Mr. Wadham's Words

image of Mr. Wadham at a computer

APRIL 4, 2023

"I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm, and their inspiration to work together." - Queen Elizabeth II

We've arrived. It's fourth quarter, and what better way to celebrate this monumentous occasion but with state testing! Alright, yes, I know, it's not everyone's favorite thing (or even mine), BUT there are ways we can help make our students feel more comfortable, more prepared, and ready to do their best.  We're doing all we can on our end to let them know what to expect, and on your end, you can help them feel secure in their schedules (and their feelings) in the meanwhile. All of those good "take care of yourself" tips and tricks we know we should be doing (but maybe don't), like getting enough sleep, nutrition, and physical activity, are some of the best things we can do for our kids in preparing them for their tests. Check out this great resource Dayton Childrens has prepared for families to use as testing time approaches. I've also collected a trove of resources for students about test anxiety on my Google Classroom, Mr. Wadham's Virtual Office. If your student is having a rough go of it, please let me know and we can spend some time together exploring this resource, OR they can explore it on their own at home. 

month of the military child

April is Month of the Military Child, where we join together to raise up and celebrate the unique lives, challenges, and strengths of children who grow up with their grown ups in the military. Harman will be celebrating Purple Up! Day on Friday, April 14th this year, with a special surprise and treat for our military kids. If you'd like to learn more or do something with your family, check out this special toolkit put together by the Military Child Education Coalition! 

MARCH 3, 2023

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." - Babe Ruth

Our first week back after Winter Break was filled with laughter, tears, challenges, and successes -- like every other week around here! One of the things I love most about my job is that even though it's similar day to day or year by year, it's never quite the same, and there's always room for thinking on my feet and for adventure, as long as I look for it. I've spent a lot of time with individual students this week talking about just that -- positive reframing. Sometimes our brains get stuck thinking about the worst case scenario or we can't stop thinking about things that bother us or things/obstacles/people we can't seem to get over. Merely committing to a mindset shift can really do a world of good. Just like our students, be careful not to try it once for a day and then think "it didn't work!" It does take time and the commitment to see any gains. You have to want it to work for it to work. That's really the hardest part about it.

Remember too, regulating out loud in front of your children is a great strategy to help them learn how to regulate themselves. Trying to hide our imperfections and moments of dysregulation does not help them as much as we think it does. We will all make mistakes. We will all not live up to our own (or others') expectations of ourselves from time to time. Our kids are going to mess up too, and when we hide our own mistakes, it will increase the likelihood our kids'll experience shame on top of their uncomfortable feelings. My advocating for you to share your dysregulation with your kids doesn't mean I'm asking you to scream at them, but it does mean that in moments where you are feeling frustrated or bothered, anxious or sad, or anything else that is uncomfortable, you can speak your process out loud and demonstrate your process of regulation to them. For example, "UGGHHH!! Wow, I'm feeling really angry at that person who just cut me off in traffic. I don't like that they think they are more important than us or that their time is more valuable than our safety. I want to scream at them or follow them closely so I can make a mean face at them, but I think I need to handle this anger in a safe, healthy way. Maybe I'll try positive reframing in this moment. Will you help me? What could be their reason for cutting me off? Maybe they are on the way to the hospital to visit their sick grandparent. Maybe their car is about to break down and they're trying to get to the mechanic. This isn't about me. I am valuable, I am safe." Yes, of course this sounds a little hokey, and yes, it is difficult to do when we are angry, but -- we are adults who have practice! Imagine how difficult it is for a child! They need explicit instruction on how to manage their feelings appropriately, and we, the adults in their lives, are at the front lines of that battle. We owe it to them to be a little hokey, process externally, and show them the way.

May peace follow you this weekend and into the month where Spring appears... officially!

JANUARY 27, 2023

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality." - Yoko Ono

logo for rabbit hole books, with a rabbit looking at a pocketwatch

Please join me in thanking Rabbit Hole Books, a new secondhand bookstore located on First St. in downtown Dayton, for their generous donation of over 30 Baby-sitters Club books for our club's collection. As of today, our club members have collectively read 853 books from the series, with a goal of 1500 by the end of the year. This donation helps get more books in the hands of our students, who have (obviously) been tearing through them voraciously. Every day, I have a line of students outside my door to trade out old titles for new ones, grabbing extras over the weekend. As I've said before, it brings me great joy to share something with our students that I enjoyed so much as a child (and let's face it, as an adult too!), and to see their shared excitement is one of my favorite developments of the year. Thank you, Rabbit Hole Books! 

students stand around a table and play with rubik's cubes

Another student-created club, Artistic Hues, met for the first time last week. Students drew pictures, in their specific style, to best represent themselves and presented to the group. In the future, students will learn different styles from each other and help each other grow as artists. Our other student-created club, Rubik's Cube Club continues to flourish and grow. Students who aren't in any other clubs attend these meetings (noteworthy because many of our other clubs enjoy similar groups of students), and work together to share strategies and best practices to completing different puzzles and cubes. The best part about these clubs is that through their shared interests, students are able to build new relationships and connections with each other. These relationships then translate to the classroom and the playground, further enhancing students' sense of belonging while they are at school, as well as their capacities for academic learning. 

In many of my individual sessions and time spent teaching classroom lessons, I've been noticing an uncomfortable trend, and I'm hoping you'll be able to help me address it. While we certainly believe in the ability of our students to achieve and make things happen for themselves, by and large, I'm noticing they themselves do not. Our students' overall sense of self-efficacy, or belief in their own abilities, is low. If we empower them to make decisions and allow them to try things for themselves, even if doing so creates situations in which they may fail several times (and even if watching them struggle makes us a little uncomfortable), we are doing them a favor. Removing struggle or discomfort from their worlds, while seemingly altruistic and kind, does them a disservice in reality. If they do not understand, experientially, that they can overcome challenges and face difficulties head on and succeed, they will in fact not be able to do those things. They need success to build on to find future success. Please, allow your children to wrestle with difficult work, to struggle with challenging tasks, to get frustrated at the slope of their own learning curves. Then, once they've succeeded (or calmed down after a particularly frustrating setback or defeat), talk with them about their experience. Help them reframe failure as an opportunity to learn ("I can't do this... yet!"), or help them celebrate their achievements and elimination of obstacles. Together, we can help them believe in themselves and in turn, find self-worth and success.

JANUARY 6, 2023

"Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky." - Sonia Gandhi

Welcome back, Lumberjacks! Members of the Baby-sitters Club Club jumped right back into the swing of things this week, with preliminary planning for our spring carnival. The entire club is broken up into nine groups, each focusing on a different Baby-sitters Club member. Each group will be designing a booth for the carnival, each booth inspired by a BSC member -- complete with activities, treats, and fun! Additionally, they'll be designing costumes to dress as each sitter (for which they'll be receiving some design help from a generous parent volunteer!). At our club meeting this week, each group gave presentations on their sitters and shared their "mood boards" with our volunteer and the rest of the club. At our next meeting, we'll be playing more games and continuing to work on booth design. Keep your eyes peeled for dates for our carnival -- after Spring Break! In other club news, the relatively newly formed Rubik's Cube club will be meeting on Monday at lunch (students should bring their own cubes and join in the fun!), and Military Kids Club will be meeting on Tuesday at lunch. 

I hope that you were able to find time to rest and restore over holiday break. Too often, I find we focus on the grind and miss out on all the small little details that give life its richness -- and our lives their meaning. Without intentionally reveling in the ordinary, we lose time, both at the end of our lives and with the people we love. Relationships are fundamental to a healthy and happy life, and without taking time to invest in them, we lose. Instead of filling the time with activities or working my tail off to avoid the "winter blues," I like to take January and February and concentrate on the Danish concept of hygge, "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being" (Oxford Languages). I spend time with the people I love, playing games, watching movies, cleaning and organizing our space into somewhere we love to be together. While you're cleaning and organizing, maybe you even take some inspiration from Marie Kondo as well, and let go of things that do not "spark joy." Letting go of things that do not serve you is a great practice all year, but can be even more meaningful during this time of year. Happy hygge, loves. 

DECEMBER 2, 2022

"Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together." - Paul Ryan

students participate in a mock mediation

This week in 6th grade MHC, we completed our unit on peer mediation. Over the last couple months, students have been learning the components and steps of conducting a mediation and recently began putting all the pieces together. Now that they have been "trained," they will have the chance to "apply" to become a member of the mediation team at school and help other students resolve small interpersonal conflicts that arise during the school day (most often at recess!). Students on this team will step in (and I'll be right outside the door!) and help the ones involved in the conflict communicate and listen empathetically, and arrive at a mutually agreed upon solution. Fingers crossed that the communication and conflict resolution skills they learned in the process will be applied to all areas of their lives whether they become mediators or not! 🤞

Speaking of communication, this week in 5th grade MHC, the students began learning about I-statements. Teaching this unit each year always excites me, but there was something magical about this particular group learning this particular communication strategy. Students publicly wrestled with the wording and tried to form their own I-statements in front of the class with boldness and vulnerability -- it was inspiring to watch! This group continues to prove that they take our lessons very seriously and are showing great success implementing the concepts.

Our four Quidditch captains have been holding practices for their respective teams, and watching them run around after school and working together on skills and drills (whether they know I and a few other teachers have been peeking or not) has been a delight. The first match, VENTUS vs. TERRA, will be held on January 11th. The second match, IGNIS vs. AQUA, will be held on February 8th, and the championship match, featuring the winners of the previous two matches, will be held on May 3rd, all during Timber (2:30-3:00pm). Parents of team members playing in the game will be permitted to come watch the match in our special parents cheering section! If you come, don't forget to wear your kid's house colors and feel free to bring a sign (Aqua - blue, Ignis - red, Terra - green, and Ventus - purple)!  

NOVEMBER 18, 2022

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

students creatively use their bodies to create a machine

It bears repeating that a sense of belonging and multiple points of connection in the school building is positively correlated with academic success and emotional wellness. This is one of the main reasons I spend so much time on our clubs and we focus on gathering connection data. This week, three different club meetings met. The Green Thumbs learned about seeds, how to harvest them, and how to store them for the winter. We dissected several types of seeds, created our own seed storage, and collected a variety (flowers, herbs, vegetables, etc.) to plant in the spring. In Creative Crew, students played three different theatre games, one of which is called "machines" (pictured at right). Students built off of each other, using motion and noise, to create fantastic machines. Sign Language Club learned how to sign "Let There Be Peace on Earth," perhaps for a special purpose to be determined at a later date. :) Next week, The Club For All will meet on Monday at lunch, 11:40-12 for 1st-2nd graders, and 12-12:40 for 3rd-6th graders.

man holds and points to a book

This week's first grade lessons centered around the book The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore. The story unfolds around a little girl named Cora who is described as "a nervous girl [who] is always jumpy, always on edge, always wondering if something grim was going to happen." She is plagued by little creatures called "Whatifs" who make uncomfortable questions pop in her head all the time, like "What if my dog runs away?" or "What if I forget my homework?". Together, the students and I explored this kind of question we ask ourselves (or get ambushed by, in this case) and practiced the strategy Cora learned by the end of the book. Ask your first grader what they can do if one of the "bad whatifs" come into their heads. ;) I highly recommend this book for the young (and old) in your home who may be troubled by a worrisome mind. This book has not only been a great resource for me in teaching classroom lessons on managing anxiety, it has been a great resource for me in managing my own! 

NOVEMBER 11, 2022

"Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together." - Eugene Ionesco

military families stand underneath an american flag

Earlier this week, Military Kids Club members made signs and decorations at our monthly club meeting, and were given invitations to take home to present to each of their "favorite veterans," inviting them to our Veterans Day Breakfast and All-School Assembly this morning. The breakfast went off without a hitch (many thanks to all the amazing chefs!), and six of our military kids shared their experiences, thoughts, and feelings about being military kids and gave special shoutouts to the special veterans in their lives at our assembly.  Additionally, Lt. Col. Ben Crandall spoke with the crowd, and our 5th and 3rd graders prepared musical selections to perform. Thank you to everyone who helped make this annual event such a hit! We certainly couldn't do it without you!

four students stand at the microphone

Both Rubik's Cube and Baby-sitters Club Clubs met this week as well, playing games and making connections with classmates throughout the building. Both of these clubs meet approximately every three weeks, and schedules are available on the bulletin board outside my office. Next week, we'll have club meetings for Sign Language Club and The Creative Crew, our performing arts group. Both of these clubs meet monthly.

After learning some more best practices at the All Ohio Counselors Convention a few weeks ago, I am streamlining and improving some of my systems. If you would like to alert me to the fact that your child is experiencing a challenge you think I might be able to help with, please fill out this referral form with preliminary information. This will help me be more consistent, as well as help me keep better track of all the students I see. Thank you for helping me help your kids more effectively and efficiently!

I finished up my series of lessons in 3rd grade this week. Our last few sessions built off of what I taught them in 2nd grade, about how feelings and behaviors are connected. This year, they learned that if they want to be successful, and if they want people to regard them positively, they need to learn how to break that connection between feelings and behaviors. To do this, they learned a six-step process. The first step is to make their feeling KNOWN. They must use their internal and external cues to help them understand how they're feeling. Then, they must OWN the feeling, meaning, they know it's theirs and that they have to take care of it. Then (the most important step), they POSTPONE their behavior until after they've thought of many different behaviors they could do to help take care of their feeling. Then they DECIDE, using the questions "What will happen if I...?","What will happen if I don't...?", "What do I need?, and "What does the other person need?". Once they do this, then they can have PRIDE because they TRIED to do the best thing. Ask your third grader about all of this -- I bet they'll remember! I was very proud of their hard work over these last few weeks. 

May your weekends be full of health and happiness.  :)

OCTOBER 28, 2022

"There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves." - Lyndon B. Johnson

This week we completed third grade state testing. Thanks to families for making sure their kiddos arrived to school on time, well-fed, and well-slept. There were very few makeups for me to organize, and I appreciate the effort you all made to ensure that testing went over efficiently and quickly. Now we rest (for now!). 

In 6th grade MHC, we began mediation simulations. After a few more sessions, our students will be "mediation certified" and will have earned the opportunity to join our school's peer mediation team. There, they'll respond to referrals made by teachers (or self-identified by students) and run their very own mediations with younger students in the building who need help learning skills on how to resolve their conflicts. In 5th grade MHC, we concluded our unit on vulnerability and began our unit on communication, both as tools to help us increase the quality and quantity of our positive relationships. We'll be exploring the use of language (both verbal and non-verbal) and the power it has on the way we express ourselves and communicate our feelings and intentions to others.

At this week's The Club for All meeting, students made encouraging posters to hang throughout the school. My (unofficial!) favorite one says  simply "Be you. Be awesome. Oh wait, you are." Others quoted some of their favorite song lyrics, others shared words of wisdom ("It's okay to mess up; you can always try again!"). They're listening, friends. They hear what we say, and they take it to heart. They make me proud. The Creative Crew also met this week and played several games, designed to build team spirit, foster positive relationships and cooperation, and build beginning theatrical vocabulary. Ask your kid if they know where "upstage" and "stage right" are. Ask them what a "focal point" or "opening up" means. They're picking up the concepts quickly. They may earn their full-scale performance yet -- we shall see! As another result of student initiative, another school club has been created: Rubik's Cube Club! Interested students will be invited to bring their cubes to school on club meeting dates (which have all been added to the school calendar and will appear in the weekly Harman newsletter) and cube away together, teaching each other tricks and strategies to be better "cubers."  I continue to have more students asking me to start clubs, and I am (generally, mostly, within reason) open to their ideas! Any additional opportunities for kids to meet new people and practice their social skills is A-OK by me!

OCTOBER 21, 2022

"We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together." - Bill Richardson

man stands holding sign that says love school counseling

This past week, I got to attend the All Ohio Counselors Convention, and it was just as restorative and inspiring as I could have hoped. Hundreds of counselors from across the state of Ohio met, learned, networked, and collaborated to grow as helping professionals. I look forward to perusing my notes and implementing the things I learned into the activities, programs, and practices I engage in throughout the school year. Thank you to our Professional Development Committee for approving my registration and travel request and for making it happen!

Mental health is again in the news, specifically related to children. According to a study commissioned by the US Preventative Task Force, children as young as 8 years old are recommended to be screened for anxiety. This aligns with what I see on a daily basis at work. Root causes aside, the fact remains that more and more children are displaying signs of anxiety and at a younger age than generations before. Early identification and intervention is essential in securing better outcomes overall, and it makes me happy to know that this issue is becoming so widely discussed and researched because it just might lead to much needed additional mental health supports being provided across the country, especially for kids. I've got my fingers crossed, and I bet all of you who have been waiting for months to get your kids in to see someone are joining me. Here's to it.

Next Wednesday, 10/26, is our official "Joy of Belonging" Blue Shirt Day. On this day, wearing a blue shirt symbolizes that you stand for the idea that everyone belongs at Harman (in Oakwood), and that you will advocate for and champion this idea. A sense of belonging has been empirically studied and is shown to increase positive mental health and wellness. We continue to find opportunities to foster this sense in our schools, and this is just one of the many efforts to that cause. Join us and wear blue next Wednesday!

May your weekend be full of relaxing and festive fall fun. 🎃 🍂

OCTOBER 14, 2022

"Growing together, we are a forest made of trees, better than ever, roots holding strongly underneath. Growing together is the key." - Nate Thompson

This week, our quidditch tryouts went off without a hitch; over 50 hopeful 5th and 6th grade team players attended and showed their best efforts. The team lists were posted today -- so you might have a very excited or disappointed kid in your house -- but tell them all not to fret! All students who tried out were given a spot, either first or second string. Each team was assigned a captain and two assistant captains who will (under my guidance) be responsible for organizing team practices, drills, motivating, coaching, and team building. At these practices, the captains will ensure all players are given a chance to practice skills and play in scrimmages (and maybe even fill in at a game!). As a side note, students will not be allowed to play in our official games if they have any missed assignments. So, if you have a quidditch star in your house, gently remind them that keeping up on their homework is essential if they wish to play in the game(s). Congratulations to everyone -- I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

students play quidditch on blacktop

In 5th grade MHC, we continued to talk about vulnerability, the first "tool" introduced to help us increase the quality and quantity of our positive relationships. The concept of introspection, or "being vulnerable with yourself" and taking stock of your own feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors and how they inform how you interact with others, was introduced and practiced in class. Students used introspection to identify things they keep to themselves, and "bricks" or obstacles they see in being able to share these things or connect with others. They will be collectively creating a literal (paper) brick wall representing these obstacles (for example, "I don't feel welcome," "I am worried people will make fun of me," or "fear of rejection").  We will address these obstacles and how to overcome them, and students will (hopefully, if the past is any indication of the future) be able to start "tearing the wall down" as the year progresses and their positive relationships and prosocial behaviors increase. In 6th grade MHC, we are right in the middle of our peer mediation unit. They are learning how to help others resolve their conflicts using this model, and will be given the opportunity to serve as a peer mediator at the school once they have finished this unit. They have demonstrated such incredible growth, emotionally and behaviorally, and I am looking forward to their leadership and service to the school in this capacity.

I also began teaching in 3rd grade this week, with a focus on being aware of our surroundings and behaving in a way that appropriately reflects the needs of the people and places around us. Understanding that people are different and need different things, and that we have different "rules of behavior" in different spaces (the classroom, playground, library, home, store, place of worship, etc.), we need to use that knowledge to do what's right for ourselves and others. Developmentally, children should begin to exit out of an egocentric headspace and into one where they understand how their behaviors affect others, but in a covid/post-covid world, these developmental behavioral markers seem to have moved down the pike just a little bit. Providing our students with additional intentional instruction about empathy and how our behavior affects others continues to be an area of opportunity and need for us. I am grateful our teachers trust me enough to welcome me into their classrooms to help them with this! Books I used this week to help illustrate these points include Just Ask! by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Words and Your Heart, by Kate Jane Neal.

OCTOBER 7, 2022

"If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships -- the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

student practices square breathing

I finished up my lessons in 2nd grade this week. Last week, we started by understanding the connection between our own feelings and behaviors, which extended that into a larger conversation about how our behaviors affect other people's feelings this week. Additional books that were read include Super Manny Stands Up! by Kelly DiPucchio and Listening to My Body by Gabi Garcia. Many students created "feelings toolboxes" containing strategies and tricks (like to help them when they have feelings that are difficult to manage so they do not end up behaving in a way that communicates disrespect or discomfort for others. Ask your second grader about their feelings toolboxes! Pictured here is square breathing. 

During this week's meeting of the Baby-sitters Club Club, club members recreated some of their favorite book covers using construction paper and their own creativity. They were also let in on a special prize they could win in our reading challenge! Club members are up to 318 books read so far this year! We also had our first meeting of Sign Language (ASL) Club this week. Almost 40 students attended! Here they are learning the sign for "I love you," a combination of the letters "I," "L," and Y." ASL Club was started through student initiative and interest borne of classroom discussions during MHC. Students have expressed interest in helping lead the group, and share what signs they know with each other to build a greater collective signing vocabulary.

