Week of Jan. 24
This coming Thursday, Jan. 30 is our next Adopted Kids Club meeting! Participating students should go to the cafeteria immediately to eat first, and then meet in the library at 12:00 for the activities to begin.
The day after that, Friday, Jan. 31 is our next Timber session! Our year long theme of Service and Care focuses on the School Community this month. After the session is over, I'll be launching a building-wide month-long game that focuses on Service and Care for the entire school -- be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for more details!
Finally, Wednesday, Feb. 5 we will be holding our first annual Be BOLD day across the entire district! Feb. 3-7, 2020 is National Drug Facts Week, and throughout the entire week we'll be sharing information related to making responsible choices. Be BOLD day will be filled with related activities for different grade levels.
As a step toward self-care (or kiddo-care!) this week, I encourage you to celebrate every mistake that leads the way to future success. All too often we get bogged down in shame or frustration at not getting something perfect right away, or bothered when we don't get an exemplary score or evaluation by a peer, boss, friend, or neighbor. It's easy to remember that the learning is in the process, but internalizing it and taking to the idea to heart is the hard part. Never forget to celebrate the process and encourage the effort as much as the blue ribbon at the end!
Week of Jan. 17
This past Wednesday (Jan. 15), our Military Kids Club had the opportunity to FaceTime with (beloved Harman dad) Major Matt Rowan, deployed in Djibouti in Eastern Africa through April 2020. Our students learned about his experience through a series of interactive questions and an introduction to cartography. Our meeting concluded with a Q&A about life in Djibouti and in the military. Questions ranged from "What temperature/what time is it where you are?" or "Have you seen any wild animals in Africa?" to "Have you flown any planes over any wars?" or "What kind of things do you do every day?" Our students remain thoughtful, lively, and creative, even when talking to someone halfway across the world!
Our next Adopted Kids Club meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 30. All students who wish to participate should go to the cafeteria and eat lunch together, no matter their regular schedule, and then meet in the library at 12:00 p.m. for our scheduled activities. We will continue to have "special guest stars," discussions, and read special books about adoption! Thanks (and kudos!) again to our dynamic and large-hearted third grader who championed the idea to bring this club to Harman!
As the week draws to a close, I cannot help but think about the moments I shared with staff and students that brought smiles to my face. Harman is truly a special place, full of adults and children who work their hardest to make each others' days a little brighter. This week alone, I've seen black and white evidence of behavioral and emotional progress with some of our students, families strengthen their interpersonal relationships, parents and teachers advocate for their children, children advocate for each other, and administrators having conversations about the importance of mental health and wellness in our schools and in our community. Here at Oakwood, we are on a continuous journey of improvement and enrichment, and we are all so lucky to be here, to be alive, and to have each other. As your bit of self-care this week, I invite you to take some time and join me in ruminating on gratitude for all that we have and all that we can be.
Week of Jan. 10, 2020
Happy New Year, Lumberjacks; this year is off to a good start! Peer mediation and conflict management lessons continued in 6th grade this week, as students were given the opportunity to consider the difference between a response and a reaction, and practice forming well-crafted I-statements as an effective conflict resolution/communication skill.
There will be a Military Kids Club meeting next Wednesday (1/15/20) at lunch in Mrs. Bright's room. We will either be FaceTiming a deployed serviceperson (availability dependent) or having a cultural lesson inspired by some of our students travels around the world! Students are encouraged to pack a lunch that day, but this is not required, as the cafeteria will be open as always.
This month's featured skill is RESILIENCE. It's certainly true that anyone can get bogged down with worry, sadness, or the weight of "the day to day stuff." The thing is, we don't stand any hope against any of it if we don't learn to practice resilience. The easiest way to do this, and to foster it among our youth, is to remind ourselves (them) that sometimes things aren't awesome, but things are never permanent. Life comes in waves, and we will make it through the great stuff and the gross stuff. This simple concept, when consistently considered, has incredible power in the development of resilience. For more tips and info, please check out the American Psychological Association's quick guide on resilience. https://www.apa.
Week of Dec. 13
This week we began Adopted Kids Club, and had almost 20 students in attendance! Thanks to one of our very savvy third graders for the initiative to get this club off the ground! We had Miss Jacqui from Wright Library as a guest reader, and she brought a small library of books all about adoption that will be available in my office to check out for the next several months. Students were given the opportunity to discuss their own experiences with adoption and share time together over games and treats! Throughout the year, we will meet once monthly and different "guest stars," all of whom have been touched by adoption, will attend the meetings and share their stories.
Next semester, a group for students who are coping with changing families will begin, following a support/psychoeducational model, teaching coping strategies, emotional intelligence, and healthy communication of feelings. If you are interested in having your child join this group, there are still a few openings. Please send me an email and I will connect with your child.
The counseling team across the district has been meeting semi-regularly to discuss mental health initiatives and response protocol for different scenarios pertaining to emotional wellness. Several of us were also able to attend a Sandy Hook Promise seminar last week on threat assessment and response. We continue to collaborate, learn, and fine tune our skills to be there for all of our students when they are most vulnerable.
This holiday, please try to remember to take it slow and experience everything with all five of your senses. Connecting with your senses is an excellent way to be present, build positive associations and memories, and to emotionally regulate. The holidays can be stressful, but they can also be a source of great joy and mindful restoration!
