Staff Memo

May 8, 2015

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Teacher Appreciation Week

We touch so many lives in so many ways. School stories are topics of conversations from children to grandparents. I don't think I began to understand how hard teaching and education would be when I started my career. I know I didn't understand that it would never feel like it gets easier or that it would always take more time, not less.

Thank you to each one of you for the time you intentionally take to bond with your students. Thank you for the time you spend pondering how you can make sure each of your students learn and grow. The work you do shapes generations to come. The work is hard, but I believe what you do is one of the most important jobs in the world. Thank you for doing it so well.

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Grade Levels Plans and Info for our May 18 Transition Night

When we have our May 18 5-7 PM transition night, let's be visible and welcoming. By having a plan, we can welcome with a flourish. Please see below:

  • Please let me know who from your grade level is coming. I believe all eight new teachers will be here that evening. Reminder: you are highly encouraged to be here but not required.
  • I'd suggest having two classrooms open per grade level. Next year the PD room hallway will be the first grade hallway plus Meg. The main hallway is the 2nd grade hallway, EC/K have their hallway, and 3rd-4th have two hallways. There will be signs made to make this visible.
  • You might want to split up your grade level and have yourselves spread between two rooms/hallways outside of rooms. Nametags with names and grade levels will be provided.
  • Our Student Council will be giving guided tours. We'll highlight the library, art room, computer lab, music room, gym, playground, and cafe (with cookies). Our new students will also see where their grade level classrooms are.
  • You are welcome to showcase student work, projects, etc.
  • We have about 25-28 new kids per grade level in 1st-4th. Some kindergarten students came the Thursday of Kindergarten Round-up.

Thanks for your participation in this. It takes our village.

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What Fills You with Wonder?

From one of our 2nd grade teachers:

The kindness that I see my students display on a daily basis that is totally unprompted by me fills me with wonder. I see it in the class and on the playground. This rambunctious, energetic, ornery group of kids will totally stop what they are doing to reach out and comfort a classmate. It is a testament to their parents and our school community that emphasizing kindness pays off! It brings joy to my heart everyday!

What fills you with wonder? Write and let me know. You don't need to be a CRE staff, just someone who reads the memo.

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Bundles of Contradictory Feelings

These next weeks bring anxiety about endings, anticipation and excitement about endings, anxiety about beginnings, and anticipation and excitement about beginnings. This happens not only for us, but for our students.

For our students who struggle to bond, this can be a really tough time of year. Losing the bond with a very important teacher can cause behaviors that vanished to reappear.

We've done lots of learning about attachment and bonding at our house. One of our kids was adopted from foster care at age five. He'd had numerous placements which caused trauma deep within. Those placements lasted a year or maybe less. After our child had been with us for about nine months, he looked up at his daycare teacher and said, "It's about time for me to go." His teacher asked questions until she learned that he meant that it was time for him to go to a new home.

His behavior around this time was out of control. I remember the daycare calling and telling me he was throwing the little cots the kids rested on during nap time. He was being mean to teachers and students. He was a total stinker at home. I remember walking into the mental health care facility and seeing if we could get help.

As we talked with the therapist, we learned that kids who've had trauma and struggles with bonding often begin to act out when they know a bond is about to be broken. In ways that the child could never articulate, he begins to push his teacher/parent/care giver away because he believes that if he misbehaves it won't hurt so much to be separated because the teacher is mad/irriated/upset with him anyway. It's a defense mechanism that allows the child to crack the attachment that has been so important.

It's almost like the child can hardly risk another bond because if that bond is broken, the child can almost not recover.

Just when you think the days can't go by fast enough, these kiddos need to hear you tell them that you will always be their kindergarten/first/second/third/fourth grade teacher no matter what. Even when the student is in high school, you will still be their first grade teacher. Even when the student is 40, or 60, or 80, you'll still be their first grade teacher. They need to know that you will always care deeply/love them. Cement the fact that even though the child is moving on, somethings wont' change.

And the rest of the story about our child was struggling so? We told him many times that we would always be his parents. He would always have this family. No matter what, we'd be there. His teacher reinforced this many times. We sang a song that said something about him "being stuck like glue to the bottom of my shoe."

We still work at attachment and bonding with this child. It's still extremely tough sometimes. But we know that for him to risk deep attachment with us means he risks a loss to deep to bear.

Upcoming PD Revisions/Reminders

  • Wednesday, May 13 @ 7:30 Voices of Diversity book study
  • Monday, June 1 Time TBD - Celebrating and Bringing Closure to Our Year
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Looking Ahead

Monday, May 11 Day 3

  • Pledge/MOS - Roth
  • 3:10 Collab Team 2
  • 5-7 Spec. Ed. Transition Night for families from SCE

Tuesday, May 12 Day 4

  • 9:45 Admin meeting - Lisa gone
  • 1:30-2:00 Fire drill
  • 3:10 Collab Team 3
  • Rain date for 4th Grade Track Meet

Wednesday, May 13 Day 1

  • 7:30 Voices of Diversity book study
  • 3:10 Collab Team 4

Thursday, May 14 Day 2

  • 8:00 Office meeting
  • 3:10 Collab Team HA
  • 4:10 Collab - EC

Friday, May 15 Day 3

  • $1 Hat Day
  • 3:10 Collab Team K

Monday, May 18 Day 4

  • Pledge/MOS - Miller
  • 8:40 Bus Evacuation
  • Collab Team 1
  • 5:00-7:00 New Family Transition Night

Tuesday, May 19 Day 1

  • 8:15 Share the Load - Talon
  • 3:10 Collab Team 2
  • 4:15 H & E Awards at FHS

Wednesday, May 20 Day 2

  • 7:30 CIT
  • 8:15 Champions Breakfast
  • 3:10 Collab Team 3

Thursday, May 21 Day 3

  • 3:10 Collab Team 4

Friday, May 22 Day 4

  • Hawaiin Day - Break out your best/worst/brightest Hawaiin shirt
  • 7:30 Diversity 21