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Connect before Correct

By First Grade Teacher Talia

It was a typical morning. The kids were eating breakfast at a snail’s pace. “We have five minutes until we have to leave, and you still have to brush your teeth. Please finish eating!” I said to them as I walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to brush my own teeth. An all too familiar feeling of anxiety was beginning to creep in, and I silently told myself that today would be the day we get out the door without a fight. A few minutes later, Robby came into my bathroom.

“Mom, I have a ques-”

“Have you brushed your teeth yet?” I interrupted.

“No but-” he answered, trying to ask me again.

“Go brush your teeth! We’re going to be late!” I could feel my voice and anxiety rising. We were about to fall into our same routine of me shouting to get the kids to finish their tasks, and all three of us leaving the house a little grumpy.

“But Mom, can I ask you a question first?” He tried again. To be honest, I wanted to say no. I wanted everyone to just focus on the tasks until they got done, and for no one to complain or say another word. But today was going to be the day that we changed that routine, I reminded myself. I took a deep breath.

“Of course you can. What’s your question?” I said.

“If the same water has been on Earth for millions of years, then is it possible that there is a drop of water somewhere that has never been touched by a living thing?” he asked me earnestly.

Wow. Where did that come from? Although the question seemed to come out of nowhere, it didn’t really surprise me. Robby has always asked thought provoking questions, questions that I have no clue how to answer sometimes.

“Hmmm. I’m really not sure. That is such an interesting thing to think about!” I answered. “Maybe we should try to find the answer after school today.”

“Ok. I’m going to brush my teeth now.” he said.

As he walked away, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of his thoughtful questions I’d missed, simply because I was unwilling to take the time to listen. Although I do my best to use Positive Discipline to influence my parenting, I’m human and I’m guilty of sliding back into what seems easy in the moment. Taking a moment to connect with my children before offering a criticism or giving feedback sometimes seems to take too long. It’s quicker to just shout to get what I want. But that’s not what I really want. I want to build a trusting and caring relationship with my children, and that won’t happen without taking the time to remain calm and listen, especially when times get stressful.

Later that day, I saw another example of connection before correction at work. This time it was on the softball field. Aubrina is on a new team this year, with a coach who has a reputation for always having a winning team. He has a loud voice, and he always knows what every girl is doing. Aubrina is on a team with girls who are taller, stronger, and older, so it’s not hard for the coach to find things to coach her on. Watching practice that day I realized a pattern with how the coach communicated with each girl. He would first say something positive, and then afterward he would give his feedback. For example, when Aubrina fielded a ball and then threw it to first base, he said “Aubrina! Nice job getting behind that ball. Next time follow through with your whole body on the throw and you’ll have more power.” The entire interaction was simple, quick, and demonstrated that he sees the positive and not just what needs to be fixed — a way to connect before offering correction.

It’s easy to forget that as adults we don’t get a lot of feedback on our behavior from others, whereas kids get criticism and correction all day, everyday. Connecting with our kids first is one sure way to build a relationship where they feel safe, supported, and loved.
 
 
For more about the “Connect before Correct” tool card, visit the Positive Discipline web blog. For more Positive Discipline Parenting tool cards, visit the Positive Discipline website.

Technology and 3D Models — Making the Learning Real

Spring 2018

Not the mission project you remember: Our 4th grade students were assigned a portion of the mission grounds to research. They built a 3 dimensional model and programed a Dash Robot to negotiate their model. Some groups were assigned the orchards, some the actual mission structure, some the gardens and so on. The Dash Robot then moved about the map on a student-programed route stopping at programed spots. The robot then delivered a student-created script describing the unique features of the location on the map. The individual maps were then combined to create an entire 3D mission grounds with multiple Dash Robots moving about the programed routes and giving tours. During this complex, multi-day learning exercise every student found an access point to engage in the learning. Some students found their level of expertise in building the map layout, some in building the 3D structures, some in programing the robots, some in conducting the necessary research – every aspect required students to work collaboratively and problem solve in a real life context on a project they were all connected to. Every student found a way to be heard and valued.

Teachers are pioneering a vital shift in education, being re-energized by the level of student engagement and their role in igniting the fire and passion in students that results in real, honest, purposeful, meaningful and contextual learning. Teachers are communicating this passion and their colleagues are listening and adopting. The purposeful use of technology allows students to work in a reality that is contextually appropriate to their lives and virtually limitless.

More Than Just an After-School Running Club

By Jennifer, Village and Young Triton Parent

Young Triton’s Running Club (YTRC) is a before and after-school running club and self-development program for boys in grades 1–5. In its third year at Village School, YTRC instills strength, self-compassion, empathy, cooperation, balance, character, perseverance and teamwork through a structured bi-weekly, eight-week program.

