Keowee's Friday Flash Forward

News from Your Assistant Principal, Rhonda Grant


I was glad to get back home and back to Keowee this week. My Daddy and I had a blast on our father-daughter trip, and although our team didn't bring home the trophy, they're still champions in our hearts. My body and brain have yet to fully recover from the trip and lack of sleep, but my heart and mind are full of priceless memories with my Dad.

Winter MAP concluded today with our final few students. Although I haven't had time to sit down and really study the results, I did witness many students showing great growth in the classes where I was proctoring. I'm eager to see how all of students performed. If you haven't done so already, run a class report and begin looking for areas of growth, patterns of strength, and areas needing attention. This information should drive your planning for instruction, and help guide you in communicating individual student progress with parents. Let me know if you have questions about a report or a student's progress.

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Core Essentials Trait for January is...

SELF-CONTROL--choosing to do what you should do, not what you want to do.

Self-control has been defined in many ways--as willpower, self-discipline, or conscientiousness. But however we define it, self-control is about being able to regulate yourself. Can you resist distractions? Get a handle on your own emotions? Inhibit your impulses? Delay gratification and plan ahead?

Obviously, little kids lack the self-control of older people. Self-control develops over the years, with some of the biggest changes happening between the ages of 3 and 7. But there is a lot of individual variation too. Some kids have more trouble regulating themselves, and they suffer for it. Kids with poor self-control and planning abilities are more likely to have aggressive behavior problems, and they are also more likely to experience anxiety and depression. To get along in the classroom, kids need to pay attention, follow directions, stay motivated, and control their impulses. Recent studies support what we as educators know—that self-control plays an important role in academic achievement.

So how do we foster self-control in children?

Skeptics might argue that we can’t. Behavioral geneticists are discovering links between certain genes and impulsive behavior. Attention problems seem to be highly heritable. Maybe self-discipline just runs in the family, and you’ve either got it or you don’t. But just because there is a genetic basis for a trait doesn’t mean you can’t modify it. And recent experimental studies suggest that parents and teachers can have a profound effect on the development of self-control. Here’s how.

1. Support children with timely reminders

It's hard to stick with the program if you don't remember the rules, and children have more trouble keeping our directions in mind. They are easily distracted. So it's helpful to routinely remind children about our expectations.

2. Play games that help kids practice self-control

Any time we ask kids to play by the rules, we’re encouraging them to develop self-control. But some games are more challenging than others. For instance, take the traditional game, “Red light, Green light." When a child hears the words “Green light!" he’s supposed to move forward. When he hears “Red light!" he must freeze. After the kids have adjusted to the rules, reverse them. Make “Red light!" the cue to go and “Green light!" the cue to stop. Now the game tests a child’s ability to go against habit. He must inhibit his impulses, practicing what psychologists call “self-regulation."

3. Give kids a break

If you ask people to complete two tasks in row, both of which require lots of self-control, their performance on the second task is usually worse. Why?

One popular belief is that self-control gets used up during the day. We literally lack the energy to keep going. Our brains are designed to seek a kind of balance between drudgery and seeking out easy rewards. If you ask kids to go straight from one unpleasant duty to the next, their self-control is likely to suffer. Giving kids a break can help them recharge, and it’s also a good way to learn. Studies suggest that kids learn faster when lessons are shorter and separated by downtime.

4. Turn “have to" tasks into “want to" tasks

A kid who won’t cooperate in the classroom might seem like the poster boy for poor self-control. But give him his favorite set of Legos or a beloved video game, and he’s all focus, persistence, and drive. He doesn’t lack self-control. He lacks motivation. He needs to find enjoyment in the things he’s asked to do, and that’s where he needs our help.

Savvy adults know how to get psyched up for an assignment – how to find ways to get personally interested, or to combine work with a bit of pleasure. They also know that approaching a task as if it’s a nasty chore always makes things worse, even if it is, in fact, a nasty chore. But children have a hard time figuring all this out. Turning a chore into a game takes time and energy. Discovering the right “hooks" to get kids interested may require a lot of patience, observation, and flexibility. But as many successful teachers know, it’s an investment that pays off.

5. Instill the right mindset for tackling challenges and learning from failure

Many people think of intelligence and talent as “gifts" that we inherit and can’t improve upon. When these people fail, they feel helpless and give up. By contrast, people who believe that effort shapes intelligence and talent are more resilient. They are more likely to take on challenges and learn from their mistakes. We can help kids develop this sort of resilience and determination by being careful with our feedback.

Experiments show that praising kids for general traits (“You’re so smart!") makes them adopt the wrong mindset. So does general criticism (“I’m disappointed in you"). What works better is praise for effort, and feedback that encourages kids to try different strategies (“Can you think of another way to do it?")

6. Be an “emotion coach."

Adults react in different ways to a child’s negative emotions. Some are dismissive (“That’s no reason to be sad."). Others are disapproving (“Stop crying!") These approaches aren’t helpful, because they don’t teach kids how to regulate themselves. By contrast, kids benefit when teachers and parents talk to them about their feelings, show empathy, and discuss constructive ways to cope.

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Word of the Week...

Due to the 3-day week, there will be no WOW for the week of January 18-22. We will resume on Monday, January 25.

John Collins FCAs for January

K Wrap-around sentence (organization)

1 Word choice (content)

2 Transition words (organization)

3 Produce opinion writing (organization)

4 Use of transition sentences (organization)

5 Introductory paragraph with hook, topic sentence, three supporting details, and

concluding sentence (organization)


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It's FRIDAY--dance like nobody's watching!

Happy Friday Dog
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January 18 School Holiday

January 19 Teacher Inservice/Workday

January 22 Report Cards Issued

January 25 Family Literacy Night

January 28 Worksite Health Screening

January 28 SST @ 12:00

January 29 KES Battle of the Books @ 1:30 in the Cafeteria

January 29 SIC @ 2:00