Mullica Middle News

Week of January 14, 2019

Dear Mullica Middle Staff,

I hope everyone is as excited about Friday's Staff Development Day as I am. I look forward to listening to Dr. Lori Desautels and learning more about what we, as educators, can do to support our students. Especially our students who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, trauma. In preparation for Friday, I spent a bit of time on Edutopia reading articles written by Dr. Desautels. I included a recent, December 3, 2018, article that I found compelling. I encourage all of you to take some time to prepare for our in-service. Think about the changing needs of our students. What do you need to learn to effect change in your classroom? How will you act on your learning? Will Friday be just another PD, or will it change your practice?

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I have this quote posted in my office. I read it when I am tempted to cave, when I know I must persevere, when what is right is difficult, and when I need to remind myself that my character is my most valuable attribute.

Dr. Martin Luther King Day is next week. Below are a few links to resources for teaching about this incredible man. .

It's a short week(for students), let's make the most of every day!


Teaching Students How to Deal With Stress

Strategies to help upper elementary and middle school kids who have experienced trauma understand and control their emotions.

By Lori Desautels

December 3, 2018

When people feel stressed because of toxic levels of adversity—such as experiencing or witnessing physical or emotional abuse, or substance abuse—they find it very challenging to step back from a negative experience, pause, and calm their nervous systems. When this happens during adolescence—as the influence of peers is increasing and young people cope with the challenges of a developing sense of self—the stress can be very challenging.

Fortunately, there are some emotion regulation strategies that educators can build into their instructional practices, routines, bell work, and so on that help students pause and reflect a bit on their choices and dilemmas. I’ve been implementing these brain-aligned strategies in the upper elementary and middle school grades in the Indianapolis Public Schools.

These activities are not to be implemented in the heat of the moment, when students are extremely agitated or dysregulated. These are preventative and reflective. A previous article highlights more strategies that can be used to create an atmosphere that feels safe for traumatized students.


We may think of adults as the go-to or point people for helping young students regulate negative emotions and experiences, but peers can be of great assistance to one another if we teach and model how to be present for one another.

There are many times in our middle school classrooms when students are surprised to learn that one of their friends has experienced adversity like their own. We can use these moments to build cooperation and collaboration within our schools and classrooms.

In a morning meeting or when small groups are meeting, have students discuss questions that will show them what they have in common. You can start with a silly question like, “How many of you have two eyes (or two thumbs, or hair)?” Students might laugh, but this will drive home that they have things in common.

You can then move on to more fraught questions: How many of you have ever broken a bone? How many of you have ever been afraid? How many of you have ever not eaten breakfast? Dinner?

As the year goes on and students build trust with each other, the questions can become more intense: How many of you have ever had something scary happen to your parents or brothers or sisters? How many of you have been in the hospital with an injury or illness? How many of you have ever had someone you love arrested? How many of you have experienced the death of someone you care about?

Many of us have experienced some of these situations. If we keep them to ourselves, they may grow to feel overwhelming, taking up so much space in our minds that the only things we think about are the negative experiences and problems we have. If we see that others have experienced these things also, that can help us come to terms with them.


When a student begins to become agitated, irritated, or upset, teachers can try to co-regulate with them if they have not reached that point of no return where the anger or sadness overrides their ability to talk or share concerns or challenges. When adolescents bring significant adversity to their schools and classrooms, they often need a trusted adult to listen, to gently probe, and to share possible solutions and improved outcomes.

The following questions are meant to spark a discussion and show empathy while helping the student calm their nervous system—they can begin to repair and heal with an adult who sees them, feels their pain, and listens to learn.

  • Is there anything you need right now that would ease your mind and feelings?
  • Is there another way you’d like to address this other than with words? I have some paper, pens, and crayons, or you can work with some clay.
  • If you could list three or four people you need right now, who would they be? How would they help you?
  • Is there a place here at school that feels safe to you where you can rest until you feel a little better?
  • Are there any objects or belongings here that would comfort you?
  • When you’re ready, I want you to know I’m right here, ready to listen.


For this strategy based on a metaphor and focused on the development of students’ minds and emotions, I start by bringing a bouquet of flowers and several types of fruit and vegetables to a morning meeting. As a class, we discuss how they’re similar and different, and what it takes for them to grow and flourish. Then we make connections between the students’ mental and emotional development and the flourishing of a garden.

We discuss questions like: What makes each of these fruits, vegetables, or flowers unique? What ingredients and environments do these plants need to grow? Are any of these ingredients the same for your own mental and emotional development? What would be your sunlight? What would be similar to water for your mental and emotional health?

If you think of your mind or emotions as a garden, do you have a protective fence? Do you have boundaries, routines, and structures that keep you safe and comfortable?

This strategy can be useful in helping students to analyze their own feelings and to realize which people, places, and experiences in their lives act as nutrients for their well-being.

Article Published:

Schoolyard Clean Up

Dear friends,

I am looking for a class to do the January Schoolyard Cleanup. All the supplies are in the garden shed. If you can do this email me for the combination. This is what I need from you:

1. Clean the schoolyard of all trash and recyclables.

2. Put trash in the dumpster and recyclables in the recycling containers.

3. Email me photos that I can send to the ACUA.

4. Let me know approximately how many bags of trash and recyclables that were collected.

5. Make sure all materials are neatly returned to the shed and the lock secured.

I will complete the report and make sure the school receives its stipend in June. Thank you for your help.


Peace to you,
Susan Speck Polk

Coyote Chronicle Newsletter

Please remember to submit your articles and pictures for the Coyote Chronicle.

Please send me something as soon as it happens.

Please use the Google form below for submissions to the January Edition.

Coyote Chronicle Submissions

Technology Reminder

Please DO NOT send students to Mike Irwin's office under any circumstances.

Mr. Irwin's position requires him to be out of his office or on the phone much of the time. Further, all repairs and support items must be tracked through a ticket and reported to the BOE.

Mr. Irwin has kindly sent this request out several times this year.

Continued disregard of this policy will be brought to my attention immediately.

AlertUs Information

As discussed in our faculty meeting with Mr. Weber, all staff members are encouraged to download and utilize the AlertUs apps. I have attached the documents emailed by Mr. Weber with more information.

Public School Works Training

Please remember to complete your training modules on time.

The link is on the website under Staff Resources or can be accessed below.


Notice: Not all teachers were scheduled to be observed during Round 1. If you were not observed yet this year, you will be observed in Round 2 and 3.

Second round observations are underway.

Domain 4:

Our January Faculty meeting will focus on Domain 4 and your new (Binderless) responsibilities.

The link below will take you to the Danielson 2007 Evaluation Rubric that we are using for teachers this year.

Please see me with questions.

Danielson 2007 Evaluation Rubric

Calendar This Week

1/16 3:35PM Faculty Meeting

1/17 Top Chef

1/18 Staff Development Day

Next Week

1/21 Dr. Martin Luther King Day