Elementary Corner

Learning More from Failure

Written by Seth Pozzi, Asst. Head of School on .

I heard a great story on NPR's Morning Edition today about Charles Bolden, the first black NASA administrator. 50 years ago, his hopes of joining the Naval Academy, a first step toward his illustrious career, almost never happened. Representatives in his state of South Carolina refused to nominate Bolden for the academy because of his race. It took the direct involvement and support of, then Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson to launch Bolden’s career.

I think Bowman would argue that how you deal with failure says even more about you than how you deal with success. I try to be mindful of this as an educator as well as in my own personal life. Of course I want the children in our school to experience success! I would also argue that we should place equal importance on learning coping and problem-solving skills to do deal with life's disappointments in healthy, constructive ways. It can be dangerous for children to go into adolescence and adulthood without coping and resiliency skills, and it is our job to help foster these while they are in a safe, loving environment. 

Mr. Bolden's story is a terrific example how grit and determination can trump even the most unfair circumstances.

Take a listen to the story or view it online.

Enjoy,

Seth Pozzi

Asst. Head of School

WHPS Creative Approach to Food Allergies

Written by Seth Pozzi on .

Like most schools, Woodland Hills Private School has a number of students and staff with severe food allergies. And like many leading schools we use a word study program instead of asking our students to memorize spelling lists. What do these two things have in common?

On the surface you might think nothing at all. Enter creative, passionate educator and kindergarten teacher, Marjorie Natal. After a couple close calls this year in which well-intentioned parents sent unsafe food items to school, Natal sprang into action with a clever idea. She developed her own food sorting activity based on the school’s word study program. This week, the students and parents in Natal’s class will sort images of items and food labels based on whether they are "safe for school" or "unsafe for school." And while this is just one step in helping to educate and ensure the safety of our community, Natal’s creative approach to teaching is not only fun but it could help save a life!

 Feel free to download and share this resource with anyone who you think might benefit from it. Thanks Ms. Natal!

Seth Pozzi

Asst. Head of School

 

Upcoming ERB Testing

Written by Seth Pozzi, Asst. Head of School on .

This spring, students in grades 3-5 will take the ERB (Educational Records Bureau) Comprehensive Testing Program. We are adopting the ERB this year, replacing the Stanford 10, which was previously administered to students in K-5. The new ERB assessment system is better aligned with our program because it focuses on critical thinking and goes beyond multiple-choice bubble-in answers. The ERB enables us to compare student achievement with peers in other private schools across the US.

At WHPS, we know that people learn in different ways, and we use the Columbia University reading, writing and spelling assessments, science experiments, math assignments, discussions, portfolios, projects, artwork, and performance to assess the whole child. Our use of standardized test information is viewed as one piece of a complex puzzle which reveals the learning strengths and weaknesses of individual students.

Howard Gardner, of Harvard University, researched the validity of standardized tests to assess student performance. He states, “Most formal testing – whatever the area that is allegedly being tested – engages primarily the linguistic and logical-mathematical faculties. If one has high linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, one is likely to do well on formal testing (from Multiple Intelligences: Theory in Practice).” According to Dr. Gardner and other experts in our field, future leaders and entrepreneurs of the 21st century need to know how to integrate many types of intelligence.

At WHPS, we believe children benefit from a balance between authentic learning opportunities and the experience of taking standardized tests. As students move to secondary school and beyond, they will encounter more tests. We believe a curriculum designed to teach for true understanding, coupled with some experience in taking standardized tests, provides our students with a solid foundation for success in “high stakes” tests, as well as a life full of learning.

You may have some questions about the ERB:  

How is the ERB different from the annual test California public school students take?

ERB test data is different from the test data accumulated by the public schools in California. The state tests are designed to determine if students perform at a set proficiency level, and the percentages reported in the newspaper reflect the percentage of students who are proficient or above. The ERB test is a nationally normed test, which means it compares a student’s performance to that of every other student who took the same test across the nation (students in private schools).

What do we do with the ERB data? 

As a school, we review the data to determine any general areas of school strength or for improvement. We continually evaluate standards and benchmarks in the curriculum, along with information from the ERB tests to ensure that we deliver an exceptional educational experience for each child.

Allergic to Popsicles?

Written by Seth Pozzi, Asst. Head of School on .

