Pacific Grove Middle School

January 2020 Newsletter

Setting Goals for the New Year

By Principal Sean Roach

I set goals throughout the year. It is a way of life for me rather than a potentially pressurizing New Year “do it to prove something to yourself” kind of thing. It’s about what I can do on a consistent basis to create positive habits and successful routines that help me to improve and achieve the results I am looking for. But I certainly was not always this way!

I learned (later than I should have) that goal setting is about continually evolving and growing. I found that for me it’s about setting goals and pacing ongoing personal and professional growth in ways that are meaningful, relevant, and sustaining. And as a school, this is exactly the kind of thinking we need to instill in our students.

We want to set students up so they develop that determined resiliency they need to be successful. Setting goals, then evolving and redefining goals as we receive feedback is a lifelong skill. In our role as guides and facilitators, we need to take every opportunity to help students notice and monitor their goals and achievements. I found the following list of tips for educators to help students become self-regulators and learn to trigger their executive functioning skills. Enjoy!

Five ways to help students focus on goals

1. Learn how to foster a Growth Mindset. Focus on students’ strengths, progress, and the process of learning. Notice the small steps students take toward achieving their personal best. In today’s test crazed school environment, it takes conviction and perseverance to maintain a growth mindset. Be the example, and set your students up for the learning behaviors they will truly need as they create a successful future.

2. Have them use individual goal sheets. Work with students to isolate personal and academic goals for themselves within intervals throughout the year. Writing goals can help prepare their minds and attitudes for actions that, over time, solidify a self-regulated and disciplined learner. Check out how to create SMART goals (from UC San Diego’s TRIO Outreach Programs) that launch your students toward maintaining healthy habits of mind!

3. Have them jot down ‘success’ notes. A simple monthly calendar is an easy way for students to keep track of their success. They can jot down one way they made progress—it could be content they mastered, a new concept they finally understand, a new vocabulary word they can use in context—or anything that shows they moved forward in some way. Just imagine how they will feel at the end of the month when they can reflect on a month’s worth of individual progress. Talk about motivating and instilling a love of learning!

4. Have them chart a goal. Have students (or you) select a goal and then monitor progress each day or week using a simple checklist or line graph to document their performance. For example, if the goal is to come to class prepared with necessary materials, a student can track his progress in achieving his preparedness goal with ease. Here’s a great link that shares paper-based and digital apps that are perfect for individual goal-setting and progress monitoring—enjoy!

5. Have them write about their learning journey. Journaling is a relaxing way to get students to reflect on their effort to reach valuable goals. Students may jot down their thoughts about their learning experiences for the day or the week. Journaling provides time for students to sift through the noise in their minds and allows them to focus on specific reasons to feel disappointed or to celebrate their academic performance and focus on their progress.

Writing in a personal journal or diary encourages metacognition – the ability to step back and look at ourselves – and leads to learning from mistakes and to feeling encouraged (rather than discouraged) when we receive an undesirable grade or have to do something over again.

Journaling can also empower students to find the language that can lead to positive actions toward persevering. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a post from Todd Finley, who argues that classroom journaling is a must!

Worrisome Data, A New Call to Action

From “Tech Talk Tuesdays,” a ScreenAgers Blog

I thought it could not be possible, but for teens, ages 13 to 18, screen time has gone up by 42 minutes over the past four years. Teens now spend, on average, 7 hours and 22 minutes per day on screens, not including homework or schoolwork. These numbers came from a recent survey conducted by Common Sense Media.

One of the reasons that 7:22 is so high is that this survey counts the time of doing more than one thing on a screen, as separate screen exposure. This means that if a teen is both watching a show, say The Office, for an hour, and at the same time doing social media on their phone for that hour, then it is counted as two hours of screen time. Even given this, 7 hours 22 minutes is a frighteningly high figure. Furthermore, this is just the average, so 29% of teens report being on screens for more than 8 hours a day.

Also, the latest report found a significant rise in time spent watching YouTube videos, which concerns me. Companies are doing a fantastic job of using all our kids’ data (and our own) to offer up an endless stream of tempting videos. It is no wonder that by one report, 70% of all videos watched on YouTube are the ones that have been “recommended” — these are the videos that appear in the sidebar when you are watching a video on YouTube.

So, what does this future hold? How much better will companies get at offering us hyper-enticing, highly personalized videos that are endlessly appearing. (I have tried to get to the end of the scroll when I click on my YouTube page, but alas, I cannot figure out how to do this. If you know how, please let me know.)

Another concerning finding in Common Sense Media’s survey is that the number of 8-year-olds who have their own smartphones jumped in just four years from 11% to 19%. That is a shockingly high percentage. The report does not specify what the 8-year-olds have access to on their smartphones, or how many of their care providers use blocking tools. Still, I am sure it is not 100%, and I worry about all the exposure to scary and inappropriate content.

I am troubled by the fact that all these young kids now are building habits for their future. In the US, the average 8 to 12-year-old is spending 4 hours and 44 minutes on a screen per day, not including time spent at school for classwork or homework. And now so much of screen time is on a smartphone. The habits of wanting to be on, checking all the time, now start so much younger.

