The Reds Tale
February 7, 2019
From the Desk of Mr. Roote
Have you ever absolutely loved something you learned and as you looked forward to embracing your new knowledge you hear a qualifier like, "This won't work for..." or "This won't work when..."? Let me give you one example given my love of fishing. Anyone that loves to bass fish knows that bass have a voracious appetite. I have heard this and I have seen it firsthand. They eat when annoyed, they eat when hungry and not hungry and they don't care a ton about what they eat. The dreaded qualifier coupled with the preceding is, "Don't bother fishing when the sun is at its highest cause the bass don't eat then!" You know what, I have fished for bass in the middle of the day dozens of times and believe it or not. I have caught bass at noon and 2:00 pm and 1:00 pm etc.
After looking over some cool resources our SELF team shared with staff I searched the topic a bit and found an article I liked titled Tapping into the Power of Gratitude by Sarah McKibben. I scanned the article and became excited at the great ideas. Admittedly, I lost a bit of steam when I read, "That can mean showing gratitude for kids, even middle schoolers, when they are at their worst." Ahh the dreaded qualifier! Equipped with the confidence that I can catch bass at noon I read on, as in my heart, I know that middle school kids and high school kids and a first year teacher and a thirty year teacher can all benefit from gratitude! In fact, at NHS we are so sure that kids can benefit from gratitude that our SELF campaign this month will include random acts of kindness. Check out these thoughts from Ms. McKibben on cultivating gratitude in the classroom:
- Think intentions, costs, and benefits. Researcher Giacomo Bono suggests that when students express gratitude, educators should encourage them to notice intentions (the thought behind the gift that they received), appreciate costs (someone went out of her way or made sacrifices to help them), and recognize the benefits (someone provided them with a gift or a kind act that has personal value). Don't forget to recognize the little moments. For example, if a student helps an absent student gather their missed work be sure to tell the whole class how that simple act can benefit everyone.
- Lead gratitude activities. Have students write a thank-you letter to someone in their lives, participate in gratitude circles, or contribute to a gratitude wall or bulletin board.
- Pair students to increase cooperation. Gratitude can emerge organically in mixed-ability grouping that allows students to complement one another's strengths. Lets call this the Jean Bendix rule. Do you remember how often she would show up somewhere unannounced singing a song...
- Use question prompts. For example, when students come into school on Monday mornings, ask them what their favorite part of the weekend was, says Bono. Then, follow up with, Did someone help make that happen? Or, if they faced a particular challenge, ask, Did someone help you overcome it? Bono explains, "It's easy in the day-to-day conversations that you have with a child to talk about the people who were responsible [for a positive event]." We are often robotic and say to a student that has missed class to, "Get the work you missed!" Starting with a positive starter seems like a better alternative, at least when considering what is first said...
- Encourage service learning. Service learning gives students an opportunity to experience and reflect on the struggles of others. Each discipline poses opportunities for service learning around a social justice question or authentic community need. Have you considered mobilizing a group of students to help get Reds Threads organized.
Model it! The key to cultivating gratitude in your classroom is to make it part of your own routine. By modeling gratitude, you encourage students to do the same, and, according to the Greater Good Science Center, teachers who practice gratitude "feel more satisfied and accomplished, and less emotionally exhausted, possibly reducing teacher burnout."
From the Desk of Ms. Ross
As educators, we know how critical reflection is to the learning process. Getting students to reflect- deeply and meaningfully; is often one of the most challenging lessons we teach. I am re-submitting an entry from my predecessor that focused on student reflection as we end the first semester and begin the second semester: Mid-year is a great time to do some reflection activities with students. Two areas to focus on are individual student achievement and classroom culture. I think that asking students to reflect on their effort, progress and success through the first half of the school year can be powerful. If students set a goal(s) in the beginning of the year, ask them to revisit the goal to self-assess their progress. Some questions you may want to pose to students to promote thoughtful reflection could be:
- What were some of the successes and challenges you had during the first half of the school year?
- What worked or didn’t work in helping you learn? What would help next time?
- When you faced challenges, what supports or resources did you access that helped you overcome these challenges?
- What is one way you can improve your performance in this class that you will commit to for the second half of the year?
- Think about one accomplishment or piece of work you are proud of this year. Why are you proud of it? Is there anything that you can learn from the process leading up to the accomplishment or piece of work that can be applied to other areas of study?
Mid-year is also a great time to re-shape the classroom culture. To determine if this is necessary, some questions you may want to ask yourself include:
- Are students typically engaged in their learning?
- Do students respect the classroom and the learning of their peers?
- Are students comfortable participating and sharing thoughts with their peers?
- Are you able to interact positively with the class, majority of the time?
Consider taking a few minutes at the beginning of class and run a Community Circle to tackle one or more of these issues that may be impacting the classroom culture.
Please take a few moments this month to celebrate our diversity as Black History Month is upon us! While the ideal condition is to integrate the celebration our diversity into all we do at all times, we must slow the pace a bit this month to specifically celebrate our black history.
