September 22, 2020
Well we did it! We officially had four “first days of school” this year, where a different group of students had their first day in the building or followed a new remote learning schedule. We learned so much with each “first day” and each “first day” was smoother than the last. We acknowledge that from many perspectives, that things didn't go as well as they would at the beginning of a typical school year and we appreciate your patience and understanding. As students, faculty members, and families begin to follow the very new school routines, we expect that we will become more comfortable with the new normal.
It has been great walking through classes, both in person and virtually, these past couple of days. I am so impressed with how our students are adapting to the new expectations in all learning environments. I am constantly reflecting on how different our school days are. I am also remembering how much time and effort teachers spend at the beginning of the school year to teach students expectations, routines, and procedures. I would ask that you continue to be patient. Teachers have less time with students, the current routines and procedures are new and take more time to teach, and our students will need more time to learn them. With each day, the routines and procedures will become more ingrained, the relationships between students and teachers will continue to grow, and students will become more immersed in learning grade level content. The time we are investing with building relationships and establishing a foundation for learning will pay dividends as the school year progresses.
What We Have Learned
Here are a couple of points of clarification or reminders that we have learned during the first full week of school.
The morning arrival is going well. We continue to address transportation issues that are brought to our attention and hope that there are fewer bus issues as we head into the second week of school.
If you child is walking or riding their bike to school, please remind them to use the sidewalks and crosswalks at all times.
As anticipated, there is a high volume of cars picking students up at the end of the day. It takes us about 15 to 20 minutes to clear the pick-up traffic. We are noticing that the cars that arrive closer to 2:00 have much shorter wait times. Families are encouraged to arrive closer to 2:00, if possible. Students will be kept safe and supervised until they are picked up.
Early Birds Do Not Get the Worm
If a student tries to log in to a Google Meet session before the teacher, they will receive an error message stating that they are using an invalid meeting code. The code may be the correct code, but the meeting does not exist in the eyes of Google until the teacher logs in. Students are staying put throughout most of the day and teachers are moving from classroom to classroom. When teachers are teaching their at-home students in virtual classes, they are often relocating from an in-person classroom to a space that is available for them to run a virtual classroom. While we have a transition time in our schedule, it may take the teachers a few minutes to get the meeting up and running. Please remind you children not to sign in early and that if they are getting a meeting invalid error, that they give it a couple minutes and try again.
Teachers, like students, are sometimes not able to come to school because of illness, medical appointments, or personal business. We are doing our best to provide coverage for all classes, remote and in-person. In the case that we are not able to cover a remote class, we will be sending an email to students and families letting them know. If this happens, students should work on asynchronous learning activities assigned through Google Classroom.
Mission Statement and Core Values
Each year it is important that we review our mission and core values. These are values and aspirations that we have for all members of our community, including students, educators, family members, and community membersburl. We believe that our core values are more important now, more than ever.
Marshall Simonds Middle School provides rigorous learning opportunities that encourage all to develop their intellectual and creative potential. All in the MSMS community are inspired by the diversity that enriches both our school community and the world beyond. Everyone is challenged to grow socially, emotionally, and academically while promoting human dignity, acting with compassion and integrity, pursuing passions and interests, and seeking ways to improve our community and beyond.
We Persevere through challenges in spite of obstacles
We have Respect for human difference
We act with Integrity by doing the right thing, even when no one is watching
We welcome and celebrate all members of our Diverse community
We are Empathetic, we try to understand how others feel and respond with kindness
Beginning of the School Year Paperwork
Beginning today, students were given a number of important forms that require your attention. Please review the information, complete, and return the various forms at your earliest convenience. For students in the fully remote model, these forms will be mailed to your home and we ask that you return them to school (you can drop them off, they do not have to be mailed) at your earliest convenience.
Forms that must be returned:
Student Data Form
Free & Reduced Lunch Form
Emergency Medical Information Form
BPS Daily Home Screening Policy
Back to School Nights (virtual edition)
We are excited to provide families the opportunity to meet their child’s teachers and learn about the curricular program at Marshall Simonds Middle School. There are three different evening events scheduled:
Grade 6, Thursday, September 24
Grade 7, Tuesday, September 29
Grade 8, Thursday, October 1
These events will begin at 6:00 pm and will conclude around 7:20 pm. We will be sending out team specific emails to families the day before the event (Monday morning for the Tuesday event or Wednesday morning for the Thursday events). This email will have a link to a team specific Webex meeting. If you do not receive an email, first check your spam/junk folder and then call the main office.
We are excited to have Mrs. Lauren Aceto, a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, join us this year as an administrative intern. While Mrs. Aceto completes her course work, she will be spending a few days each week at MSMS, observing and assisting the MSMS administrative team.
Student Schedules (Aspen Update)
Student schedules can now be seen in the Aspen Student Portal. On a desktop or laptop, the schedule can be found by clicking on the Family Tab, then clicking on the student’s name, and then clicking on the schedule side tab. If you are accessing Aspen on a mobile device, first click on the three bars in the top left corner of the screen, and then select “View Full Site.” You can then click on the Family Tab, then on the student’s name, and then on the schedule side tab.
We are still making some adjustments to schedules to include additional support and services. We hope to have this complete by the end of next week. Please reach out to your child’s guidance counselor if you believe there is an error or you have a concern regarding your child’s schedule.
If you have trouble accessing Aspen, do not know your account information or need your account reset, please send a message to the Student Information Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make sure to include your child’s name, school, and grade level in your message.
Remote Learning Assistance
Please remember that when your child is participating in their remote learning days (completing asynchronous learning activities), their teachers are likely teaching a group of in-person students. If they have a question and they email their teacher, the teacher will not be able to get back to them immediately.
If a student has a question during their remote learning days, they may “Phone”-a-Teacher. Most times during the day (schedule can be found here), we will have a teacher or other member of our faculty available to answer questions for students. While these teachers may not have the exact assignment that the student is working on, they will be able to help clarify directions and help the student get unstuck. Students can access this support with their BPS account at meet.google.com and use the meeting nickname MSMSHelp. If your child gets an error code that says that meeting code is invalid, that means the adult is not in the virtual meeting space yet. They should wait a few minutes and try again.
Digital Learning Website
With remote learning being a part of every student’s daily learning plan, the need to be familiar with and understand technology has increased. The district’s Digital Learning Team has created a website to catalogue a number of resources for families. This is a great first stop if your child is having trouble with the iPad, Google Classroom, Google Meet, or other commonly used applications.
Digital Learning Session
The BPS EdTech Team will host a Middle School and High School Technology Q&A Session on Thursday, September 24 at 7:00pm. Please join members of the technology integration team to learn more about our Foundational Apps, iPads, and accessing student technology resources.
Meeting link and details will be posted on the BPS Digital Learning Site soon.
MSMS has a long standing reputation for having an excellent music program. Because of the increased risks associated with band instruments and singing and the need to minimize student cohorts mixing, we needed to remove ensemble groups from our current schedule. This change does not reflect our belief about performance groups and we have been working with our music department to identify ways to make our ensemble groups (band, orchestra, and chorus) part of our remote learning schedule. We are excited to report that beginning on Wednesday, October 7, we will begin to have virtual rehearsals. Please mark your calendars for an informational meeting for students on Wednesday, September 30th. More information will be forthcoming.