Next week, I look forward to attending another professional development session offered by Sinclair Community College about technology use and childhood brain development and behavior. Last week, Mrs. Patterson and I were fortunate enough to take Part 1 of a three week series, and the information we have been learning is eye opening and startling, to say the least. We look forward to sharing what we've learned with all who care to listen. It's so important to be mindful of the effects of technology use, especially on young, developing brains. What we've been learning has given more emphasis and urgency to what we have already been observing: too much screen time is hurting our little ones. Please be vigilant in monitoring and limiting your child's screen time. Please also understand this isn't based in value judgment; it's brain science! I know we all need a break once in awhile, and I am certainly not immune to a Candy Crush or social media binge on my phone from time to time, but I understand the consequences and am able to set limits for myself. Our children cannot do this, and the things they spend the most time on are designed to capture (and keep) their attention. Let's work together to help them kick this potentially (definitely) addictive habit! More to come...

SEPTEMBER 30, 2022

"When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality." - Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Our 5th and 6th grade house system is up and running wild! What started as a fun way to provide positive behavior supports and help with classroom management has grown (much to my delight) into something bigger than I ever anticipated. Based off of a traditional feature of schools in Great Britain and the United Kingdom (and popularized throughout the world due to the popularity of the Harry Potter series), a "house system" breaks students into groups, with the intention of developing team spirit, a deeper sense of community, and group accountability. Students earn points for exhibiting expected or positive behaviors, and are given a variety of opportunities throughout the year to earn points for exceptional acts of bravery, kindness, initiative, leadership, athleticism, creativity, and academic achievement. The house with the most points at the end of the year will earn an "epic party" that they will even have the opportunity to help design. As a reward for their already exceptional work this year, we will be holding a quidditch tournament. Quidditch is a fictional game in the Harry Potter world that is something similar to a combination of polo, lacrosse, and basketball. Of course our students won't be flying on broomsticks (nothing about this or anything I'm doing has anything to do with magic! hahaha), but they will have the chance to learn how to play the Americanized "muggle-ified" version of this fictional sport. All students in 5th and 6th grades are invited to try out... and we hope they do!

four panels with dates for quidditch team tryouts


mr. wadham reads a book to a classroom of students

This week, I began a four-part series for second graders about the connection between feelings and behaviors, respect, and managing difficult feelings. It continues to bring me joy that our teachers are so enthusiastically willing to partner with me to deliver health lessons addressing our district's wellness standards. I love being, as the little ones call me, the "feelings teacher." To accompany my first lesson, I read Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader by Christianne Jones, to help draw a connection between our own behaviors and others' feelings. My second lesson was based on the picture book Becoming A Good Creature by Sy Montgomery, which addresses the lessons we can learn about humanity from observing  and interacting with animals: respecting others, waiting patiently, learning forgiveness, finding common ground, among others. Next week I'll be in the second grade classrooms again with more lessons on these topics. 

In club news, our first meeting of The Creative Crew went well; students played theatre games together, learned some specific performance skills, and built relationships with each other. Next week our first meeting of Sign Language Club will take place on Tuesday at lunch. This club was started by a student initiative, and will be partially led by students. I am happy to go on this journey with them and help facilitate an environment where more students will work together to learn about other cultures and languages. Our next meeting of The Baby-sitters Club club happens next Thursday at lunch. Club members have collectively read 287 books so far this year. 

Have an excellent weekend, and be good to each other. 💚

SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

"Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change." - Barbara Mikulski

Mr. Wadham holds a copy of the book A Whale of a Mistake up to the camera

This week, I spent more time with our first graders, and used the book A Whale of a Mistake by Iona Hobai as a jumping off point for discussion about resilience and frustration tolerance. Even though making mistakes can be uncomfortable and bothersome, making mistakes can be a beautiful thing or even an opportunity to discover something unexpected and beautiful! Ask your first grader what they can say or think to themselves if they make a mistake and let me know their response!

We had our first Green Thumbs activity this week, and we had a fantastic turn out for our first meeting! Students were encouraged to spend time enjoying nature, breathe in the air, feel the warmth (oh my, SO much warmth that day!) of the sun on their skin, and dig  their fingers in the dirt as they completed nature scavenger hunts. Next month, we'll begin talking about and planning for our winter seed planting.

Places! Lights... camera... action! Does your student like performing? Do they think acting, improv, theatre, or filmmaking is fun or exciting? Our first meeting of Harman's performing arts club, The Creative Crew, will be held next Friday. Students grades 3-6 should bring their lunches to Room 1 right at the beginning of lunch at 11:40am if they'd like to participate.

As a "highly sensitive person," I am readily able to access, describe, and deeply feel my emotions. Perhaps that's one of the reasons I've chosen to work in a field like this -- I have a shared experience with many of the people with whom I work. Sometimes though, I get caught up with my thoughts or feelings about something, and it "hacks" my brain, turning the character trait that is often a blessing into a curse. In those moments, I'm not able to achieve my goals because I'm otherwise occupied; I don't have the bandwidth to "TCB." Fortunately, I have learned (am continuing to learn) that I don't have to have big feelings or opinions... about everything. Instead of letting myself stew about what I think or feel (anyone else play someone else's words or actions over and over in their head? Am I alone over here?), I am able to instead say to myself "I don't have to have an opinion about that." I've got about a 50% success rate at this point, which I'm taking as a huge win. I have saved myself a great deal of stress or frustration by using this one small technique. And in a world with so many different kinds of people, with so many opposing thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors (many of which that could very well be bothersome or problematic to you), it's a necessary skill to maintaining emotional and mental health. If you feel me on this, give it a try. Join me on my own self-improvement journey, will ya? If not, maybe I'll see you with a soft pretzel doused in cheese hanging out of your mouth this weekend at DAI's Oktoberfest, just like me. ;) Have a happy and safe weekend. Until next time. 🥨

SEPTEMBER 16, 2022

"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together." - James Cash Penney

Calling all engineer/designers -- I am looking for a parent volunteer (or more than one!) interested in helping me bring something special to life for our 5th and 6th graders (as a huge reward for things related to MHC). My goal is to have the project completed by November. After 12 years of collaborating with Oakwood parents as the high school musical director before I came to Harman, I look forward to another opportunity to get to know one/some of you in a creative capacity. I'm hoping enough of you read this blog that this surprise can be realized! Please send me an email if you're interested!

I was thrilled to discover that the 6th graders remembered everything I taught them last year in Mental Health & Connections (MHC), and that they are ready to go for this year, full steam ahead! First up is to finalize our peer mediation training, and to get student volunteers up and running. This year's "Level 2" focuses will include more work on effective communication, building coping skills, self-efficacy, growth mindset, and junior high readiness. Our 6th graders have also been "sorted" into our 4 houses (Aqua, Ignis, Terra, and Ventus), and will be joining the 5th graders in the House Cup Competition (and much to my delight, they seem to be pretty amped about it!). I look forward to watching them compete to demonstrate their knowledge about how to build and maintain positive relationships, both in and out of the classroom. 

Club News:
We had our first Military Kids Club meeting this past Tuesday where students were able to meet and greet each other, making new connections. We discussed this year's upcoming activities (including our school-wide Veterans Day celebration -- more on this to come!), both traditional and new! Our students are particularly excited about our Pen Pal Project with Military Kids at Five Points Elementary in Springboro this year.  Our first meetings of The Club for All went well this week too! Students brainstormed about how they can involve or invite more students to play with them, leaving #nostudentbehind. Being around such a large group of students who want to make Harman a kinder, more inclusive place warmed my heart. I'm a lucky fella. Next week, we have our first meeting of The Green Thumbs after school from 3:15-4:00pm. The Green Thumbs is open to all students, grades 1-6, and, informed by an ecotherapy model, club members are provided with the opportunity to connect with themselves and nature, and explore the calming and positive effects doing so can provide.

students hold up letters from other students across town


"Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean." - Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

We've reached the point of the year where the excitement of a new school year has worn off, and students are beginning to feel the groove of their new routines. Some students adapt well to this, but others take a little more time and experience dissonance or distress. Rest assured, we've got our eyes, ears, and hearts on your little ones; we're working on our plans and strategies to make sure they don't get left behind. Here are a few things you can do, adapted from an article published by the National Association of School Psychologists (2010), to help support your child during this time:

  • Normalize the Struggle: Let them know it's natural to be a little nervous or frustrated when starting something new. Reassure them that they have overcome difficult things in the past and that they will make it through this as well -- there are people and systems in place at school to help them. In short, they're not alone. There's no need to add shame to the list of uncomfortable feelings they're experiencing. 
  • Arrange Play Dates: Try to arrange some get-togethers with some of your children's classmates to help them establish positive social relationships with peers. More positive relationships = more positive outcomes.
  • Plan to Volunteer at the School: Doing so helps your children understand school and family life are linked and that you care about their learning experience. It doesn't hurt for them to see an additional familiar smiling face every so often. 
  • Leave plenty of Extra Time: Make sure your children have plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school. Removing the stress and chaos of the "morning rush" can be the difference between a good and bad day.
  • Prepare for After School: Review with your children what to do if they get home after school and you are not there. Be very specific. Knowing what to expect can help alleviate potential anxieties at school. 

This week, club meetings officially began! We had our first meeting of The Baby-sitters Club Club, and our members brainstormed future club activities (cosplay and activity fairs!), talked about our reading challenge and the books we enjoy, and took quizzes that let them know which baby-sitter they are most like! The enthusiasm in the room was exciting, and it warms my heart to be able to continue to enjoy something that's brought me joy since I was their age!

four students stand smiling, holding books out in front of them

Next week, we will have our first meeting of The Club for All. Students received this announcement today and yesterday: "Are you maybe still looking for a place to fit in? Would you like to make more friends? OR -- would you like to help other people make friends? Then The Club for All is for YOU! Our club members are ready to welcome you with big smiles and warm hearts. So, whether you're someone who wants to make Harman a better place for everyone, or someone who wants to meet more kind people, come join us at our first meeting of The Club for All next Monday, September 12th." Interested 1st and 2nd graders should bring their lunches to Room 1 at the beginning of lunch right at 11:40 and will be dismissed to recess at 12:00. Interested 3rd-6th graders should bring their lunches to Room 1 at 12:00 and will stay until 12:45.

Students also received this announcement today, and will on Monday as well: "We will have our first meeting of Military Kids Club next Tuesday, September 13th, at lunch. All Harman students in grades 1-6 with family members in the military are invited. Please bring your lunch to Room 1 at the beginning of lunch if you'd like to join us. We hope you can make it!" If you are one of our military families, please encourage your child to join us at our kickoff meeting for the year. Military Kids Club does a lot of fantastic activities throughout the year, and we wouldn't want yours to miss out!

[One small note about club meetings and lunches. For students who are interested in coming to a club meeting, it is easiest if they pack their lunches so they do not need to stand in line and wait to buy their lunch. If they prefer to buy, or packing is not an option for your family, of course this is okay, but it does make for a smoother transition if they pack on those days.]

Next week, I begin teaching Mental Health and Connections (MHC) in 6th grade as well. Building on the lessons they learned last year in 5th grade, MHC will continue to enhance their emotional wellness and peer relationships, and prepare them for success in junior high.

Have a fantastic weekend! If you're anything like me, you'll be found stuffing your face full of baklava at the Greek Festival or cannoli at the Italian Festival! 🇬🇷 🇮🇹 Opa! Ciao!


"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to a 2019 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Mental health disorders have surpassed physical conditions as the most common reasons children have impairments and limitations.” This was shocking but, unfortunately, not surprising to me, given my observations over the last several years. But -- as I’ve said before, I am grateful to work in a district that prioritizes the mental health and wellness of our students. This is not only because mental health disorders are so much more common than they once were, but because of the link between social and emotional wellness with positive academic performance. Simply put, you can’t learn if you aren’t regulated -- and our district leaders understand this. If you think your child is having trouble managing some big feelings (or even something deeper), don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Whether I’m able to work them into my regular schedule or point you in the right direction to get them (or you!) help, I will do all I can to support your child. Together, we’ll wrap around them and get these numbers back down. 

Mr. Wadham stands smiling, holding out a copy of the book Be Strong

On that note, the work I do every day is aimed at increasing our students' mental and emotional health, using both prevention and intervention strategies. This is one reason why I am excited to get to know our first graders more intentionally and regularly this year. Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Mohr, and Mrs. Teeters have generously created room in their schedules for me to come in about every other week to spend time and read with their students! This week, I read Be Strong by Pat Zietlow Miller. This richly thematic picture book about resilience, persistence, service, and growth mindset is told by a determined little girl named Tanisha. She learns she is stronger than she realizes, especially if she works together with others, which perfectly coincides with our Timber theme -- and that very fact was not lost on our students! If you’d like to hear the whole story, you can catch a read-aloud on my YouTube channel in the next few weeks.

students stand underneath scoreboard on a bulletin board

This week, I also began teaching Mental Health and Connections (MHC) in 5th grade. I’ll be coming into Mrs. Reymann or Mrs. Moore’s classes every other week, helping them address our district’s Mental Health and Wellness standards and desired learning outcomes. Topics covered throughout the year in MHC include: skills and strategies for effective communication (tone, word choice, intention vs. perception, etc.), emotional health and wellness (how to express/manage/cope with all types of feelings appropriately), and conflict resolution -- all connected back to and as tools for building positive relationships, which I call the "best medicine" for maintaining positive mental health. This year, I’ve added a twist to our MHC lessons: our students have been divided into 4 “houses,” and they’ll earn house points for completing assignments, being caught doing random acts of kindness, or participating in team building activities. At the end of the year, the winning house will be given a grand prize indeed. As you can see, they’ve already begun earning points -- good luck, everyone!

students stand smiling in front of chart, placing stickers on the chart

We haven’t yet had a meeting of The Baby-sitters Club Club, but that hasn’t stopped our members from jumping into the reading challenge! Pictured here are several of our members earning new badges for their reading. Students in grades 2-6 are permitted to participate in the reading challenge by stopping by my office and checking out books from my BSC library, and students in grades 3-6 are invited to our club meetings (9/8, 10/6, 11/10, 12/1, 12/15, 1/5, 2/2, 3/2, 3/23, 4/13, 5/11 at lunch in Room 1), where we’ll discuss the characters, lessons we’ve learned, and sometimes even role play as the characters themselves! Club members are permitted to check out 2 books at a time (and 3 on weekends and holidays), non club members are permitted to check out 1 at a time.

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend -- find some time to connect with each other. 🫶

AUGUST 26, 2022

"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Benjamin Franklin

It's a new year, and that means it's time for a new quote theme for the beginning of my blog entries! For Timber this year, we decided to "get back to our roots" and remember what the point of Timber is all about -- and that's connecting, building relationships, and growing together. So, each entry of my blog this year will begin with a quote about togetherness, and who better to begin with than our wise and esteemed American hero, Benjamin Franklin! I am looking forward to building stronger relationships with my group and watching them grow together as the year progresses. In addition to Timber, this year is already off to a great start. I say that honestly and sincerely -- the "vibe" from the students, parents, and staff has been warm, excited, and positive, and for that, I could not be more grateful. The spirit of togetherness is prevailing, and I will do my very best to maintain (or dare I even say enhance) it. 

For those of you who are new to Harman (or may like a "refresher"), let me take this opportunity to explain my role at Harman and the district as a whole, and how I serve the students over the course of the year. Whether students have self-identified or been referred by teachers (myself included), my main objective is to support them as they work through emotional and social (and sometimes even intellectual or physical) challenges they face here at school, one on one or in groups. Additionally, I am able to make community mental health referrals to parents for challenges students face at home or anywhere else outside of school. This type of intervention does tend to be more reactive in nature, so, in an effort to provide proactive interventions as well, I collaborate with our teachers and give classroom lessons throughout the school year, addressing social and emotional topics such as conflict resolution, making (and keeping) friends, effective communication, empathy, community building, and anxiety. At a district level, I serve on the Social Emotional Learning Team and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force. If you would like to know more about these groups and how our work impacts the classroom and your child, please please let me know and I'd be more than happy to discuss it with you. I think we've all learned over the last year or two that misinformation can spread faster than poison ivy (and is its own brand of poison). I'd love to be able to address any concern you may have directly. 

I also run five different social clubs (Military Kids Club, The Creative Crew, The Baby-sitters Club Club, The Green Thumbs, and The Club for All) that meet at lunch or after school that students may join. All of their meeting times can be found on the Harman Student Calendar, and will be published in the weekly Harman Helpline. A brief description of each club is on my main page. I hope to get to know your student a little bit better at one (or more!) of our club activities.

five fliers for student clubs: military kids club, creative crew, the babysitters club club, green thumbs, and club for all

May your new school year be full of peace, joy, learning, and togetherness. Until next time!

MAY 9, 2022

“Joy can be real only if people look upon their lives as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness." - Leo Tolstoy

Next Monday, 5/16, Military Kids Club will be holding a joint Smith & Harman end-of-the-year picnic at Shafor Park. We will depart Harman at 11:40am, and will walk to the park together to eat our lunches and play games together. We will return to Harman at 1:00pm. If your child would like to attend, please send me an email so I can send you a permission slip. No child will be permitted to go with us without a signed permission slip. Students should pack their lunches, as we will not be serving food at the park, only fun. ;) Along with games, we'll also roll our our new penpal project with Five Points Elementary School in Springboro. They received a Purple Star Award this year as well, and we'll be corresponding with them throughout the next school year. Pictured below are some of our club members on Purple Up! for Military Kids Day a few weeks ago. 

students dressed in shades of purple hold up their red, white, and blue popsicles

In my ongoing objective to assist our teachers meeting the mental health and wellness learning standards and addressing emergent classroom needs, this week I'll be teaching some lessons in 4th grade about empathy and respect, along with some student helpers. These lessons will be co-created and facilitated by our students helpers. More on this soon!

Students wishing to start a club for the '22-'23 school year should submit a request no later than Wednesday, June 1st to be considered for my activities calendar for the next school year. While I may not be able to grant every request (there is only 1 of me!), I will do my best to accommodate and continue to provide more ways for our students to connect with each other!

APRIL 8, 2022

“Perhaps most important, being in a state of joy is a learned skill, not an innate ability." - Donald Altman

It's a big week coming up for Military Kids Club; we have a big special announcement to make on Monday 4/11, we will have a club meeting on Wednesday 4/13, and Friday 4/15 is Purple Up! for Military Kids day, where they will enjoy a special treat, and the entire school is invited to wear purple to salute the sacrifices military kids make, and the resilience they build as children of our military service people. We will also be extending our Care Package Drive one more week. We have been collecting various items for care packages to be sent to some of our deployed parents. You may send in dry snacks (protein bars, chips, dried meats), batteries, cards, games, magazines, and various toiletries. Our Military Kids Club will be packaging these things up and sending them off to Qatar once all donations have been gathered.

Our first week of state testing has completed. As always, please remember to take extra care to get enough sleep and eat a healthy breakfast so you can be as prepared as possible to do your best on your tests! As the test coordinator for the whole building, I won't be available to teach MHC this month, but am looking forward to getting into mediation simulations with 5th graders, and starting a unit on junior high readiness with the 6th graders when we resume in May!

MARCH 11, 2022

"We have to embrace obstacles to reach the next stage of joy." - Goldie Hawn

This week in 6th grade MHC, we continued to build our effective communication toolboxes, and began talking about tools to use to help build and maintain positive relationships when we are the receivers of information, instead of the senders. This week's lesson revolved around humility, and how through its practice, we stand to more easily receive critical feedback, gain a clearer understanding of another's perspective, and build stronger connections with those with whom we are communicating (think of it as "empathy plus"). Earlier in the year, students were instructed to brainstorm and record barriers to effective communication and connection they experience and write them on paper bricks. This week as a follow up activity to the lesson, the bricks were assembled into a brick wall, representing the emotional or behavioral barrier they create, inhibiting them from connecting with each other. They were invited to practice humility and reflect on how they can do better by their classmates, especially as they are on the brink of moving to junior high. A reflective and restorative writing assignment will follow in future weeks. As I mentioned last week, fifth graders began their journey learning the process of mediation this week. I was pleased at their level of engagement and excitement for the material -- this bodes well for next year!

This week, a new club was born -- The Baby-sitters Club Club! Fans of the book series are able to check out titles from my own personal collection in my office, and club members get together to discuss the books, characters, and lessons therein. The students don't know it yet, but I'll be rolling out a Reading Challenge soon, where they can earn badges and prizes for reading different lists of titles. I have been an ardent fan of this series since I was in elementary school, and to see that it continues to gain popularity and fans brings me a great deal of joy. I love sharing these stories and characters with the club members, and look forward to more lively discussions (and perhaps live performances, if the current members get their wish!). 

