Sycamore Leaf

September 4, 2020

Principal's Message

The illustration to the left is by Dan Dougherty. It is the final image in the picture book, A Thousand No's by DJ Corchin. As you take a look, you'll notice that this vibrant, celebratory, "YES," is crammed full of "NO"s. In the story, the main character has an idea that is invaded by one "no" after another. They try to hold onto the idea while it absorbs the weight of one no after another. The process proves too hard handle alone, but with the support of others, the idea is unexpectedly and beautifully transformed .

This message may feel close to home. The pandemic's demand for separation and physical distancing is a heavy no. Under it, we must adjust our hopes and move forward. We must find ways to support one another, build resilience and embrace a growth mindset. This is a practice we encourage for all learners at all times, but it is especially important right now.

Carol Dweck, Ph. D. is responsible for describing “growth” and “fixed” mindsets. A growth mindset holds that intelligence and talent are developed by effort and practice. Those with a growth mindset tend to persist despite challenges because they see struggle as a part of learning, understanding as a process, and mistakes as helpful in that process. Those with a fixed mindset think of their intelligence or abilities as innate or static. They might think, "I'm no artist," or "I'm not good at math." A fixed mindset might believe things come easily if you're “smart,” and might measure success by being fast, right or perfect. Ultimately, a fixed mindset might cause a person to underestimate their potential and avoid the very challenges that help them to grow and learn.

Developing a growth mindset helps learners persist in problem solving and tolerate the struggle that comes while developing skills and interests. You can promote and share a growth mindset with your child by acknowledging challenges and being open to the struggle that learning something new offers. As you work through difficult tasks, talk about your strategies, what worked and what didn't, and the suggestions you glean from others. Celebrate the steps toward goals and what you're learning along the way. Appreciate your mistakes and how they carry you to new ideas.

Teachers will be reinforcing a growth mindset with students, as well. In addition to encouraging diverse solutions, celebrating what we learn from mistakes and affirming effort, we remind our students that we are in the process of learning. Rather than stating, "I don't understand this," we might say, "I don't understand this YET." That simple reminder of process and the ability to adjust in order to improve is a strong reinforcer of a growth mindset. We call this the power of yet.

There is a power of no, as well. Getting a "no" can be difficult. In his book, DJ Corchin says the no, "was heavy. It was hard to carry. And it kinda hurt." True. And, the feedback of no guides us toward our next idea. Those hurdles have the potential to strengthen us and prepare us for new challenges. This year, we will expect them and share openly how universal they are for all of us.

If you'd like to read more on this topic:

Ackerman, C. (2020, January 9). Growth Mindset vs. Fixed, Key Takeaways from Dweck's Book. Positive Psychology.

Dweck, Carol. 2006. Mindset, The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books.


Monday, September 7

No School, Labor Day

Click here to see Sycamore's 2020-2021 calendar.

Wednesday, September 16

Virtual All-School Pizza Night! (see article below)

6:00 PM Governance Council (a Zoom link will be shared via email next week)

The agenda will include a look at the draft of this year's Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) as well as committee reports.

Friday, September 18

3:00 PM English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC) meeting (a Zoom link will be shared via email)

The agenda will include a review of assessments, interventions for English Learners, and suggestions for the school's plan for the year.

Big picture

District Advisory Committee on Racial Equity

Claremont Unified School District’s School Board recently voted to form a District Advisory Committee on Racial Equity. The committee will be composed of a group of secondary students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents and community members. Those who are interested in this important work may apply to serve on the committee by Tuesday, September 8th by 4:30 PM. Information on the committee's charge and the application are available under “News” on the CUSD website and through this link:

Free School Lunches, Available to All

The USDA and the CDE recently extended the Summer Feeding Program. All students in our community will be served free lunch and breakfast for the next day. From 12:00-1:00 PM daily, families may pick up meals at Sycamore by driving east to west along the white curb of 8th Street. We'll ask you to show your child's meal card, since this identifies them as a CUSD student. You may pick up a lunch and breakfast for any child in your home younger than 18. Please say hello and get to know our food services staff members, Nora, Oralia and Sylvia.

Student Technology

Student iPads are available for every K-12 student in CUSD. We encourage you to consider this option given the ease of connecting to district apps and technology support. If you have any difficulty with your iPad, chat with your teacher, give us a call in the school office or request help through our Technology Support Form. It is accessible on the District's website under Student Resources or simply click this link:

CUSD's Family Engagement Calendar

Last week, I shared a link to CUSD's Wellness Resource page and its evolving collection of resources. I hope you'll visit this site often and make the most of the help it provides.

In addition, I want to make you aware of CUSD's Family Engagement Calendar. It highlights district and community-based presentations designed to support families with distance learning, college readiness, mindfulness, and mental health.

Distance Learning Handbook and Parent Information Night-Recording Available

For those who missed Sycamore's Distance Learning Handbook or our Parent Information Night, I have attached those resources below. Both are also linked on our school's website.

Virtual Pizza Night and Governance Council meeting

Typically, the second Wednesday of September is our Courtyard Picnic and Governance Council meeting. Since we won't be able to get together in the courtyard, we'd like to encourage you to enjoy the evening as a virtual Pizza Night.

Pizza N'Such, a local Claremont Village staple and longtime supporter of Sycamore will donate 15% of your purchase to the school when you order and pay online. Ordering a couple of hours in advance would be best, though a minimum of 30 minutes before pick-up may work. As a general rule, families with students in grades K-3 should plan to pick up around 5:00 and those with students in the upper grades should plan for 5:30 or after. Of course, pizza from anywhere would make a fine dinner, but we appreciate the generosity of Pizza N'Such!

Here's a great opportunity to get to know fellow families in a virtual way. Please use this form to let us know if you are willing to host a Zoom dinner for other families, or if you would like to join another family who is willing to host. Based on our interest, we'll connect families in groups and share assignments with you next week.

At 6:00 PM, we'll open a community Zoom for our Governance Council meeting. We realize not everyone will be able to make it, but please know everyone is welcome. We will be discussing the school's Single Plan for Student Achievement, an annual action plan for supporting Sycamore's students. Committee chairs will also highlight areas of activity for their groups. A Zoom link will be emailed to families next week.