Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dear Families in the Middle,

Several of you have responded (in person, through e-mail or by a comment) to the post two weeks ago with a focus on family meals. One of our Family & Consumer Science teachers brought to my attention
National FCS "Dining In" Day is December 3rd. Mrs. Gangnon asked, "Wouldn't it be great if we could sign up Hudson Middle School in making the commitment to "Dine In" with our families Thursday, December 3rd?" We could ask for family photos (kind of like the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving photo) to share on our Facebook link and Twitter account!

My calendar shows a 7-12 Orchestra concert at 7 that evening and  Packer game at 7:30. Whether your child is in orchestra, you are an avid Packer fan, or you prefer to follow a different football team, let's give this idea a try!
Here are a couple of links for support and ideas:
#fcsday #healthyfamilyselfie
Dine In With Us!

A few more ideas for supporting our students in cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude:
* Think and talk about what others DO - why did they do it? what did it "cost" (in terms of time and energy)? and how did it benefit the recipient (and others)?
* Use a gratitude journal - I've seen several versions online. A study of middle school students (2008) noted those who regularly wrote about what they were thankful for reported greater optimism and a more positive outlook on their school experience!
* Write thank you notes - to a teacher, a coach, a bus driver, a neighbor, a grandparent, a friend to let them know you appreciate their support and guidance, advice and encouragement
* Model all of the above - my mother was insistent that we write thank you's to any person who gave a gift, spent time with us, shared a meal, or invited us to a special event. Her example lives on; I receive the most delightful thank you notes from my grandchildren!

Thankful for the opportunity to work with your middle-level learner with this marvelous team!
Mrs. Ann Mitchell

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dear Families in-the-Middle,

No longer just a "soft skill," gratitude can lead to higher grades and life satisfaction among students. According to The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and California State University, Fullerton, emerging research points to gratitude as a potential bridge between students' academic and social well-being. Studies show grateful youth have higher GPAs, experience more positive emotions, and ultimately, go on to live more meaningful lives. In addition, gratitude among middle school students can foster an increased sense of hope and trust in others and fuel a desire to give back to their community. According to one of the researchers, the middle level years (ages 10-14) are critical in terms of moving from egocentric thinking to developing empathy for others (Education Update, ASCD, November 2013).

Gratitude has been defined as:
Affirming there are good things in the world--gifts and benefits we've received - and recognizing these sources of goodness come from outside ourselves. 
Having shared the benefits of a strong sense of gratitude in this week's post, next week's Middle Musings blog post will provide tips for cultivating gratitude.

During our Veteran's Day ceremony, we were reminded of the service, sacrifice and courage many generously give in an effort to bring about world peace. John F. Kennedy posited, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." To give the highest honor to our veterans and to re-dedicate the day to world peace, I challenged each of us to (students and staff) to take three actions:

  • respectfully regard each other; we don’t know each person’s story - the struggles they’ve experienced in their lives, and the burdens they carry; make eye contact, address the person with their name, and take time to listen to each other
  • pledge yourselves to a courageous quest for justice. (reference 7th grade LA projects) What does justice look like here in our Middle Learning Community? What do you do to assure every student is invited to speak during class? How often do you reach out and sit near someone different during lunch? What support have you offered another student to help them learn?
  • DO SOMETHING to show appreciation to and for others - write a note to a teacher who has taught you to speak up on behalf of others; talk to your parents about the example of care they’ve set for you as you watch them help others; thank someone for something you often take for granted - a meal, a bus ride, a ride home from practice.

With gratitude for our veterans and all who contributed to honoring them today, 
Mrs. Ann Mitchell

P.S. There were a couple of requests for the YouTube videos shared during an 8th grade health class.
The Time You Have (in Jelly Beans)
The Dash
Thank you, Mrs. Dahl, for sharing these with our Middle Families. The messages remind us of the importance of the choices we make each DAY and the value of each day.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dear Families in the Middle,

November seems to have arrived early this year - given the days upon days of beautiful weather we've enjoyed through the summer and early autumn! For our family, November is a time to rekindle an attitude of gratitude in our hearts. Now nearly empty-nesters, our conversations with our children are less frequent, opportunities to play games together are a treat, and family meals are a treasured and anticipated event. If my children were to read this post, they might ask themselves...what's different?

Like many families, our lives are intensely scheduled and "down time" practically non-existent. One of the healthy habits I tried to renew every autumn was family meals. We didn't always succeed, and I was usually better about breakfast than supper. If you're struggling like we did, here's a few suggestions:
* Schedule family meals ahead of time and post those dates on a shared family calendar
* Turn off the gadgets and devices - make the dinner table an internet "cold spot"
* Think of mealtime as the Family News Hour and take turns sharing your news, the best part of the day, or something for which you are grateful
* Include everyone in meal planning and preparation; it's a family meal - not a family restaurant.
* Practice listening to each other, asking questions, and not interrupting.

Reflecting on fostering my own attitude of gratitude, I am thankful for...
Kindness from others - kind words, supportive actions, and encouragement
Hard-working, dedicated, and caring co-workers in-the-middle of challenges and changes
Family - those who love us despite our flaws, foibles, and limitations

Happy November!