Monday, October 15, 2018

 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Bullying is a topic many of us wish we did not have to talk about with our children and would like to think does not happen in our schools or to our children.  The unfortunate truth, however, is that bullying does occur, and not just in schools, but in cyberspace, workplaces, and sometimes even houses of worship.  In order to help our children overcome bullying and its effects and to make a positive impact in their lives and the lives of those around them, it is important to help our children understand what is and is not bullying.

By definition, bullying is behavior that is intentional, hurtful, repeated, and that involves an abuse of power.  Types of bullying include physical, verbal, social cyber, and sexual harassment.

These types of bullying can manifest as physical acts, such as hitting, pushing, poking, or throwing things; verbal acts, such as name-calling, insults, or threats; social acts, such as isolating or ignoring; cyber acts, such as using devices (cellphones, computers, etc.) to harass or send hurtful messages, including sexual messages. All of these types of bullying can have very real damaging and painful effects to all those involved.  Some of these effects include low self-esteem, physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches), anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite, poor grades, and school avoidance.  If your child is the target of bullying, encourage him or her to stay calm and remove himself or herself from the situation as quickly as possible and report it to an adult right away.  If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, save the evidence (texts, emails, or social media posts), block the sender, and report the incident to school administration and/or local law enforcement.

 

While it is important for our children to recognize bullying when it occurs, either to them or those around them, it is equally important for us to help our children understand behaviors that, though they may be unpleasant, do not necessarily constitute bullying.  With each of the following behaviors, it is critical to remember the definition of bullying as intentional and repeated.  As social beings, we want other people to like us; however, there are some people who we just do not like and who will not like us.  Though that may make us feel sad or uncomfortable, not liking someone is not bullying.  Another behavior that, though unpleasant, may not always be bullying is being excluded.  Not everyone is going to be friends or have the same interests, so someone may be excluded from an activity or event.  Again, it becomes bullying when the exclusion is repeated or when a group is required to work together, such as for a classroom project, and a member is intentionally excluded.  Disagreeing with someone is not bullying. None of us have exactly the same likes or dislikes, so it is natural that we may disagree with one another from time to time.  Disagreements, which may turn into arguments, become bullying when one person attempts to exert power over the other in an attempt to win the argument. Because these are behaviors that we all experience at some point, unpleasant as they are, it is essential to help our children understand that they are a natural part of navigating social interactions with others

Bullying, in all its forms, is a serious issue.  Our children depend on us to listen when they come to us with concerns about bullying and to help them understand what is happening and how to deal with it.  Two resources that may be helpful in talking with your child about bullying are:www.StopyBully.gov/teens and www.GetNetWise.org.  Being informed and working together, we can help our children have a more positive school experience.

 

 

Friday, October 5, 2018

SEPTEMEBER SLAB (Science Lab)

SCIENTISTS IN THE MAKING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

 

“You need accurate information about your current abilities in order to learn effectively.”—Carol Dweck, Ph.D. in Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success

 

 

The new school year is fully underway. In fact, it’s difficult to believe we are already four weeks in to this year—just about halfway through the first grading period.  Soon, students will be bringing home their first report cards of the year.  While many students want to bring home a report card full of high grades (and many parents want to see this type of report card!), it is important to help students remember that the process (developing, growing, and learning) is just as important, if not more so, than the end product (grades).  Encouraging your child to develop a growth mindset can go a long way to reinforce this message.

 

Having a growth mindset simply means that one can improve abilities and qualities through effort, using failures and mistakes as valuable learning tools, and seeing challenges and obstacles as opportunities for growth and improvement.  At school, we work with the students in the following ways to develop a growth mindset:

·         Praising students for process, not just product (“I like the way you used your vocabulary cards to study for your quiz.”)

·         Reassuring students when they make a mistake by providing constructive criticism (“I know you’re disappointed you didn’t do as well as you wanted to on this assignment.  Let’s check to make sure you have all of your notes and materials in the right section of your binder so you can correct your errors.”)

·         Emphasizing the power of yet: (“It’s okay if this concept seems a little overwhelming right now, you haven’t learned it yet.”)

At home, you can reinforce and support your child’s growth mindset by doing these things:

·         Redirecting fixed mindset thinking (“I am no good in math.”  “You may not understand this yet, so let’s practice some more.”)

·         Praising the process (“I like how you picked a really challenging topic for your project.  I know it will be difficult for you but I also know you will learn a lot.”)

·         Managing failure and mistakes (“Can you describe the best mistake you made today?  How can it help you improve your work?  What’s a different strategy you can try?”)

