I want to “hack” my Sunday Memo a bit and spotlight teachers and approaches that support our school’s commitment to “All Means All.” The teachers I’m spotlighting today are Debbie Tofte and Su Limbert. Both of them are creative teachers who bring high expectations and high support to our school community. I’m starting with Debbie and her focus on brain research and a growth mindset. Here’s Debbie’s explanation of her Friday Focus in 6th grade:
"Every Friday in our humanities class, we put a pause on current curriculum to spend time learning about ourselves as learners and middle school students. Debbie calls this Friday Focus and has designed focus units for her Friday Focus work. Her humanities class' current unit is Growth Mindset. In this unit, students learn about themselves as a learner and how their internal dialogue, "I can't do _____" impacts their thinking and self-concept. Students learn that by changing their words, they can change their mindset, especially when faced with adversity. There is much research around Growth Mindset and its power in success. Students begin to recognize that intelligence is something everyone can cultivate with the right mindset and habits. This photo represents the students' work around neuroscience and how the brain creates neural pathways as we learn. The student's "Brain Hats" allowed them to point to an area and know that area is responsible for logic and numbers, for example. As you can see, the kids had fun with their brains." You can learn more about the science behind growth mindset here: https://www.mindsetworks.com/Science/Default
Recently, students in Su Limbert's art club created an installation with a focus on taking a stand against bullying. This was their way to support our Upstander Revolution. Here are some of the quotes on the wall that her students chose as part of the installation:
- “What defines us is how well we rise after falling."
- “Stand up for what you believe in even if it means standing alone.”
- “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
In addition, students are able to take a picture in front of the installation to support this pledge: I pledge to be an upstander not a bystander.
Thank you to both Debbie and Su for creatively engaging students in the work of All Means All at CV. There are many examples of this work in our school and I will be asking you about examples to highlight in my Sunday Memo. If you have a great example, send me a quick synopsis and a photo and I'll include it in the Sunday Memo.
- Constructing Meaning training is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this week. Several staff members will be out of the building and will have substitutes. It won't be subpocalypse like last week, but it may impact student behavior.
- Wednesday is a teacher directed late-start.
- Our monthly Principal's Coffee is scheduled for Wednesday @ 9 AM in the staff room.
- Thursday evening is our monthly Parent Group meeting @ 6:30 PM.
- Thursday afternoon is another optional PL workshop @ 3 PM. The topic is Assistive Technology and Kim Silva is facilitating it.
- Friday is St. Patrick's Day! And Casey, Cass and I will be at a School Retool workshop all day. Stafford Boyd and Candace Pelt will be in the office to sub for us.
The spring weather might not be here yet, but the short attention spans, excess physical energy and loud voices are certainly here with the kids. It took me a couple of years to get the sheer physicality of middle school students - and now i know what to expect. We are all calming influences for their excess energy - so a kind but direct word or two will usually work - I've also found that my voice and body language is key to the calming effect. If I'm sharp and accusatory, the exchange might silence them, but it won't calm them. It will actually ramp them up. So, I have to be self-aware and regulate my own emotions. After 7 months of school, that's a challenge for the best of us. So, as we prepare for the last push after spring break, keeping our own balance is a great way to support our kids to be self-aware and self-regulating. Here's a great article from Edutopia about teaching balance to 1st graders:
The artist they studied is Michael Grab and you can google him - he's amazing.