Principal Weekly Wrap Up

October 11, 2015

OAP Mission Statement:

To provide a collaborative learning community that prepares students for the future.

One, two, three...

Good evening bus riders. I gave myself permission to step away from writing an educational piece tonight. I have had quite an eventful weekend. On Fridays, I call my parents just to check on them and to keep us connected. During my conversation with my father on Friday, he revealed to me his sister in Connecticut, my aunt, lost a toe due to diabetes and had a stroke on Wednesday after her surgery. Later on Friday evening, I received a phone call from my father to share more news, his brother in Georgia, my uncle, had a heart attack (his heart stopped twice) and the family was told he may not make it. I was still dealing with the first punch in the gut and now had to find a way to deal with the second punch. The third punch was a round-house kick to the heart having to hear the hurt in my parent's voices over the phone and not being able to take away their pain. I am reminded many times in our profession that I am human and often times forced to walk away feeling helpless when an issue cannot be resolved. It bothers me I cannot resolve this for them...for us. This is a trial designed to see what my family and I are made of. We are leaning on the strength needed to get through.

We have trials on our campus right now testing our willingness to stay connected as family. We all know the show must go on regardless. I am not discouraged at all, I truly believe in your teamwork. I know it is hard. You are human. Lean on the strength of the campus to lift each other up, despite the challenges it bring on a daily basis.

Thank you for allowing me a moment to step outside of my normal format tonight.

Your bus driver, Jofee' "Joy" Tremain. :)

Journal Writing- week 4

Deliberate Optimism: Can we model what we are asking of our students? Reflective thinking and capturing our thoughts on paper.

Please join me this week in reflecting on the following question:

Use the clock you created during our staff meeting. Seek out your 12:00 person and check on them this week. In your reflection, jot down how you accomplished this goal and how it made you feel. If you were not at the staff meeting, locate 4 people on campus (not within your department/grade level) and assign them a time (12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00) just like on a clock.

Who is stirring the pot of happiness at Peterson?

We ran out of time to recognize our first group. Next time we will honor the agenda. The group will be recognized this week. Drum roll please, who is it going to be??????

If you have observed someone on campus exhibiting our mission statement and would like for them to receive Rock Star status, please email me . Feel free to nominate anyone on campus (ALL 74 faculty and staff members are eligible to receive this honor).

Getting a new twitter account for Peterson.

@PetersonElem (no longer valid account, setting up a new account soon). You can still use the #oapelem. Please remove twitter handle until further notice from your email signature. Once the new account is created, we will update you.

Gallery Walk (Student and Staff Engagement)

October 5-9 , 2015

First Grade SBBB at Admin. WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!

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TED Talk Education

Building Wide Positive Behavior Support Incentive Proposal

Tickets will be given each week to staff members and asked to observe building-wide expectations. Focus on students not in your grade. When a student receives a ticket, tell them why they met the expectation. The student will write their name on the ticket. At the end of the day, tickets should be sent to the office (when ride change folders are picked up). Tickets will go into a basket. On Fridays, we will select names out of the basket to be recognized for expectations being observed. We will use a system to help us determine how many names to call. Students will shop in the store. Remaining students in the basket will receive a character pencil. All students will sign the autograph book of Expectations, this book will be used for us to determine models for new students or models for current students needing peer support. It will also show us data regarding our expectations. The PBS Committee will use the data to help determine strengths and weaknesses of our building wide expectations. Student photos taken to display on our Tweet wall.

If all are on board, we could begin this week. Please email me if there are questions and/or if additional time is needed in order to be on board. This incentive can only work if we all are willing to try.

Review Hallway Expectations This Week

Food for thought-

What are your classroom expectations in conjunction with our building wide expectations? How are your students modeling being kind, being respectful and being responsible?

Are your classroom expectations higher or lower than the grade level? Than the building?

Article Worth Reviewing

Working Memory 101

“What is the most important lesson that the brain sciences have for schools?” ask Andrew Watson (Translate the Brain) and Michael Wirtz and Lynette Sumpter (St. Mark’s School) in this article in Independent School. “The answer: Teachers must understand and actively manage their students’ working memory.” This facet of memory is distinct from declarative memory (factual information) and procedural memory (how to do things); working memory is what allows us to hold onto a few pieces of information for several seconds and reorganize them into a new system or structure. “Schools are, in effect, shrines built to honor successful working memory functioning,” say Watson, Wirtz, and Sumpter. “Students simply can’t think and learn without using working memory all the time.” The problem is that working memory is surprisingly small – most people can hold only 5-7 items in mind at the same time. If we ask students to remember verbal instructions, that information takes up working memory capacity and reduces students’ ability to think and learn. As classroom teachers, the authors confess, “we paid little attention to a cognitive capacity that is essential for our students’ learning. For this reason, we probably overwhelmed our students’ working memory without ever realizing we had done so.” It’s essential, they say, that educators “develop our own expertise in the field of working memory – understand what it is, how it differs from, and contributes to, long-term memory… [and] explicitly discuss and develop teaching techniques to support our students’ cognition within their limited working memory capacity.”

Here are some classroom and homework activities that often risk swamping students’ working memory capacity:

*Too much new information at once;

  • Too many new combinations of information at once;

  • Verbal instructions, especially if they’re long or complex;

  • Work combining cognitive and creative effort;

  • Here is how students often react when their working memory is on overload:

  • Difficulty remembering some information while processing other information – for example, long multiplication;

  • Atypical difficulties with attention;

  • “Catastrophic failure” – difficulty adding just one simple step to several previous steps.

    And here are the authors’ suggestions for addressing problems with working memory:

  • Make information visual. “Humans have much more brain real estate devoted to visual processing than to all our other senses combined,” they say. “Visual depiction reduces working memory demands.” This means maximizing the use of photos and videos, flowcharts and diagrams, or simply writing down complicated instructions.

  • Manage note-taking. “If students are trying to understand an idea at the same time they’re writing notes, those two processes compete with each other in working memory,” say Watson, Wirtz, and Sumpter. “As a result, they’re likely not to do either very well.” One strategy is to ask students to put their pencils or pens down (or stop typing) when you’re explaining new, complex, or important ideas, then have students write notes in silence (with the teacher circulating to monitor what’s being written).

  • Redistribute working memory demands across longer periods of time.

  • “Chunk” material – organize it into an already-familiar pattern.

  • Explicitly teach strategies – for example, Treviso multiplication.

  • Reduce pressure from time, grades, and peers.

  • Reduce stress, especially using mindfulness.

  • Regularly emphasize that struggle is normal.

  • Reduce attention distractions in the classroom.

  • Promote attention by reinforcing conceptual frameworks.

    A teacher at St. Mark’s School wrote the following after being exposed to the research on working memory: “I used to think that pushing the bounds of memory was helpful, much like how lifting weights makes you stronger in the long run. I learned it is quite the opposite with working memory, and that overtaxing it can cause our students to shut down. As a result, I have tried to provide more visual cues, word banks, fewer choices, etc., so that students focus on the most important task at hand, instead of trying to juggle too many pieces of information in their working memories.” Another teacher wrote, “I’ve learned how small and essential working memory is. When planning my lessons, I’m much more intentional about looking for areas where I risk overwhelming working memory. I know what to look for during a lesson to see if students are reaching the point of overload and how to change things up to get them back on track.”

“Putting Memory to Work” by Andrew Watson, Michael Wirtz, and Lynette Sumpter in Independent School, Fall 2015 (Vol. 75, #1, p. 56-60),; the authors can be reached at,, and

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