Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dear Families in-the-middle,

Our Fall Parent Seminar Tuesday evening, October 27, provided several tips for parents. A few participants suggested we consider sharing information for all of our families. We offered three sessions - the three most requested in the survey sent out to all families earlier this month.

Rude vs. Mean vs. Bullying - How do we tell the difference?
Anxiety - Strategies to help your child cope
Social Media & Electronic Devices - What is a parent's role?

A question raised during one of the sessions was, "How can we help our child respond effectively to rudeness and meanness?" We're so glad you asked! These are a few questions, statements, and actions your son or daughter might use when faced with unkind words and actions:

* Do you really believe that?
* Why would you say/ask that?
* That sounds like an opinion and I don't think I agree.
* That's not my view.
* Make eye-contact, use an I-statement, and be sincere: "I'm not sure why you're saying those things. They're hurtful."
* Walk away.
* Tell an adult.

Students taking a stand in the face of unkind words and actions serve as role models for the rest of us. In most cases, the negative words and actions diminish when these responses are used in a sincere and direct manner. Most importantly, students taking a sincere and courageous approach speak volumes about the most effective and dignified way to respond to others. Thank you for the example you are for your son or daughter.

Most sincerely,
Mrs. Ann Mitchell


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dear Families in the Middle,

We are seeking feedback from our families about communication here in the middle.
Please take 3 minutes to complete the Google Survey to let us know your preferences and to offer specific suggestions for improving our communication. Your feedback will help our team determine next steps to improve our communication. Thank you!

The drive to my daughter's campus this past Sunday was breath-taking! No matter how many autumns I experience, I am still in awe of the beautiful colors and aromas of this season. Second only to spring in my preferred seasons of change, I marvel at the changes that occur as a result of less daylight, cooler temperatures, and changing soil conditions. Similarly, serving as principal in-the-middle, I marvel at the changes that occur over three a result of innovative teachers, kind and collaborative peers, and supportive and challenging teams (students and adults). The result is a bit like driving down I94 near Knapp...SPECTACULAR!

A few red maples, golden oaks, and bright yellow birch trees...
The Lego League - 15 students initiating a cell phone recycling program, advised by Ms. Bray
Mrs. Bee's 8th grade students - learning in a "personalized" approach
Ms. Mueller's Health students - teaching HER how to use Google Classroom
Mr. Chukel's Math students - tracking their progress and self-assessing in math
Mrs. Root's Band students - clarifying what it means to be prepared for collaboration in band

Our first Student Council planned Dance of the year is scheduled for Friday, October 30, 6 - 8 PM. Please plan to come in to the multi-purpose room / gymnasium / cafeteria if you pick your child up before 8 PM.  $5 admission - $4 for students bringing a Food Shelf item for the Stuff-a-Truck Kickoff! Items will be credited to grade-levels and houses; Stuff-a-Truck runs through the 13th.Snacks/Refreshments will be sold in the cafeteria during the dance. Please assure your student follows our school dress code (no hats, face-paint, or masks); however, dressing up in their favorite Halloween costume is encouraged! 

Stay tuned for more highlights and bright spots in this colorful array of learning here in the middle!

In awe,
Mrs. Ann Mitchell

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear Middle Musing Mom's and Dad's,

We eagerly anticipate conversations with you about your son's / daughter's learning. Please take time to schedule a visit with your child's Advisor. House teams have worked closely to share information, strengths, struggles, and specifics to support each student's learning progress. If you can, please take time to also visit with "traveling teachers" your student may have throughout the day. These teachers are available in our Media Center both evenings - October 15 and 22. Exploratories and Electives (World Language, Family & Consumer Science, Tech. Ed., Art, Music, Computer / Business) will be located in their respective classrooms. Your student can guide you to those locations.

Special message from our Student Lego Robotic League (Advisor - Ms. Jodie Bray):
Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s),

As you know, we have Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences Thursdays, October 15 and 22. There will be a box that you can recycle your cell phones. If you have unwanted cell phones, you can bring them to conferences and put them in our recycle box. These recycling boxes will also be available throughout the year. The cell phones will be donated to the Robotic Raiders. We will then donate the cell phones to the Minnesota Zoo Recycle For Rain Forests program where they will safely extract the minerals and metals instead of people in third world countries having to unsafely collect the precious minerals. If you want to learn more, please click this link.

Thank you,
Elina, Eleanor and the Lego Robotic Club

Our first Parent Seminar is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27 (6:30 - 8 PM). Parents can choose TWO of three topics to learn more:
Anxiety: Strategies to help your child cope
Bullying vs. Rude vs. Mean: Helping your child understand the difference
Social Media & Electronic Devices: What is a parent's role?

Please share your questions and suggestions with us!

Happy autumn!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dear Middle Musers,

This beautiful weekend, my mother and I had the opportunity to join my youngest daughter for a Friends and Family event this past weekend on campus at St. Catherine's University in St. Paul, Minnesota. During one of the learning experiences, information was shared from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. According to the survey data collected (2014) these are the top four Skills and Qualities Employers Want:
1, Ability to work in a team structure
2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
3. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
4. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
We heard from a few alum who are beginning their careers and they echoed the priorities as they described their journey and what they've found MOST helpful in work and in life.

Some of you may be hearing about different teaching and learning experiences from your middle-level student.  You might read or hear about inquiry, project-based learning, and/or personalized learning. Each of these approaches honors what the student brings to the learning experience. In an age of quick access to information, teachers are no longer the holder and deliverer of information. Rather, they are provokers of thinking, guides for exploring new territory, and coaches while we practice with others. We are fortunate to have a strong and positive team of educators stretching themselves, thinking outside the box, and applying their learning to help students develop skills in collaboration, planning, problem-solving, and communicating. When we make changes, this sometimes frustrates students (and us!) as we struggle to get our footing, sometimes make mistakes, and invest more time and energy in learning new skills instead of doing what we've always done.

Please share your concerns and questions with us. More importantly, encourage your student to do the same. No voice is more critical in this educational journey and learning community than that of our students'. Recently, two students shared with me and with their teacher three suggestions for improving the learning experience. Another four students shared thoughts about our focus on school-wide collaboration skills with our administrative team during our twice-monthly Student Advisors to the Administrator meetings. Those suggestions mean an improved experience for each of those students, their classmates, and every student for years to come.

Thank you for your encouragement, for your positive attitude, and for your patience as we work together to help your child become a confident communicator, problem-solver and team player.