Keowee's Friday Flash Forward

News from Your Assistant Principal, Rhonda Grant


Our first week of winter MAP is behind us. Students in 2nd-5th have completed their reading subtest, and now prepare for math which begins Monday.

I've been able to get back in classrooms this week, and enjoyed visits with R. Smith, Chambers, Russell, Garland, Jones, and Holman. In addition to observing in the classrooms above, I also had the pleasure of meeting individually with students from Crumpton, Bates, Ahern, Garland, and Black's classes to set Winter MAP goals. It's a joy to have this one-on-one time with these sweet kiddos, and I am always encouraged by their resolve and desire to achieve their MAP goals. I know I say it all the time, but Keowee kids are exceptional!

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Cultivating Practical Optimism: A Key to Getting the Best from Your Brain

Neuroscientists recently discovered that optimism is associated with brain pathways connecting the left prefrontal region to deep within the middle of the temporal lobe. Further research has demonstrated that optimism, traditionally considered to be an unchangeable trait, is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced. People with a positive viewpoint have less stress, better creative problem-solving skills, and better health outcomes than less optimistic people. In addition, optimistic learners are more likely to persist in the sometimes-hard work of learning, motivated by the belief that they can accomplish their learning goals.

As teachers, we know that when students are more optimistic, they are motivated to progress through learning difficulties and to attain higher levels of achievement. More optimistic students also have greater resistance to depression and the negative effects of stress. The term practical optimism is used to describe an attitude about life that relies on taking realistic, positive action to increase the likelihood of successful results. Emphasizing positive emotions helps students become more resilient and more likely to persevere with learning tasks. Their persistence is fueled by the belief that they will triumph over difficulty, learn from their mistakes, overcome plateaus in their performance, and progress. The mantra "I think I can! I think I can!" from an all-time favorite story, The Little Engine That Could, illustrates practical optimistic thinking.

I urge you to try the 6-step strategy below to increase practical optimism in your classroom. This strategy has been used by teachers, counselors, and school psychologists to promote practical optimism in schools nationwide.

Trash or Treasure?

1. Introduce practical optimism and its benefits. Ask students if they would like to learn a way to be more optimistic.

2. Read aloud the following story.

Treasure Hunters and Trash Collectors

It seems that in life there are two types of people. The first are treasure hunters. Every day they seek out what is useful and positive. They focus on it, talk about it, and think about it. Each of these moments is treasured like a bright, shining jewel that they store in their treasure chest forever. And then there are trash collectors who spend their lives looking for what is wrong, unfair, and not working. They focus their energy, time, and thoughts on the trash, and every day they put that trash into a big trashcan. The treasure hunters proudly carry their treasure into the future, while the trash collectors drag their heavy, smelly trashcan from one day to the next. The question is: When they get to the end of the year, what does each person have -- a treasure chest filled with useful, positive memories, or a trash can full of things they didn't like? The choice is yours. You get to decide.

3. Ask students to think of five things they like or can feel good about.

4. Ask students to write, draw, or create a concept map of these five things.

5. Have students share their five things with a classmate.

6. Continue to use this process once a week or once a month, encouraging students to find and add more things to their practical optimism list.

Once learners understand that they have the capacity to increase their levels of practical optimism by the choices they make, many are highly motivated to do so. They become more likely to think of setbacks as temporary. They recognize that by using more effective learning strategies or investing more study time, they can overcome obstacles and turn setbacks into triumphs. This progress in turn can lead to more academic success and enhance optimism even further. Practical optimism is a means for getting the best from your brain.

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Core Essentials Trait for Decmber is...

COMPASSION--caring enough to do something about someone else's need

Did you know that experts suggest that fostering compassion in young people is among the best ways to prevent verbal, physical, and emotional aggression from taking root? Even the most seemingly small acts of compassion can help our students develop compassion as a character trait and a behavioral style. Here are 3 simple ways begin modeling compassion today:

1. Walk the Talk
Children may listen to your words, but more importantly, they learn from observing your actions. When you have a chance to practice a random act of compassion, do so! When you are frustrated, express your displeasure in words that show respect for the dignity of the person you are addressing. When you encounter a person who needs help, stop what you are doing and tend to them, even if it is not particularly convenient to do so. Remember: opportunities to show compassion do not occur by appointment. Show young people that anytime is the right time to engage in acts of service and compassion for others.

2. Put the Child on the Receiving End of Compassion
While showing compassion to others is a top way to teach this value to a child, allowing a young person to experience compassion first-hand is even more impactful. When a student s hurt or sick, be sure to provide abundant TLCC (tender, loving, compassionate care.) It may sound obvious, but tending to a child when he is feeling down or under the weather is the best way to teach him how to show compassion to others.

3. Talk the Talk
Most children can learn about true compassion by seeing and feeling this trait acted out, but when teachers talk explicitly about acts of compassion, they communicate its importance as a prized value of the classroom community. As you read books with your students, be sure to point out instances where compassion was shown -- or should have been shown! Talk about those who particularly need compassion, such as the elderly, the sick, and those living in poverty.

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Word of the Week...

The WOW for the week of December 14-18 is JOVIAL. Two students from Mrs. Russell's 5th grade class will be sharing their original sentences on the news Friday morning!

John Collins FCAs for December

K Word choice: content & academic vocabulary (content)

1 Use comma in dates & in items in a series (mechanics)

2 Word choice (content)

3 Word choice (content)

4 Content specific word choice (content)

5 Best word choice (content)


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This week's video tags onto the article above on cultivating optimism in our students. It's about teaching GRIT and helping students overcome inner obstacles. It's a little longer than my typical Friday video, but it's 6 minutes well-spent.
Teaching Grit Cultivates Resilience and Perseverance
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December 7-18 Winter MAP (see schedule for details)

December 14 KES chorus presents "North Pole Musical" @ 6:30 PM

December 15 KES chorus presents "North Pole Musical" @ 9:00 AM

December 18 Early Dismissal @ 11:00

December 18 Staff Luncheon & Holiday Painting