January 30, 2017

Superintendent’s Message

 Oops! We did it again!

I have only gone to Helena twice in the last two weeks, but there is a chance GFPS has come up a little more than that in the halls of the Capitol and in the halls of OPI.  Here’s why:
  • Thanks to Principal Uecker and a couple of his students, GFPS provided testimony at the hearing on a bill that would provide funding for 19-year olds.  Lots of legislators don’t want to pay for the education of students who just need a little more time.
  • We held a press conference with United Way that not only released our drop-out and on-time graduation rates, but also made it clear that we would continue with the Graduation Matters initiative with or without OPI and our new Superintendent of Public Instruction’s support.
  • I asked hard questions of Superintendent Arntzen about the so-called ACT testing issue at the Board of Public Education meeting week before last.  The free ACT test is a good thing for our students.
  • At the Elementary Principals’ Conference held here in Great Falls last week, I asked Ms. Arntzen if she could see a way forward for funding preschool.  When she answered that she wouldn’t “impede” it if the Legislature passed it, I told her I was “disheartened” by that answer.  I happen to think that because it would be her job to support the laws that she was elected to implement, that she would actually advocate for it if it were to be passed.  My comments have not been without criticism.  You can see some here as well as my response: http://ecitybeat.com/showboatin/.
While I never want to distract from the hard and important work we do every day to ensure that our students achieve to their highest potential, I also will never cower from saying and doing what I believe is right for our kids, for all kids, and for every kid.  I know that there are many of you that feel the same way and that you speak up in your own ways.  I thank you for proving again and again that GFPS will be on the right side of history. That we will always advocate for our students and for the public education they deserve.  Oops!  We did it again…and we’re going to keep doing it!
Take care.  Be safe.  Stay well.

MIET Tech Days

The MIET (Montana Institute on Educational Technology) Tech Days Conference is coming June 13 and 14, 2017 at Great Falls College MSU, and we need awesome presenters. 
Are you interested in being a facilitator? If so, let us know by filling out the form at the link below. Presenters will be compensated $75 for each hour and fifty-minute (110 minute) session they facilitate.
The Call for Presenters will be open until February 10, 2017.
(you may need to copy and paste the link into a browser)

If you have any questions about the conference or about presenting, please contact Katie Kotynski or Charlene Ammons, Co-Chairs, MIET Board. 

Continuing Education Courses – MSU-Northern


MSU-Northern has partnered with VESi to provide online
courses that provide graduate or undergraduate level credit.
Courses offered for 2 or 3 Graduate and
Undergraduate level credits with fees of just $285.

Email Etiquette, Issue II

This is the second of a series of recommendations on e-mail etiquette.  Today’s topic is on general formatting, addressing, content and tone when sending an e-mail.
  • Formalities help the sender appear professional. Formalities like an introductory “Hi James,” or “Dear Mr. Smith,” can have a big influence on how professional and courteous the sender seems. Even though this may seem unnecessary to some, it can affect how the message and the sender are perceived.
  • Tone matters and can be misinterpreted. It pays to read a message out loud and assess whether there is any chance for misinterpretation—rewording if necessary.
  • E-mail is not right for every type of message. For example, e-mail is not the place for a discussion that is overly long; this type of e-mail may not even get read and may exasperate the recipient. Remember that e-mails are often read on mobile devices—which exacerbates the problem with an overly-long message. Also, if you have a continuing e-mail conversation that has exchanged 5 or 6 times without conclusion, it may be best to pick up the phone or have a face to face discussion.
  • Context is helpful, even if the e-mail is a continuation of another conversation. E-mails may be referenced later when that conversation is long forgotten. Good e-mail etiquette dictates that a little context benefits both sender and receiver. It also shows that the sender is being courteous by not assuming the receiver will automatically understand and remember without context.
  • E-mail is forever. That means that what an employee or employer says now can be brought up later—both in company discussions and in legal matters. Choose words carefully. An e-mail absolutely can be grounds for dismissal if it shows evidence of significantly inappropriate behavior. E-mails can be used as evidence in legal matters, too—and just because it is deleted at the sender’s computer does not mean it’s gone.
  • How an employee comes across in e-mail will impact coworkers. If an employee is particularly curt or rude, it can make for an exhausting work environment and hurt productivity and morale. Think twice before sending a rude message, even when you are angry. It’s good practice to avoid e-mailing whenever tensions are high or whenever you are upset.
  • Clear and accurate subject lines are beneficial in helping the recipient with context. They should clearly indicate the subject and possibly even the required action. Having a clear and accurate subject line also helps with organizing messages and with the ability to search for the conversation in the future. Subject lines should be changed and/or a new e-mail thread started if the conversation changes to a new topic.
  • Correct spelling and punctuation. E-mails with typos are simply not taken as seriously and could even be interpreted as spam or phishing. Use proper and complete sentence structure. Start e-mails with a greeting (Hello, Dear, etc.) and end with a closing (Thank you, Sincerely, etc.).
  • Refrain from using Reply All. If the reply does not pertain to all the recipients, do not use Reply All. Saying “Thank you” to all when it was intended for the original sender is not appropriate and generally sets off an email storm increasing others e-mail unnecessarily.
  • Signature block. Keep signature blocks simple and limit to name, job title, company name, address and phone number.