What's JOY Got to Do With It?

#VBHasJoy Monthly Newsletter, January 2018

In This Issue of What's JOY Got to Do With It?

  • One Small Thing: Spotlight on One Word 2018 movement
  • Joyful Reads: Launch
  • A Mindful Moment: Mindful Communication (Deep Listening & Loving Speech)
  • Educator Self Care: Winters Edition!
  • Cultivating Joyful Schools Cultures: Building Empathy in our Classrooms & Schools
  • Joyful Learning Tools: Spotlight on SeeSaw
  • Joy Leader Spotlight: Jeanne Dodd
  • Joy Ambassadors Quarter 2 Meetings
  • Joyful Moments Highlight: #JoyFair2018
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    Each month our newsletter will highlight one small thing you can do as an educator to cultivate joy in your school culture. This month's idea is One Word. The One Word movement is a way to focus time, energy and interest in an intentional way and celebrate it all year. Instead of creating a long list of goals or resolutions, choose one meaningful word that will serve as a simple and clear focus for the year. Many are choosing to share their personal word publicly on Twitter using the hashtag #OneWord or #OneWord2018. Whether you share publicly or reflect privately, choosing a focus word is a small thing that might lead to big results. For educators, engaging students in activities to select One Word gives them the opportunity to reflect and focus their intentions for the immediate future.

    Cultivating your One Word for 2018 can be a classroom activity that helps with student goal setting. Adults in the school can use it to be intentional about their professional goals and administrators can use it at staff meeting to spark staff to choose and use their one word as a catalyst for growth and excellence.

    Feeling inspired? Visit the hashtag #OneWord2018 to be inspired by some educators around the world who are using the One Word challenge themselves and their students to be their best for 2018!

    Read more about the OneSmallThing movement and download your kit today.

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    Joyful Reads

    Each month we will highlight Joyful Reads that inspire and support the work of Joy Ambassadors. This month's book is Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani. This book encourages and inspires you to boost creativity for you and your students by utilizing the design thinking cycle. It's a user friendly resource that is easy to implement in your classroom the next day. You might just leave this book inspired and empowered to send out a tweet using their hashtag, #LaunchBook!

    You can find Launch on the Virtual Reference Library. (Internal Link)

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    A Mindful Moment: Mindful Communication (Deep Listening & Loving Speech)

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    Each month we take a moment to share a research-based mindful practice that can benefit your work day. This month's mindful practice is Deep Listening and Loving Speech (Mindful Communication). Mindful Communication with an emphasis on listening and speaking from the heart has immediate and long term impacts on your wellbeing and your relationships every day.

    Each time you take the time to listen to another person without distraction and with the pure intent to understand, you are cultivating an empathetic mindset; this can help with ensuring your words are used to uplift, inspire and empower others. Mindful Communication (Deep Listening and Loving Speech), like all skills, is something you develop over time. This is why it’s called a practice.

    Recall the last conversation you had with someone: Did you words make it through the Four Gates of Speech (Is it kind, true, necessary and right on time) ? Consider these questions and the tips below as a way to prepare for a conversation you are going to have with a your class, a meeting with your colleagues or a dinner with a friend. You'll see that over time, mindful speech and empathetic listening will be invaluable strategies for your toolbox!

    Mindful Listening

    Mindful Communication for a Tough Conversation

    Mindful Speech

    Interested in Mindfulness?

    Upcoming The Mindful Classroom workshops:

    February 1st, 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. at Princess Anne Middle School

    March 20th, 3:45 to 5:15 p.m. at Thalia Elementary School

    April 26th, 4:30 to 6:00 pm at Brookwood Elementary School

    Workshops are open to VBCPS staff. Sign up in Frontline today and spread the word!

    Winter Self Care: Educator's Edition

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    Self-Care Might Be Your One Word for 2018! (Prioritize Your Self Care for the New Year)!

    Happy New Year always brings up images of resolutions, intentional healthy habits and maybe a new gym membership! The reality is the New Year and January can be a time of dips-financial recovery from the holidays, stress of keeping resolutions and pressures from work. Self Care can be overwhelming on the surface, but there are simple ways to ensure that the new year brings you balance and joy.

    Your self-care plan during the winter season can be as simple a mindful moments everyday to tap into gratitude, a renewed focus on joyful connections with others and daily time to rest and renew.

    See some ideas below to ensure you are truly present to enjoy every moment of the winter season with your students, colleagues and loved ones-maybe you'll even be inspired to make self-care your #OneWord2018!

    The Benefits of Gratitude

    Staying Connected to Family

    Sleep and Thrive!

    Cultivating Joyful School Cultures: Building Empathy in our Classrooms & Schools

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    Coming back into a school culture after a winter holiday break offers so many opportunities to reconnect with our students, colleagues and families. So many of us can easily name people, gifts and experiences we are grateful for, but how do we ensure that we are intentionally designing school and classroom cultures that are making every student feel safe and comfortable? How do we know their story? Empathy can the perfect tool to cultivate a joyful school culture for every student every day.

    The term empathy is used describe a wide range of experiences. Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people's emotions coupled with ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. It's such a powerful (and necessary) tool for students to use with each other. Educators can use empathy to design learning experiences in their classroom culture that are equitable and responsive. Any adult who is serving our students can benefit from using empathy to listen and speak from the heart.