Without a doubt YTRC is about far more than physical performance. This year’s curriculum was Mindcraft-themed. That’s not a typo but an intentional play on words as the boys collected bricks in their inventory and strengthened their minds while training for the Run. Sweat. Love. 5K.

Teaching young boys to become well-rounded, feeling, and caring young men requires role models that demonstrate the behaviors we hope to see them develop. We are extremely blessed at Village to have 6 dedicated parent coaches.

Coach Caesar shares his experience with YTRC: “The impact of the program is very personal to me. Not only do we as Coaches get to share our passion with the children and watch them develop before our eyes, but we also get to build relationships. Most parent participants are moms at Village. Having some “Dad Time” gives us the opportunity to make friends, share experiences and start new relationships that probably would not have happened without YTRC,” explained Coach Caesar. “[My son] sees that I go out on runs but rarely makes it to my events. When we first started doing our runs, he would not push himself nor would I want to push too hard and discourage him. Now running with 15 plus friends, he loves to run, loves to push himself and loves to help his teammates!”

Results of the program: 68 Happy Hearts, 136 Strong Legs, 34 5K Teammates, 6 Dedicated Coaches and 23 Young Tritons who have discovered that the finish line is just the beginning. 

 

New STEAM Centers

Village is unique in so many ways. Of course, our students learn traditional subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic, but where else (other than ‘The Farm’) can one train to be a spy or study the art of Jedi mind control? Learn more about two of our newest and most unique STEAM Centers to date, and beware the skills your budding secret agents and Jedi bring home!

Spies Among Us

By Amy, Spies Center Lead and Village Parent

Students in the brand-new Spies Center try their hand at investigative activities such as fingerprinting and cryptology while gaining a basic understanding of skills that secret agents use in their work. As one of the center leads, I (Amy, aka Blue Raven), developed the curriculum with the collaboration of Kindergarten Teacher Lori, Lead Amy (aka Silver Ninja), and Day Manager Allie (aka Green Hornet). The goal is to create an opportunity for students to have fun while they use creative thinking and deductive reasoning.

Students create a unique spy name and choose whether to share that name with their fellow spies, or remain incognito (only use their actual name) during the four weeks of centers. I enjoy watching students’ enthusiasm when I reveal my Harry Potter inspired spy name, “Blue Raven” and name badge at the start of centers. We added the option for students to conceal their spy name when one student pointed out that keeping your identity a secret is important for spies. When asked what he enjoyed about Spies Center, this student said, “The good stuff is making your spy name.”

In subsequent weeks, students use an alphanumeric code to create a corresponding Secret Agent ID number for their spy name and design a unique Spy Symbol which they replicate using invisible ink pens. They decipher codes, reveal secret messages using multiple methods, and try their hand at walkie talkies.

The center culminates with the Campus Mystery Scavenger Hunt when students don disguises and use the skills they have practiced to solve a crime (details omitted to avoid spoilers). Students almost unanimously agree with one student who said, “My favorite part of Spies was when we were looking for messages and clues.” The initiation of these new junior sleuths, who so eagerly collaborate in this final mission, is a fitting conclusion.

Jedi Mind Tricks

Q&A with Priya, Jedi Mind Tricks Lead and Village Parent

What exactly is the Jedi Mind Tricks Center? How was the curriculum developed?
The Jedi Mind Tricks Center, originally called the Brain Powers Center, is a brand new upper grade Center led by Village parents, Priya and Dorothy. The curriculum is based on the work of Marie Nathalie-Beaudoin in her book, Boosting All Children’s Social and Emotional Brain Power. Weaving together social-emotional skills and themes from Star Wars, we’ve tried to make this center a playful way to learn important life skills that we’ve termed “mind tricks.” We begin by explaining that the Jedi can’t control other people’s minds they way they show in the movies until they learn ways to understand and strengthen their own minds. We jokingly tell the kids, “mind control will be discussed in the sequel ‘Jedi Mind Tricks Center, Episode 2.’

Each week we teach the kids a new skill and practice using it with examples and in-class skits. Often the kids share examples from their own lives, exploring ways to resolve disappointments, disagreements, or general mishaps and mix-ups.

What are some of the Mind Tricks you work on?
Shrinking Power — the ability to shrink problems (solving problems)
Double Vision — the power to see what’s going on inside of someone else (empathy)
Choice Mind — the ability to weigh options and make better choices (non-reactivity and self-awareness)
Foresight — the ability to see the future (foreseeing the consequences of actions)

The kids have a great time acting out ways to handle tricky situations using their mind tricks!

