“From Under Our Big Tree” Newsletter: Week #3 in the 7 to 9 Class (2015)

The Knowing Garden

From under our big tree…

27 September 2015
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Weekly Newsletter #3 – 7 to 9 Class
All Together - Community
“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued, when they can give and receive without judgement.”
-Brene Brown
Otoño ha llegado! (fall has arrived). On the first day off fall we passed the breezeway towards our class and we were greeted by beautiful red, brown and orange leaves on the downstairs board. The board kindly greeted fall with a simple “Welcome.” As we walked into our classroom, we smelled peppermint and found a little sparkly orange pumpkin in our meeting space. Every morning we gather in this space to greet each other and spend a little time journaling our thoughts. On the white board, there was a simple question written as a provocation.

What is your favorite thing about fall?

Students eagerly began to write their thoughts.

After 5 minutes, I asked students to begin wrapping up their journaling. There was complete silence, simply the sound of pencils meeting paper. As our time to write came to an end, students slowly began closing their journals. I asked if anyone would be interested in sharing what they wrote; many hands went up.

Aiel shared that she loved the change of colors in the leaves, and walking outside at night on halloween because everyone is so happy and everyone is dressed up. Mia shared that she enjoyed jumping on piles of crunchy leaves. Lucas shared that he liked halloween, thanksgiving and eating juicy turkey. As friends continued to share their thoughts, a fluid conversation began about past experiences during the fall season. Students talked about how some of their experiences were similar and how some of them were different. During this conversation everyone had an opportunity to be heard, to be seen. Organically, the children gave each other eye contact and space for their voices. I simply sat back and listened. I truly felt blessed to have been a part of that beautiful moment.

The truth is fall is by far my most favorite time of the year. I love the weather, the beauty in nature, the special holidays and the list goes on. However, today as the children shared their vivid memories and their hopes for future memories, I realized that what I love the most about fall is the opportunities to connect to my loved ones. Oh how lovely connection feels! This fall, I am ever grateful to be able to connect with your little people, and to see how they cultivate connection with each other.

Thank you to all of the parents who came to our Parent Teacher training on Saturday! It is always an honor to learn with you and from you. We look forward to a collaborative, connected year.

Friday was our first TKG field trip of 2015-1016! It was a gloriously beautiful day to focus on Environmental Stewardship with Wildlife Biologist Chris Morasky at the Lunada Bay Tide Pools in Palos Verdes. The goal of our whole-school field trips is to bring our community into local environments that will embody our values of Empowerment, Social Justice, Environmental Stewardship and Innovation. Each year as a community, we have deep experiences out in the field with new and established partners. These experiences help to build the foundation for our school culture which is based on these values. As such, we carefully choose the themes which may or may not coincide with the day-to-day work in the classrooms but they do reinforce the values of each classroom.

For this first fieldtrip, our values of adventuring and environmental stewardship came together as we descended a deliciously steep cliff with the aid of a rope put up by our guide.  We supported and coaxed each other to take one more careful step. Once we reached the bottom, the crystal blue water and tumbling rocks invited us to explore and feel with our bodies and search with our eyes. Everyone roamed in an among the rocks, exploring at will. We practiced care for the animals we were coming into contact with “Let’s let the crab do its thing.” (Zoe)

Our guide went out diving for animals for us to learn from.  Chris can dive for up to about 4 minutes under water. He spoke to us about how he taught his body to relax to be able to hold his breath for longer and longer periods. Fortunately for us, his breath training has been successful because he emerged from the sea with  a Sea hag (which is a VERY large, strangely adorable ocean slug), Urchin, abalone shells, limpets, and a fish called a perch.

We got to see the dissection of the twitching fish, which is cold blooded and will twitch for up to 5 hours after dead, which was a relief to some that it was just nerves, not suffering. From that experience, we learned about our similar anatomy to a fish by inspecting the heart, the intestines and the liver. We got to taste fresh sea urchin as it was opened to reveal the delicacy inside, shocking us to know that that spiky creature was actually edible! While cutting the sea urchin  Jameson exclaimed, “That’s gross.  He’s cutting the mouth.  Eeeew, I can’t watch.”  It was a little disgusting for some yet thoroughly fascinating for all as we couldn’t look away.