As mentioned last week, several of our school leaders are really setting the pace in the aforementioned areas at Newark High School. Their work is impressive: Mark Miller (Director of Grants and Special Programs), Julia Rodriguez (Family Outreach Coordinator), Danielle Ohlson (English Teacher/It's REAL), Eric Palumbo (Social Studies Teacher/Anti Racism and Educational Change), Katie Ganter (English Teacher/Anti Racism and Educational Change) and Amy Austin.(English Teacher/Anti Racism and Educational Change). It has been my pleasure to work with this team. Some hallmark moments at NHS of late include:
- We were recently moved by Ms. Reenah Golden at an assembly earlier this week.
- Students will recognize black scholars on the announcements this month.
- It's REAL presented to the student body.
- Ms. Ohlson, Mr. Dalton, Mr. Palumbo and I are working hard to develop a new English 12 course which will introduce students to the multi-cultural aspect of American society. Topics explored in this course will include the struggles and triumphs of groups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Native Americans, women, and people with disabilities.
- Our work with young men under the My Brother's Keeper initiative as well our relationship with the University of Rochester continues to grow. The U of R really hones staff skill in cultural humility.
- Our English Department is working with text that hits upon some difficult topics that may be more relevant to our black and Hispanic students. One such book title comes from Angie Thomas. Specifically, English 12 teachers will hit on controversial topics/Socratic seminar. In English 11 the group is covering issues generated from their reading Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. Major issues include discrimination, prejudice, racial profiling, police brutality, and others that also allow for students to look not only at the issues as they are now but also as they've have developed over time. English classes are also looking at issues that relate to the individuals who participated in creating the changes we've experienced as they accompany many of the issues serving as focus.
- Our US History teacher keeps an open mind when covering black history as a result of his summer course work at St. John Fisher (Anti-Racism and Education Change with Mr. Jim Wood). Mr. Palumbo will teach lessons on W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington. Frederick Douglass’ birthday is this month as well and he does a small presentation about his statue in Highland park and the quotes around the bottom of it.
Phew! We are proud of our effort and I hope you are too!
The Reds Tale will be back on Thursday, February 28.
Juniors looking towards senior privileges...
Social Emotional Learning and the Plan for Excellence
As teachers, our everyday interactions with students are the relational foundation that much of our work rests upon. How can we foster these connections when our time each day is limited? The hallways of our building can be the great equalizer. How can we repurpose or reframe our time in the hallways to make it about more than just enforcing expectations? Here are a few ideas you should challenge yourself to try every day in the hallways:
Address a student by name during each passing period.
- If you see someone you know, ask them how their day is going
- If you see someone you don’t know, learn a new name.
- Hold a door open for students.
- This creates a natural conversation space between you and the students
- Wishing students luck on something they care deeply about is a great way to spark a conversation.
- This provides positive reinforcement to all students who choose to meet expectations.
- Rewarding students with a bit of acknowledgement shows them we are noticing their efforts to do things the right way!
- “Do you mind showing me your pass?”
- A simple question about a school expectation can allow us to intervene and figure out what’s going on when student respond irregularly.
Our interactions with students do not need to be elaborate or meticulously planned. They do however need to be genuine and heartfelt.
Alumni Profile: Jordan DiSanto NHS Class of 2009
While in HS, Jordan was a member of the National Honor Society, JV & Varsity Soccer and Tennis teams, yearbook editor, link crew, and attended Boys State. After HS, Jordan attended RIT earning a BFA in New Media Design and Imaging graduating in 2013. Jordan has lived in San Francisco, California for 6 years working as a Product Designer on a school wide messaging app called Remind (formally known as Remind 101). Jordan enjoys traveling, reading and writing literature as well as playing soccer on his rec team BUT nothing warms his heart more than heading home to spend time with his family and friends in NY.
Words of Wisdom: Progress requires patience. Invest in yourself and develop healthy habits that get you to where you want to be. More importantly, be kind to yourself and those around you. Good things come to good people.
Document Sharing Space
Tuesday's in the LGI: March 5, April 2, May 7 and June 4. Staff Meetings. Contact: T Roote.
February 14, March 14 and April 2. SELF Days. Contact: T Roote.
Wednesday, February 13. College Wear Wednesday. Future College Wear Wednesdays are: 3/13, 4/10, 5/8, 6/12. Contact: Sue Gardner.
Tuesday, February 19 from 9:00-12:30 pm. FLCC Visit Day.
Friday, March 15. NHS Program/No WTCC Program. Contact R Ross.
Tuesday, April 30. Capstone Day. Contact K Ganter or D Barry
Close Up/Share a Pic
The Newark High School Mission, Vision and Values
The Newark High School Mission: We are a school community with deeply held hometown pride, committed to readying young people to be life-long learners with experiences aimed at continuously motivating us to hone our skills in the complex tasks of teaching and learning. Our community is devoted to providing supports for the aspirations of our adolescents as they mature into adults with ambitious plans for college and careers.
The Newark High School Vision: Staff embody the school values and impart confidence while providing an inviting classroom environment with clear expectations and specific academic and behavioral goals. Students embody the school values through intellectual and emotional perseverance. Families embody the school values while remaining actively involved as advocates for their children and supporters of the school programs and staff.
The Newark High School Values: Safe, Responsible, Trustworthy, and Respectful.