By supporting growth mindset at home and at school, we can help our students persist and prevail to fulfill their potential, as well as set up positive habits for lifelong learning.

 

 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

 

 

“So we have say goodbye for the summer…”—Jason Donovan

 

While there is still some summer left, and some summer vacation, the start of a new school year is right around the corner.  Stores are already heralding their back-to-school sales and shelves are stocked with paper, pencils, binders, highlighters, pencil pouches, and backpacks, as well as the latest and greatest devices (cellphones, tablets, laptops, etc.). Getting that slick new device, a cool new pair of sneakers, and organizing all of those fresh, clean supplies can be exciting. In the midst of that excitement, however, it is important to think about ways to support students as they transition from those lazy, hazy days of summer vacation back to the school day and year routine.

Research has consistently shown that young people need their sleep (at least eight hours), and it is consistently showing that they are not getting nearly enough.  Adequate sleep promotes growth of all types:  physical, emotional, and social.  Ensure your child is getting the proper amount of sleep by setting regular bedtimes and wake-up times.  To provide the most restful sleep environment, all devices should be turned off and as far away from the bed as possible.  If your child uses the alarm on his/her phone, invest in an alarm clock.  The soft glow from screens disrupts sleep patterns and does not allow for complete rest and leads to the temptation of late night texting and game playing, also not conducive to adequate sleep.

Homework is coming.  Make a plan now with your child for completing homework. Set aside a space just for homework and a schedule for getting it finished.  Every child is different, so no one schedule works for all students.  What does work is getting in a routine and building in breaks, so that your child gets his/her work completed but also has some downtime to engage in activities s/he enjoys.  Take advantage of homework resources the school has to offer.  For some students, staying a little later in the afternoon at school to complete, or at least get a jump on, homework takes off the pressure of having to get it all finished at home before going to bed and to the exclusion of other activities, as well as family time.

Transitions can be difficult for many students, particularly if a child is moving from elementary to middle school or middle school to upper school.  Take some time, maybe while running those back-to-school errands, to stop by the school and walk through the building with your child.  Seeing what’s changed and what is the same can help ease any back-to-school jitters your student may be feeling. If your child is feeling anxious about the first day, make a plan with your child and the administrators and teachers for creating a first day that is smooth and worry free.

A little planning and preparation before the school year begins can make the rest of the school year, and the remainder of summer vacation, that much more enjoyable, for you and for your child.

See you in August!

 

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

 

Earlier this month, New Vistas School celebrated the commencement of all of our students and the graduation of our senior, Faith.  That happy, and somewhat bittersweet, day gave us the occasion to reflect on what it means to have “FAITH”.

To have faith means to have friends and family.  During her years at NVS, Faith has been a friend to everyone.  She’s always quick with a smile, an encouraging word, or a helping hand.  Faith became the school’s unofficial, and on occasion, official, ambassador, greeting visitors, representing NVS at various events, and welcoming new students.  To have a friend like Faith is to have a true friend indeed.  In addition to friends, “F” also means family.  Faith has been so fortunate to have the love and support of her family, including her school family, to help guide her through her school career.  To have faith is to know that not only do you have family here on earth looking out for you, but family in spirit to watch over you. 

            To have Faith means to have attitude.  In the case of our Faith, it is usually a positive attitude.  Faith always showed up at school each day with positive attitude and managed to find a silver lining in just about every situation.  Many times, in talking with Faith about something negative, Faith would begin her response with “At least it didn’t…”.She can always see the good in people and events.   Occasionally, that attitude would manifest as stubbornness.  To have Faith means when you believe in something, you stick to it. As we say at NVS, persist and prevail!

            To have Faith means to be an individual.  Faith has always been her own person and puts her unique touch on everything around her. Her style of dress, her fun Halloween costumes, and her choice of songs for Can-Do Night, all have always reflected Faith’s individuality, as has her dry sense of humor, her approach to tackling challenges, and her ability to work out issues and obstacles to a positive outcome.

            To have Faith means to think about time.  Faith has spent a great deal of time at NVS.  In that time, she has grown from a 12-year old girl into a very confident 18 year old young woman.  Faith has used her time at NVS to progress in academics and in how to contribute to her community, by assisting in the elementary classroom, participating in our annual service project, and generally helping out around the school. 

            Finally, to have Faith means to have heart, happiness, and hugs.  As stated previously, Faith just about always has a smile and a happy, positive demeanor.  And she always has a hug or two for her school mates and teachers.  Faith has a heart for caring for and helping others, again, as evidenced by her ever-ready willingness to assist those around her.