    School cultures are a reflection of the people who enter them everyday. Cultivating empathy in our schools and classrooms ensures that no matter how people come in, they will leave feeling loved and valued. Cultivating empathy is a healthy habit that can reap immediate and long term benefits in your school culture including reducing bullying incidents, appreciation of our differences and celebrating the joy of being compassionate to others.

    Consider the role of cultivating empathy in your learning environment, school and daily routine. Empathy is a socio-emotional skill that can be explicitly taught and modeled.

    If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of cultivating empathy, please browse some of the links below:

    Empathy in the Classroom

    Empathy Lesson Plan

    The Connections Between Empathy & Mindfulness

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    January in our schools and classroom can be an intentional time to create connections and cultivate creativity in our students that reach beyond the curriculum-and into their hearts. Joyful learning harnesses a variety of tools, including technology, to bridge transformational learning experiences for every student in a tangible, meaningful (and fun) way. In our newsletter, we will occasionally highlight tools that are innovative, student-centered and cultivate joy and whimsy in our students and staff. This month we will highlight Seesaw!


    SeeSaw is a interactive digital tool that empowers students to independently document their learning with built-in creative tools, and provide an authentic audience for their work. SeeSaw gives families an immediate and personalized window into their child's day.

    Here's the amazing thing about SeeSaw: Once you begin using it , you will be inspired to launch more ideas using the platform! You will dream of ways to use this joyful tool in and outside your classroom. Create a #OneWord2018 with your students and share it with parents using SeeSaw.

    So, what's the best way to really know if it's the joyful tool for you? Play of course! Take some mindful time this month to find some joy with SeeSaw; it will inspire you to welcome the New Year in a new way! Visit the hashtag #SeeSaw and #SeeSawChat to get instant ideas that you can implement in your learning environment the next day.

    See Below for some helpful links to get started!

    Ideas for Using SeeSaw in the Classroom

    Using SeeSaw for Literacy

    Joy Leader Spotlight: Jeanne Dodd

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    Current Position: First Grade Teacher, Centerville Elementary School

    Years Teaching: 7

    How has being a Joy Leader impacted you?

    As I Joy Leader, I feel that I have become more mindful of my words and actions in the classroom and outside of the classroom. I have enjoyed seeing how simple joyful acts impact others as well.

    What advice would you give to any teacher who want to add joy to their school culture tomorrow?

    My advice is to look for small ways you can bring joy to others. You can send a positive note to a co-worker to start their day off right or to someone who has been discouraged. If you hear or know of someone who has done something that has impacted yourself or others in a positive way…tell them! Chances are they didn’t know and will thank you for sharing with them.

    Another way to cultivate kindness and joy in your school is to start with yourself. Take the time to care of yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? It’s hard to be joyful when you are tired and hungry. Also, take the time to find something that you’re passionate about outside of school so that you can come back to work re-charged. You’ll feel better about yourself, more capable of dealing with workplace stress, and more likely to cultivate a culture of joy.

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    Need Some Joy? Come to our Quarter 2 #VBHasJoy Joy Ambassador Meetings! Only One Left for this Quarter!

    Being a Joy Ambassador comes with many perks-including our quarterly meetings to connect, refresh and collaborate with other teacher leaders around the city who want to intentionally spread joy in their school cultures. Every meeting includes activities that they can implement the next day. A focus on teaching well-being is always a topic.

    Our 2nd Quarter Theme: Cultivating Joyful Connections. We spend some time participating in some joyful connection activities that can used to intentionally ensure your school is cultivating healthy relationships. Be sure to take a mindful moment this quarter and prioritize your joy-come to our Joy Ambassadors meetings and leave inspired and empowered to cultivate joy in your school and classroom culture!

    See below for some pictures from our Quarter 2 Joy Ambassadors meeting in December!

    Quarter 2 Joy Ambassadors F2F Meetings (Last One for this Quarter!)

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 Princess Anne Middle School 4:45 to 6:15 p.m.

    Sign up in Frontline Today and Tell a Friend! (Internal Link)

    Joyful Moments Highlight: Upcoming #VBJoyFair2018!

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    Occasionally, our newsletter will highlight events that are sure to bring visitors joy. We are honored to share the joyful news that our 2nd Joy Fair will take place in the upcoming month for all Virginia Beach City Public school staff. It was such an amazing event last year filled with music, laughter, snacks and joyful learning of course!

    This year will again allow visitors to drop in between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30 to visit joy stations personalized with their needs in mind. All visitors will get a taste of #VBHasJoy by visiting stations where Joy Ambassadors will spotlight some of their ways they intentionally spread joy in their school and classroom culture. Some of this year's stations will include: Mindful Classroom, FlipGrid, Joyful Connections, Attitude of Gratitude, Kindness Rocks, Sketching Your Joy, and Educator Self Care. Visitors who pre-register will receive a Joy Bag with goodies from some of our vendors. Every station will be interactive and you will always leave with an idea that you can implement in your classroom, school or workplace culture the next day!

    Click on the link below to read all about last year's Joy Fair and visit the hashtag #VBJoyFair to see the images!

    VBCPS hosts it First Ever Joy Fair

    #VBJoyFair 2018!

    Wednesday, Feb. 28th, 5:30-7:30pm

    3641 Faculty Boulevard

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Come in from the cold and leave filled with the warmth of joy! There will be interactive joy stations, freebies, food, and most importantly...inspiration that will have you ready to cultivate joy in your school culture!

    RSVPs are enabled for this event.

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