Monday, October 1, 2018

October Blog: Growth Mindset - What is Neuroplactisity and What is Mindful Mondays!

GROWTH MINDSET in October- As you know, each month we will be teaching and learning about different aspects of the Growth Mindset.  This month, we will be working on Neuroplasticity!
Students will learn that the brain is like a muscle that grows.  Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change and grow and make new connections throughout our lives.  Learning about this will help our Wildcats understand that challenges are good for our brains and continue to understand the growth mindset.  Our teachers will be showing the students a picture of the brain and explaining each of the areas of the brain and what they are responsible for. Ask your children what the Cerebrum, Cerebellum, Prefrontal Cortex, Hippocampus, Amygdala and the Brain Stem do.* When students understand the functions of each part of the brain and how mistakes will increase their brain growth!

We will be doing a variety of activities with all our students about parts of the brain and neuroplasticity. One of the activities that we will be doing is reading Your Fantatic Elastic Brain, Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak, PhD. and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley in each of our classrooms.  Each student will take the book home so that you too can understand how the brain works.  We hope that each of you will read the book to your children, sign the back and return it so that we can pass it on to the next student.

By doing this, we can all learn together about how the brain works!  We hope that your children will share with you all their learning about the brain, too! 

MINDFUL MONDAYS! 
Beginning today, our students will begin to learn about mindfulness. Mindfulness is being present in the moment, listening to sounds around you, noticing your breathing and learning how to be calm.  Each Monday, students will learn about taking a moment to be mindful.  Research shows that practicing mindfulness can help with focus, concentration, attention and self awareness. We will be reading books that help students to be in the moment. Being mindful can help reduce stress and we know that stress can be harmful to the brain.  We will be doing activities, reading books and talking about being mindful.  One of the first activities is to have students "Sit Like a Frog".  "The frog sits very still while it breathes".

Teachers that have tried a few activities in the classroom have noticed that their children are very calm and the students also noticed a change of how the classroom felt!  This is exciting for all of us! 

We truly hope that you will join us on our endeavors this year as we learn more about growth mindset and mindfulness! If you would like more information about mindfulness or how the brain works, please let Mrs. Fabrizio or Mrs. Anastacio know. 


* Cerebrum: Language:  cognition and language (largest part of the brain)
   Cerebellum: Movement/balance (small part at the back of the brain)
   Prefrontal Cortex:  Decision making/plans (behind your forehead)
   Hippocampus: Long and short term memories (center of the brain)
   Amygdala: controls our emotions (center of the brain)
   Neurons: small brain cells that signal messages to other cells in our body telling them what to do (everywhere in the brain)
 

Sources:  The Growth Mindset Coach, by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley
Sitting Like a Frog, By Eline Snel.







Monday, September 24, 2018

September Worthy Wildcats!

Congrats to the following students who were selected to be Worthy Wildcats by their peers!  Students were selected for showing perseverance in doing work, setting a good example in the class, being a hard worker and knowing the power of YET, playing with a new student, lending a helping hand, and always being willing to help out no matter the task! 

Our Worthy Wildcats follow the Wildcat Way throughout their school day being Kind, Safe and Responsible because YOU are Important!  :)



Andy- 3rd Grade

James- 5th Grade

Jorge- Kinder

Maeve - Fourth Grade

Penny- First Grade

Sophia - Second Grade

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What is a GROWTH MINDSET vs. a FIXED MINDSET?



This is a quick view for you to learn more about Growth Mindset which is one of our School Improvement Goals.  The other SIP goal relates to our EL students and increasing their math mindset so that they can be increasingly successful in math.

As we begin our journey as a school community, we are focused on what is a Growth Mindset. One of the concepts that we have learned, is that we all are really a combination of both mindsets, we really want to become more focused on using the growth mindset model.

Dr. Carol Dweck is one of the key researchers and authors of the Growth Mindset model.  She writes that there are 5 areas that we respond to that we look at that we want to improve. Those 5 areas are: Challenges, Obstacles, Effort, Criticism and Success of Others as seen in above infographic.

We are working daily to stay to the right of this chart as we grow as a teaching staff, but also to have our students grow.  Making mistakes is ok, being persistent is huge and learning from others is essential.  We will be sending home a survey for you to complete next week about your perceptions of mindset.  Our teachers were given a similar survey at the beginning of the school year and your children will complete a survey after Labor Day.

Each month we will be focusing on a different topic. Next month, we will look at neuroplasticity- how we grow our brains!  We look forward to seeing how we can improve our mindset view with a focus on the growth mindset model.  We hope that you you will join us in our journey!

Here is an interesting video on YouTube re test taking and effort

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Be Thankful, Make Memories and Enjoy



Image result for summertimeThis is the last Windsorhappenings Blog for the school year. Next year, we will have a new format. We will still have a blog, but not on a weekly basis!

 I have heard from so many parents that they cannot believe how fast this year has gone.  My mother once told me that the older I got, the faster each year would go by, and boy was she right!

I am so thankful for a great Windsor staff and a great Windsor community.  We work hard to get through difficult moments and I very much appreciate everyone's efforts. We also truly love to celebrate! Whether it is when students work hard and make growth, our life events like weddings or babies,  or see our students following the Wildcat Way, we enjoy each other!