What are you hoping students gain from the Center?
The Center helps kids to develop stronger coping skills and emotional regulation, but we don’t really tell them that. Our approach to teaching is playfulness. We bring out props like Jedi robes, lightsabers, brain hats, walkie-talkies, and more! In our last class we bring all the mind tricks together and then share some Jedi Jello.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One of the highlights from this year was one student’s response to the question, “Why are we even learning about this?” His response, “Because they help us with the M&M’s.” Yes! It was a powerful moment of integration.

Second Graders Create Countries

By Amilia, Village Parent

I like to consider myself a world traveller. I love to visit new places where the language, culture, food, geography and general way of doing things are different. But, despite a good deal of experience on the global scene, the second graders at Village have me beat on at least one intriguing measure. Although I have visited a fair number of countries, I have certainly never created my own.

Yes, you heard me correctly! Our second graders created their own countries, complete with constitutions, laws, national flags, currencies and even national anthems. What sparked this exciting undertaking? 

Well, our second grade teachers, Chris and Elizabeth, started with a unit on Government. Students learned about how our government is structured, from our school, local (city) and state governments right up to our national government. They learned who the current people in charge are (president, governor, mayor, etc.), about the three branches of government, about how we vote in elections, about rules and laws and why we need to follow them. They studied government jobs — police, fire, teachers, librarians, park rangers, etc. — and even took a field trip to Campbell City Hall to meet some of these government workers, seeing firsthand where they work and how their offices are structured. 

While at city hall, students toured the police station, quietly observing the 911 Call Center, and more boisterously exploring a fully-loaded police car! The most memorable part of this field trip, though, was when students had the opportunity to conduct a mock city council meeting. They were assigned parts — City Council members, Secretary, Fire Station Chief, Police Chief and concerned community members — and given an agenda item to debate, ‘Should the city spend available funds on 2 new fire trucks or 5 new police cars?’ It was a delight and surprise to see how creative and bold our 7 and 8 years olds have become, and how thoughtfully they were able to consider and analyze the issue at hand. All voices having been heard, the ‘mock’ City Council member voted and passed a motion to purchase the police cars, rather than the fire trucks.

In past years, this is where our second grade unit on government would have concluded. But, not this year! Our teachers discovered a delightfully tongue-in-cheek, but informative, book about, How to Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt and decided that, indeed, that is what our second graders should do!

And so, their foray into government and all of its institutions culminated in this final project — to create their own countries, complete with a name, a population, a location, a government, a constitution, laws, an economy, neighbors, a flag, currency, a national anthem, national holidays, etc. In full disclosure, students only had to choose a handful of these elements to develop, but the results were a dazzling array of interesting, creative, and often funny lands, and a wonderful insight into the thoughtful and honorable citizens whom we are raising… not to mention, a host of new and exciting places to add to my bucket list of global travel destinations!

Here are just a few of the many creative and inspired countries that our second graders envisioned:

  • The Kingdom of Donuts, where the citizens are donuts of all different colors and types, the language is called ‘donya’ and whose neighbors include the Republic of Cupcakes and Cookie Land
  • Empire of Vikingland, whose currency is in denominations of the lucky number 7, the President is chosen by Ro Sham Bo, the capital city is Hawking (named after famed physicist Stephen Hawking), and there are absolutely no guns allowed. 
  • Candyland, whose people are only a few inches tall and where everything is made of candy
  • Circus Land, where every citizen 10 or older must work in the circus once per month and the day cotton candy was invented is celebrated as a national holiday
  • United Gabes of America, where everybody is named Gabe and you must have President Gabe’s permission to use the restroom
  • Drawing Land, which is ruled by King Mateo and is the only monarchy created by the second grade class
  • Ultraland, an island in the Pacific Ocean where there is free housing and free education for all. They also manufacture tree houses as their primary export.
  • Costanzoe, which is the biggest and most powerful country in the world and whose land is under great threat of super volcanoes
  • Pokeland, a republic located on a planet called Pokeworld. Leaders are voted into power and citizens are not legally allowed to use weapons.
  • Loveable Land, where there are no laws and red roses everywhere
  • Super Trio, named for a combination of the student’s favorite superhero (Superman) and favorite number (3), where everybody over 4 is required to go to school and you are not allowed to swim in a pool unless you are 6 years or older.
  • L Island, where the most important law is that you cannot hurt anybody or use weapons.
  • Baile, which is an island country known for its dancers, where everybody is welcome and everybody has freedom of speech. Pomegranates are the most popular produce and, by law, all citizens must respect each other. Also, all young people must go to school, but can attend any school they choose.
  • Beachside Land, whose population of 900,000 all have equal rights
  • Living Joy, located in the student’s living room. No pets are allowed.