In less than a month, we will begin our Ohio State Testing. If you have any questions about what to expect, please be sure to let me know. 

FEBRUARY 18, 2022

“I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters.” – Oprah Winfrey

one student stands between two and conducts and mediation

This week in MHC, our 6th graders successfully demonstrated beginning proficiency in peer mediation through a month of study and several rounds of in-class simulations. They are not too far from being "certified," and the privilege and opportunity of being able to conduct (supervised) mediations with younger students in the building! The concept of mediation, our "systematic process for helping others resolve conflict," was introduced to our 5th graders as well. They will also be learning how to conduct mediations through the synthesis of the concepts we have been learning all year: effective communication, tone, inflection, word choice, active listening, etc. This very subject is the predominant reason I have been so excited to teach MHC in 5th grade this year in addition to 6th grade, because over the last two years teaching it to 6th graders, it seemed they learned how to conduct mediations, and then we had state testing, talked about OJH readiness, and then they were off -- never really getting to practice mediation as leaders in the school. Now that we are teaching it to 5th graders as well, they will have the opportunity to conduct mediations throughout the school year next year, provided they successfully demonstrate the ability, and have the interest in joining the peer mediation team. This responsibility combines a rich variety of important skills, ranging from leadership to community building to conflict management; the significance of its potential impact cannot be overstated. I look forward to seeing how well our 5th graders take to the content! Stay tuned!

This week, I also got to visit Lange School and teach a lesson to each kindergarten class. The lesson focused on extending kindness and support to others who may need it. I read the book Super Manny Stands Up, which has a strong focus on standing up for others (and was my #SELBookOfTheWeek on October 8th), and then we played one of my favorite games outside (as you remember, Wednesday delighted all of us with weather in the high 50s!), "Kindness Is Contagious." We came back inside and created "Joy Plans," as students in Harman and Smith were encouraged to do near the beginning of the year, and drew pictures of how they planned to bring joy and "stand up for kindness" in the future. I enjoy my time with them, though it certainly takes a lot of energy (shout out to our fantastic kindergarten teachers!)! It helps me build relationships and visibility with the students who will be coming to Harman next year -- this way, they'll at least have one friendly face when they walk in the door the first day!

It was a busy week, to be sure, outside teaching the lessons I described above, we had a Timber session, meetings for The Creative Club, Military Kids Club, and Adoption is Love Club. I attended a building-level equity, diversity, and inclusion meeting, a collaborative PD session, and of course, met with many students and some parents. I absolutely love my job and how much it keeps me busy, but I am certainly grateful for the time to recalibrate and relax over the next week. I hope all of you are able to find some time for peace as well. Be safe and have a great time!

The Only Way Is Badger by Stella J. Jones

a cartoon badger holds up a sign in front of a hedgehog and rabbit. the sign says %22the only way is badger%22

Ever interacted with a kid who just got so stuck in the same mindset that they couldn't even entertain any other thought? A niece, a nephew? Maybe your own child? Have a kiddo with a fixed mindset who maybe thinks that they are the only one who has the world figured out? No? Just me? ;) This children's book, written and illustrated by the European team of Stella J. Jones and Carmen Saldaña, addresses this challenge in a fun, lighthearted way. One morning, all the creatures in the forest discover that there have been signs placed all over, claiming that "Badgers are Best," and that things should be done Badger's way. Through his interactions with the forest creatures as he tries to enforce his point, Badger learns some important lessons. 

JANUARY 28, 2022

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” – Mark Twain

As I sit here to write, I continue to be struck with writer's block. Not an uncommon malady to be sure -- it's a challenge many of you have undoubtedly faced at some point. Traditionally, my remedy to overcome it has been to engage in self-reflection to see what's keeping me from being as productive and creative as I know I can (and need!) to be. While reflecting this time though, I continue to come up with only one thing: I'm just feeling uneasy in general -- things are constantly changing, less and less feels predictable and stable. Things seem more difficult than they used to be. This, compounding over the last two years, has become demotivating, and feelings of inadequacy have crept in: "I'm not enough; I'm not doing enough." Even worse, I grant other people WAY more grace than I do to myself. I don't remind myself that I too am living through year two of a global pandemic, where things are not the way they "should" be, that things are topsy-turvy right now. Of course this is going to create a general sense of unease... but I can't seem to apply this advice to my own life. This weekend, come heaven or flood, I pledge to practice what I preach. Yes, finding and experiencing joy is important... but so is finding room for generosity and forgiveness for yourself. No one is perfect, and we are all (hopefully) doing the best we can right now. This is my new mantra. Join me if you need to. I'll be happy to have the company. 

students stand in front of the class, reading aloud from their computer screens

In 5th grade MHC, student pairs performed four short self-written scenes demonstrating their knowledge of our most recent lessons in effective communication and conflict management. Students were instructed to write four small scenes in which they practice using you- and I-statements, after several sessions spent discussing the importance of setting our receivers/listeners up to be receptive and not defensive when communicating, especially in a conflict. 6th Grade MHC will perform their own short scenes next week on the same topic.

In our Adoption is Love Club meeting this week, students got together, shared stories about how adoption has touched their lives, and celebrated the many unique and valid ways to make a family. The Creative Crew's meeting this week consisted of short scene work. Students were given various scripts and were encouraged to explore their surroundings and use their bodies to help accentuate the storytelling all while reading scripts out loud. One of the many benefits of performing arts is that mental synthesis is required -- an actor must keep many things in their mind at all times, and apply many systems and ideas simultaneously. Club members got to experience this, and as an effect, expanded their "actor toolboxes." Next Thursday, we have a Green Thumbs winter planting activity planned after school.  

Hurry Up! A Book About Slowing Down by Kate Dopirak

book cover of Hurry Up, a little boy lays in a field looking at a butterfly while his dog watches on

As I mentioned before, it's easy (at least for me) to get stuck in a rut where you feel like you have to go, go go and produce, produce, produce, and if you're not, you're somehow unworthy or less valuable. This book recognizes our tendency to "hurry, scurry, everywhere," and encourages us to "slow things down, take a break, [and] look around, for goodness' sake." It shows the reader that peace and joy can be found in marveling and wandering, stretching and resting, in changing our pace. This message, alongside the clever illustrations of Christopher Silas Neal, was just what I needed to hear this week. Sure, my weekly #SELBookOfTheWeek recommendations are aimed primarily at our students -- but most of the time, the stories are great for grown-up kids too (like me!). Perhaps it will speak to you as well.

JANUARY 21, 2022

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

students pose in front of a digital screen with faces on it; they all just facetimed with each other across the ocean

This past Wednesday, students in our Military Kids Club enjoyed spending time with a special visitor from across the globe! Lt. Col. Amy Brown (along with some of her coworkers) was kind enough to FaceTime our group all the way from Qatar! Guided by our student questions, she let us know what life is like in the desert, what kind of food they eat, what kind of creatures they see, where they sleep, and what keeps them occupied. Next month, Military Kids Club will begin a care package drive to collect goods to send to Lt. Col. Brown and her team in Qatar. Keep your eyes open for more information on that coming soon! Our next MKC meeting will be held on 2/16 at lunch in Room 1.

4th grade girl reads story to room full of children

Our January meeting for The Club For All was the largest it's ever been -- so large in fact, that we will need to change the meeting schedule to accommodate the number of students who are interested in being members -- a wonderful problem to have! 1st-6th graders attended, all interested in belonging to a group that focuses on belonging, and creating a place that is safe and welcoming to all students. Designed by four of our current 4th graders (our "founding members"), The Club For All had a goal to get every single student involved. Their lofty goal is beginning to seem not so unattainable, if we continue to grow at the rate we have been! I am proud of our students and their desire to enhance the emotional and social experiences of everyone at Harman. The next meeting for The Club For All will be on 2/9 at lunch in Room 1.

students stand in various strange and random positions

Last week, our first meeting of The Creative Crew went well, too! Students shared their performing arts experiences with each other and then played improvisational games with each other. Having directed children's theatre for 15 years before coming to Harman as the school counselor, it was a blast to brush off the ol' proverbial director's chair and create some theatre together, however small. This club meets every third week, and our next meeting will be held on 1/27 at lunch in Room 1.

If you're into gardening, it's not too early (or too late) to start! We will begin our winter planting at our next Green Thumbs meeting on 2/3 after school. Students should be sure to bring outdoor gear (including hats, mittens, and scarves) in case it is cold!

Our next meeting of Adoption is Love Club will be next Monday, 1/24 at lunch in Room 1.

It's Okay to Be Different, by Todd Parr

four cartoon faces around the words %22it's okay to be different%22

This book, by New York Times Bestselling Author Todd Parr, was written for younger students, and one of our older students in The Club For All read it to the younger ones in attendance at our last meeting. It goes through many different things, mostly silly (e.g. "it's okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub"), that make up the beautiful tapestry of life, all emphasizing the simple message in the title. It doesn't matter if you're big or little, if you have wheels, or feel embarrassed, if you have no hair, or are a different color -- it's okay. You're important and we love you. A simple story for a simple message, perfect for our simple club. 

DECEMBER 17, 2021

“A joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together.” - Brené Brown

You made it! First semester is over, and you have two beautiful weeks to relax, refresh, and restore.
Thank you for your partnership, patience, and perseverance -- we needed it.
May your celebrations be full of light, love, and laughter -- everyone deserves it! 
(Thank you also for your generosity and kindness this week -- wow! My belly and heart are full.)

We have begun talking about mediation in 5th and 6th grade MHC, and will be embarking on this conflict resolution strategy most of second semester. Ask your child about the use of I-statements (especially if they are feeling extra sassy one particular day!) and how they can help you communicate more effectively. Perhaps you may get some mileage out of their learning so far over holiday break. ;)

four students stand with pictures of monsters named greed, worry, impatience, and jealousy

This week, I got to spend the day at Lange School, working with our kindergarten students. We spent time talking about brain villains (greed, impatience, jealousy, worry), how they steal our joy, and how we can defeat them to get our joy back. Students in all 6 classes began this series of lessons by practicing "The Awesome Trick" (which is my kinder-friendly way of saying "positive reframing"), recognizing the things that we still have to look forward to or appreciate in times when we aren't feeling so great. Their enthusiasm and attentiveness kept me smiling all day, even after teaching the same lesson back-to-back six times in one day! ;)

Did you know that TikTok content can still be accessed without the actual TikTok app? Did you know that strangers can send direct messages to anyone on Instagram? Monitoring our children's website/application access and online activities is an ongoing and important process for these (and many more!) reasons. If you are concerned about this, here are some videos you can watch over break to help you learn more about e-protecting your child:

I have had several requests for additional resources to help students and families manage symptoms of ADHD at home, and I recently learned of several parent group programs at Cincinnati Children's Center for ADHD Connection, and I wanted to pass that information along to you. The most important thing to remember about ADHD is that it is truly a brain-based biological mental health disorder, your child is not a "bad boy" or "unable to control herself," they are working with a brain chemical deficiency and are not able to regulate as easily as others without this challenge. There are ways to work with ADHD and thrive, however -- which is good news indeed! The Center for ADHD Connection is offering 8-course sessions for parents throughout the entire calendar 2022 year: 

  • Understanding and Managing ADHD in Young Children
  • Understanding and Managing ADHD in Children ages 6-12
  • Managing Frustration for Children with ADHD 
  • Academic Success for Young Adolescents with ADHD

If you would like more program information or schedule details, please let me know. I'd love to set you up with one (or more!) of these fantastic, informative, and encouraging programs!

Happy Right Now by Julie Berry, illustrated by Holly Hatam

cover of picture book, happy right now, a little girl smiles under the rain with an umbrella

I used this book as a part of my "Brain Villains" lesson at Lange this week, and it allowed the students the opportunity to recognize the work of brain villains. The protagonist of this adorable picture book walks us through many different situations in which she might feel uncomfortable feelings, like when it's raining and she wants to play outside (impatience), or when other around her have things she wants (jealousy), or when she wants a unicorn and a castle (greed). Then, she shows us that she can still choose to be "happy right now," despite her circumstances. I call this "mindfulness for kids," since it focuses on being present in the moment, being grateful for what you already have, and seeing the positive in potentially frustrating situations. If you have a kiddo who gets stuck in a particular mindset when things don't go their way, this book might be a good addition to your collection.

NOVEMBER 19, 2021

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt 

This week in 5th and 6th grade MHC, we began discussing methods of effective communication and practicing the use of "I-Statements." This sets the stage for our upcoming units on Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation units that will fill the majority of second semester. If you'd like to see a little "I-Statements in Action," check out this video. Setting the people we are trying to communicate with up to be receptive instead of defensive is a vital strategy in getting our own needs met as well as maintaining and enhancing the dignity and self-worth of those around us -- and using I-statements is one of the easiest, most important ways to do that.

The Green Thumbs enjoyed their time together on Thursday during our informal ecotherapy session. We spent time creating impermasculptures and discussed how mindfulness in nature can be a fantastic stress relieving or emotionally grounding tool. Just like our sculptures, which will wear and blow away with the weather over time, our stressors and uncomfortable feelings can do the same.

students position themselves proudly next to their natural works of art

I have some great news for students interested in performing arts -- The Creative Crew will be focusing on acting, dancing, scriptwriting, and performing this year, and there will be plenty of opportunities to shine, for all who choose to participate! If your child is interested in things like this, please encourage them to join us. Activities/meetings will be held monthly during lunch after holiday break. Further details can be found in our Google Classroom.

Since next week is a "two-dayer," I won't be writing a post, but I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and remind you that daily practice of gratitude (not just once a year!) can make you happier and improve your relationships. Check out this article from Harvard Medical School if you'd like to read more about how this happens. May your turkeys, tofurkeys, turduckens, and panoply of pie selections and side dishes be satisfying and delicious. May your conversations, interactions, and family (however you define it) connections be twice as good. All my love. 

A Crazy-Much Love by Joy Jordan-Lake

cover of book depicting mother and father warmly embracing their daughter

Since this is my last entry for the month of November, this sweet story about a family of three blessed by adoption is my focus this week -- because November is National Adoption Month and I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to talk about one of the many books out there that address this beautiful way of creating a family. A Crazy-Much Love seeks to answer the question "How much is this crazy-much love?" and walks us through different family milestones and activities, demonstrating how love grows and solidifies a family. As I mentioned last week, but it shouldn't go without saying again now, we will be having our first Adoption is Love Club meeting the week following Thanksgiving. We just may read this very book as one of our activities... who knows!? 

NOVEMBER 12, 2021

“She found joy and wonder in every little thing. And joy and wonder always found her.” - Katrina Mayer

students stand in line to speak; students raise flag while other students stand and watch, saluting

As I'm certain you've seen by now, our Military Kids Club hosted a Veterans Day Celebration yesterday! First, club members were encouraged to invite the special veterans in their lives to a breakfast in Gretchen's Garden (for which a very big thanks is due -- Oakwood's own Ashley's Bakery and Tastefully Roasted Coffee made generous donations for our breakfast!). After that, the entirety of Harman students and staff joined club members and their families on the front lawn for a flag raising ceremony led by club members, special guest military speakers, and custom poetry written just for the occasion. Special thanks also goes out to Colonel DeWayne Lazenby and Lieutenant Colonel Saleem Razvi for speaking to and inspiring our students. We are proud of our military kids for their dynamic resilience and leadership (extra shoutouts to John G., Lilith D., Maddox D., Lyla M., Gillian H., Avery L., Annistan B., and Naomi D. for speaking in front of the entire student body!), and we certainly know where they learned these qualities! Thanks for your service, veterans -- we love and support you!

Club News:

  • Next week, The Club For All will meet on Wednesday during lunch in Room 1. Remember, if students wish to attend a meeting, they should go get their lunch and head straight to Room 1. We will spend the entire lunch hour together. Future club meeting dates are on 12/1, 1/5, 2/9, 3/9, 4/6, 5/4, and 5/25, and are also published in the Google Classroom. 
  • Our meeting/activity planned for The Green Thumbs this past Thursday after school has been rescheduled (because of the rain we received) for next Thursday, 11/18.
  • Beginning 11/29, due to popular demand, Adopted Kids Club will be retuning, but under a new name -- Adoption Is Love Club. In this club, whether they have been adopted or not, students will learn and share stories about adoption, and we will have several special guests along the way whose lives have also been touched by adoption! We aim not only to grow together as a club, but to educate the school about the wonderful things adoption brings.
  • The week of 11/29, I will also be starting a support group for kids whose lives have been touched by divorce, called F.I.S.H. (Families In Separate Homes). If you believe your child would benefit from attending this group, please send me an email to let me know and I will get with you about what that will look like. 

I've met with many students this week. Hug them tight -- they're going through a lot. When they exhibit behaviors that you'd rather they "just not," remember that they, along with all of us, have been living through an ongoing trauma. Almost no one is their best self right now, and they're doing the best they can with what they have. Even if you think they're not -- they're trying. Each and every single child (and several adults) I've met with this week recognizes they could be better, but it's "just hard" right now. Amen, kiddos -- I feel you. Take an extra half hour (or an actual full hour) and play a game, go for a walk, talk about things you're excited for in the future, no screens, no distractions, just good old fashioned connection with your children. They're screaming for it -- often, quite literally. If I may be so bold, I'd venture to say, even if you have to put work or chores completely away for that time, you'll feel better for it too. 

What Can A Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris

cover of the childrens book what can a citizen do

In honor of the sacrifices our military servicepeople have made for all of us, it feels appropriate to highlight this book this week, which focuses on what it means to be a citizen, and what we can all do to make the world a better place. Whether it be by planting a tree, helping a neighbor, staying engaged, or remembering that we are all part of a bigger community -- we have a responsibility to take care of each other. "Everything makes an impact on a bigger big than you:" an important lesson to keep in mind in reflection of Veterans Day, and in keeping with my general observations of the world and our community recently. Let's please remember we need each other, and that the best way to make yourself feel better is to do something kind for another person or people.

NOVEMBER 5, 2021

"Where there is love, there is joy." - Mother Teresa

logo for All Ohio Counselors Conference

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the All Ohio Counselors Conference in Columbus. I don't attend every year, so it was a particular treat to get to be around and learn from such a large group of like-minded people, especially after the last year we've had, isolated from each other. Over the course of three days, I participated in 12 different seminars covering a variety of topics pertinent to my work at Harman and several different district committees on which I serve. I look forward to implementing the things I learned and serving our students and larger community in more dynamic ways -- it was the refresher I didn't know I needed. Many thanks to our PDC for approving my request to attend, and to all the work the skilled presenters put into making the experience so valuable. Three cheers for professional development!

We are discussing coping skills in 5th grade MHC as well, and this week we played Coping Skills Jeopardy! Through preparing for and playing this game, students collaborated to discover and discuss different kinds of coping skills (and which work the best for them in different past scenarios), and applied that knowledge to hypothetical scenarios provided on the game board. Incorporated throughout the lesson and game, other SEL standards are addressed, such as "demonstrating awareness of personal emotions," "describing outcomes associated with expression of emotions in different settings," "applying strategies to regulate emotions and manage behaviors," and "applying active listening and effective communication skills to increase cooperation and relationships," among others. 

Next Thursday 11/11 is a big day for two of our student clubs. In the morning, Military Kids Club will be holding a Veterans Day Breakfast and special flag raising ceremony on the front lawn at Harman. This gives our club members the opportunity to celebrate the special veterans in their lives, and the entire student body the chance to hear a few brief stories from current service people explaining why Veterans Day is so special. Later that day after school, a natural activity is planned for The Green Thumbs. Students will go on a scavenger hunt around the building for natural materials to create ephemeral art, in tribute to the beauty and utility of nature, and the positive impact it has on our mental health. 

OCTOBER 22, 2021

“Spread joy. Chase your wildest dreams.” - Patch Adams

This week in 6th grade MHC, we discussed our ongoing Coping Skills Journal project, designed to help students recognize and cope with their feelings. In order to learn -- really learn -- how to emotionally regulate, it's important to do it in real time, not hypothetically, so this project focuses on doing just that. To complete this project, students will have to practice engaging in the processes of self-reflection and introspection, consciously choose emotional regulation tools in the moment, and write about their experiences using these strategies. If you're working on emotional regulation with your own child at home, it may help to keep this in mind -- if you actively model your own emotional regulation in real time for them, it is more likely that they'll learn (and implement!) the strategies than if you talk about it another time theoretically or abstractly. 

Next week we begin Ohio state testing in 3rd grade. Certainly, we all want our students to do their best on their tests, and we want their best to be academically excellent, but it's also important to keep in mind that maintaining emotional health and overall wellness is vital (and connected to academic success). A dysregulated or foggy mind clouded with emotional baggage does not perform well academically, socially, or behaviorally. We will do our best to help our students recognize that their best effort is good enough, supported and enhanced by making healthy choices, both physical (eating nutritious food, practicing good sleep hygiene, etc.) and emotional (demonstrating grit, having work ethic, using positive self-talk, etc.); please help us by reinforcing this message! 

