A Note Home from Mr. B.

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Hi All,
Once in a while, I feel the need to send a note reminding parents to be aware of what kids are watching and doing at home.  This is not intended as a judgment of your family values, but as a caution related to how those influences translate into behavior at school.  Please believe that I want the best for your student and their experience in our school.
That said, there are two particular things that are showing a significant influence on student behavior in the classes where I co-teach and in the school as a whole.  The YouTube sensation Jeffy the Rapper shows up in phrases and gestures by students as they mimic his behavior.  I encourage you to read the attached webpage (linked here) related to how Jeffy’s influence has a negative impact on students.
The second is the uber-popular video game Fortnite.  Here is a link to a page related to FORTNITE PAGE.  The challenge is something that becomes so consuming for students it that it tends to monopolize their thinking and leaves little room for effort related to learning and academics.
I would not presume to tell you what to do.  I simply want you to be aware of the influences of outside elements within the school.  There will always be something, PopCulture will filter in somehow.  The more adults are aware of these things, the better prepared they will be to guide students through those influences.
Enjoy the Journey,
Dave Bentley (dbentley@ssdvt.org)
Teacher on 6th Grade Team
Riverside Middle School
Springfield, Vermont
(802) 885-8436

Make Mistakes

If you have made a mistake raise your hand.  That’s right, all of us should have our hands up, perhaps with some enthusiastic waving because we have all made mistakes, and some of them have been doozies.  Let’s explore a few other questions.

  • Has a mistake ever made you quit?
  • Has a mistake ever cost you more than you expected?
  • Has a mistake ever hurt yourself or people you care about?

It’s likely that we all answered in the affirmative with those questions.  These and other reasons are why we fear making mistakes.  We don’t like to be wrong.  We don’t like to feel as if we have failed.  It can be embarrassing.  It can hurt.  It can cost.  As a result we may avoid situations where we could potentially make a mistake.  We are particularly wary of circumstances where mistakes might be public.  It might be that we don’t raise our hands in class.  Perhaps we avoid volunteering for committees or teams where we work or worship.  Maybe we have refused to host the annual family reunion.  Fear of mistakes and failure can keep us from a number of things.  It may be that avoiding mistakes and the possibility of failure has cost us opportunities.

Let’s explore a couple of other questions:

  • Can you think of a way that you learned something from a mistake?
  • Can you think of a time that a mistake lead you in different, and ultimately better direction?

A few years ago we were traveling through the Smokey Mountains on a family trip.  I had taken a wrong turn, and ended up well off course.  However, we found a number of interesting things along that accidental detour that made the mistake worth making.  Another mistake I recall is a dish that my mother once made with or Thanksgiving leftovers.  It was supposed to be soup, but she had accidentally doubled parts of the recipe.  What resulted is a delicious casserole that we dubbed Turkey Mistake.  To this day it remains one of our favorite post holiday dishes.

The challenge for us is to view mistakes through a different lens.  To see them as opportunities and not as endings.  The clip below of an acronym for mistakes gives us some sage advice for positive ways of viewing our missteps.

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The difference is determined by whether we will permit the mistakes we make to stress us or strengthen us.  It’s not that the mistakes will become less painful, costly, or embarrassing.  Rather, it is that we would recognize mistakes as a natural (and intended) part of learning and growing as human beings.

Don’t be afraid to mess up, you might discover that the mistake you make leads to even better things than you initially planned to accomplish.