Week of 12/17 - 12/21/18

Hello Panthers!
Can you believe it? Three school days this week and the first semester is behind us. I feel like I need another month before first semester should be over, but I am not going to request it :) That just means we have to hit the ground running when we return in January! I have talked about anxiety and anxiousness around the holidays. I want to talk about something else that adds to the mix: sugar and caffeine!

Please do not send your student with sugar and caffeine for consumption with friends this week. I am urging my teachers to not have classroom parties because we the highs and lows of sugar and caffeine, we also have unexpected behaviors that we should not have at school. I want to finish off the semester with everyone safe and sound and in great spirits, but we do not need the extra sugar and caffeine to make that happen. Thank you for supporting me in this effort!

Canned Food Drive Almost Done - Keep them coming! 
Drive ends Tuesday during Advisory!
We will be accepting canned food for our donation drive on Monday and Tuesday only! We are doing an excellent job, but are short of our goal of five items per student. While every can collected is a win for the Round Rock Serving Center, it never feels good to fall short of your goals. I encourage you to participate in this very worthy collection. The competition is heating up between advisories with less than ten cans between some of the top places. I have a feeling that I won’t be able to get into my office (where the overflow cans are being stored) and that is a wonderful problem to have!

Schedule for Wednesday
The schedule for enrichment day on Wednesday will be very different than our normal schedule. Students will stay with their advisory teacher in the morning as they go through a fine arts enrichment rotation. Periods 4-6 will remain the same. The afternoon enrichments and reward rallies will take the place of 7th and 8th periods. All this to say, that it is going to take longer than usual to locate your student if you are picking them up for an appointment. Please be patient and either wait until school is out or be clear with your student as to what time you are arriving so they can help us be ready. Thank you for your help in making it a smooth day!

Parent Sessions for Student Academic and Wellness - January through April
The Round Rock Community Education Department and the Counseling Department are putting on these seminars - there will be several great topics including study skills, suicide prevention, LBGTQIA: The Basics, SAT Prep/Success, Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, etc. Below is a link with information sessions, dates, and descriptions.


Parent Information Transition Sessions in January and February
If you are a 5th or 8th grade parent, Ridgeview will be holding several information sessions about transitioning to the next grade (entering high school or entering middle school) when we return second semester. We will publish all the dates on a separate tab on blogger so that you have access to them. We will also hold a high school informational session for current 6th and 7th grade parents who want to get a head start on what is coming and learn the lingo of academies, endorsements, and degree plans.

Advanced and Gifted Conference in February

Gifted and Advanced Academic Parent/Student Conference. This conference is for both parents of students who are receiving gifted services, as well as high potential learners who are seeking advanced academic opportunities. The conference will be held at Walsh Middle School on February 2nd from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration

How are your gratitude journals going? I am loving taking the time to journal each work morning. I take a break on the weekends, which gives me a little more to write about during the week. So far it is going well and generally takes around 5 minutes or less to write a page in a composition book. What I have realized is that is about reflection as much as it is about gratitude. I start with writing down who I am thankful for or what I am grateful for, but it generally turns to reflection over why that is important to me in my life. In fact, reflective practices have many of the same benefits that I described for the gratitude journal regarding reducing stress, but also the development some of the social and emotional skills that we have been working with students on, such as self awareness, emotional intelligence, understanding others. In addition, it also helps develop creative thinking, brainstorming, and focus on task, also important qualities for students. I have included a link for those of you that want to look into it more.

One of the ideas mentioned is the reflective learning process. There is also mention of reflective learning which derives from John Dewey and his theories on education in the early 1900’s. The reflective learning process can help someone make sense of a situation and how to deal with it. Specific to the reflective learning process, there were four categories mentioned: describing the experience, reflecting, theorizing, and experimenting. What I find fascinating is that this is the same process that we use with students when they come to the office. We just have a different name for it, restorative practices. Describing the experience is simply gathering the facts, reflecting is generally geared more towards personal feelings and accountability in the situation. Theorizing might be a stretch to use as a term for middle schoolers, but this is what we refer to as getting perspective. In other words, who else was influenced by the decisions that you made and what is the outcome of those decisions. Experimentation is really the restorative piece and accountability, how are you going to make things right. What will you do or change moving forward, based on what you learned from your experience today and what will happen if you do not choose to do things differently. Getting students to process events is a game changer in education, I believe the process can work regardless of the context or situation, to make you a better person.

This brings me back to the gratitude journal. When incorporating reflection into your writing, I believe it is possible to start your day as a better version of yourself than the day before. It doesn’t always feel like that at the end of the day, but you know what? The old saying of “attitude is everything” is pretty spot on! As you go through the week, I encourage you to take time for yourself, give yourself permission to slow down and do some reflecting. This weekend I saw the new Clint Eastwood movie and couldn’t help but marvel at how an 88 year old man was still directing and starring in movies. While the movie is rated R and I don’t recommend for middle schoolers, it is good for making my point, I came out of the movie reflecting on priorities in life.

It will be awhile before we talk again, please have a safe and pleasant holiday season, especially if you are travelling out of town. Students last day for the semester is Wednesday, December 19th and they will return to school on Tuesday, January 8th!

Make it a safe and reflective week Ridgeview! 
The choice is yours!

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