Does your child or someone you know have an allergy to nuts? Milk? Eggs? Wheat? Soy? Fish? Popsicles?

Yes, honestly, there was recently a voluntary recall of some Popsicle brand Orange, Cherry and Grape flavored ice pops because they may have been inadvertently exposed to milk, which is not listed as an ingredient on the label.

If you know someone who has experienced anaphylaxis during an allergic reaction, it can be chilling to think we can’t always trust ingredient labels. Studies indicate that 16-18% of school-age children who have food allergies have had a reaction in school. In addition, in approximately 25% of the reactions that occur at school, the student had not yet been diagnosed with food allergy.

This hits close to home for me, not only because I have known numerous students who have life-threatening allergies, but also because my younger sister has a life-threatening allergy. My “little sister” will be 35 year old in December, but I still worry about her. I have seen her face swell up, resembling Will Smith in the movie Hitch. For loved ones who have seen this happen, it can feel very helpless.

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Fatal and Near-Fatal Anaphylactic Reactions to Food in Children and Adolescents” indicated that four of the six deaths from food allergy examined in the report occurred in school, and were associated with significant delays in treating the reactions with epinephrine. Several other studies that have looked at food allergy and anaphylaxis management in schools and childcare settings have found inadequate food allergy management plans and inadequate recognition of allergic symptoms and treatment with epinephrine. 

Long story short, we must be educated and vigilant about preventing our children from being exposed to known allergens. We also need to know what to do and be prepared to respond if a child [or adult] in our school has a reaction. While some basic school training is required by the state of California, OUR staff have received a considerable amount of additional training on early recognition and intervention. Even so, you can never be too prepared! I encourage ALL parents to visit the Kids With Food Allergies (A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) and Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) websites. Read about how you can help identify an allergic reaction early and potentially save a life. Our staff receive regular updates from Kids With Food Allergies and FARE on emerging issues and how to save a life. You can too.

Information adapted from: http://www.foodallergy.org/home

Fostering Self-Reliance During the First Weeks of School

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

Wendy Mogel is one of my favorite authors, and I have had the great privilege of seeing her speak several times. She has worked with children and families all over Los Angeles, and she really "gets" modern parenting. She is the author of: The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and  The Blessing of a B Minus, both great books for any parent, grandparent or teacher!

It’s probably safe to assume you want your child to be self-reliant, resilient, and accountable and to have a spirit of adventure. In the first few weeks of school, our children have been setting goals and thinking about their hopes and dreams for the year. How can you, as a parent, support your child in building independence and self-efficacy?

OVERPARENTING ANONYMOUS, By Dr. Wendy Mogel

 A 26-step program for good parents gone bad

I’ve written these steps to provide encouragement to well-intentioned, devoted, loving, intelligent parents who feel powerless to stop themselves from overindulging, overprotecting, and overscheduling their children. Parents who get jittery if their offspring aren’t performing at a high level in every area. And parents who have unwittingly allowed traits like self-reliance, resilience, accountability and a spirit of adventure to slip to the bottom of their parenting priority list.

1. Don’t confuse a snapshot taken today with the epic movie of your child’s life. Kids go through phases. Glorious ones and alarming ones. 

2. Don’t fret over or try to fix what’s not broken. Accept your child’s nature even if he’s shy, stubborn, moody, or not great at math.

3. Look at anything up close and you’ll see the flaws. Consider it perfectly normal if you like your child’s friends better than you like your child.

4. Work up the courage to say a simple “no.” Don’t try to reach consensus every time.

5.Encourage your child to play or spend time outside using all five senses in the three-dimensional world. How come only troubled rich kids get to go to the wilderness these days? Send your kids to camp for the longest stretch of time you can afford.  Enjoy nature together as a family.

6. Don’t mistake children’s wants with their needs. Don’t fall for a smooth talker’s line about the urgent need for a cell phone “in case of an emergency, Mom!” or a new car “because it’s so much safer than your old van.”  Privileges are not entitlements.

7. Remember that kids are hardy perennials, not hothouse flowers. Let them be cold, wet, or hungry for more than a second and they’ll appreciate the chance to be warm, dry, and fed.

8. Abstain from taking the role of Sherpa, butler, crabby concierge, secret police, short order cook, or lady’s maid. Your child is hard-wired for competence. Let them do things for themselves.