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell

Cover of the book %22maybe something beautiful%22 with a girl looking at a man holding a paintbrush

This book, illustrated by Rafael López and based on a true story, describes the power of art and how it can transform spaces and hearts. If the reader chooses to look beyond the specifics of the story, however, there are several timely and beneficial themes that can be discovered, including the transformative power in the collective action of a community and the socioemotional benefits of exploring one's own imagination. It's always a good time to remember that if everyone pulls together, invests in unity over division, and rallies behind a shared goal, beautiful things can happen -- relationships are forged, lives are brightened, and community is built. If the reader looks even deeper, the "art" created by Mira our protagonist, can serve as a stand-in for any positive action (providing a great opportunity to brainstorm and connect with your little one about what beauty they bring to the world!). One person spreading joy can make a huge impact, far beyond the scope of their own circle. In a time where political, ideological, and philosophical beliefs set us apart from each other, undeniably causing tension among families and friends, a simple heartwarming story -- reminding us that the ties that bind us are stronger than those that divide us -- is indeed a breath of fresh air. 

OCTOBER 15, 2021

“Joy; the kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” - David Steindl-Rast

My three week "feelings course" in 2nd grade came to a close this week, and I'll miss being in these classrooms regularly -- the class of 2032 certainly is enthusiastic and engaged! Throughout our time together, students created "feelings toolboxes" and earned different tools to help them manage their feelings by practicing them and naming situations in which they could employ them. I even heard students give examples of how they remembered to use certain tools outside of school, unprompted! This made me feel very proud. As a side note, we spend so much time addressing social and emotional needs in the classroom not only because we see the need and we have standards addressing these things, but because a wealth of research indicates the efficacy of taking a proactive approach in teaching emotional regulation. The earlier we can intervene and help students learn these skills, especially in times they are already regulated, the more success they'll have in the future. Ask your 2nd grader about their feelings toolbox, and what's inside! 

Our second Military Kids Club meeting happened this Wednesday, and students were given the opportunity to connect and share stories about where they have lived around the world. Together, students created pages that will be turned into a book, chronicling this year's MKC group and the places they've lived. Next month, for Veterans Day, we'll host a breakfast on the lawn for our favorite veterans, and then hold a special flag raising ceremony with a distinguished speaker. 

This past Thursday, our first meeting for our student-driven club, The Club For All, went very well also. Four very dedicated students attended, already having had brainstormed different ways to make Harman a more welcoming place. Their goal is to "celebrate friendship and uniqueness" and have "everyone in the entire school" join. I admire their vision and look forward to seeing what they will come up with as the year progresses.

The Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi

child on a bicycle riding through the woods

Continuing the themes of positive self-talk and building self-efficacy, this colorful picture book, illustrated by Lorena Alvarez, recognizes and honors the struggles of not being able to do certain things, but introduces the idea that one little magical word -- yet -- can serve as a proper antidote to the despair or frustration one might feel in those situations. Can't ride a bike? Okay, maybe you can't... yet. Having trouble sticking that landing or making that three-pointer? Yeah, it's hard, and you haven't done it... yet. This very small but powerful word, when added to the end of self-deprecating or defeatist intrusive thoughts, can help turn anxiety, fear, timidity, and helplessness into patience, bravery, grit, and determination.

OCTOBER 8, 2021

“When we are centered in joy, we attain our wisdom.” - Marianne Williamson

students in blue shirts stand by a bulletin board that reads you belong here

This week was busy indeed! I taught MHC in both 5th and 6th grades, and continued a 3-week adventure in 2nd grade. In 6th grade, we began exploring coping skills, how to use them, and started a year-long project designed to practice self-reflection, personal growth, and mutual accountability. In 5th grade, we continued to explore different components of positive relationships. In 2nd grade, we expanded on the ideas from last week, discussing teasing and bullying and what to do in those types of situations. Second graders also participated in an activity inspired by Blue Shirt Day, "The Joy of Belonging," creating an important message filled with smaller messages for everyone in the school to enjoy.

Club News:

little girl holds a worm
  • This week, The Green Thumbs had their first meeting after school. Our budding environmentalists and gardeners learned what activities are in store for them this year, and went on a scavenger hunt for parasitic and symbiotic insects and creatures (pictured at right). A calendar with this year's dates and activities was distributed. Digital copies can be found on The Green Thumbs' Google Classroom, and extra hard copies can be found on the bulletin board outside the library.
  • Next Wednesday 10/13, Military Kids Club will meet at lunch in Room 1. 
  • Next Thursday 10/14, we will have our first meeting for  The Club For All in Room 1.
  • I have had several students tell me they'd like to start a club. If your child has a special interest they would like to share with other students, have them let me know. I am happy to help facilitate their leadership and opportunity to connect with other students!

Super Manny Stands Up! by Kelly DiPucchio

cover of book displays title %22super manny stands up%22 with a proud raccoon in a cape

I used this book in my 2nd grade lessons this week to open up discussion about teasing and how we can help others if they need us. We know that we can stand up for ourselves when someone is being unkind to us, but it isn't usually very easy to do because we're already feeling scared or uncomfortable in these situations. In this story, Manny sees Small One getting teased, and is able to tap into his own confidence and self-efficacy (developed by a very active imagination in the first half of the book!) and stand up for his friend. When he does, other friends join him and they stand together, stronger and more effective than any one of them would have been alone. Not only does this story highlight the importance of being an "upstander," it demonstrates the role positive self-talk plays in our ability to realize our potential.

OCTOBER 1, 2021

“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home. It’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” - Chuck Palahniuk

teacher speaking to students in classroom

This week, I began a 6 lesson/3 week adventure with our 2nd graders to help the teachers address some of the mental and emotional health standards regarding processing feelings, emotional regulation, and managing social relationships in healthy ways. The first two lessons this week focused on understanding the link between our feelings and our behaviors, and that our feelings and behaviors affect others' feelings and behaviors. We also jumped into some feelings identification and building our feelings vocabulary. The very act of naming our emotions can itself be helpful in regulation, and with younger students it is especially helpful to talk about feelings beyond "the big six" (happy, sad, afraid, angry, disgust, surprise). To accompany the lessons, we read The Boy With Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee and Today I Feel by Madalena Moniz (see below!). 

book cover with title %22today i feel%22 with little boy surrounded by painted handprints

Today I Feel by Madalena Moniz

This book isn't a story -- it's an alphabetical journey through 26 different feelings, accompanied by clever and simple illustrations. A great way to start conversations about different times different feelings can be experienced, this book touches on well-known emotions as well as less common ones.  From Adored to Invisible, Curious to Zzzzzz, not all the feelings provided are comfortable, and not all of them are easy to understand, but they do provide an excellent opportunity to connect with your child and present them with the opportunity to discuss feelings with you. By engaging in these kind of discussions with your child, you are offering them a way to connect with you, normalizing their own feelings, and giving yourself the chance to talk about how to work through them in a way that is healthy and consistent with your own family culture and values. 

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

"Joy is not in things; it is in us." - Richard Wagner

This past Wednesday, our first Military Kids Club meeting had over 40 students attend, from grades 1-6! At our meeting, our military kids learned what they can look forward to this year and made connections over shared experiences: the challenges associated with moving frequently, making new friends, and parental deployment. Students also filled out informational sheets about themselves, in hopes that they (or their sibling group) may be selected as Military Kid(s) of the Month! This will be a way to help celebrate the unique lives of our military kids, and enhance their feelings of pride and belonging. 

The first meeting for our gardening, ecology, and environmental club, The Green Thumbs, will be held on Thursday, October 7th after school, from 3:30-4:30pm. Our full calendar can be found on our Google Classroom, code: pddyxkj

One of the most delightful parts of teaching MHC in different classrooms and grade levels is collaborating with the different teachers who teach different subjects, and helping embed our Mental and Emotional Health standards within the content or context of the specific class/subject block. For example, this week in 5th grade MHC, students continued to explore the scientific method, but through the lens of a social scientist. The scientific method works the same way, whether you are hypothesizing about rock formations, ecosystems, decomposition, or things like communication and emotions. Mental and Emotional Health can be linked to all subjects, and when the students are given (or anyone is given!) opportunities to learn in ways that integrate knowledge from different domains or disciplines simultaneously, their ability to retain and make meaning of that knowledge increases! 

Mister Yes by Carmen Gil 

a man struggles to carry the word YES on his shoulders

"Mr. Yes knew how to do a lot of things...but the one thing Mr. Yes had never learned was how to say 'no'." This 2017 picture book, illustrated by Miguel Cerro, is a fantastic find for any child who struggles with peer pressure or setting boundaries. Mr. Yes goes through a series of poor (and silly!) decisions, based on his inability to say no, and suffers the consequences, both externally and internally. Lacking the ability to say "no" or self-advocate can contribute to decreased levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy, which as we know can also lead to more serious mental health challenges, like anxiety and depression. The importance of the lesson of this story cannot be overstated. If you'd like to read it, check it out from your local library, bookstore, or Mr. Wadham's office!

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” - Joseph Campbell

This week, I attended a professional development seminar through Dayton Children's Hospital and became certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. Getting to collaborate with dynamic mental health and medical professionals across the Dayton area during the experience was productive and valuable. I continue to feel grateful for working in a district that prioritizes the continued education of its staff and faculty, and that I was afforded the opportunity to receive this certification.

patriotic logo for Military Kids Club resembling an American flag

We will be hosting our first Military Kids Club meeting/get together next Wednesday, 9/22 at lunch (11:45-12:45pm). At our meeting, military kids will spend time making connections with each other and sharing stories from places they've been around the country and world. If your child would like to attend, please make sure they pack a lunch and meet us at the flagpole out front (or Room 1 if it rains) at the beginning of lunch; we'll be eating together first, and then beginning our activities after that. Also, Military Kids Club has a Google Classroom students can join if they wish (code 22tq5cl), where they can find announcements and additional resources. For more information about future dates and times for our meetings, keep an eye out here, our Google Classroom, or the Harman Happenings -- all three places will have MKC information.

This week in MHC, 6th graders started by exploring the topic of mental health: what it means and what particular challenges and opportunities it presents. We then began to explore our first theme/skill pertaining to building and maintaining positive relationships: vulnerability. Often, people think vulnerability is a weakness, something to protect at all costs. What we can learn through the work of social scientist Dr. Brené Brown is that vulnerability is one of the greatest markers of courage one can display. If we learn to recognize and challenge our predispositions to keep our guards up, we stand to gain a world of emotional intimacy and stronger connections with each other, which is foundational to finding and maintaining mental health.

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have A Horse by Marcy Campbell and Corinna Luyken

cover of the picture book with a little boy standing in front of an imaginary horse, staring at a little girl

This story about friendship, empathy, imagination, and understanding, as told through the eyes of Chloe, one of Adrian Simcox's classmates, shows us that sometimes, we learn see things with our hearts and not just our eyes, and sometimes other people need us to do exactly that. Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a beautiful horse, but Chloe does not believe him and isn't afraid to conspicuously share her perspective, either. It isn't until Chloe's mother brings her along on a visit to Adrian and his grandfather's house one day, that Chloe's perspective has the opportunity to change. If you would like, I invite you to head on over to my YouTube channel, Mister Wadham's Office, and watch a me read the book

SEPTEMBER 10, 2021

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” - Henri Nouwen

As I mentioned in last week's post, our Mental Health & Connection lessons began in 5th grade this week. I have had some specific questions about what we will be doing, so I wanted to take some more time and explain in greater detail what our time together will look like, and why we're doing it at all. In addition to subjects like math, science, and ELA, Oakwood has adopted standards for Health (and in this case, Mental and Emotional Health, specifically). Years of research have gone into illuminating the relationship between positive mental/emotional health and academic performance. Adopting standards to help students navigate challenges with emotional regulation (sadness, anxiety, anger) and social challenges (making friends, conflict resolution skills, isolation) directly addresses this relationship. Unfortunately, as much as we'd like to insulate them, our students are not immune to anxiety, stress, sadness, grief, loneliness, or conflict. Our time together focuses on building skills and strengths to mitigate the adverse effects these things have on their hearts and minds.

students writing things that bring them joy on a bulletin board in the hallway

In MHC, our class motto is "Positive relationships are the best medicine," rephrasing the old adage to address the significant role positive relationships play on our physical health as well as  our academic performance. Lessons are and will be designed to teach specific skills related to building positive relationships. Topics include: emotional regulation, effective communication, and conflict resolution. We will explore and practice how to speak clearly and respectfully to others, how to cope with/express our uncomfortable thoughts and feelings in healthy ways, how to manage conflict in all types of relationships, and build and maintain friendships. Today's lesson was an introduction to this concept, as well as an introduction to the variety of student clubs available at Harman, where they may meet and build relationships with other students. 

This week, I have continued to enjoy seeing what students have written as they continue to come by my office and write on my interactive bulletin board, sharing things that bring them joy (pictured above).

The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore

cover of the book %22The Whatifs%22 includes a worried looking little girl with small creatures climbing on her head

This story, about little Cora worries about everything. What if she forgets her homework? What if her dog runs away? What if people laugh at her? By the end of the book, she has learned to reframe her "whatifs" to serve her instead of harming her, instead thinking things like "What if things go my way?" or "What if everything works out?" or "What if I make a new friend?" This book is great for any of your kids who have a bit of an anxious or overactive (or catastrophizing) mind. Check it out (or have your kiddo pay me a visit and I'll read it with them!)!

September 3, 2021

"If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment." - Carlos Santana

Welcome back, Harman! Each week this year, my blog will begin with a quote about JOY, our new Timber theme for the 2021-2022 school year. If you'd like, skim last year's posts for inspirational quotes about relationships and connection!

principal and counselor read aloud to group of students

Like we do each year, Mrs. Patterson and I spent time with each grade level reading a book that introduced our Timber theme, and gave students a brief explanation of what to expect this year in Timber sessions.  It's important to note that we recognize life is not always wonderful. Sometimes it seems there are even more reasons to not experience joy than there are. However, this year, we want to emphasize the idea that even in those times when you are not feeling your best (and no one can all the time!), JOY is an excellent tool to try. Joy can be found in the most unlikely of places, and used as a way to help get you through those rough times. Stay tuned to learn more about how joy will manifest in and out of our now bi-monthly Timber sessions!

The year is off and running: I have already been in to 6th grade classrooms and begun teaching "MHC," Mental Health & Connection. Three times a month, I work with classroom teachers and and explore topics such as coping skills, communication, relationship building, and conflict resolution. This year, I am particularly excited to be teaching twice a month in 5th grade as well (which begins next week!). Students will explore the same topics, giving them a foundation for a whole new experience when they reach 6th grade next year! 

I'd like to express my gratitude to all of the families and parents of new and old students who have welcomed the Harman staff (and me!) back with warmth and support. We care a great deal about our students and doing what's best for each of them; to have that noticed and acknowledged means a great deal to all of us. Thank you for your grace, respect, trust, and generosity. None of it goes unnoticed or unappreciated! 

This year, some of our student clubs will continue, and others have changed. Take a look below at the different opportunities available to connect with other students! If you are interested in joining a particular club, join by using the Google Classroom codes. Also, if you are interested in starting a new club, send me an email and we can talk about that too.

👍🏽 The Good News 👏🏻
Google Classroom code: hbal7zy
The Good News is our Harman student online newspaper! Established to celebrate the good things that are happening in our lives, our school, and our community, The Good News puts out monthly publications. Students may submit their own Good News (an A+ on a test, a new level belt at karate, a dance recital -- there's no limit to the good news one can supply!) by filling out our Google form. Let's focus on all the wonderful things that are happening in our lives! Also, do you have some good news/good things going on in your life? Use this link to brag, celebrate, or share it with us!

🙋‍♀️ The Club For All 🙋🏾‍♂️
Google Classroom code: 7w5jaxn
Reorganized and rebranded by one of our Harman students, this student club emerged as a blending of our KINDling and Adopted Kids clubs of the past. The Club For All is intended to be a safe space for all students to feel welcomed, included, safe, valued, seen, and heard. Do you have a special story to share? Are you having trouble making friends or finding a group of people you can trust? Do you have a heart for helping others? Hoping to build your social skills or learn about how to interact with all kinds of people? The Club For All is for YOU!

♻️ The Green Thumbs 🌱
Google Classroom code: pddyxkj
If you care about recycling, ecology, gardening, sustainability ("going green"), or the climate and environment, join our largest student club, The Green Thumbs!

🇺🇸 Military Kids Club 🌏
Google Classroom code: 22tq5cl
In Military Kids Club, we connect with other students who have been through deployments, PCS, and all kinds of military-related challenges civilian kids do not. In the past, we've video chatted with deployed parents, shared stories about our adventures from around the world, and made connections with each other. 

🎨 The Creative Crew 👨‍🎨
Google Classroom Code: 27fo5gt
During activity meets, students have the opportunity to share, learn, and practice new techniques from each other and Mr. Wadham. 

Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland

cover of the book, where happiness begins. illustration of a young boy with a nondescript abstract figure that is smiling

This book was selected to be our theme book for Timber 2021-2022. Not only does it describe different characteristics of joy (or "happiness" in this case), it also emphasizes the point that no one is happy all the time, but that happiness can be found anywhere, even when you aren't looking for it. It can also take you on special or unexpected adventures if you remain open to its possibilities. Whether you enjoy it for its lively illustrations or its dynamic socioemotional message, this book is an excellent conversation starter and reminder to "Try joy!".


MAY 17, 2021

“Healthy relationships of all kinds are usually composed of honesty, trust, and respect.” – Ace McCloud

Congratulations to Carl F. (6), Andrew Z. (5), Mary D. (4), Ana D. (3), Peyton G. (2), and Toby R. (1) for winning the Timber Challenge in their grade levels. Toby R. earned more points than anyone in the entire school, and chose to throw a donut party for his class as his reward. Even in selecting his prize, he was thinking of others. I am very proud of these students for working so hard to spread kindness, service, and love across the community, school, and in their homes over the last month. 1st grade won the Timber Cup overall, and will have an ostentatiously delightful trophy on display in their classrooms next year to remind them of their hard work and kind hearts. Who will win in 2022? 

I appreciate everyone's patience and grace with me as I navigated my first "state testing season" during the same month as the Timber Challenge. You'll undoubtedly notice that I have missed a couple entries -- it was a busy month indeed. For my faithful readers -- who in total, I feel hopeful, may be reaching double digits soon -- thank you for noticing and returning to read my words again. I am also proud of our students for taking testing seriously (but not too seriously), and completing them with such confidence. 

As we transition to the summer, if you would like information about camps or counseling/therapist recommendations, please let me know. As you well know, just because we are out on break does not mean that your child may not still need some additional support (and frequently, the summer is the best time for that, so their little brains aren't focused on too many things). My main page has several resources listed, but I have more to offer, should you be interested. 

Invent Something
Do your creative juices start to flow when you see something new? Do you immediately have an idea for making it even more functional or efficient? Do you enjoy figuring out how things work or coming up with innovative ways of doing things? You may have that creative spark that all inventors share. Just tinkering around with your product idea, sketching out drawings, making notes, or even giving your product an original name can bring you happiness. Improve upon an existing product or develop a totally new one. Who knows – you might have the idea for the next big innovation everyone will be rushing to the stores to buy!

APRIL 23, 2021

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Our first round of testing is finished and out of the way (hooray)! Please make sure that everyone does their very best to stay healthy and students make it to school on the day their tests are scheduled, so they don't have to miss class to take their makeups. We want to make sure that no one misses out on anything exciting, and that everyone is able to demonstrate all the things they know! Students did a great job staying calm and working hard these last two weeks, and I am proud of their fortitude and determination. 

This week, I'd like to talk a little bit about empowering vs. enabling. Saying no or watching our children struggle certainly goes against many of our natures and instincts to guard, nurture, and delight them, however, doing too much for them decreases their chance to to practice and build essential skills, such as initiative, resilience, and problem solving. Children need the opportunity to be uncomfortable, to be challenged, to make mistakes while they are still under the comfort of our protective wings, so they can learn how to work through obstacles and adversity on their own. As adults, we certainly know that life is full of both, and we want them to be prepared! As strange as it may sound, I encourage you to do less for your child -- stop making everything so easy. Let them carry their own bookbags, open their own containers, struggle through challenges, solve their own problems so they can stretch their muscles, both figurative and literal. It may feel uncomfortable in the short run for everyone (especially if this is shaking up the status quo), but the long term benefits are all but guaranteed. Of course this doesn't mean you should stop paying attention or be dismissive; praising the heck out of 'em when they do display autonomy or problem solving skills, and having empowering conversations that focus on relying on their own skills (past successes, strategies, and experiences; identifying potentially useful and available tools; etc.) is an excellent way to maintain the connection with them you crave while helping them develop vital life skills in the process. 

Club News:
On 4/28 @ 12pm, our Adopted Kids Club will meet in my office.
On 4/29 after school, the Green Thumbs will meet on the front lawn for an Arbor Day scavenger hunt.