Other facts we learned:

  • Most sharks out here are small, 3ft or under – horn sharks, swell sharks – thin body sharks are fish eaters (wide body sharks eat seals and other large animals)
  • Are there sea turtles in the area?  Yes, but uncommon.
  • There are Octopuses here – there was a two spotted octopus that was too slippery to catch (grammar committee looking for Octopi, click here)
  • Baja octopus decorate their burrow with shells!
  • The lobsters in this area are called Spiney Lobsers– no claws
  • Did you know that holes in rocks are created by clams “melting” into them?!
It was a beautiful day in nature learning , playing, adventuring and connecting together. We love our days out in the world!
Con amor,
Yvette Fenton, 7 to 9 Lead Teacher
Lena Garcia, School Builder, 7-9 Class Mentor and Collaborator
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

  • F.A.C.E. Time – Fine Arts & Cultural Enrichmentbegins this week! Thank you to our Parent Teachers Gina, Alice and Yvette.
  • First Friday Dance Party – the tradition continues this Friday @ Drop-off!
  • Mindful Moment, Monday @ 1:30pm – Facilitated by Lori, this moment will focus on grounding yourself.Meet at Hess park just before pick up.
TKG Principles
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM: teachers and parents support relevant learning & creativity
  • WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY: cognitive, physical and social/emotional health is valued – families & caregivers are our partners
  • BRAIN SCIENCE: we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice positive learning experiences
  • CAPACITY BUILDING: nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING: small groups, low ratios, mixed ages
Parent Teacher Info

Parent Teacher Toolbox

PTs This Week – arrival time is 8.30am; allow 30 minutes for debrief at the end of the day.

  • MONDAY – Saundi/James/Cynthia/Michele
  • TUESDAY – Lori
  • WEDNESDAY – Ellen
  • THURSDAY – Alice
  • FRIDAY – Shannon

ECHO Parenting – 6 Week Series Tuesdays beg THIS TUESDAY @ TKG – facilitated by Renee Dokmanovich, this class helps parents & caregivers develop a framework of nonviolence and strategies that are based on empathy, connecting language and the understanding of a human’s emotional, physical and brain development. Contact Trish if you are interested in attending.

SUB-Protocols – because you receive credit as you complete hours, sub-bing is much easier.and you are in control of your schedule:

  • If you want the credit, contact your people to see if anyone can help you earn your credit.
  • If you want a sub more, contact Trish and TKG will cover the shift. You will not receive credit and you won’t be charged for the time.
  • If you miss a shift and didn’t contact Trish, you will be charged for the cost of a sub.
  • Credits and charges will appear on your next tuition invoice
PT RESOURCE: What’s the Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Healthiness?
If we actually focused on mental healthiness, we could treat mental illness more effectively. And being more effective is necessary because even if we took all of the current best evidence-based practices for the treatment of mental illnesses, there’s about 25% of people that are getting less than optimal results. A mental healthiness perspective includes the whole range of human experience, from at our very best to at our very worst, so this includes all of Psychiatry and clinical Psychology – it just has room for much more. READ DR.LEE’S Blog
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Admin Office Hours, 9 to 11am Thr Oct 1 – Stop by and catch up on any pending school business, offer your compliments or work on your committee questions.

Early Pick Up – 12noon on Wed Sep 30 – Please note your calendars!

Emergency Kits & Supplies – bring your gear by Tuesday.

Visit Shutterfly and check out more of your class’ photos! You may need to be added, so just request permission and we will take care of it asap.

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Resource Of The Week – Capacity Building

Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’

The power of yet. Being mindful. Staying out of their way. These are concepts that we know affect the growth and development of our students but how do you actually implement Growth Mindset? Carol Dweck updates her ground-breaking work with a study of her original work.

*   *   *
By Carol Dweck/Education Week

So a few years back, I published my book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success to share these discoveries with educators. And many educators have applied the mindset principles in spectacular ways with tremendously gratifying results.This is wonderful, and the good word continues to spread. But as we’ve watched the growth mindset become more popular, we’ve become much wiser about how to implement it. This learning—the common pitfalls, the misunderstandings, and what to do about them—is what I’d like to share with you, so that we can maximize the benefits for our students.

A growth mindset isn’t just about effort.Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve.

What are your triggers?

Watch for a fixed-mindset reaction when you face challenges. Do you feel overly anxious, or does a voice in your head warn you away? Watch for it when you face a setback in your teaching, or when students aren’t listening or learning. Do you feel incompetent or defeated? Do you look for an excuse? Watch to see whether criticism brings out your fixed mindset. Do you become defensive, angry, or crushed instead of interested in learning from the feedback? Accept those thoughts and feelings and work with and through them. And keep working with and through them. Read the article @EDWEEK

Capacity Building - Revisit Growth Mindset


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