9. Before you nag, remind, criticize, advise, chime in, preach, or over-explain, say to yourself “W.A.I.T.” or “Why am I talking?” Listen four times more than you talk.

10. Remember that disappointments are necessary preparation for adult life. When your child doesn’t get invited to a friend’s birthday party, make the team, or get a big part in the play, stay calm. Without these experiences she’ll be ill-equipped for the real world.

11. Be alert but not automatically alarmed. Question yourself. Stop and reflect: Is this situation unsafe or just uncomfortable for my child? Is it an emergency or a new challenge?

12. Learn to love the words “trial” and “error.” Let your child make mistakes before going off to college. Grant freedom based on demonstrated responsibility and accountability, not what all the other kids are doing.

13. Don’t be surprised or discouraged when your big kid has a babyish tantrum or meltdown. Don’t confuse sophistication with maturity. Setbacks naturally set them back. They set us back too, but we can have a margarita.

14. Allow your child to do things that scare you. Don’t mistake vulnerability for fragility. If you want her to grow increasingly independent and self-confident, let her get her learner’s permit when she comes of age; don’t offer a nuanced critique of her best friend or crush.

15. Don’t take it personally if your teenager treats you like crap. Judge his character not on the consistency of in-house politeness, clarity of speech, or degree of eye contact but on what teachers say, whether he’s welcomed by his friends’ parents, and his manners towards his grandparents, the neighbors, salespeople, and servers in restaurants.

16. Don’t automatically allow your child to quit. When she lobbies passionately against continuing an activity or program that “isn’t how I thought it would be!” it’s tempting to exhaust yourself selling him on the benefits. Instead remind yourself that first impressions are not always enduring; that a commitment to a team or group is honorable; and that your investment (of time and/or money) is not to be taken for granted. But do take her reasoned preferences into account when making future plans.

17. Refrain from trying to be popular with your children just because your parents weren’t as attuned to your emotional needs as you might have wished. Watch out for the common parental pattern of nice, nice, nice…furious!

18. Avoid the humblebrag parent lest you begin to believe that your child is already losing the race. Remind yourself that kids’ grades, popularity, or varsity ranking are not a measure of your worth as a parent (nor theirs as people). Recognize that those other parents are lying.

19. Wait at least 24 hours before shooting off an indignant email to a teacher, coach, or the parent of a mean classmate. Don’t be a “drunk texter.”  Sleep on it.

20. Consider the long-term consequences of finding work-arounds for the “no-candy-in-camp-care-packages” rule. If you demonstrate that rules are made to be broken and shortcuts can always be found, you have given your child license to plagiarize or cheat on tests.

21. Maintain perspective about school and college choices.  Parents caught up in the admissions arms race forget that the qualities of the student rather than the perceived status of the school are the best predictor of a good outcome.

22. Treat teachers like the experts and allies they are. Give your child the chance to learn respect. It’s as important a lesson as Algebra 2. Remember how life-changing a good relationship with a teacher can be.

23. Praise the process and not the product. Appreciating your child’s persistence and hard work reinforces the skills and habits that lead to success far more than applauding everyday achievements or grades.

24. If you want your child to be prepared to manage his future college workload and responsibilities, take care before you hire a tutor, a private coach, or college application consultant. There’s no room for all of them in a dorm room.

25. Rather than lurking, snooping, sniping or giving up, practice sensible stewardship of your child’s online activities. Evaluate her level of self-respect and good judgment in other areas.

26. Treat ordinary household chores and paid jobs as more important learning opportunities than jazzy extracurriculars. With real-world experience, your child will develop into an employable (and employed) adult. That said, accept that older children will get chores done on AST (Adolescent Standard Time).

Which of Mogel’s points really resonates with you? Feel free to post them in the comments on our Facebook Page. Consider choosing one of these ideas to focus on as the year begins. I am proud to work for a school where the teachers are constantly asking themselves (and one another) how we can best foster self-efficacy and self-confidence in our children!

My favorites are #1, #7, #14 and #21

 
-Seth Pozzi
Assistant Head of School

 

 

 

 

Retrieved from: http://www.wendymogel.com/articles/item/overparenting_anonymous at 11:32 a.m. on August 25, 2015..

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