Create a Vision Board
A sheet of poster paper or foam board can host images, inspirational words, goals, and dates for accomplishing your goals, or ideas of how you can take your dreams in new and different directions. Maybe you want to find a way to help your school establish a theatrical group or recycling program; perhaps you want to make the basketball team by the time you’re in junior high. Cut out pictures from magazines and paste them on your vision board and keep it somewhere you can look at it often. You can write and draw on it too! Do you know other people who could help you along your way? Write their names on the board and contact them. You’ll soon learn that a dream doesn’t have to stay that way – it can come true through establishing a clear vision!

APRIL 16, 2021

“Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” – Swedish Proverb

children stand masked and smiling around a table, presenting the earth seed bombs they just made

This week in The Green Thumbs, students celebrated Earth Day by engaging in a discussion about how to save and conserve energy, the negative impact litter and garbage has on our community and planet, and picked up trash around Harman. Students also got their hands dirty, creating planet Earth seed bombs out of pulped paper, water, and flower seeds to take home and plant!

Thursday, Military Kids Club students were honored by the school and their parents, through Purple Up! for Military kids day, and a special surprise video message created by their parents, letting the whole school know just how special being a military kid is, and how many sacrifices they have to make living a life in the military. Students who have parents currently deployed were also surprised with a special lunch.

cover of the picture book All The Ways To Be Smart, by Davina Bell.

This week, I spent time in our first grade classrooms teaching a lesson in self-confidence. The delightful picture book All the Ways to Be Smart, by Davina Bell, set the stage for conversations about how things like creativity, bravery, kindness, and athleticism (among many other things) are just as valuable and celebration-worthy as things like "knowing all the right answers." Students were invited to think about the things that make them special and their own "brand" of smart, and create their own lesson plans based on these things to teach to their classes at a later date. Side note/caveat,  "smart" attributes success to a particular personal trait, rather than an active process in which one must get involved. Self-efficacy (a person's confidence in their ability to find success) is just as (if not more) important than self-confidence, and a best practice is to teach it instead, or at least in tandem (which is what I have planned for subsequent lessons). When your child does something particularly "smart," rather than praising them for "being smart" ("Oh, honey, you're so smart!"), praise their effort, their ability to work hard, learn, and accomplish difficult things. For more insight into this concept, check out this transcript of a podcast with Yale grad, Stamford professor Dr. Carol Dweck

Make a New Study Buddy
For those times when you want someone to quiz you or share notes from that last class, nothing beats having a classmate who is willing to study with you. If there is someone in your class you find intriguing or who is new to the school, ask that person to study with you. Say something to spark a conversation.Imagine being in a new environment and not knowing anyone… and then how welcoming it would feel to have someone you don’t know very well invite you to study with them. Most likely, the person you ask to be your study buddy will be as supportive of you as you are of them. You both want to excel – it’s a win-win for both of you!

april 9, 2021

“Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings.” – Miles Franklin

Next week, everyone's favorite time of year begins -- Ohio State Testing! The best advice I can give you is to get as much sleep, nutrition, and positive thoughts as possible around this time. If you are particularly prone to test anxiety, check out the many resources I have on the topic in my Google Classroom, Mr. Wadham's Virtual Office, code g5x4v6k. There is also a variety of video playlists on my YouTube channel that you may find helpful in general. The most important thing to remember is that a score on a standardized test is NOT A MEASURE OF YOUR WORTH, VALUE, OR ABILITIES. Please do not let yourself stress about it -- we certainly are not. It sounds cliche, but all you need to do is try. Show effort. Parents, please help us reiterate this message at home. Sending the message that they must to do well is usually counterproductive. Try reframing that message into something like "Time and time again, you have shown that you can do hard things. This is no different. Let's focus on our past success instead of the unknown future," or something far simpler, like "Try your best and that's the best you can do;" it's much more likely to be supportive and elicit positive outcomes. 

Next Thursday, Military Kids Club will be "hosting" Purple Up! for Military Kids Day. Service people are not the only ones who make sacrifices -- our military kids must learn to be resilient at an early age, be ready to pick up and move at any time, and manage their emotions when their parents deploy, just to name a few things! Please wear purple to honor our military kids on Thursday, April 15, 2021! To read more about Purple Up! Day, check out this site.

Club News:
The April edition of The Good News went live today, 4/9! Check it out!
On 4/12 from 12:00-12:40pm, we will have an in-person Military Kids Club Meeting in the Music Room.
On 4/14 from 3:30-4:00pm, The Creative Crew will meet to discuss our ongoing project and to add to the bulletin board!
On 4/15 from 3:30-4:30pm, The Green Thumbs will have an Earth/Arbor Day celebration/activity/adventure!

Exercise in the Park
If you like stretching, walking, or running, do it in nature. Doctors say the best kind of exercise is the kind that you enjoy enough to keep doing consistently, and adding an extra element of enjoyment increases your likelihood of continuing the practice. If you like to socialize when working out, meet some friends at the track or at a park. Breathe some fresh air, take in the lovely sights and sounds of nature, and give your other senses a treat while work out!

MARCH 26, 2021

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

words on a bulletin board: serve. care. connect.

In Timber this week, we explored "Connecting with the Community," and watched a video featuring members of the greater Dayton community who value volunteering as a way to connect with and serve others. Students were invited to consider ways they can connect with their community, and we spent the rest of the time enjoying each other's company, as this was our first Timber session held in-person, instead of over Google Meet! If you or your family would like more information about how to get involved in the community, please let me know, and I will help set you up!

As a follow up to my post last week, I would like to invite you to spend some time really, truly listening to your child as you may have more opportunities to in the upcoming week. We communicate with more than just our words: with our tones, our bodies, our attitudes, and our behaviors. If there is one piece of information I hear the most often from my time spent in individual sessions with students, it's that they don't feel heard and they wish they could communicate with their parents better. Opportunity is knocking, friends. 💛

Club News:
When we return from Spring Break, The Good News team has a meeting on 4/6 @ 3:30 to prepare for our May issue, and the KINDling Club has a meeting on 4/9 at 3:30pm to discuss a new potential project. Creative Crew members should continue working on their 3D pieces to add to our ongoing fantasy village project!

Make Happiness Cards
Create handmade cards for birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, or to say thank you… or for just about anything you can think of! Cut and paste things you enjoy from magazines, use calligraphy and watercolors or tempera paint to create fun, individualized images. Let your imagination go wild! Your unique cards will carry messages of caring, thoughtfulness, and of course, your wishes for abundant happiness.

MARCH 19, 2021

"Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other's achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain." - Fred Rogers

%22Listening is where love begins.%22 - Fred Rogers

In honor of his birthday, one of Mr. Fred Rogers's quotes has been temporarily installed in one of our stairwells to remind us that, especially in times of transition and stress, it is important to listen to each other. Everyone needs to be validated and loved for who they are, right where they are, right at that moment, and achieving this requires being heard. I invite you to take some time this weekend and really listen to the people you love. Are you performing a social script on repeat, or are you truly connecting and listening to each other? Relational growth is found in quality time: sharing, brainstorming, reflecting, and connecting over conversation. I have had more "desk work" to accomplish this week than I normally do, and I am glad for it, because I have had a relatively steady stream of people coming by to talk and process their feelings... I am glad I had the opportunity to listen.

If you have not yet had the chance to view the Timber Challenge commercial, take 3 minutes to see what students who participated in it last year have to say about their experience, and get some details about what is in store for this year's challenge! The link can be found on my YouTube page, Mister Wadham's Office, along with a sneak peek of next week's Timber lesson, where we focus on connecting with the community.

Club News:

  • With our new schedule, some club activities and times have changed. All KINDling Club meetings will be held after school (3:30-4:00pm) instead of at lunch; Adopted Kids Club will meet at lunch (12:00-12:20pm) in my office; Military Kids Club will meet in the music room at lunch (12:00-12:30pm). All Good News, Creative Crew, and Green Thumbs meeting dates/times will stay the same. 
  • Next week, Adopted Kids Club meets on Wednesday, and The Green Thumbs meets on Thursday for another planting opportunity, plus a lesson on composting!

Find Pleasure on Bad Days
In spite of any negative circumstances you may be dealing with, find little moments throughout the day to notice the things that give you pleasure. Take time to appreciate seeing the neighbor’s yellow roses that have just burst into bloom, or the taste of a perfectly ripe and sweet apple, the sound of your favorite music, the feel of your favorite shoes, the warmth of your favorite blanket. Savor the gifts of sight, touch, taste, and smell – they’re still reacting to your surroundings even as you deal with your lousy day. Take comfort in simply noticing the blessings in the small things and in your short moments of happiness throughout the day.

MARCH 12, 2021

“We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers instead of critics.” – Joyce Meyer

students pack items into boxes

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Military Kids Club donation drive last week! As a school, you brought in over 200 items to include in our care packages to send to deployed parents this week! Congratulations to 3rd grade, who brought in the most items (3rd - 77 items; 1st - 47 items; 2nd - 31 items; 6th - 26 items; 5th - 22 items; 4th - 16 items). At our Military Kids Club meeting this past Monday, students packed up the items, along with handmade cards and letters, to send off to our deployed parents.

The countdown has begun. The Timber Challenge 2.0 debuts in 25 days! Last year, nearly 200 Harman students participated in this month-long building-wide game that focuses on expanding on the lessons taught during our Timber lessons. As you already know, our Timber theme for the year is "Connection" with our friends, our families, our community, and beyond. This year's specific challenges will be revealed in time, as will this year's PRIZES -- which will be bigger and better than ever! Students should keep their eyes and ears open for clues around the school, and a very special commercial coming soon! #TC2021

Next week, our first week back to a full-time schedule, there will be no club meetings or activities, as we adjust to our new rhythm and figure out the best times and places to have future events. If your child is having a difficult time adjusting or managing their feelings with this upcoming change, please feel free to fill out the form to schedule a Walk & Talk with Mr. Wadham so I can connect with them.

Clean Your Desk Every Day
Time management experts say that a clean desk is important for several reasons. You work more efficiently when you know where your documents and tools are at all times rather than if you have to search through a disorganized mess to find them. So get yourself whatever tidying supplies you need: a small bookcase, pencil box, filing boxes, hanging folders, mugs, labels, organizers… and then get to work and join the ranks of happily organized workers!

MARCH 5, 2021

“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world, at peace.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

One hashtag to build mystery... #TC2021... that is all. If you know, you know. Big things are brewing... 👀

As we transition back to a full-day schedule, many of our scheduled club meetings and individual counseling sessions will need to be rescheduled. I have done my best to meet with students individually during the day part that they were not in the school building, using the "Walk & Talks with Mr. Wadham" model, but now that our students won't be spending half their school day at home, I'll need to meet with them during class time. I'll be working with each teacher to find the most suitable time that will cause the least amount of disruption possible. If you have a concern about this, please be sure to email me and let me know. If you/your child are involved in club meetings, keep your eyes peeled on the Harman Helpline, this blog, or the associated Google Classrooms for updates in club meeting/activity times.

Next week, we have three club meetings/activities:
🇺🇸 Military Kids Club will meet Monday, 3/8 @ 11:25am to pack up the items we received from our Deployed Parents' Care Package Drive. 
🎨 The Creative Crew will meet in person on Wednesday, 3/10 @ 3:30pm to continue work on our 3D Fantasy Village. Students should bring their work to school so it can be attached to the bulletin board during our meeting time.
🌱 The Green Thumbs will meet on Thursday, 3/11 @ 3:30pm for another seed planting activity!

Attract the People You Want in Your Life
If you are seeking loyalty and trust in your friendships, first cultivate those qualities within yourself and then demonstrate them to others – in doing so, you become a magnet for exactly what you want. Similarly, if you seek a gentle, loving person as a friend, avoid people with volatile or temperamental dispositions. Although, opposites do sometimes attract, you’ll most likely be better friends with someone who is more like you.

FEBRUARY 26, 2021

“We were created for social connection. We are at our best when we have healthy relationships with people who genuinely care about us, respect us, and lift us up.” – Robyn L. Gobin

Lessons about Peer Mediation have begun in 6th grade! Over the next two months, our students will learn all about this systematic conflict resolution process, which will culminate in simulations and the formation of a peer mediation team to help students in the building work through their own conflicts. This is, by far, my favorite activity of the year. Stay tuned for more info about our journey!

Moving forward, on any remote day, my virtual drop-in office hours will be from 9-10am and 1-2pm. 

I encourage you to take some time to self-reflect this weekend. So much of the stress our children (and students) carry can be alleviated by our own honest evaluations of our responses and practices in the home (and in the classroom!). Is your child struggling with perfectionism? Is he feeling down on himself? Is she having trouble completing assignments? Are they withdrawing, extra sensitive, or challenging? Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, times like these are natural and guaranteed. We can all do our best to help normalize these behaviors (so we don't add shame to the mix) by sharing our own coping strategies, modeling, and being humble enough to admit our own challenges. In order to do this, we need to know what our own challenges and areas of improvement are. Check out this Adult SEL (Social Emotional Learning) Self-Reflection tool published by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) to help give you a baseline understanding. If you would like to talk about what you discovered, please send me an email -- I'd be happy to connect with you!

Next week, we have two club meetings:
👍🏼 The Good News team will meet on Tuesday, 3/2 from 3:30-4:30pm to finalize our March issue and plan for our April issue.
💌 KINDling Club will meet on Friday, 3/5 from 11:25-11:45am to talk about how to serve, care, and connect with each other!

Make a Family Recipe
Strengthen your family connections and forge a stronger family identify by reaching out to your relatives. Make a special recipe handed down from previous generations. Share it with relatives by hosting a small reunion (or make porch drop offs right now), making sure everyone gets a copy of that treasured recipe as well. Encourage them to pass it along to other relatives too. Your effort creates a tangible link to the past, encourages a celebration of your shared identity, recalls memories, and strengthens family bonds. The beloved relatives who originally made that dish – perhaps even centuries earlier – may have long since passed on, but you can remember them whenever you make your family recipe and smile. 

FEBRUARY 11, 2021

“A sense of interconnectedness with others has been shown to fortify feelings of happiness.” – Will Bowen

two students stand in front of their class, performing a small scene of conflict

In 6th grade this week, students performed their self-written skits demonstrating the use of I-statements, you statements, body language, tone/inflection, and how these things contribute to effective communication and conflict resolution. In each of the 6 sections, students supported each other, laughing and celebrating the creative writing and performances of their classmates. I look forward to introducing them to the peer mediation process in upcoming lessons.

screen shot of Google Meet - many faces in squares

This past Monday, Military Kids Club had the honor of attending a Google Meet with Sergeant Daniel Perrault, deployed in Saudi Arabia at Prince Sultan Air Base.  Sergeant Perrault is the dad of one of our new students to Harman, and is a medic in the Air Force. Students got to hear about life in the Middle East (it's 120° there!), what sort of things he does for work, and how he occupies his down time. Students were particularly excited to hear about his camel sightings, and asked many questions about them. We will be collecting items for care packages to send to Sergeant Perrault as well as another one of our deployed parents until our next meeting on March 8th, when we will be packaging all the goods and sending them off! If you are able, please consider donating some of the following items:

  • drink mixes
  • protein bars
  • cured meats 
  • crackers
  • candy
  • toiletries
  • books or magazines
  • batteries
  • letters and cards!

Please drop off your items in one of our collection bins by March 8th!

five students and two teachers pose, in masks, with smiles

The Green Thumbs had a Winter Scavenger Hunt Adventure on Thursday. Not as many students showed up as did for our fall adventure, given the temperature and day before winter break, however the ones that did got to experience the wonder of nature covered in a thick blanket of snow. Discussions about what is considered a seed pod, where one might find insects and animal tracks in winter, and our future plans for a Harman Learning Garden filled the air as the students dashed about the perimeter of the school, identifying different "wintertime nature things."

The week we return from winter break, we have two club meetings!
2/24 @ 11:25-11:50am:  🙋‍♀️  Adopted Kids Club Meeting
2/25 @ 3:30-4:30pm: 🌱  The Green Thumbs Club Activity/Winter Veggie Planting

Get Involved!
Find people who share your interests, and do things together! If you prefer sports, you could join a softball or bowling team. If you are artistic, you may enjoy performing (or behind-the-scenes work). Joining a team or group is a great way to make new friends and learn new things. Psychologists say that people who live isolated lives or lack strong social networks are not as happy as those who form strong bonds and social connections with others and have ongoing support from friends and family.

FEBRUARY 4, 2021

“When you cultivate quality relationships, not only do you feel better and help your friends feel better, but you contribute to an increase of joy, love, and peace in the world.” – Tara Bianca

cards and gifts on desk

Apparently this was National School Counseling Week, and I am delighted that my colleagues and students took time out of their schedules to make sure that I felt seen, celebrated, appreciated, and valued. I was showered with notes, cards, pictures, treats, gifts, and little gestures and performances of gratitude all week long. It is so gratifying to know that people you value and admire also feel the same way about you. Thank you all, staff, students, and families alike for continuing to work with me -- I am "living the proverbial dream," truly. Harman is the most magical place I have ever been, bar none. A million cheers to all of our future adventures!

Some food for thought: Stress is inevitable. Hard times are inevitable. It's a bonafide guarantee that things will not go the way you want or plan. People will not treat you the way you want them to. Things will not always be fair. It's true, staying balanced and emotionally healthy requires us to come face to face and deal with the associated feelings these uncomfortable truths produce, but we don't need to fall to pieces or damage ourselves and others in the process. We don't need to retaliate or dole out our own versions of justice. We don't need to take things personally or beat ourselves up. We don't need to threaten or belittle, and conversely, we don't need to be aloof and "school" each other. I want you to remember that there are healthy ways to manage these feelings and situations, more effective ways that can enrich the lives of all parties involved. There are absolutely things we can learn, personal improvement we can achieve by walking through the fire with grace and dignity. First, remember that bad times are guaranteed, and your reaction to the situations defines who you are more than the events themselves. Then, ask for forgiveness if you've messed up. Ask for clarification if you're confused. Assume the best intentions in others (even if you don't completely believe it) if you're harboring resentment or frustration. If you value resilience over victimization, if you practice forgiveness, vulnerability, humility, and focus on building better relationships instead of getting your way, you'll more likely get what you need and come out on the other side with the least amount of burn marks and scars. I believe in your ability to do this, and believe in a better future for all of us if more of us did this. I'd love to help you learn how if you just ask. Meanwhile, I'll be here waiting, leading by example, failing all the time, but trying my best.

Our February issue of The Good News has been published, and our staff is hard at work on our March issue already! They are also brainstorming ways to diversify the content of our paper, and are looking for ways to "get the word out" to drive more traffic to our website. As always, I am proud of their insight and initiative. Leading this little coalition of writers and creatives continues to fill my bucket to the brim.

Next week, we have three club meetings!
2/8 @ 11:25-11:50am: 🇺🇸 Military Kids Club Meeting/Google Meet with a deployed parent!
2/10 @ 3:30-4:30pm: 🎨 The Creative Crew Activity/Continue building our 3D Fantasy Village
2/11 @ 3:30-4:30pm: 🌱 The Green Thumbs Club Activity/Winter Scavenger Hunt

Notice the Wonders of Life
Incredible things are happening all around you all the time! Just for a moment, notice the wonders of life: look at the way light shimmers on dewdrops clinging to an elaborate spiderweb. Smell the scent of lilacs after a hard rain. Watch the majestic flight of a hawk; savor the taste of a freshly cut melon, gaze at the pattern of a piece of gum stuck to the pavement. Admire the vibrant colors all around you; hear the sizzle of a marshmallow toasted over an open crackling fire. Noticing life’s little details will fire up your imagination and your natural inquisitiveness about the world.

JANUARY 29, 2021

“No road is long with good company.” – Turkish Proverb

This week, in 6th grade, we continued our unit on I-statements and you-statements, and the role they play in effective communication. Students began writing scripts that they will perform for each other on my next visit. I continue to delight in their creativity and willingness to open their hearts to new experiences. 

At this week's Adopted Kids Club, our new president Ayanna W. (3) shared her ideas to expand the club's reach, and proposed her big ideas to incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout our school. She has made it her personal mission to make sure everyone knows that "it doesn't matter who you are or where you're from... everyone is welcome, everybody matters, and we should bring people together not apart." 

The Green Thumbs also had a winter sowing event this week. Led by gardening extraordinaire and ultimate Green Thumb Mr. Forney, our students planted seeds in their own homemade milk jug terrariums and learned how to take care of them. Afterward, Laney R. (3) shared her ideas about how to expand recycling and trash pickup at Harman and throughout Oakwood. Her plan to collaborate with other groups in Oakwood to "have a louder voice and be heard" was met with enthusiasm by the rest of the club. Activism is alive and well at Harman School!

students stand presenting their milk jug terrariums

Next week, The Good News team will meet on our Google Classroom's Google Meet on 2/2 from 3:30-4:30 for their planning session for March's edition.  February's edition will also hit the presses later in the week. Our next KINDling Club will be on 2/5 on our Google Classroom Google Meet from 11:25-11:50am.

