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Blog: Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

School Daze!

by Marie VanDalfsen - Principal Sandy Hill Elementary

September is nearly a memory, children are quickly becoming masters at their new learning and ‘keeping healthy’ routines, and full learning mode is evident within Sandy Hill classrooms! These past couple of weeks have proven to be a test of endurance and patience for parents, students, and teachers alike! Our collective resiliency is awesome to behold! Regular routines such as ‘Is my child well enough to attend school?’ becomes a monumental task, one often fraught with inconsistent responses from us or agencies. We have attempted to change a culture of ‘powering through’ when we are not quite well to one that encourages us to take time to be well before attending school or work. The daily health assessment was an awareness building tool of what to do when considering if your child is well enough to learn. We have updated the daily health assessment to reflect the latest direction from Dr. Henry and hope this helps reduce time and confusion especially now that we are in the cold and flu season. We know that the daily health assessment form process has added another layer of complexity in our daily lives and morning routines. Should the District determine we can alter the daily health assessment protocols we will let you know. Thank you for your patience with this matter.

September is when we traditionally hold a Meet the Teacher event. This year’s event has been rolled out differently as it is not safe to invite all parents and students to an evening of touring and connecting in person. Teachers have been introducing themselves through a detailed newsletter that outlines some of the general routines and learning structures in place in the classroom. The newsletter will also highlight how you will be able to connect with him or her via telephone, email or face to face should the need arise. You are welcome to reach out to your child’s teacher or me at the office for a meeting anytime there is a need. Teachers are posting pictures or videos via See Saw as windows into their classroom showing students learning to read and write, or learning how to use manipulatives to prove math facts or using their growth mind-set strategies to help them learn. So, while it looked a little different this year, we hope you enjoyed meeting your child’s teacher!

Our school improvement goal highlights social emotional learning with a specific focus on helping develop a growth mindset and mindfulness in students as they learn or face new situations. The concept of “I don’t know how to _______yet.” And “If I practice, try hard, use my strategies then my performance will improve” is a powerful one that can impact how we approach novel situations throughout out lives. Teachers will be teaching their students about growth mindset and providing them time to practice using growth mindset strategies and self-talk throughout the school year. We are also helping students understand how their brain works when they are learning and experiencing new, disappointing, or frustrating situations. They may be sharing information about their amygdala or about how their brain is able to grow and change because of neuroplasticity and the strategies they are learning through the Zones of Regulation which help them manage overwhelming feelings and over the top responses.

We are also learning about how our brain functions and about how our brain has a negativity bias, the tendency of our brain to focus on things that upset us or are scary rather than focusing on the positive events in our lives. We are learning that this tendency came from a time when people needed to recognize and pay attention to dangerous events and things rather than to those things that made them calm and happy. Students will learn how to manage their thoughts and responses to worrying or upsetting situations through various exercises and activities that helps re-shape how their brain perceives and responds to a situation. Strategies, such as positive self-talk, breathing, and gratitude journaling, have proven effective in improving our outlook, reducing anxiety, and in re-shaping how our brain processes experiences. It is amazing how much we have learned about how our brain works and how we can influence how our brain grows and develops over our lifetime! Exciting times ahead and we are looking forward to seeing how our students grow their brains this year!

Despite Covid-19 restrictions, we are available to meet and problem solve together, so please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or me in the office (or on the school grounds) if you have questions or concerns about your child’s learning or any safety situation that may arise.