My personal favorite is to "Take 5:"
- Stop what you're doing, and identify then think about 5 things you can see. Describe them to yourself.
- Identify and think about 4 things you can hear.
- Identify and think about 3 things you can feel.
- Identify and think about 2 things you can smell.
- Identify and think about 1 thing you can taste.
Week of Sept. 27
For our final week of #selfcareseptember, don't forget to FORGIVE YOURSELF. Our tasks and obligations always outnumber the time we have to accomplish them, and sometimes, we just plain forget or our seemingly failsafe organizational systems and processes still somehow fail us. You are allowed to forgive yourself for these things! Don't beat yourself up -- you would excuse your friend for something like this so easily! Our 6th graders helped lead the discussion of self-compassion in our Timber sessions last week (pictured), and how important it is to treat yourself as kindly as you would treat someone you love. Self-compassion and self-forgiveness helps build resiliency and a calm spirit.
On Thursday, Sept. 26, I had the opportunity to attend Mike DeWine's Building Resiliency: A Pediatric Mental Health Summit at Sinclair College with other district counselors and principals. The governor's summit was designed specifically for a collective of educators and community agencies who work toward the goal of helping children thrive. Speakers from around the state (including the governor himself) led breakout sessions about research-based and informed resources, programs, and best practices. Sarah and I are excited to begin using some of the valuable information we learned at the summit in our building!
Looking ahead, October is National Bully Prevention Month!
The best prevention is found in positive relationship building, which is a focus through our Timber program and one of our "3 Rs."
One of the ways the Oakwood Schools will be recognizing October as National Bully Prevention Month is by holding BLUE SHIRT DAY Oct. 9. Wearing blue will be our visual cue this month to remind us to be an "upstander," to take a stand against unkind behaviors and treat each other well. Don't forget to wear your best blue outfit or favorite blue shirt on October 9!
Third Grade ELA testing is also coming up in October. If you are the parent of a 3rd grader, please make sure to begin getting them on regulated sleeping schedules, in the habit of eating healthy, non-sugary breakfasts, and helping us build their confidence in their reading and writing skills. More info to come.
Week of Sept. 13
Next Friday is our second Timber session! This year's theme is SERVICE AND CARE, and in September, our focus is on Service and Care for the SELF. Don't forget to wear your Timber t-shirt on Friday 9/20!
This week's #selfcareseptember tip is taken from How to be Mindful, by Anna Barnes, and is one I (thoroughly) enjoyed (and needed!) last week: Go on a "Digital Detox." The non-stop stream of information we receive from our cell phones, computers, and TVs can be overwhelming. It's a good idea to give your mental "inbox" a break from time to time. Turn off and hide all your devices and gadgets, and give yourself some time off from the technological invasion in your life, even if for only one evening. You can do it. And you'll be glad you did.
COMING UP: One of the ways the Oakwood Schools will be recognizing October as National Bully Prevention Month is by holding BLUE SHIRT DAY Oct. 9. Wearing blue will be our visual cue this month to remind us to be an "upstander," to take a stand against unkind behaviors and treat each other well. Don't forget to wear your best blue outfit or favorite blue shirt Oct. 9, and prepare for a meaningful activity about being a good friend!
Week of Sept. 3
- Even though it's been a short week, our teachers have still found time to sit down with me and let me know how I can help them integrate Ohio's mental health and socioemotional standards into the curriculum in greater detail. Add that to the list of reasons they're so fantastic -- they collaborate and place value on the human experience and emotional development of our students just as much as the academics! Our kids are so lucky.
- This week's #selfcareseptember tip is using Positive Self-Talk. It sounds simple and easy (and it IS!), but research shows that it can have tremendous positive effects on your life! Some examples include:
- "I will not compare myself to others!"
- "I am capable."
- "I know how to handle this situation."
- "I can get through this."
- "I am enough."
- For more information: https://www.
psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ imperfect-spirituality/201106/ positive-self-talk-can-help- you-win-the-race-or-the-day
- Several of our students have expressed interest in having an "Adopted Kids Club." We have not moved forward with this at all, but I wanted to "put it out there" to gauge interest; its purpose is not even yet determined. If you think your child would like to join this *potential* club, please send me an email and we can chat about it!
Week of Aug. 26
The year is off to a great start! I have begun meeting with teachers to brainstorm ways to incorporate socioemotional learning opportunities into everyday classroom interactions and learning. Proactive Tier 1 interventions targeting the development of positive and prosocial behaviors is vital in the overall development of the child, and the staff's excitement and openness to the process has been inspiring! Your children are so lucky to have them for their teachers!
Our Timber theme for September is "Service and Care for the Self," and all month long in #selfcareseptember, I'll be sharing tips and tricks to better take care of yourself. Remember, on an airplane, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on the person next to you -- self care works the same way! Stay tuned and help yourself help others by taking care of #1!
Military Kids Club had our first meet-and-greet event on Thursday, and over 20 students of all grade levels were in attendance. Guest reader Mrs. Dunlap began by sharing H is for Honor by Devin Scillian, a book celebrating the diversity and experience of military families. I led an activity called "Where In The World," which gave the students the opportunity to share stories about the locations around the world in which they had lived. Students discussed the challenges and joys of being a "military kid," and spent time getting to know each other.