Life at PS 58
Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity. The practice of mindfulness teaches students how to pay attention, and this way of paying attention enhances both academic and social-emotional learning. As human beings we have the unique capacity to pay attention to/be aware of our internal and external worlds and the interactions between the two. We can attend to the breath, the body, thoughts, emotions, tastes, smells, sights, sounds, and our impulses and actions and their effects on others and our environment.
Most, if not all, children could benefit from learning to focus their attention, to become less reactive, and to be more compassionate with themselves and others. Fortunately, science is now documenting the negative impact that stress is having on learning everyday, in classrooms across the country. The neurological processes that explain this interaction are collectively called executive function, which includes:
- goal-directed behavior
- organized search
- impulse control
Not surprisingly the research proves executive function correlates with working memory, emotional regulation, and resilience. Practicing mindfulness can decrease your stress and enhance your
well-being. This in turn will improve the learning environment in the classroom and make for more effective learning. Developing a personal practice can offer significant benefits
to students. Teaching mindfulness is like teaching anything else: to teach with excellence you must know and be passionate about the subject. Since mindfulness is an experiential discipline, to offer it with integrity, the teaching must come out of your own practice.
LEADER IN ME
The Leader in Me program helps students to develop the fundamental skills to be successful in life by focusing on 8 habits: Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Synergize, Sharpen the Saw, and Find Your Voice.
To kick off the “Leader in Me” program each student will receive a tie. Students will have the opportunity to earn accommodation
s based on the “8 Habits of Leadership”. After earning their first Character Count Shield they will receive an “I am a Leader” pin. Students will earn additional Character Counts shields throughout the year. Each month students who earned 5 Character Count Shields will be awarded with a new pin to their tie. Students who receive all 8 pins will be presented with a special Principal’s star pin.
A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence can be developed. Students with a growth mindset understand they can get smarter through hard work, the use of effective strategies, and help from others when needed. It is contrasted with a fixed mindset: the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait that is set in stone at birth. At PS 58 we will enhance and cultivate a growth mindset through Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits and 7 Paradigms of Learning Recovery.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Students’ beliefs about intelligence have important consequences for how they experience school and how they respond to setbacks and adversity. When students hold a fixed mindset, school can be a threatening place because they may be worried about proving their ability. This can lead students to avoid challenges and give up when they struggle. But when students hold a growth mindset, they may experience school as an exciting place to grow, embracing challenges as opportunities to develop mastery.
Researchers have found that it is possible to promote a growth mindset by teaching students about neuroscience evidence showing that the brain is malleable and gets stronger through effort, trying new strategies, and seeking help when necessary. Researchers have also learned that we can encourage students to adopt more of a growth mindset by changing the way in which we interact with them.
How to adopt the growth mindset in your own life:
- Reward yourself for the process of working and learning, not the outcome…. such as working on challenging problems. Say to yourself “That was great — I really pushed myself and struggled with that for a while,” not “I’m don’t know this.”
- When you successfully complete something, try out phrases that reward your ability to learn and grow, not your inherent success.
- Search for and look for things that challenge you, and find ways to enjoy the challenge.
- Don’t attribute your success or failure to inherent skills; instead, notice the hard work and effort involved in both.
- Record the entire process (struggle and all) and begin to link the struggle with the adventure of learning.
CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING
According to Zaretta Hammond, the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, “Culturally Responsive Teaching is about building the learning capacity of the individual student. There is a focus on leveraging the affective and the cognitive scaffolding that students bring with them.” The simplest way to judge whether your teaching is culturally responsive is whether your diverse students—students of color, English language learners, immigrant students—are learning. If they are not succeeding academically within your classroom norms, your approach might need to be more culturally responsive. First and foremost, it is a mindset. That means that it's equally important to do the ongoing "inside-out" work to build your social-emotional capacity to work across social, linguistic, racial, and/or economic difference with students and their families.
Culturally responsive teaching leverages the brain’s memory systems and information processing structures. Why? Many diverse students come from oral cultural traditions. This means their primary ways of knowledge transfer and meaning-making are oral and active. It’s a common cultural tradition that cuts across racial groups: African American, Latino, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities all have strong oral cultures. Each of these cultural groups uses the brain’s memory systems for turning inert information into useable knowledge. They use memory strategies to make learning sticky, like connecting what needs to be remembered to a rhythm or music (that’s why we still know the ABC song) or by reciting it in fun ways like a poem, riddle, or limerick.
Some of the characteristics of culturally responsive teaching are:
- Positive perspectives on parents and families
- Communication of high expectations
- Learning within the context of culture
- Student-centered instruction
- Culturally mediated instruction
- Reshaping the curriculum
- Teacher as facilitator