We have a special opportunity for Military Kids Club club next month! On Monday, February 8th, from 11:25-11:50am, we will host a virtual meet with a Harman parent who is currently deployed overseas. This is an opportunity to ask questions and show them our support!  As this is a new military family to Harman and Oakwood, it will also help support his family at home. If you would like to attend our Q&A session (and we hope you do!), please RSVP to our parent liaison, Alicia Dunlap (, no later than 2/1 so we know how many students to expect!

Make the World Better
Think of three things you can do that don’t cost money but can benefit the world and the people around you. You could pick up trash along your daily walk, for example, or you could plant a tree or two. Recycle, if you don’t already. Hold open a door for someone. Give a construction worker a fresh bottle of water while they’re working up a sweat. Implement as many of these "make-the-world-better" ideas as you can! You’ll feel the joy of knowing that you are truly making the world a better place one selfless action at a time.

January 22, 2021

“The relationship we have with ourselves sets the foundation for every other relationship we have.” – Gina Senarighi

Expanding on the idea that we can’t make or keep meaningful connections with others unless we know who

I accept myself even though I sometimes make mistakes

we are and what we value, students explored positive self-concept and identity in today’s Timber lesson. We watched a video about values and how they shape who we are, and then completed personal values assessments to help us understand what each of us value, and then engaged in discussion about how those things help us connect with others. Students were also given sheets with positive self-affirmations to use when they're feeling down and need some encouragement. Data continues to show that positive self-talk has a positive effect on self-efficacy, self-confidence, and achievement. Engaging in this practice regularly literally reprograms the brain and increases our capacity to thrive. Give it a try!

In club news, next week we will hold our first Adopted Kids Club meeting on Wednesday at 11:25am. We will meet through the Google Meet link in our Google Classroom (code rm5dv6o). All students, no matter their relationship to adoption, are welcome! We will also have our next Green Thumbs adventure next Thursday, after school. Even though the meeting will take place over Google Classroom (code pddyxkj), students who wish to participate should visit Mr. Wadham before Thursday to receive the materials they'll need for our gardening activity (in addition to the plastic milk jug that everyone should be saving for the activity!). We will also have one of our students as a "guest speaker" who has many ideas of how our club can help Harman and Oakwood "go green" even more! 

I'd like to remind everyone that "Mr. Wadham's Walk & Talks" are still "a thing," and if you would like to schedule some time to talk, laugh, cry, or learn some things about mental health, wellness, or how to be happier in general, fill out this brief survey to let me know!

Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and decidedly unhappy? Try cooling down with a mini-mindfulness session: stop whatever you are doing right now, close your eyes, and focus on your breath until your mind quiets. As thoughts come up, allow them to float away by gently redirecting your mind back to your inhalations and exhalations. Stay in this state for fifteen minutes (or start with five and work your way up to fifteen). With practice, you can easily learn to quiet any mind chatter that may be distracting you. Doing a mini-mindfulness session is a great way to refocus yourself and find some calm.

January 15, 2021

“Relationships with anyone are at their best when you are at your best.” – Maria Dorfner

The Creative Crew is off to a great start in 2021... plans for their inaugural collaborative project, a 3D Fantasy World, are underway! Some of our members met for brainstorming on Google Meet using Jamboard earlier this week, and I was impressed with their ability to work together. I was pretty creative as a child, and cared a great deal about my own art projects -- which is a generous way to say I was terrible at being open to others' ideas and working well with others in a creative capacity. I know that there is no way I would have been able to find the same grace and enthusiasm for a project like this that they demonstrated at our meeting. I don't know why I continue to be shocked at the level of courtesy and maturity our students demonstrate, but I am. Kudos, kiddos (and parents)! You're amazing. 

a screen shot of five students collaborating on a drawing of a fantasy world, which includes a dragon, castle, unicorns, etc.

In addition to the intergenerational pen pal project our KINDling Club has been working on, 10 Wilmington Place has asked our students to share their artwork so they may brighten up their rooms and hallways. If you would like to contribute, create your art and drop it off to me in my office or with Mrs. Casterline in the main office as soon as you're done! #DoKindThings 

Remember, there is no school next Monday, in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Be sure to spend some time reflecting on the legacy he has left, and the call to action his words have made -- their significance rings true even to this day. I'll be posting a new Storytime with Mr. Wadham on the day after MLK Day, to commemorate Dr. King and our ongoing responsibility to strive for equality and justice.

Pet Sit
Cleaning up poop may not immediately seem like the path to happiness, but helping a friend and their furry (or scaly or feathered) friend is. Pet sitting is also a great way to decide on whether or not you would want a pet. You can learn a lot from pet sitting. You might discover that a guinea pig is not the right pet for you because of its nocturnal nature, for instance. An iguana might not be active enough, and a parrot might be too talkative or possessive. But if you connect with your friend’s pet, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy your experience. Discover what many pet owners have learned: pets bring much fun and happiness!

January 8, 2021

"Men are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges." - Joseph F. Newton

Welcome back, Lumberjacks! Happy 2021!

This week, I've enjoyed reorganizing and enhancing my Google Classroom (Mr. Wadham's Virtual Office), creating more lessons, and planning activities and events for our clubs. Please, if you're ever feeling like you need an extra boost, whether you need social, emotional, or mental support, check out the resources in my Google Classroom, or any of our other club Google Classrooms (details and class codes can be found on my main School Counselor page, or just scroll down to my November 13, 2020 entry and find them there too!). There, you'll find videos, activities, articles, and plenty other enrichment opportunities waiting for you there!

Speaking of my Google Classroom, I will be holding virtual office hours every day from 9-10:30am and 1-2:30pm this coming week (1/11 - 1/15). If you would like to meet with me, stop on in by joining the Google Meet link.

Due to our 2-week remote schedule, Timber will be moved from January 15th to January 22nd. Our theme for January is "Connecting with Yourself," and will focus on how understanding and taking care of yourself leads to better, more meaningful and enriching connections with others. 

Club News:
🇺🇸 Military Kids Club's upcoming meeting that was scheduled for Monday, January 11th has been moved to Wednesday, January 13th @ 11:25am.
🎨 The Creative Crew (Art Club) will also be meeting Wednesday, January 13th at 3:30pm. To join the meetings, students need to log into the Google Meet links in the corresponding Google Classrooms. We hope to see you there!
🌱 The Green Thumbs members -- please don't forget to save your empty milk jugs for our upcoming winter planting activity on 1/28!

Say Hi to the Person Next to You
Pay attention to the people around you. Instead of silently standing next to a stranger in line or on an elevator, look in their eyes and offer a greeting. "Hello!" is easy to say -- it's only one word. It might lead to a conversation that could change your whole life, or at least make you giggle. That very stranger could end up a good friend, or you could be the first person to smile at them all day (or week, or month!). Make your day by making someone else's day! As you know, kindness can go a long way!

DECEMBER 11, 2020

"Thinking about the world as a web of connectedness helps us overcome the feelings of separation that hold us back."  – Emma Restall Orr

In sixth grade this week, we began discussing communication. In this lesson, we discussed the power our words have, and our responsibility in setting up our listeners to be receptive using our words and body language in productive ways. We began learning how to craft "I-statements," which will be useful in our work second semester when we move into conflict resolution and peer mediation. 

In The Green Thumbs this week, we talked about how to be eco-friendly during the holidays, and learned different tricks and tips on how to conserve paper and reuse/repurpose old holiday cards. We practiced wrapping presents, and several videos to help the students remember what we talked about have been posted on their Google Classroom.

Next Monday, we will have our final Military Kids Club meeting of 2020 (more to come in 2021!) at lunchtime. Students should log into their MKC Google Classroom to join the Google Meet at 11:25am, should they like to join the fun! 

When you have the emotional bandwidth for it, try to take some time to surprise and delight someone, whether it be with a card, a small gift, spending some time, or creating a magical surprise. The "spirit of giving" has real transformative power for your own mental and emotional well-being. I am delighted to serve on the Harman Social Committee, whose mission it is to help maintain an emotionally buoyant, inspiring, and encouraging environment for the staff, and we spent some time last weekend creating a space for the staff to lift their spirits leading up to holiday break. Since many people aren't getting to spend time with their families as tradition would otherwise dictate, we wanted to show some extra love to our Harman family through our surprise. Seeing the smiles on everyone's faces has brought my spirit much joy. What can you do for someone to make them smile?

Get the Chip Off Your Shoulder
If you want to be happy, then don't harbor a grudge. Holding onto anger, resentment, and hostility hurts your brain, your heart, and your body. Even if the thing that someone did happened only yesterday, the person you are mad at may not even remember the incident, so what's the point of continuing to be angry, especially when it's damaging to you?! Don't give up your power to the other person just to hold a grudge. Find a way to move past it. Take good care of yourself -- love and respect yourself enough to let go of a grudge.

DECEMBER 4, 2020

"Healing yourself is connected with healing others." – Yoko Ono

Just because it's getting cold outside doesn't mean that I am not still holding Walk & Talks with students who need someone to listen. If you would like to take advantage of this, use my Google Form (located on my home page) to schedule a time during the 1/2 day part you are not in school. Just be sure to bundle up when you arrive! Let's get some exercise for our bodies and hearts. Times are rough, but we still have each other. 

Don't forget that The Good News puts out a new issue the first week of every month! December's issue was published on 12/2! Even though our month is short in school this month, our student staff expressed their enthusiasm about still working hard to get our January edition out to you on time. Their hard work and creativity continues to inspire me!

Our next Art Club meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday after school (@3:30pm), and our next Green Thumbs activity is scheduled for next Thursday after school (@3:30pm). Both will be over Google Meet, through the respective Google Classrooms. 

Tips for Surviving the Holidays During COVID, adapted from clinical psychologist Dr. Amaryllis Roy:
1. Avoid unhelpful social comparisons. 
2. Have realistic expectations about family gatherings and plan accordingly.
3. Take breaks when you feel your worry or frustration start to rise.
4. Remember that everything is usually better in moderation.
5. Volunteer or donate as you feel comfortable and so led.

Appreciate Your Grandparents
If you are lucky enough to have your grandparents around, appreciate them now! They are treasure troves of memories and details of a bygone era. They can help you link your life experiences and challenges to those of your ancestors, giving you a solid feeling about who you are in the grand scheme of life. Grandparents are also great storytellers about what little troublemakers your parents were as kids. You'll feel happier in the years to come knowing you got to spend time with these amazing people and learn from their wisdom! Even though getting together with them may be difficult right now, there are many creative ways to maintain your relationship with them: write them a letter, schedule a phone or Zoom call, hang out through the window, or make them a video! Mr. Wadham is always happy to help you do any of this.

November 20, 2020

"Most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others." – Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

It's undeniable that when the future is uncertain or when traditions get disrupted that anxiety or stress aren't far behind. Here are some things to remember when helping your child manage anxiety, adapted from an article by the Child Mind Institute
1. The goal isn't to eliminate anxiety, but to help manage it. Building tolerance and coping skills is more helpful in the long run.
2. Don't avoid things, just because they make you anxious. Avoidance and denial are not healthy coping skills.
3. Express positive -- but realistic -- expectations. We can't always eliminate triggers, but we can always work on building our confidence to overcome them.
4. Respect the feelings, but don't empower them. Listen, empathize, validate, support.
5. Don't ask leading questions. Instead of "Are you anxious about..." try "How are you feeling about..."
6. Try to keep the anticipatory period short. If something is not happening for days or hours and your child is prone to anxiety, limit the opportunity for the uneasy build up.
7. Think and talk things through. Information is one of the best antidotes to anxiety. Frontload your anxious loved one with just enough information to help mitigate the "question marks."
8. Try to model healthy ways of handling anxiety. Kids are naturally inclined to mimic what they see. If you keep complaining or perseverating about the things that stress you out, your child will surely follow. Conversely, if your child sees you acknowledging it, tolerating it, and using a healthy coping strategy, they are likely to copy this behavior instead.

In the spirit of what was listed above, instead of continuing to investigate and practice skills related to vulnerability and shared anxieties about the future, our 6th grade SEL lessons have shifted our focus to learning and practicing coping skills and communication to help us manage right now. We've decided it feels better to work with what's on our plates before adding more to it. I am continually impressed and inspired by their collective ability to be transparent, honest, and reflective in our lessons. You parents of 6th graders should be very proud of the little person in your house. 

Today's Timber lesson was about connecting with family members. Be sure to ask your child about the Family Connection Bingo Board they received (if it never made its way to your house, you can find and print it here!). If you complete the activities together and get a Bingo, you will be entered into a drawing to win a family fun gift basket! Bingo boards must be received by 12/4 to be entered into the drawing. Happy Connecting!

Feed Your Brain
Like the old saying goes, you are what you eat. If you want to be happier, then you better start eating some good-for-you food! While it tastes yummy and offers a quick fix of happiness, junk food will weigh you down (in more ways than one!) and depress your moods, whereas healthier foods will improve your body and brain health, leaving you feeling happier and more energized.

November 13, 2020

"Happiness is only real when shared." –Chris McCandless, Into the Wild

Cover of the book Come With Me, a little girl walking a dog in front of a crowd of people

In honor of World Kindness Day, I recorded another episode of "Storytime with Mr. Wadham" for my YouTube channel. If you'd like to check it out, head on over! Ep. 003 features Come With Me, by Holly M. McGhee. This story, while focusing on the transformative power of everyday kindness, touches on several relevant modern themes, and when I found it a few months ago I didn't hesitate to add it to the stack I would then take to the checkout counter. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. On my YouTube channel, you'll also find the video Military Kids Club made this week to celebrate Veterans Day! Students discuss the veterans in their lives and express their pride and appreciation for all of the things "their" veterans have done for them and our country.

Student Club News:
Our club meeting schedules have been finalized for the rest of the school year. Please check out (and write down!) the dates and times listed below! As a note, "first Tuesday/last Tuesday/etc." does not count days we are not in school (holiday break/winter break/spring break, etc.).

  • 🌱 The Green Thumbs meetings/events will be held on the SECOND AND FOURTH THURSDAYS OF THE MONTH, after school (12/10, 1/14, 1/28, 2/11, 2/25, 3/11, 3/25, 4/15, 4/29, 5/13, 5/27 @ 3:30pm).
  • 👍🏼 The Good News will meet on the FIRST TUESDAY OF THE MONTH after school for our Monthly Kickoff Meeting where we brainstorm and discuss assignments (12/1, 1/5, 2/2, 3/2, 4/6, 5/4 @ 3:30pm).
    The LAST TUESDAY OF THE MONTH at 3:30 will be Submission Deadline for all content (11/24, 12/15, 1/26, 2/23, 3/23, 4/27, 5/25).
    The FRIDAY BEFORE THE LAST TUESDAY at 11:30am we will have a brief Google Hangout Check-In (11/20, 12/11, 1/22, 2/12, 3/19, 4/23, 5/21 @ 11:30am).
  • 💌 KINDling Club will meet on the FIRST FRIDAY OF THE MONTH during lunch ( 12/4, 1/8, 2/5, 3/5, 4/9, 5/7 @ 11:25-11:50). You may drop in to get information about our events and how to participate as you are able, during this time period. 
  • 🇺🇸 Military Kids Club will meet the SECOND MONDAY OF THE MONTH at lunchtime (12/14, 1/11, 2/8, 3/8, 4/12, 5/10 @ 11:25-11:50am). 
  • 👦🏻 Adopted Kids Club will meet the LAST WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH at lunch, starting in 2021: 1/27, 2/24, 3/24, 4/28, 5/26 @ 11:@5-11:50am)
  • 🎨 The Creative Crew will hold its official meetings EVERY SECOND WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH after school (12/9, 1/13, 2/10, 3/10, 4/14, 5/12 @ 3:30pm).
two little boys use trash grabbers to pick up garbage and put it in a bucket

The Green Thumbs had another activity this week, and worked to help clean up the Harman grounds. Some students picked up trash, while others pruned and trimmed the surrounding trees and foliage! Next month, we'll begin winter planting, for which students should begin to collect gallon milk jugs.

I have begun passing out intergenerational journals to our KINDling Club members. We are beginning a pen pal project with residents of Lincoln Park, Bethany Village, The Terraces, and St. Mary's Housing Development. If your student would like to participate, helping bring joy to our older neighbors who receive far less social interaction than to which they are accustomed, please let me know. I'd love to have as many people participate as possible (and so would the residents!). 

S       T       R       E       T       C       H
You know how stiff your body feels when you finally get out of a chair after hours of working hard? Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes to stretch. Some stretches can even be done while sitting in a chair or standing at the counter in your kitchen. Find a YouTube video to lead you if you need some help -- you'll feel rejuvenated, flexible, centered, fitter, happier, and more productive!

NOVEMBER 6, 2020

"I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued, when they can give and receive without judgment." – Brené Brown

We have a winner for The Good Deed Game! Earning a whopping 475 points, help me wish a big congratulations to 1st grader Ila H., in Mrs. Teeters's room! She has won an Ashley's gift basket for her entire class! Our second place winner was also in Mrs. Teeters's room, so the gift basket will be stuffed with some extra goodies to treat this very special group of students for their hard work, showing kindness throughout the month of October.

Mr. Wadham and 3rd grade student stand, giving thumbs up, in the same tshirt that says %22Vote%22

This week, I was lucky enough to participate in two different district-level meetings, with goals to help increase positive mental health, diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our buildings and community. I continue to feel overwhelmed with pride to work in a district that not only has dynamic leaders with whom I share many values, but a district that works to improve the holistic wellness of each of our students and staff. As a social worker, this is incredibly rewarding and fuels my inspiration.

Next Friday at "lunchtime" (11:25-11:50), we'll have a KINDling Club meeting (join the Google Meet using the link in our Google Classroom) to discuss our upcoming project. All are encouraged to attend, even new potential members! KINDling Club is a service club, dedicated to improving and enhancing the lives of others.

Fix A Fault
Everyone has faults, but that doesn't mean you're stuck with yours. Pick something in your life you would like to change or eliminate. First, be completely honest with yourself and examine what faults you have (hey 6th grade -- be vulnerable and use introspection!). Are you a gossip? Do you have a quick temper? Are you disorganized? Do you procrastinate? Are you still blaming other for the things that are wrong in your life? Choose to fix it! See and believe in the goodness in yourself -- you are capable of taking control of your life! If you need help, jus ask for it! There are many people who would love to help you (including me!). 

OCTOBER 29, 2020

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We Can Do Hard Things

Whew! Now that 3rd grade testing, conferences, and our first quarter are over, it's time for us all (me) to take a collective cleansing breath in through our noses and out through our mouths. We did it! We told ourselves we could do it, and we did, and that needs to be celebrated. Please take some time this weekend to focus on and celebrate all of your accomplishments these past two weeks and these past three months. We have proven to ourselves that we certainly can do hard things (thanks, Glennon Doyle!), and if we don't take the time to stop, breathe, and give ourselves credit before moving on to the next hard thing, we'll burn out and be less equipped next time. So let's do that together, shall we? Hooray for us!

A note on conferences/referrals: Generally speaking, I do tend to receive a great deal of referrals after the first round of conferences. If you have requested some time with me, or your child's teacher has recommended your child meets with me, please extend me your grace as I make my rounds -- it may take me some time, but I will make my way to you eventually! It there's an emergency, please call the school and ask to speak to me directly. To arrange a meeting, it would be ideal if you could sign up for a "Walk & Talk" and we can schedule it for the half of the school day your child is not actively in class. In the meantime, definitely spend some time in my Google Classroom. There, I have provided a banquet of helpful (🤞🏼) resources (videos, worksheets, articles, tips and best practices, activities, etc.) available to use, whenever you like! 

This week in 6th grade SEL, jumping off of our Timber lesson last week ("Connecting with Humanity"), we began talking about self-awareness. In order to be vulnerable and connect with others in meaningful ways, we must first know how to be vulnerable with ourselves, taking a critical look into how the words we say and the tone we use affects other people. Students were encouraged to spend the next two weeks in introspection to begin identifying their own areas of opportunity, so we can begin the lifelong work of combating them by "hijacking" our own minds, consciously shifting our thoughts from automatic to manual.