We also are a supportive bunch and I truly feel that when people share their opinions or thoughts face to face and not on social media, we can problem solve and most often come to resolution.

This summer, I am sure you will make wonderful memories with your families and we hope that you will share some of your vacation adventures using the Hashtag #Windsorviewss .  It is fun to see our students having fun outside of school!

We hope your children will read over the summer and practice those math facts!  Those are always great things to continue to support outside of school,  in addition to perhaps writing in a journal about adventures!  Of course, swimming, biking, and being active are also important parts of the summer!

We will see you all in August!  Until then.. have a wonderful Wildcats summer!




Thursday, May 31, 2018

Saying Goodbye to Some of Our Wildcat Staff Members and our Fifth Grade Class



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This is the time of year when we need to say goodbye to some of our Wildcat staff members who are retiring and moving on to new adventures! It is never easy for sure and we thank the following teachers for everything that they have done to help make Wildcats be successful, learn and grow in all areas of their lives!  They have helped to make Windsor a great place to learn and have fun.  We will truly miss them! Today, the staff celebrated our Retirees at a morning breakfast!  It was certainly an emotional morning!

Our retirees this year are:

Mrs. Genie Beck- Literacy Interventionist
Mrs. Joanne Cooke- 3rd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Karen Norman- Resource teacher
Mrs. Sharon Gaughan, Foundations Teaching Assistant
Mrs. Janet Sprague- Communications Teaching Assistant

We also celebrated those that are leaving to explore new adventures!

Mrs. Aprati will be moving on to her dream job- the Math Interventionist position. She will be working at Olive Mary-Stitt School.  We will miss her, but we know she will always be a Wildcat!

Ms. Greising- Communications teaching assistant is moving to Springfield and we will miss her!

Ms. Wienskowski- part-time Literacy Interventionist will be staying at home with her new baby!

Also, I would be remiss to not also say a big goodbye, give a virtual hug and wishes of good luck to our 5th grade class of 2018 and their families.  You have been a class of leaders and helpers.  You have always asked what you can do to help and worked quite collaboratively together both in and out of the classroom. You are a talented group of students and creative, too!  Make good choices in the future! You will all be missed and we hope you come back to visit with us!

Again, we wish all of our Wildcat family members the best of luck in the years ahead and we know you do, too!





Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Be Understanding.......




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Being understanding is something that I try to do on a daily basis truly minute by minute whether I am speaking to my family, parents, colleagues, students and friends. To be understanding means to truly think about what it might feel to be in someone else's shoes. It means to withhold judgement and really try to figure out what someone might be feeling, thinking and saying.  Sometimes, it means we have to infer and draw our own conclusions, but maybe it is better to ask questions to be clearer and have a deeper understanding.

I always think about what others might be going through when I meet them and even talk to them daily.  I work with so many people. Sometimes people are friendly and share a smile.  Other times, not so much- I might even feel ignored or hurt. I try to understand what someone might be feeling and thinking.  But, more importantly, I wonder as I try to be understanding, what are the events or situations that might be occurring in their lives that I am not privy to or aware of.  Those life situations may impact how people respond to others and me, too.

You would be surprised to learn HOW MUCH LIFE we all deal with on a daily basis, yet we go about our business because we have to do so and don't share it. We may make judgements on quick interactions or on our feelings in response to those interactions.  We need to remember that we don't always know what is going on with others. Sometimes a simple question to another like "is everything alright?" can help us understand and have someone feel understood.

I encourage all of you to BE UNDERSTANDING of others.  It will only make us all better community members, neighbors and simply put, better human beings! 
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

BE Reflective





WOW- the school year is suddenly wrapping up very quickly and we have only three weeks left.  This is the time of the year that I become particularly reflective!


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I reflect about the work that I have accomplished this year and those ideas and innovations that I was hoping to do, but for a variety of reasons I did not get to do so. I will put those ideas at the top of my list for the 2018-19 school year! I reflect about the professional books that are sitting on my desk at home- and did not quite have the time to read them.  But, I will this summer!

I reflect about the teachers and how wonderful they all are!  I reflect about how lucky and grateful that I work with those who really believe in Windsor School as a community concept. They make so many contributions to the students and each other that it is quite extraordinary!

I reflect in the growth that I have seen in the students this year and how lucky I am to see the smiles and joy in their faces each day!  I also wonder how I might have helped students that may have needed a gentle nudge to work harder or an ear to listen to them. I vow to spend more time next year with all of the students!  After all, their successes and happiness is why I do what I do!

I reflect about how lucky I am to be the principal of a school where parents value their children's teachers and staff. I reflect about how important it is to remind all of being tolerant of differences that we may feel and/or experience.

So many things to reflect upon each day on my long ride home- these reflections help me to grow, move on, make promises and set goals for the next day ahead.

My bottom line about reflection is that finding the time each day, week, month and year is imperative as it helps all of us learn and understand what to keep, and what to change to be better for our students and teachers at Windsor. 

I hope you will ask your students to reflect upon their school year to look at their growth and goals for the future!