Today I want to give a shout-out to a few of the groups and individuals that are working to prevent too early and too much screen time for today’s youth.

  • I just had the pleasure of reading Tiffany Shlain’s new book 24/6, based on her family’s 8-year tradition of doing a tech Shabbat.

  • There is the parent-created movement, called Wait Until 8th, which encourages parents to take a pledge to wait until their child is in 8th grade to give them their own smartphone.

  • Our movement, Away For The Day, continues to grow. We get lots of emails from parents saying how they are using the resources on to go to their schools and work to have phones put out of sight for the day.

  • So for today’s Tech Talk Tuesday, let’s talk with our kids about the findings from the latest survey around the considerable increases in time spent on screens. Here are some questions to get a conversation started:

    1. How many hours do you think the average teen is on a screen? How about the average 8-12-year-old?

    2. What do you think the biggest thing that 8-18-year-olds are doing in those hours? (Answer: watching TV/videos)

    3. Do you ever look at the “recommendations” from YouTube?

    4. To what degree are having such recommendations helpful? Not helpful? Good for society?

First Semester Ended

We have reached the midpoint of the 2019-2020 school year. The second semester started Tuesday, January 7. Report cards will show grades from the first semester. These grades are particularly important since units for promotion to the next grade are determined by these grades. Conduct grades will be used to determine eligibility for school dances and other activities. Please call PGMS Counselor, Ms. Lawrence if you have questions or concerns about your child's report card.

There are two requirements for 8th promotion: 1) earning the required units and 2) completing the required community service hours, 16 hours earned by the end of the 8th grade. General information can also be found in the Student/Parent Handbook.

Eighth grade students who do not earn the required units each semester will not be promoted to high school. Students must have a completed a total of 16 Community Service hours to earn promotion.

Sixth and seventh grade students will not promote to the next level until the academic units are earned. Summer school may be available for students to make up units; however, some students may not earn the necessary number of units for promotion to the next grade level during summer school. Also as a reminder, 7th and 8th grade students who are not eligible for Promotion until they attend summer school will not be eligible to attend the Promotion Dance on Thursday, May 28. Eighth grade students in this situation will not be included in the Promotion Ceremony, Promotion Dance, or 8th grade End-of-the-year trip. If you have any questions, please email Mrs. Lawrence at or call 831-646-6568.

Second Semester Electives

7th and 8th grade students will take a new elective class. Students were pre-scheduled for a their electives for first and second semester based on their choices from last spring. Generally speaking, students may not repeat an elective class. If an elective is closed based on numbers, or if a student is slotted to repeat an elective, we may assign an elective. Students in Insturmental or Vocal Music, Foods, and Leadership will continue with those yearlong classes. If you have any questions about this process, please Ms. Lawrence at or call 831-646-6568 ext. 304.

PG High School Important Dates for 8th Graders

Here are the confirmed dates and locations for PGMS registration for rising 8th-grade students.

PGMS Course Registration at PGMS: Tuesday, 14 January and Wednesday, 15 January 2020

PGMS Parent Night: Wednesday, 15 January 2020, PGHS Library, 6:30-8:00pm

PGMS Honors/AP Night: Wednesday, 29 January 2020, PGHS Library, 6:30-8:00pm

PGHS Culture Night (Matt Bell): Wednesday, 26 February 2020, PGHS Library, 6:30-8:00pm

English Placement essays at PGMS: Monday, 3 February 2020, 8th grade English classes

AP Human Geography Placement: Wednesday, 5 February 2020, PGHS Library, 3:30pm

Please make sure your phone numbers and emergency contact information are updated in the office for your student(s).

7th Grade Entry Immunization

Beginning July 1, 2019, students starting 7th Grade need:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) —1 dose
    (Whooping cough booster usually given at 11 years and up)

  • Varicella (Chickenpox) — 2 doses
    (Usually given at ages 12 months and 4-6 years)

Thank you, thank you, thank you

A BIG thank you to our PTSA for planning, picking up the food, setting-up, clean-up and decorating for our Staff Appreciation Luncheon. Thank you to First Awakenings for the catered lunch. The salads and sandwiches were delicious. We really appreciate it!

Honors Night Guidelines

Even though the end of the year seems a long way off, we want to make sure everyone is clear about the guidelines for recognition on Honors Night. Students will be recognized in a ceremony on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at 6:30 p.m., in the PGMS Auditorium. This celebration will recognize students that have maintained at least a 3.5 GPA for their first semester grade. This 3.5 GPA will be based on the letter grades received for each course. Pluses and minuses will not be considered. Speakers for Honors Night will be selected by staff from among those students who have maintained a 4.0 GPA. Various awards are given that evening.
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Not Returning? Need a copy of your student's transcript?

Please contact Mrs. Cochran via email to let her know if your student is not going to attend PG Middle School or PG High School for the 2019-2020 school year and if you need a copy of your student's transcript.

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, No School, Monday, January 20