            So, what does it mean to have FAITH?  Our Faith has taught us that it means: to recognize the importance of family and friends, to have a positive attitude, to be an individual, to appreciate and take advantage of the time we’ve been given, to have a heart, happiness, and to share hugs.  To borrow a line from “Romeo and Juliet”, Faith’s favorite Shakespeare play, “What’s in a name”?.  In her case Faith, everything she (and we) needs.

 

 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

 

      π!

March 14 = 3/14 = 3.14 = Pi Day!

New Vistas proudly recognizes and celebrates the 30th anniversary of Pi Day today!

Across the country today, students of math, teachers, and mathematicians will be celebrating Pi with contests: competitions to recite the most digits of Pi, pie eating contests, listing known equations including Pi, and more!

Why is Pi so fascinating to mathematicians?  Pi is an integral part of our universe in that π represents an irrational number in which the digits never end, and yet there is never a pattern!  Pi appears as though it is random and without sequence going on with infinity…  However, in the words of Steven Strogatz, professor of mathematics at Cornell, “The digits of Pi can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi!”  Dr. Strogatz references the evolution of algorithms formulated by mathematicians in regards to nature have a tendency to require Pi as part of the equation: such as in the cycle of nature, rotation of planets, solar systems, and galaxies. He also posits relationships to repeat patterns such as rhythms and cyclical heart beats! This further indicates that Pi is mathematical component of everything around us and essential to past and future engineering.  Dr. Stogatz goes on to say, “Whenever we think about rhythms—processes that repeat periodically, with a fixed tempo, like a pulsing heart or a planet orbiting the sun—we inevitably encounter pi.”

What is Pi ( π )?  Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference (the distance around the circle, represented by the letter C) to its diameter (the distance across the circle at its widest point, represented by the letter d). That ratio, which is about 3.14, also appears in the formula for the area inside the circle, A = πr2, where π is the Greek letter “pi” and r is the circle’s radius (the distance from center to rim). With modern computers, Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond the decimal.

To learn more about all things Pi, take a look at  http://www.piday.org/ 

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/pi-day-why-pi-matters

Reference: Steven Strogatz, New Yorker Magazine 3/2015

 

 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

 

 

Safe Space

 

Just a few weeks ago, the “unthinkable” happened, again.  Another school shooting, more lives lost, more calls for action.  We shake our heads, wring our hands, and wonder why. And we wonder will it happen again? When will it happen again?  Where will it happen again? And what, if anything, can we do?  We would like to think that we are immune. That certainly a tragedy like that couldn’t possibly happen in our community, in our school.  The unfortunate reality, however, is that, while maybe not probable, it is sadly possible.

 

So, what do we do to make our school the safe space for learning that it should be?  At NVS, we take several measures to ensure the safety of our school community. First, all exterior doors remained locked during the day.  School faculty and staff only are responsible for unlocking the doors to allow access to both the main building and the SLAB (science lab).  Interior and exterior cameras provide visuals of all activity occurring in both buildings and the parking lot. Additionally, faculty and staff alike are equipped with two-way radios and cellphones for immediate communication.  All faculty and staff have reviewed the school’s crisis management plan both individually and as a group and have a copy of the plan in their offices and classrooms.   A copy of the school’s plan is also on file with the Lynchburg Police Department. Evacuation and lockdown drills are regularly practiced.  NVS maintains a collegial relationship with the both the LPD and the Lynchburg Fire Department and works regularly with both agencies to assess and ensure the school’s safety. 

 

Even more importantly, because NVS is such a small, closely-knit community, faculty and staff have formed close relationships with each other and the students.  Faculty and staff know each student by name and are quick to notice if a student is having an “off” day or if there are changes in behavior or affect and to relay that information to parents/guardians, as well as to any counselors/therapists/medical personnel with whom a student may be working.  Students are encouraged to be supportive of one another by going to a faculty or staff member when they have concerns regarding their friends and schoolmates.  Because students have access to all faculty and staff, if they, themselves, are struggling, they know that there are any number of adults to whom they can go to for assistance. Our unofficial school slogan is “Team work makes the dream work.”  In these tumultuous times, team work keeps the dream from becoming a nightmare.

 

 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

 

Have you ever heard of the book “The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn? It’s about a mailman who believed in taking the “ordinary and making it into something extraordinary”. He takes great pride in making the people on his route feel special by knowing their names and by doing random acts of kindness.  He believes in making a difference and the power of creating positive connections.

