve greatness. Let’s make it happen together!

Parents and Guardians: I hope we can work together to ensure that your child has a successful school year. I truly believe that education is a team effort and I will look to you for advice about how to assist your child and I want you to always feel welcome to contact me with any questions or concerns.  Better communication leads to better education! Together we can unleash major potential and overcome any challenge. Let’s make this school year the best and fill it with laughter, learning, and love!

I want to make you aware of two major components of my classroom beliefs that will impact your child’s learning:

1: I do NOT believe in homework: Students are expected to work diligently in class.  Students will have time to revise and redo assignments to improve their learning. As long as students use class time effectively; there is no reason to work at home.  I will not assign homework. I will assign assessments and expect students to follow the timeline.  And, we will work together in class, so I can guide them to do their best. I want my students successful, not stressful!

 2: Students are assessed with Standards Based Grading: In an effort to further emphasis student learning, growth, and achievement, students’ grades will be calculated based on the standards-based assessment model in my classroom.  The basic goal of standards based grading/learning is that students have formative assignments, which are meant for practice of skills.  Then, their summative assignments are worth the most because they are assessing the students’ mastery of skills, concepts, and learning. I truly believe that students are different and some may need more time or re-direction to master a skill or unit; yet, I don’t believe that students should be penalized for learning differently.  I expect them to learn in my classroom; therefore, it makes no sense that they would understand everything prior to class.  Along with the Standards Based Grading Model, I will assign formative work and we will use these practice assignments to learn and grow so students become more and more comfortable with reading, writing, researching, and presenting skills for our curriculum; yet, formative work will be worth 0% of their grade. This does NOT mean they shouldn’t do the work.  We all need practice before we master a concept.  For example, in sports there is practice and there are the actual meets and games against opposing teams.  The team’s season score is counted by their actual games/meets; it is NOT counted on their practice times or games.  Same with my class.  They will practice, learn, and practice some more before they truly understand the curriculum.  Yet, I do not want to penalize them for their mistakes made during learning.  Nobody deserves that stress. The summative work they do, like essays and presentations will be worth 90% of their grade.  Yes, they will be encouraged to revise and redo their work until they attain a successful grade.  I will not accept incomplete work and I expect passing grades from all my students. The goal is to learn, not just to do meaningless work. Ultimately, as long as students take time to reflect, learn, revise, and redo work to truly learn from their mistakes and master the concepts, every child should be earning A’s and B’s in my class.  The other 10% of their grade is the semester final.

Summer 2017 READING Choices:

Yes, each book exemplifies a JTHS Character Attribute.

Perseverance:              A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer (1993)

Responsibility:              Trinity by Jonathan Fetter-Vorn (2012)

Respect:                       The First Part Last by Angela Johnson (2003)

Integrity:                      Unwind by Neal Shusterman (2007)

Confidence:                   Gabi A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2014)

Compassion:                 Every Day by David Levithan (2012)

Tolerance:                     Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)

Please visit  to learn more about these summer reading books.  The best info is towards the bottom of the padlet source. Enjoy your learning.

(I wanted to remind you about summer reading.  Yes, you should have read at LEAST 1 of these books this summer.  We will begin discussing them the first week of school.  And, I truly believe in setting a positive example, so….even though you only have to read one of these books, I was determined to read all 7 of them.  I want to be able to have conversations with ALL of you about ALL of the books. Yes, I actually read all seven of these books and highlighted some interesting parts for class discussion.  If I can do it, I know you can do it. Anyone up for the challenge to read more than 1 book?!)

Set yourself up for success!  It’s never too late to start being awesome!

 Can’t wait to meet you,

Mrs. Maslowski

twitter @jthsmaslowski

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