Teachers Learn Too!


As many of you know, I was absent on Monday because I was attending a seminar about emotional regulation and how to create a more positive learning environment in the classroom. I learned a lot of valuable information that will guide my teaching and help me better understand my students. Here are some of the takeaways…

– Willamette Primary is ahead of the game. Thanks to the vision of our district and amazing individuals like our school counselor, Mark Silverman, we have a common language in our school to help students regulate their emotions. Our school and district stay up to date with the latest research and teachers are regularly given time to read and discuss this research in order to put best practices to use. This seminar strengthened my already strong belief that Willamette is a leader in fostering resilient learners.
– Children learn best in the classroom when the culture is one where they feel safe, it is predictable, and it is consistent.
– When students are exhibiting certain behaviors (manipulative, dramatic, clingy, oppositional, flighty, disinterested, aggressive, etc.) they are trying to tell us something. It is most helpful to view these behaviors through a need fulfillment lens. Teachers should be looking to identify a student’s needs rather than simply reacting to their behaviors.
– Communication is key! 98% of all conflict is rooted in miscommunication.
– Educators/parents need to be mindful of whether their emotions are regulated before responding to a stressed student/child.
– A positive learning environment requires the “New 3 R’s”: Relationships (establish and maintain them), Responsibility (give clear expectations and hold everyone accountable), and Regulation (calm and focused brain that is learning-ready)
– When in doubt, shut your mouth and take a breath.
– I heard the following quote and immediately texted it to my wife as a reminder to both of us of the importance of our job as role models to our daughters: “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the ONLY means.” – Albert Einstein

If you’re interested in learning more, I would recommend that you pick up a copy of the book, Fostering Resilient Learners by the presenters, Kristin Souers and Pete Hall.

Friday Fun Run!

We had a great time running for 20 minutes in the annual Fun Run today. Thanks to all the students for getting sponsors and thanks to all the parents who were able to attend the event today.

Meet with Mr. Silverman

Our incredible school counselor, Mr. Silverman, came to visit today. He lead a great discussion about being kinder than necessary.  Parents, ask your child about ways they have been kinder than necessary at school lately.

Kids Kreations 2017!

Students are hard at work creating their paper molas for the 2017 Kids Kreations art fundraiser. You will soon have an opportunity to transform these beautiful pieces into t-shirts, mugs, shower curtains, and water bottles. Be on the lookout for how to order your child’s work sometime in October

Rock Fall in Yosemite

In science this week, we asked the question, will a mountain last forever? After some experimenting with sugar cubes (ask your child about this), we discovered that the answer is NO, a mountain will not last forever. We learned that ice wedging and root wedging can cause rocks to break apart over time. Rocks can change shape after falling and dealing with moving water, making rocks at the top of a mountain significantly different from rocks at the bottom. The next time you’re at a rushing river full of rocks, take a look at their shape and notice how smooth the water has made them. In the meantime, check out the following video which provides excellent evidence of rockfall in Yosemite National Park.

Mystery Doug

To help us learn more about the world around us, we use a great program called Mystery Science. The narrator of the Mystery Science lessons is a man named Doug. This year Doug is releasing a video each week called “Mystery Doug” which answers a question submitted by a student. I will be posting as many of these videos as I can for those curious students who want to learn a little something extra. Here’s a recent video: “Where Does Metal Come From?”


The fourth graders met their first grade buddies this afternoon and got to spend some time together on the playground. A fun time was had by all as the children began bonding and preparing for a year of learning from each other. We look forward to many more Friday afternoons together this year.

We also spent time playing some math games this morning. Close to 1,000 is a game that challenges students’ number sense as they put digits into numbers and add them together in an attempt to get as close to 1,000 as possible.

Mindfulness Video

Today we watched a 60 minutes segment about mindfulness. If you have a spare 13 minutes, please take a moment to watch and learn more about what it means to be mindful. We practice mindful habits in class each day and it makes a major difference in our ability to regulate our emotions, focus, and think critically.

Science in the Cafeteria

The combination of hot weather and a classroom without air conditioning led us down to the cafeteria on Tuesday afternoon for a science lab to figure out some similarities and differences with volcanoes. Specifically, we tried to answer the question “Why do some volcanoes explode?” by experimenting with thin and thick “lava”. Ask your child why some volcanoes explode and others gently ooze. Challenge them to use vocabulary that we learned such as cone volcano and shield volcano.

Field Day

The kids had a blast at Field Day, playing games, laughing, running, and competing. Thanks to all the volunteers who made this day run smoothly and a special thanks to the weather for cooperating and giving us a cool, dry day to work with.