At New Vistas, that’s what we believe. We believe in making a difference in our students’ learning, as well as in their emotional and social well-beings because they all unique in various ways. Creating positive relationships with our students is crucial to their learning. We want our students to come to school with a smile, and leave with one, too, while empowering them at the same time!  Personally, my goal for all of my students is to become life-long learners, and to realize they have the power to become successful leaders in whatever they choose to do. I often say to my middle schoolers, “Be a Fred”. What I really am saying is for them to start making a difference, and remember that whatever they are doing, to do it the best that they know how.

Together, let’s make a difference!

                                                                                                          Ms. Kohuth

                                                                                                                   Language Arts Instructor

                                                                                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

 

The holidays have ended and the winter break is finished, even though winter itself has only really just begun.  Students and faculty have returned to school and have settled in for the second semester.  While it is only the middle of the school year, the start of a new semester and a new calendar year offers a chance for new beginnings for everyone.

 

For students, it is a chance to reassess the personal goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the year to see how they are progressing and to readjust and/or recommit to achieving those goals.  It is also a time for students to renew their relationships with both peers and their teachers to set a positive tone for the new semester.  The beginning of the new semester also provides students with the opportunity to more fully apply the strategies and knowledge they learned in the first semester to the new content and tasks they will encounter as their classes resume.  At home, students, with the help of parents, can set up a new routine for homework and study and evaluate how they manage their out-of-school time to balance their school responsibilities, their family/home responsibilities, and their hobbies and personal interests.  If their first semester went well, then they can continue to build on their strong start; if it did not, now is an ideal opportunity to make changes to finish the school year strong.

 

For teachers, it is also a chance to reassess professional goals to determine if their plans and methods are assisting each of their students in reaching their potential.  It is also provides an opportunity for teachers to assess their own personal and professional strengths and challenges are in order to build on those strengths and explore professional development options to build more confidence and competence in their craft.  Like the students, the beginning of a new semester offers a chance for faculty to renew their professional connections with their colleagues through collaborative and supportive activities.  The second semester also gives teachers the opportunity to assess how they manage their time both in and out of the classroom to maintain balance in both their personal and professional lives.

 

New beginnings, new starts, new opportunities—2018 really is a happy new year!

 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

 

 

The holidays are rapidly approaching.  To-do lists and wish lists seem to get longer and longer as the days get shorter and shorter. On many of both those lists are the getting and receiving of the latest new devices.  For adults and children alike, visions of a new smartphone, tablet, laptop, gaming device and/or video games are dancing in their heads.  While these wonders of technology do make wonderful gifts and have many positive applications, particularly when giving these gifts to children and teenagers, there are some considerations to keep in mind.

 

First, technology has a serious impact on young people.  They spend around six and a half hours a day looking at screens.  Much of this screen time appeals to their young brains because of the constant novelty scrolling through pages and sites provides.  This pleasure-seeking behavior causes the brain to produce dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter.   While adults also engage in these types of behaviors in order to gain the same response, our more developed brains have a greater ability to limit our use of these devices.  Younger brains have yet to develop this self-control, which is so essential to success in school and in life. As adults, we must help our children and teenagers learn to practice self-control by limiting how much screen time they have as well as teaching the responsible use of their devices.

 

As of 2015, almost 70% of beginning high school students had a smartphone.  While these phones can often be used for classroom purposes, when not in use for a specific academic purpose, they can still be a distraction, not only to their owners, but to those around them.  Phones and other devices become a different type of distraction than just daydreaming or doodling in the margins. While these “low-tech” types of distractions may, in some cases, allow a student the ability to tune out other distractions and focus, the use of devices as a distraction, become the focus.  Contrary to popular belief, the brain cannot multitask.  Instead, the brain shifts from task to task, much like an oscillating fan, and is not able to fully focus on any one task.

 

The constant exposure to the novel stimuli these devices provide can cause the young brain to tire and experience decreased performance from overstimulation.  Girls, in particular, face increased pressure from social media’s frequent over-emphasis on looks. This constant body consciousness can negatively affect cognitive ability, often permanently.  Additionally, for boys and girls, too much screen time can interfere with sleep patterns and can cause test performance to suffer. Besides negative impacts on academic performance, too much time spent with devices limits children’s ability to build friendships. 

 

In order to combat the negative effects of these many devices, parents can take these several steps.  As with other areas in their lives, children respond to clear, consistent, and specific boundaries.  Talk with your child on what are the acceptable uses and times for their devices.  Develop rules for use with them, so that expectations are clear and make sense to your child.  Teach your children appropriate digital citizenship by modeling in your use of your own devices what that looks like. Create opportunities for both you and your child to disconnect from your devices and screens and connect with each other.  Put those opportunities into a contract that both you and your child must honor.

 

So, this holiday season, take time to focus less on screen time, and more on “face time.”