Student Club News:

  • 🇺🇸 Next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, (11/4-6) Military Kids Club members are invited to stop by my office on their way out of the building after school to learn about how they can take part in our Big Veterans' Day Surprise. Depending on how many show up at each of the six opportunities (after AM/PM each of the three days), they shouldn't be delayed more than 10 or 15 minutes at the most. Since we aren't able to have the big breakfast or ceremony on the lawn as we are accustomed to doing, we have a new COVID-friendly idea about which we are very excited. We can't wait to share it with you!
  • 🌱 I am overwhelmed and encouraged by the outpouring of positive reactions to and demand for new Green Thumbs activities! Rest assured, more are coming soon -- please be patient, and keep that enthusiasm up!
  • 🎨 Harman's newest club, an Art Club (Google Classroom code: 27fo5gt), will be meeting for the first time soon. If this sounds like something in which you (or your student) would be interested, definitely join the Google Classroom for updates! There, you'll also find a Form to vote for what the club should be called!
  • 💌 KINDling Club will be starting a penpal project with older adults in the community who are feeling isolated during COVID, and more information about this will be coming out within the next two weeks!
  • 👍🏼 November's issue of The Good News will be coming out next week! Our student team of journalists and content developers have been hard at work and are excited to share their newest masterpiece with you!

Tell Someone "I'm Proud of You!"
The statement "I'm proud of you!" is something people don't hear often enough, yet hearing it does so much for the self-esteem of the person receiving it. Be generous with your encouragement and praise! It costs you nothing and can mean happiness for those that hear it. Through your example, you can show others that happiness isn't necessarily being successful at school, getting a big allowance, or having the newest toy to play with -- it can come from kind words to each other!

OCTOBER 16, 2020

"When we focus on ourselves, our world gets smaller and our problems get bigger. But when we focus on others, our world gets bigger and our own problems seem smaller."  – Daniel Goleman

If my eyes and ears didn't deceive me, it seems that our Green Thumbs had a great time during our Mindfulness in Nature activity this Wednesday! Together, they made 14 different designs out of natural materials they found around the Harman front lawn, and laughed and appreciated nature together. I feel like I also saw the seeds of some new friendships starting to grow, which is always the main objective, as far as I'm concerned, so I was extra delighted to see that happening. I am encouraged by their enthusiasm to be together in nature, and at the growing numbers of our ranks. Stay tuned for more Green Thumbs adventures!

We are extending the honor to raise and lower the flag at Harman to all members of the Military Kids Club and their families this school year! If you are interested in doing so, please sign up for a week here. If you'd like a little tutorial on some best practices, check out this video! Our next meeting will be in a couple weeks, and there we'll reveal our first Military Kid of the Week, which will also appear in the Harman Helpline each week!

Next week, our 3rd Grade State testing will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you are the parent of a third grader, please be sure to make sure your students are in school these days, have been well fed and rested so they can do their very best!

Eat Some Chocolate!
When you want or need a moment of pure pleasure, try eating some dark chocolate. Not only does it make you feel good, but it has specific health benefits -- namely that dark chocolate increases the brain's "feel good chemicals" (serotonin and endorphins). Dark chocolate can also lower blood pressure, improve blood flow through arteries and veins, and act as a powerful antioxidant. See... chocolate is the perfect food!

OCTOBER 9, 2020

"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen."  – Rachel Naomi Remen

This week, the 2nd grade health unit on managing difficult feelings came to an end, culminating in a "Feelings Toolbox" (or coping skills) activity, designed to provide students with a comprehensive tool to use in the future to help them manage their feelings. Students were able to brainstorm, practice, and hypothesize about how and when to use different tools (or "feelings medicines") in different scenarios. Throughout the rest of the year, I'll be randomly dropping in to teach more coping skills they can add to their "feelings toolboxes!"

The Good Deed Game logo

This past Wednesday, as an activity to accompany and extend the spirit of Blue Shirt Day, I kicked off The Good Deed Game, which will be available for all students, grades 1-6 (as a completely optional enrichment/social activity) to play through the month of October. The grand prize winner will win an Ashley's Gift Basket for their entire class (or all to themselves, if they're an Option 2 learner!). Participating students will be given a list of tasks to complete each week; the completion of each task will earn a different number of points. The student with the most points by the end of the game will be declared the winner (yes, if you think this sounds a lot like last year's Timber Challenge, you're right!). Students will find their weekly lists of tasks, how to complete them, and how to let me know they've completed them under Classwork/The Good Deed Game in my Google Classroom, "Mr. Wadham's Virtual Office." Good luck to everyone who decides to play -- and may you spread much joy and cheer! More information can also be found in a video on my YouTube channel.

Next Wednesday 10/14, The Green Thumbs will have their next activity! We will spend some time outdoors and create art using natural materials! Along the way, we'll be sure to take time to appreciate our surroundings and each other's company. You may spend the time between now and then collecting items to use, or you can search for them on the day of the activity. Take a look at the photos below (found on Architecture & Design's website) for inspiration. Parents and family members are welcome! Please head over to The Green Thumbs Google Classroom and fill out the RSVP Google Form to let us know you plan on coming.

arranged natural materials (leaves, acorns, sticks) in spiral designs on the ground

Say No!
It's easy to say "yes" -- people like you when you say yes to the things they want or need. It's tougher to say "no," but sometimes saying no is just the thing you need to feel happier. Is someone trying to push you into doing something you don't have time or desire to do? Say no. Is someone trying to make you bend a boundary on which you feel you need to stand firm? Say no. If you have a hard time with this, remember, all things get easier with practice, and trying something new is always uncomfortable at first -- but you can do it! You never have to give in when you know you don't want to do something, or when you know something is not a good idea!

october 2, 2020

"The power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,… all can turn a life around." – Leo Buscaglia

This was a big week for classroom lessons and club activities! In 6th grade, we continued our lessons on building and maintaining positive relationships. This week's lesson was on vulnerability, based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. Students were encouraged to engage in the process of introspection and conduct their own "vulnerability assessment," to discover how and when they have (or could have) used vulnerability as a tool to enrich and enhance (or "level up") their own interpersonal relationships. In 2nd grade, our exploration of uncomfortable feelings dived a little deeper as we learned different ways to safely communicate how we are feeling, identified and labeled complicated feelings, and discussed ways to manage feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and anxious. 

We had our first meeting of Military Kids Club this week over Google Meet (pictured below, at left). Students met each other and talked about different places they have lived, and what they like most about being a military kid. We also discussed the different activities we can do this year, including FaceTiming with deployed family members, holding donation drives to make care packages, helping teach others about life as military kids, and our newest opportunity... raising and lowering the flag each day! We will be communicating soon with military families about how and when to sign up for individual days or a week at a time take on this special task, should they be interested. Many of our new students joined us at our meeting, and getting to see them interact was truly special.

two group pictures, one of children in a grid over Google Meet, and another outside with thumbs up

We also had our first official Green Thumbs activity this week (pictured above, at right)! Students in The Green Thumbs went on a plant identification scavenger hunt adventure through Smith Gardens, and the neighborhood surrounding Harman. Equipped with iPads and the Seek app as well as a list of things to find, members identified local species of flora and fauna using the app, collecting badges along the way. Winners were selected from those who identified the most species, as well as who collected the most points from the scavenger hunt. Based on feedback, another event  like this will be planned later on in the fall!

In other club news, next week, we will have our first Adopted Kids Club meeting on Thursday at 11:25am on Google Meet through our AKC Google Classroom. We will also be starting an Art Club in the next several weeks, due to several student requests! ALSO, our first issue of the highly anticipated online school paper, The Good News, has finally arrived! Head on over to The Good News website to check out the fruits of the student team's labor of love!

Next Wednesday, 10/7, is Blue Shirt Day throughout the whole district! Students are encouraged to wear blue shirts to visually demonstrate the collective value of standing up for kindness, to show that more of us believe there is no room for unkind behaviors at Harman than there are those who choose to put others down. I will be supplying a video with an (optional!) adventure/challenge for the entire student body throughout the month of October to emphasize this idea.

List Your Top Ten!
Think of ten things that are really important to you. Then, make each item as specific as possible. For example, what about your friends especially makes you happy? Is it eating meals together? Is it having people in your life who really understand you, or is it working out tough situations together? Refine and revise the ten things on your list until you know exactly what the most important things are to you. Knowing what they are can help you make better choices and maximize your capacity to feel happy!

SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

"Deep human connection… will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity." – Melinda Gates

cover of the book The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee

This week in 2nd grade, I began teaching a 5-lesson unit on feelings, how to manage them, and how to use them to build relationships and stand up for each other! The books The Boy With Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee, and Today I Feel... an Alphabet of Feelings by Madalena Moniz were central to this week's lesson, which focused on building feelings vocabulary and awareness. Developing emotional intelligence is valuable not only as a life skill unto itself, but as a central pillar in a child's (a person's!) ability to self-regulate and build and maintain meaningful relationships with others. Future lessons will include a deeper dive into using our bodies as tools to help identify our feelings, and different coping strategies to manage the different emotions we feel on a day to day basis. This will segue into lessons about the social power of kindness, and the role we play in creating a safe, encouraging, and loving environment for all students.

Next Wednesday, September 30th, The Green Thumbs will have their first activity. We will be meeting at the flagpole at 3:30 and taking a Nature Hike/Plant Identification Scavenger Hunt Adventure to and through Elizabeth Gardens. There is a permission form uploaded into The Green Thumbs Google Classroom (code: pddyxkj) which all participating students must have filled out and returned before September 30th. I'm looking forward to helping our students build relationships with each other while traipsing about the great outdoors!

Our first Military Kids Club meeting will take place over Google Meet through our Google Classroom (code: 22tq5cl) on Thursday, October 1 @ 11:25am. Students may drop in and out, as this is during the transition time between our AM and PM sessions. We will be spending time getting to know each other, identifying all the places we've lived, and sharing stories from around the globe! I'll also spend some time explaining the different ways we can be involved/activities we can do this year... parents are more than welcome to attend as well! We've also been given the opportunity to volunteer as caretakers of our flag throughout the year (raising and lowering), so we will also discuss what that means and see if there is interest in this club owning some of that responsibility moving forward.

In two weeks, on Wednesday, October 7th, we will be observing "Blue Shirt Day," a district-wide activity that focuses on taking a stand against unkind behaviors. Students are encouraged to wear blue shirts as a visual reminder that more of us stand together in the name of kindness and unity than there are those who choose to treat us unkindly. I'll be creating a video that teachers will play in their classrooms that day, and will be creating an optional activity ("Random Upstanding Acts") available for students to play throughout the month of October. More detailed information will be available in future Mr. Wadham's Words posts as well as in my Google Classroom: Mr. Wadham's Virtual Office (code: g5x4v6k).

This past Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day. If you'd like, hop on over to Mister Wadham's Office on YouTube and watch a read-aloud of Vote for Our Future, by Margaret McNamara and Micah Player.

Put On A Happy Face!
Do your best to smile at everyone, everywhere. People are hardwired to respond to the facial expressions they encounter. If you frown at someone, they'll likely frown too. But if you smile... you'll get a smile back! If you practice this enough, you'll begin to notice that you'll feel happier too, because your body will respond to the smile (and the other person's smile) even if you are faking the grin. Give it a shot -- what have you got to lose?!

SEPTEMBER 18, 2020

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African Proverb

word web with words associated with mental health

This week, I began teaching SEL lessons in 6th grade! Every two weeks, I "guest star" in ELA to teach lessons about mental health, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and wellness, addressing OCSD's mental health standards. This week, we took a general dive into the foundational concepts, ideas, and vocabulary we will use throughout the year. Much to my delight, our students were engaged and insightful, even on Day 1. Pictured on the right is a brainstorming web from one of the 6 different sessions of our first lesson (between 3 different ELA blocks in both our AM/PM sessions). More adventures to come, for sure.

This week, we also had our first meetings of The Good News and KINDling Club. Full of ambition, The Good News team is geared up and ready to put out a first edition in just two weeks, to be published the first week of October. A new monthly edition will be published after that. Keep your eyes peeled for their first masterpiece! KINDling Club is investigating the details of their first service project, and has their eyes set on a couple different groups around town that primarily serve children. More details to come as well! If your student wishes to join either club, "enrollment" is always open! Check out the Google Classroom codes to become a member.

Next Friday 9/25 from 8:25-8:50am, we will have our first of our monthly Timber sessions. Because of the unique circumstances surrounding this school year, we will also be holding our Timber sessions online, using Google Classroom. By the end of this week, each student's Timber teacher will have invited each student in their Timber Group into a specially designed Timber Google Classroom (ex: "Mr. Wadham's Timber Group," "Mrs. Bright's Timber Group"); please accept this invitation. When it's time, all the student needs to do is log into this Google Classroom, and join the Google Meet by selecting the link in the top left corner to join the session.

If your child will be at home during this month's session (because he or she attends our PM block or is learning virtually through SchoolsPLP), please ensure that your child has access to a device with Google Classroom during this time so they are able to join us! If you need more information about how to use Google Classroom, please let me know before next Friday. 

Timber is a special time for all of us, and even though every other month the session will be held during the block your child is at home, we hope that you will be able to support our endeavor and help us maintain the relationships within our Timber groups. The significance of teaching our children socioemotional/mental health/wellness skills cannot be overstated, especially now as we navigate uncharted and ambiguous territory together! If you haven't had the chance to watch this year's Timber introduction video, here is a link to catch up.

Gaze at a Gorgeous You!
Put a picture of yourself from a happy time in your life when you felt most alive in your folder or in a place you look frequently. Looking at positive images of yourself can push aside a mountain of negative thoughts, boost your self-esteem, and make you feel good. Look at the photo whenever you need a little dose of happiness and let it spark some good vibes!

SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

"We don't accomplish anything in this world alone." - Sandra Day O'Connor

This week, I launched a YouTube channel (Mister Wadham's Office) and Instagram page (@misterwadhamsoffice). Subscribe if you like for an additional way to access materials and inspiration about mental health, emotional regulation, character education, and socioemotional wellness. I'll be putting out my first read-aloud of September 12th We Knew Everything Would Be Alright tomorrow morning. This fantastic book, written and illustrated by first-grade students of H. Byron Masterson Elementary in Kennett, Missouri is an inspired tale of resilience and determination in the face of adversity, through the eyes and words of six year olds. It's an incredibly appropriate tale to be told right now, to be sure. 

Our first round of club meetings begin next week, with The Good News on Thursday, and KINDling Club on Friday, both from 11:25-11:50. Since our meetings will not take place during the AM or PM session, we've decided to hold them during "lunch," as we would have if we were in school. This time frame gives nearly enough time for our AM session students to get home and log into the associated Google Classrooms, and our PM students enough time to get to school on time after the meeting has concluded. If you're interested, join the Google Meet link in the top right corner of the Google Classroom when it's time!

I have been making my rounds to chat with all of our new students, and will continue doing so over the next several weeks. There are more new students this year than we have had in many years prior, and trying to catch them all during the shortened days provides many challenges! Please don't think I've forgotten about you, new students -- I still can't wait to meet you and I'm looking forward to spending time with you! Please be patient with me!

Don't Be A Hater!
Want to feel uplifted and happier? Don’t put other people down. Throwing shade at others or participating in gossip will actually steal your happiness, so refuse to do it! If a friend tries to get you to join the negativity, step back, count to five, and remove yourself from the situation. Feel happy knowing you didn’t take part in bringing someone else down, and hopefully your friend might see the error of doing so as well! Finding ways to compliment others inspires you to feel happy, but gossiping does the opposite.
(adapted from Happiness Hacks: 300+ Ways to Get-and Stay-Happy, an Adams Media publication)

September 4, 2020

"Alone we can do little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

Each week this semester to start out my post, I'll be beginning with a quote about connection and the importance of human relationships (one of the Core Values in the NASW Code of Ethics!). I encourage you to use it as a jumping off point for a casual discussion at home -- I'm sure you'll be surprised at how insightful your kids can be!

This week, Mrs. Patterson and I came around to each classroom and read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas as an introduction to our Timber theme for the year, connection

Principal and Counselor stand in front of 1st grade class and read a book.

Afterward, students were invited to consider the value of others in our lives, and how important it is to have positive relationships with other people. 

SchoolsPLP Newsflash: For our students who are learning from home , I learned about a Google Chrome Extension called Natural Reader. If you download the extension, it will give you a read aloud feature for your Bright Thinker courses!

Next Thursday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Check out this page (also available in my Google Classroom/"Virtual Office") by the Child Mind Institute entitled "What to Do If You're Worried About Suicide: A Parents' Guide to Helping A Child In Distress" and learn what you can do at home to help your child stay safe from self harm and suicidal thoughts. 

August 28, 2020

You did it! The first week of school has come to a close, and we all survived! Perhaps you're feeling accomplished, perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed, or perhaps you're feeling somewhere in the middle, the fact remains that you are better, stronger, and know more than you did a week ago. Be patient with yourself -- learning new things takes time!

There are many resources I'd like to present to you this week. First, I have a Google Classroom set up, called Mr. Wadham's Virtual Office, and the code is g5x4v6k. There, you'll find resources for character education, emotional regulation, mental health, and overall wellness. I encourage you to check it out! Any time we'll schedule a Google Hangouts Meet, it will be done through my Virtual Office (Google Classroom). 

Speaking of meeting up, this week I launched a new program called "Mr. Wadham's Walk & Talks," initially developed for students who are learning virtually, but students who are learning in-person at Harman are able to take advantage of it too! If students have things on their minds and would like to spend a little time with me to process their thoughts, feelings, problems (or celebrations!), they should fill out this form to let me know, and I'll be in quick contact to get it scheduled! Online students have the option to chat with me over Google Hangouts, or get some fresh air and see me in person! We can walk around the block at Harman, around your block at home, around Shafor Park, or Smith Gardens. Students in-person at Harman may walk around the block at Harman only.

Our clubs have their own Google Classrooms set up! Since we can't meet in mixed small groups, all our meetings and activities will be done over Google Classroom/Google Meet. Check out the descriptions of our student clubs, and if you'd like to join any of them, add the associated Google Classroom Code! Meetings will begin the week after Labor Day.

♻️ The Green Thumbs 🌱
Google Classroom code: pddyxkj
If you care about recycling, ecology, gardening, sustainability ("going green"), or the climate and environment, this club is for you!

🙋‍♀️ Adopted Kids Club 🙋🏾‍♂️
Google Classroom code: rm5dv6o
Were you adopted? Was someone in your family adopted? Want to learn more about adoption? Everyone's got a story to tell. Share your own, and listen to others! In this club, we play games, read books, and get visits from staff and community members who share their experiences with adoption as well!

💌 KINDling Club 🤝
Google Classroom code: 45m4r3v
Want to make the world a KINDer place? In KINDling Club, we will create and complete service projects, recognize and do random acts of KINDness throughout the school and community, notice and support people who need a little extra care, talk about ways to make the world a better place, be student leaders and stand up for others at all times, and share laughs and grow stronger!

🇺🇸 Military Kids Club 🌏
Google Classroom code: 22tq5cl
In Military Kids Club, we connect with other students who have been through deployments, PCS, and all kinds of military-related challenges civilian kids do not. In the past, we've video chatted with deployed parents, shared stories about our adventures from around the world, and made connections with each other. 

👍🏽 The Good News 👏🏻
Google Classroom code: hbal7zy
The Good News is our new Harman Family paper! Established to celebrate the good things that are happening in our lives, our school, and our community, The Good News will begin with monthly online publications, and can be read here. Students may submit their own Good News (an A+ on a test, a new level belt at karate, a dance recital -- there's no limit to the good news one can supply!) on the bulletin board outside my office, or by filling out this Google form. Let's focus on all the wonderful things that are happening in our lives!

Next week, Mrs. Patterson and I will make rounds to each classroom (twice!) to read a story to introduce our Timber theme for the '20-'21 school year! Keep an eye on our Timber page for more information!

On to week two!

August 21, 2020

The time has come! In just a few short days, we'll all be back together again! Even though we're excited, we know that changing your schedule or readjusting to an old one can be anxiety inducing. Here are my Top Ten Tips to help you feel prepared and get the school year off to a great start, adapted from an article by the NASP:

  1. Review the information we've already sent, so you're up to date!
  2. Mark your calendar with important dates.
  3. Reestablish bedtime and mealtime routines this week so their little bodies don't have to "double adjust."
  4. Reduce screen time, especially the two hours leading to bedtime. Blue light emitted from screens is counterproductive to restful sleep.
  5. Reinforce the benefit and importance of a healthy, non-sugary breakfast. If your child is reluctant to eat in the morning, try to make the process fun!
  6. Set aside a dedicated time for questions. Processing information is a front line defense against anxiety. If you don't have the answers, contact a school employee. In fact, it's even better if you create a situation in which your child can reach out if they feel comfortable. (I am always available to answer questions!) 
  7. Leave plenty of extra time the first week to account for "summer brain;" it's hard to remember all the little details of a routine after being out of it for such a long time!
  8. Establish a before/after school routine (when to get up, when to walk out the door, which school entrance to go to, hand washing, where to place backpack, when/where to do homework), including locating where emergency numbers and first aid items are if kids are coming home to an empty house.
  9. Reinforce your child's ability to cope and be flexible. My favorite resilience phrase comes from Glennon Doyle and is totally kid appropriate: "We can do hard things."
  10. And finally, if you find yourself experiencing anxiety or frustration at the new schedule/protocols, etc. and are having difficulty insulating your children from it, don't let it eat you from the inside out. If you are able to have a rational, unemotionally charged conversation about how to work through uncomfortable feelings, it's still a learning moment for your little one. They take their cues from how we react and respond, and if we are using healthy coping skills, our own challenges can be to their benefit!

