Gator Gazette

Expect Success for All

Welcome Back!

I hope all of you had a peaceful spring break and were able to spend time with your family and friends. I know I did. Now it is time to get back to work and get our 3rd and 4th graders prepped for the up and coming STAAR tests. I have asked team leaders and support staff to talk their teams about helping with Saturday tutorials. We are looking at March 28, April 11 and April 18. They will be from 9:00-12:00. If you are willing to volunteer and help out, there will be a sign up sheet outside Cindy's office. I am planning on meeting with the 3rd and 4th grade teams during their conference and planning time tomorrow to discuss as well as my admin team in the afternoon to get a plan in place. Remember, these are our students. Together, we can help our students to be successful.

We want your pictures!

I would love to make an album of your spring break fun. Please upload your photos at



The password is Gators.

This is new to me. I hope it works. I know the space is limited so please don't add a bevy of photos. Add a few of your favorites. Let's share our great experiences with each other that we had during spring break.

Reduce Testing Anxiety

This is the time of year we all need to be supportive of our 3rd and 4th graders. Testing anxiety is a real thing. Here are some tips I found online you can do to help our students out. Make certain you read to number 13 because I find that one to be extremely important.

1. Keep Communication Open

Communication is the single most important thing you can do for your students. Create open channels for them to come to you for support, advice, counsel, etc. In both group and individual settings, you can offer your wisdom and experience in dealing with daily stress in your own life. This mentorship approach will build safety in the classroom and help the students to feel like you are on their side.

2. Flexible Assignments

Instead of assigning homework every night, assign a packet of homework and let them decide when to complete the work. With extracurricular activities like sports and music, some nights it might be impossible to do homework without it impacting their sleep. This way they can catch up on the weekends or on a night with less to do.

3. Teach Time Management

If you follow the above advice, it is important to go over with your students how to manage their time. Some kids will be overwhelmed with trying to divide and conquer a big project so practice setting goals in the classroom so it’s more manageable for them at night.

4. Grade Effort As Well As Product

Effort is often the redheaded stepchild of product, but it shouldn’t be. Some kids will work diligently for hours and only be able to produce an average grade. Other students will work ¼ of the time and produce an A+ grade. This can be demoralizing for those students who are putting forth so much effort. Even if you work in a school where grades must reflect a certain level of aptitude (thus limiting your ability to assign an “effort” score), you can offer other awards for those who’ve worked hard.

5. Help Them To See The Bigger Picture

It’s so easy to get pulled into the present so intensely that you forget the bigger picture. Kids who get stressed out easily forget that the assignment they are pulling their hair out about is really quite small in the grand scheme of things. Offer a lighthearted tale about your failures as a student and help them to see the bigger picture.

6. Keep Your Students Moving

Sitting in a chair listening to one person’s voice is boring. Let’s face it; the mind can wander in this setting. Worries and fears easily creep in when the atmosphere isn’t requiring all of their attention. Keep the class moving through assignments, stations, and activities.

7. Set Time In The Day For Organization Of Their Desks Or Work Areas

Once a week (perhaps on Fridays), create a block of time for students to clean out their desks and backpacks. Disorganized environments cause unnecessary stress. Have one person sharpen everyone’s pencils, clean out markers that don’t work, restock supplies, and refresh old notebooks. This can also be a great time to make lists of upcoming activities, assignments, and projects.

One of the most crucial moments in a student’s career is what they do after they’ve failed an exam.

8. Model How To Cope With Disappointment

Disappointment is inevitable. One of the most crucial moments in a student’s career is what they do after they’ve failed an exam. Failure is the world’s greatest teacher. It is like an open doorway to future success. Don’t just hand out a failing grade and move on. Use the opportunity to teach what went wrong, how to face disappointment head on, and most importantly, how to not let it cripple your future work.

9. Don’t Nitpick

You’ve probably had a teacher who did this. You had to use a blue pen, not black. You couldn’t sit a certain way, eat during class, use the bathroom, or wear a hooded sweatshirt. Obviously rules are important, but first try to examine if any of your rules are actually just pet peeves in disguise. Kids who are prone to stress will feel the effects of this type of environment and it will negatively affect their work.

10. Stay In Touch With Parents

Keep communication channels open with parents of stressed out kids. Try to find out if there are other issues besides classwork that are affecting him/her. If the parents are struggling too, a guidance counselor or social worker might be able to help the student cope with difficult life circumstances. Be your student’s advocate whenever possible.

11. Help Students To Enjoy The Learning Process

A stressed out student forgets about the process of learning. They are so fixated on the end result and the grade, they don’t know how to enjoy HOW to learn. Take moments in the day to point out the beauty in discovery, in problem solving, and yes- even in failure. Remind your students that it isn’t all about the grades. It’s about the journey.

12. Give Continual Feedback

If you are able to give “mini” grades each day, it lessens the anxiety about the end-of-term grade. At that point, there is nothing a student can do about it! Students should never be surprised at their grade. Offer constant feedback so they have time to get on track while there is still time to make a difference.

13. Keep Yourself Relaxed!

A relaxed teacher makes for a relaxed classroom. You need to do what you can to alleviate your own stress – be it through meditation, organization, or time of silent reading. We all need to recharge and you as the teacher set the whole tone of the classroom. If you aren’t stressed about tests or final scores, your students will pick up on that vibe too.

Gator Greats

She did it! Karla Parker for helping out Dawn Black's classroom in her absence. She volunteered to help ensure each child had their shirts for the second grade program in the evening as well as monitored the class to keep the students safe. That was helpful and supportive!

She did it! Shauna Pratt has been helpful with organizing small group testers and their supplemental aids. She also has been helping Mary Black developed stations for her classroom. That is helpful and supportive.

They did it! Kendra Fields, Karla Parker, Stefanie Richardson, Roxanne Aquines and Jane Landree allowed Rebecca Terry and her entourage to enter their classroom and watch them teach an amazing reading lesson. They were outstanding and educational.

Where are we?

Lindsey - Tuesday PM out, Wednesday out all day

Cindy - Here all week

This and That

ONLINE TELPAS TESTING BEGINS - The computer lab will be shut down.

Monday - Happy Monday! Welcome back and greet our students with a big smile and hug (or high five)!

Tuesday - Happy birthday, Kady Deaton

Wednesday - PTA Easter Pictures

Thursday - $5 for Autism Speaks, Faculty Meeting, Happy birthday, Zelma Perez

Friday - Books for Breakfast grades 1 and 2, PTA Treat Sale, Recycle Kick off grades 2-4 at 2:10 in the cafeteria.

Saturday - Volunteer Tutorials from 9-12 for grades 3 and 4

Monday, March 30 - STAAR Writing Day 1

Tuesday, March 31 - STAAR Writing Day 2