You've heard us say it many times by now, no doubt, but the sentiment remains constant (and continues to grow, in my case!): we are SO ready to see all of you and get this school year started. We are ready to take on any challenge we encounter and knock it out of the park. Enjoy your last weekend of summer!

August 14, 2020

In two weeks, our new adventure begins! Certainly, we don't know exactly what to expect (do we really ever, though?), but fortunately, we have had the opportunity to exercise our resilience muscles over the summer as we learned how to manage ambiguity and uncertainty like never before, haven't we?! No one can deny that living in the "age of COVID" is more challenging than what we are used to, but as time goes on, we learn to adapt and survive -- it's the human way! We are strong, we are capable, we are brilliant, and together, we can maximize our abilities and capacities to not only adapt and survive, but thrive. We all know that the school year isn't going to be traditional, but we are working as hard as we can to make sure that it is still enjoyable, educational, and emotionally enriching despite everything new that we're facing. As always, I will be working to proactively and responsively address whatever emotional or mental health need that may arise during this time. Keep your eyes peeled for information on virtual student clubs, socioemotional Google Classroom lessons, as well as "Walks with Mr. Wadham," all coming within the next two weeks. 

I'm super looking forward to seeing you all again so soon -- I've missed you! ✌🏼

April 27, 2020

What's "The Good News," Harman? Let us know things that are going well in your life, things that you are celebrating, things for which you'd like to express gratitude or share silver linings, and we'll publish it in our new student paper, The Good News! If you have something to share, send me an email, and I'll get it to our team of 6th graders-to-be who have already begun to dream big about our new project. 

We will be having our next meeting of The Green Thumbs next Thursday, May 7 at 11:00 a.m. on Zoom. All members will receive an email with a link to join early next week. If you wish to join the club, please email me and you'll be added to the distribution list! 

The positive behavior trait for the month of May is RATIONAL DETACHMENT. In short, this is a way to keep yourself from taking things personally and not get carried away when someone else is aggressive, distant, or doesn't quite supply the kind of response for which you were looking or hoping. By now, I'm sure you've all seen the "inspirational meme" (or heard the phrase in **gasp!** real life) that's been circulating through social media platforms that says "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind, always." As you begin (or continue!) to feel the weight of the stay-at-home order, you may notice that you're more emotional or "touchy" than you typically would be. Try to remind yourself that everyone's got "their stuff," and an out of the ordinary facial expression, cheeky tone, or short response is not about you! By and large, people see and interact with the world through the lenses of their own experiences, wants, and needs. Cut yourself a break and set yourself free. Let's all have a little more grace, a little more understanding, and a little more forgiveness. Rational detachment.

Thanks to a grant from our generous PTO, out 1st and 2nd place Timber Challenge winners were able to get prizes for their hard work. I love how the Harman family is so supportive! Even now as we are all safe at home, we're still looking out for each other and trying to make others' days bright. Thanks, Harman PTO! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

April 20, 2020

Screen shot of kids in Timber Challenge

For the last six weeks, nearly 200 Harman students played The Timber Challenge and demonstrated kindness, service, and care for themselves, their families, our school, community, country, and planet! Because of everyone's hard work (and such close races!), prizes will be awarded to our first AND second place winners! Congratulations to everyone who played, and especially to our winners, Riley Meador (1) & Kate Donnelly (2) in 6th grade; Evvie Thompson (1) & Kait Patterson (2) in 5th; Madeline Montgomery (1) & Andrew Zhang (2) in 4th; Audrey Thompson (1) & Mary Dalrymple (2) in 3rd; Ben Schmidt (1) & Luca Dunlap (2) in 2nd; Will Ferguson (1) & Gabe Kakaris (2) in 1st. Not only will these game leaders win prizes, but once we return to our brick and mortar setting, their faces will be displayed with pride on my bulletin board as Timber Ambassadors and founding members of Harman's newest club dedicated to the service and care of others!

Struggling with some challenging behaviors at home with your child, your spouse, or maybe even your inner saboteur? Take a look at how power and control manifest for a second. During times of uncertainty, especially when decision-making powers get taken away or limited (like being told you have to stay at home), it is easy to feel like you're spinning out of control. During these times, the likelihood for lashing out or acting impulsively increases. Put some power back into the hands of that kiddo, partner, or saboteur and see what happens. What can they control? What decisions can they make, without condition, without judgment? Maybe it's as simple as deciding what's for dinner, what movie to watch, or what time school or work starts the next day... be creative, but make it meaningful. Once we start feeling like our lives are in our own hands again, the chemicals that dysregulated us to begin with start to subside. While you're at it, try designating a "safe space" in the home to be used when someone needs their own self-imposed "time out." It shouldn't be related to punishment, quite the contrary. It should be used as a recentering location, where each person can be alone without worrying that they'll be bothered, sort out their thoughts, and "return to the flock" restored, renewed, and refreshed. Everyone needs a little power and peace... especially now.

Week of April 13

When I am feeling uneasy, overwhelmed, or just feeling heavy with the weight of the world, it's hard to know what to do first. I'm certainly not my best self when these feelings are lurking about, or worse yet, when they have taken actual residence and made themselves comfortable in my heart or headspace. When my schedules and routines are disrupted, I become even more vulnerable to a sneak attack, which stinks in particular right now, because everything's gone corona-crazy. In times like these, I have to take a step back. I have to ignore the task list, take a breath, and focus on one simple thing: LOVE. I remind myself that the very best I can do right now is live the love, show the love, and be the love I want to see in and receive from the world. I can try to be kinder; try to be more gracious, humble, forgiving, and gentle with the people around me. I can try to use the resources and knowledge that I have to push those bad boys outta there, and replace them with ideas and opportunities to continue demonstrating and sharing love. I tell our students all the time that one of the best things to do when they need a pick-me-up  is to do something kind for someone else. Is this always easy? Certainly not. Is it always possible? Probably not. That's why we have people to whom we can reach out when the weight gets too much to bear. But, I encourage you to try this the next time you've got the "ickys." Maybe you'll want to today; maybe you'll need to tomorrow. Maybe it won't work for you until next week or next year... but if you try it, maybe you'll love it. I do. And I love you.

Purple Up logo

On Friday, April 17, we will celebrate Purple Up! Day to honor our military children.  We invite you to wear purple that day to show your support for the important role that military children play in the armed forces. Please check the school's social media for our tribute. We wear purple because it is a combination of Army green, Marine red, and Coast Guard/Air Force/Navy blue. Military children understand what it means to have their parent, or in some cases both parents, deployed far from home. The current situation with COVID-19 has presented new challenges, but our military children know how to handle them with confidence and grace. Harman is very proud of our resilient military students! Thank you for showing your support during this Month of the Military Child.

April 6, 2020

The Depression Project logo

This month's positive behavior trait was inspired by a meme I found by The Depression Project while doing my (time-limited!) nightly social media scroll. Recently, they put out an infographic on COGNITIVE REFRAMING. There is a lot of power in the words we say, and in the thoughts we have, and this strategy is an excellent way to boost your mental health and encourage positive thoughts. The basic idea is, change the words you use to describe something frustrating to sound more positive. For example, instead of thinking or saying that you're "stuck at home," think rather that you are "safe at home." Another great example is using "My friends and I are protecting each other" instead of "My friends and I can't see each other," or "I am increasing my gratitude for the things I love" instead of "I miss the things I love." It takes a little time (like all worthwhile things, right?), but once you build this habit, your whole world can change for the better. I encourage you to plant these seeds through April and see what blossoms in May.

One of this week's Timber Challenge tasks is to visit the Padlet and provide a list of 5 things that have been positive about staying at home for an extended time. Please visit and see what our teachers and students have to say, and feel free to join in the conversation! Another task this week is to have a discussion with your family about things that have changed due to social distancing that have been a blessing to your family, that you hope will not change when things "go back to normal." Continue to look for the joy, friends. Find the beauty in the chaos. It will be your guiding light.

This online course entitled "The Science of Well-Being" is being offered by Yale University for free to anyone who would like to take it. The course has been designed to increase happiness and build more productive habits among its participants. If you're looking for things to occupy your mind and time, this is an excellent opportunity!

March 23, 2020

Smiling emoji with hearts

In times of uncertainty, it's crucial we are kind and supportive of one another. Students, parents and staff are encouraged to drop words of encouragement here to share inspiration and love with each other.

Sometimes it's difficult to know what to say to your child when they are experiencing anxiety. Here are a few "starter anxiety reducing statements" to get conversations going, adapted from the Aldrich School in Rochester:

  • I’m here with you. You’re safe.
  • Do you want to do some dancing or running to get rid of the worried energy?
  • Tell me about it.
  • What would you like to say to your worry? What might your worry say back? Then what?
  • Let’s draw it.
  • What does it feel like in your body? Where is the worry? How big is it?
  • Match your breaths to mine.
  • Let’s think up some endings for what could happen (anxious ones, goofy ones, AND realistic ones).
  • What’s something we/I could do to help you feel better?

In Week Two of The Timber Challenge: Online Edition, students grades 1-6 earned points for demonstrating acts of "Service and Care" for their families. The Timber Challenge is a game that was designed to put concepts discussed in this year's Timber sessions into practice, and to keep the Timber spirit alive as we move into a distance learning model. Many students submitted photos for bonus points of some of their adventures so far. Some of the tasks represented include: cleaning up trash outside their homes, organizing a family game night, helping a caregiver complete a long overdue household task, or taking more responsibility in the kitchen. Take a look!

boy making lasagne
Little girl pulling tile off wall
Little girl organizing closet
Two girls playing cards with dad
Family playing Sorry at dining room table
Little girl scrubbing the bathtub
Family around the table playing game
Family playing Life

March 16, 2020

Lumberjack Strong logo

As our district continues to take precautions to keep ourselves and one another healthy and safe during these unprecedented times, I want to make sure you know that mental health and overall wellness of our students is a priority. I will continue to be available to support you as needs or concerns arise, just as I would be during a typical school day. As a district, we stand strong, ready to demonstrate that No Lumberjack Is Alone. 

At this time, email will be my primary and initial method of communication, and on weekdays you can expect me to respond to your email within 24 hours. Also, I am currently developing a categorized collection of tools and resources to help you navigate this uncharted territory: whether it be an app for your phone, internet links to virtual support groups, best practices for successful distance learning experiences, or website and book recommendations, rest easy in knowing people are still working hard to connect you to the help you need, when you need it. I will also be available to connect with you directly when all you need is the kindness and warmth of a familiar voice (that's not stuck under the same roof as you!).


Timber Challenge bulletin board

You may have noticed "Character Education: The Timber Challenge" on the Related Arts Assignments doc that was shared with all of you. Last week, this building-wide game was introduced at Harman. In no way is it expected that every student participate; it was merely designed to supplement and enrich our students' practical experience in and out of school in relation to our Timber theme for the year, service and care. The game is entirely optional, so please do not fret over completing it if it ends up feeling like "that one more thing." No stress, no drama, no worries. If they do choose to play, however, over the course of the next five school weeks, students will be given a set of "missions" to accomplish for which they may earn points. At the end of the challenge, the highly coveted Timber Trophy will be awarded to the grade level that earns the most points, and the individual student who earns the most points in each grade level will win a Timber Challenge Winner t-shirt and one of nine illustrious prizes.

  • 3rd-6th graders can access The Timber Challenge through my Google Classroom: q5vskwo
  • 1st-2nd graders can access The Timber Challenge through the Google Doc


Here are the best COVID-19 "Survival" Tips I've seen (for you and your children!), adapted

managing stress

from something our very own, the very brilliant Kathy Jabir sent me:

  • Schedule Time!
    • Set aside blocks of time for reading, writing, educational games, and leisure time.
  • Nature Time!
    • Get outside! Fresh air is more important than ever.
  • Social Time!
    • Although we're trying to keep them away from each other, let your kiddos FaceTime with their friends. Humans are social animals, and we need each other. Social distancing can lead to loneliness, which can lead to more intense mental health problems later.
  • Family Time!
    • Hopefully, you can find time to enjoy each other. Board games and puzzles are perfect ways to have family fun. If you're feeling fancy, bake your great-great-grandmother's special cake recipe with your kids, or even pull out the crafts and create something beautiful (or terrifying!)! There's even a Timber Challenge Task associated with this one!
  • Talking Time!
    • It's a good idea to embrace the idea that this can be an "adventure," but remember that children may have worries and anxiety over what's happening. Give them time to talk about their feelings. Validate them, but try to help keep them from dwelling on negative feelings as well.
  • Limit Time!
    • Try to avoid too much screen time, and definitely take generous social media breaks. Don't get sucked into the black hole (though, it's undeniable the memes are on fire right now!).
  • Timber Time!
    • This is a hard time for all of us: think of the elderly, and those with physical limitations. Reach out to working parents who are struggling to find child care. Help out those families who won't be fed breakfast and lunch at school for a few weeks. Many people are suffering financial loss at this time. How can we help them?

Peace and blessings, friends. Here we go.

March 6, 2020

Welcome to March! As we enter the season of rebirth and renewal, this month's positive behavior trait is FORGIVENESS. As I like to say, forgiveness is soul food, a fundamental piece in all positive relationships. I encourage you to be brave enough to engage in uncomfortable conversations with people in your life with whom you have "unfinished business" to tap into the restorative benefits of this practice. You are more than capable of rising above society's misplaced value in bravado and listen, learn, and grow together, so do it! Set yourself free from grudges, defensiveness, and emotional disconnection, all of which come with ramifications detrimental to your mental and physical health. This year, let spring cleaning begin in your heart; renew your spirit, restore your relationships, and start fresh. If you're having trouble getting started, ask your favorite 6th grader how to craft a productive "I-statement" to jump start your conversation!

This week, I had another adventure at Lange School. The school counselor at Smith, Amber Perrott, and I alternate months and visit our "kinderfriends" for lessons in socioemotional wellness and friendship. This month was my turn! I always appreciate getting to know the staff at Lange, and meeting the faces of Harman's future. I am hopeful that this practice will help ease their transition to Harman, and that having a familiar face in the building will also ease potential anxiety as they move into a building far larger and more bustling than to which they have grown accustomed. Also, in an ongoing game I have been playing with each classroom at Lange, I was able to visit Mrs. Davis's room to read a story about kindness as a reward for noticing enough acts of kindness in and around their school to fill a jar -- literally! Students were encouraged to "notice the nice" and report to their teachers, and every time they do, a small pom pom would be added to a jar. Once the jar is full, they earn a reward, a special visit from me!

Next Thursday at lunch, we will have another Adopted Kids Club meeting. Students should eat their lunch first at 11:40, and come to the library at 12:00 for a story, lesson, and games. Each student who attends may bring one friend, adopted or otherwise, to participate in the fun!

February 28, 2020

Our first week back from Winter Break flew by faster than any week we've had yet! This past Tuesday, along with district administrators and mental health staff, I was able to enjoy the opportunity to attend a Mental Health and Social Emotional Learning Summit in Columbus. More breakout sessions than we were able to attend were offered, but we were able to "divide and conquer" to maximize our exposure to the learning throughout the day. Particularly impactful to me were sessions on working with students in crisis, and how to successfully implement meaningful SEL programs in schools. The learning and networking gained at this summit will serve us well as we move forward into discussions about implementing a district-wide Timber program, and addressing emerging student emotional needs. 

Next week, the Military Kids Club will be hosting a Packing Party on Tuesday during lunch. We have been collecting donations (of which we still need more!) to make care packages to send to our deployed parents. During the lunch hour, all grades will be invited in shifts to stop by Mrs. Bright's room to make the packages. The schedule is as follows: 11:40-12:00 5th/6th graders stop by; 12:00-12:20 1st/2nd graders stop by; 12:20-12:40 3rd/4th graders stop by. If you are willing and/or able, please send in donations by Tuesday and place them in the bin by the front office. We are looking for the following items: whole bean coffee, nuts, dried fruit, puzzles, cards, reading materials, beef jerky, sweets, protein bars, water flavoring packets, foot powder, baby wipes, toiletries, 3M wall hooks, AA/AAA batteries, and Vicks VapoRub.

February 14, 2020

As adults, we certainly know we make mistakes, and by showing out kids we have the bravery to admit them and seek forgiveness is a dynamic way for us to model and teach humility and vulnerability. Positive relationships thrive on vulnerability, the capacity to acknowledge and honor feelings and to communicate them in healthy and respectful ways. Consider your closest relationships -- they weren't fostered through emotional distance and the absence of authentic emotional connection; our best and most meaningful relationships we forged in fire -- through the intimate sharing of sorrows, missteps, weaknesses, and loss.

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path." - Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW.

I invite you to ruminate on this idea over the cozy calmness of winter break.

several examples of haikus written on white cards

This week during our Military Kids Club meeting, we celebrated the unique opportunity military kids have to get to experience different cultures around the world. Students discussed their ideas on culture and shared their experiences from around the world. Several students spoke at length about their time in Japan, and together, we wrote haiku poems about being military kids (and some in Japanese, no less!). 

students around a round table participating in a mediation simulation

Our lessons on conflict resolution were taken to a new level as 6th grade students began implementing what they've learned and recorded peer mediation simulations. These videos will be used for the students as learning tools to critique their performance to help them improve their skills. This journey began in September with teaching foundational concepts and vocabulary, and will soon culminate in the creation of a student peer mediation team at Harman!


February 7, 2020

Michael Wadham reading to Harman students

This month's positive behavior trait focus is VULNERABILITY. I encourage you to have the bravery to share your feelings and thoughts with the people you value. Respectfully expressing your needs is the most commonly skipped step in the conflict management process, and being vulnerable enough to share these things is a skill that is not commonly valued, but so powerful and necessary to building and maintaining positive relationships.

At our Be Bold event this Wednesday, I was delighted to discover that no matter the grade level, I was met with a chorus of "Building Our Lives Drug-free!" upon asking what BOLD meant. Our district is indeed building a strong and meaningful initiative to help build our students' protective factors, and I'm happy to be a small part of it! Specifically, our 1st-4th graders were read "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV," and in the discussion activity that followed, our students were able to share insightful connections between the story and "Being BOLD" about making better and healthier choices for themselves. Finally, Our 1st-2nd graders played a small game to build stronger connections within their grade level and 3rd-4th graders played "Stand Up For Your Values;" both games designed to highlight protective factors leading to making safe and healthy choices. 5th-6th graders played a Kahoot game that focused on more detailed facts about drugs and alcohol.

This week, I was also lucky enough to attend the first meeting of Harman's newest club, The Green Thumbs. The brainchild of our music teacher, Mr. Forney, The Green Thumbs will provide an excellent opportunity for students of all grade levels to come together, learn and collaborate on environmental and gardening projects designed to better our school, community, and planet. Few things are better "mental health boosters" than being a part of groups of like-minded people working towards common positive goals, especially ones that incorporate fresh air and taking care of other people and the environment! I look forward to being a part of this group and seeing what our students do together! If you're interested in joining The Green Thumbs, please send me or Mr. Forney an email.

Tuesday 2/11 is the first session of our Divorce Support Group. If your child wants to participate, please make sure that he or she packs that day and brings it to the conference room (next door to my office) right at the beginning of the lunch hour. 

Wednesday 2/12 at lunch is our next Military Kids Club meeting. Students should bring their lunches to Mrs. Bright's room at the beginning of lunch; our activity will begin at 12:00.

February 3, 2020

Students work as a team to get through obstacle course

More lessons on relationship building came to 4E this week! We focused on using empathy as a means to building positive relationships by discussing, writing, and performing small skits with the class, and how effective communication skills positively impact our relationships in an obstacle course game. Throughout the game, students were encouraged to use the skills discussed in the lesson and then were able to connect the lesson back to their learning in a debriefing session afterwards.

This week (Feb 3-7) is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, in which we will be participating through the efforts our district's BOLD (Building Our Lives Drug-Free) initiative. Each day, our students will learn a few prevention-focused facts about making healthy and safe choices. On Wednesday, throughout the district in all of our buildings, students will experience "Be BOLD Day," and here at Harman, I will be leading students in grade-level games and activities that will focus on learning developmentally appropriate facts about substance use and the promotion of healthy behaviors.

January 24, 2020

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!

January 17, 2020

Military Kids club members spoke with Military dad from East Africa

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.

January 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. 

December 13, 2019

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. 

September 27, 2019

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

Harman students display the letters they wrote for Dayton

Check out students from Mrs. Fry's class with cards they made for Northridge students as they return to school next week, as a part of the "Letters for Dayton" project, a supplemental Timber activity from last month! 

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

Bulletin board with post it notes for people to take what they need
  • 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:
  • 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

Student pointed to a map
Guest reader in front of Military Kids club

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.