WHPS Blog

The Leader in Me

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

This year, our school is adopting a program called The Leader in Me! The Leader in Me is an age-appropriate adaptation of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and is based on universal, timeless principles of personal, interpersonal, and organizational effectiveness, such as responsibility, vision, integrity, teamwork, collaboration, and renewal. Throughout the year, you will see activities and discussions in each classroom and at school-wide events that relate to the 7 Habits:


Habit 1: Be Proactive
Students learn to take responsibility for their choices and behaviors.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Students learn to think about how they would like something to turn out before they get started.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Students learn to decide what is most important and to take care of that first.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Students learn to think win-win, which is the belief that everyone can win. It’s not me or you—it is both of us.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood
Students learn that it is better to listen first and talk second.
Habit 6: Synergize
Students learn to work together to create a better solution than either would have thought of alone.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Students learn to have balance of the body, brain, heart, and soul.

A few of the exciting enhancements to look forward to this year as part of The Leader in Me:
Mission Statements – Each student will craft his/her own mission statement. This is designed to help students begin to identify their own sense of purpose and values. Each classroom will also create a class mission, which will guide their work together.
WIGS (Wildly Important Goals) & PIGS (Personally Important Goals) – Each student will identify, record, and track their progress with individual academic and personal goals.
Leadership Notebooks – Every student in TK-5th grade will have a leadership notebook in which they will track personal progress with their leadership habits and their WIGS/PIGS.
Student-Led Conferences – This year, the Elementary Division is launching student-led conferences. The student-led conference process empowers students to take ownership of their work and report on their progress. During the conference, students will report on academic progress, articulate goals, show their parents assessment data when appropriate, and share examples of their work.

I am looking forward to practicing the 7 Habits alongside our students and teachers.

Welcome to our Elementary Corner blog!

Written by Mr. Pozzi & Ms. Dexter on .

Welcome to the 2016-17 school year! Our WHPS Elementary has a truly exciting year planned, and the school blog is a great place to find information school policies, child development and about what to look forward to. 

Parent Survey Results

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

Woodland Hills Private School (WHPS) families,

We are proud to have served your family during the past school year. Because WHPS constantly strives to provide an outstanding educational experience, we take your feedback seriously. We would like to share some results from this year’s end of school year survey, which enables us to identify notable areas of strength as well as areas for future development.

 - STRENGTHS -

The survey findings indicate a high level of satisfaction among parents: 98.45% of all respondents stated they are likely to recommend our program to another family.

Top strengths that were identified:

  • 99% of families reported that WHPS nurtures their son/daughter's self esteem.

“[The best thing about WHPS is] the fact that my kids know everyone and feel comfortable and loved at the school. They walk with confidence and truly love going, that's all I can ask for, thank you!”

  • 98% of families whose child graduated from WHPS reported that their child was well-prepared for their next school environment.

Over 90% of families cited the following strengths of the school:

  • The teachers understand my child’s individual needs and employ effective techniques to aid learning.

“[The best thing about WHPS is]the caring administration and teachers. They are all nurturing and wonderful. My child has grown as an individual and has learned many important life lessons.”

  • WHPS provides a balanced, developmentally appropriate educational program.

“[The best thing about WHPS is]the sense of community and balance between academics and a loving, nurturing environment. Individualized attention/learning & groups based on abilities.”

  • WHPS developed my child's critical thinking skills.
  • WHPS offers well-equipped classrooms with educationally appropriate equipment and materials.
  • WHPS was responsive to any concerns I expressed about my child’s progress.
  • WHPS teachers and administration were open to suggestions.
  • WHPS provides appropriate opportunities for parent involvement in the school.

Specific to the Elementary Division

  • 82% of families reported that their child took part in advanced academics this year.

“[The best thing about WHPS is] the attention put on customized education programs, so that students who are advanced or a little slower can move to higher or lower grades as needed for particular subjects.”

  • There were a few families in our elementary program who had checked out other private, public or charter school options in the past two years. 95% of these families reported that compared to other schools, WHPS is stronger at teacher attention to individual student needs.

 - AREAS FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT -

We have also learned about areas in which you want to see us do more.

BUILDINGS AND FACILITY

While many families appreciate our focus on the outdoor classroom and the Animal & Nature Center (Oxnard campus), several parents expressed that they would like to see some upgrades to the aesthetic of the preschool buildings and classrooms. We agree and have spent this past school year planning some exciting improvements to take place over the summer and the following school year.

Collins Campus

  • Campus Beautification & New Music Wall

Throughout this year, the Collins campus will receive updated lighting and enhancements to our outdoor learning spaces, including the addition of a new music wall.

  • Technology and Infrastructure

The campus has received upgrades to the wireless network and overall technology infrastructure, including each classroom receiving upgraded computers, to better support the needs of teachers and students in the classroom.

Oxnard Campus

  • Preschool Rooms 1-7

Rooms 1-7 are receiving all new flooring and updates to the bathrooms. Also, construction has just wrapped up in Room 6, which now has a brand new bathroom and open concept floor plan.

  • Elementary Building

The interior of the elementary building has just been freshly painted and spruced up. Updated furniture is coming soon.

  • Library

Our entire elementary school collection will be leveled according to the Columbia University Teachers College system that underpins our literacy program. In addition, the space will become more modular, allowing for a variety of flexible uses.

  • Computer Lab

The computer lab is being overhauled as a mobile learning and maker space. Our 3-D printing system will be located in the lab, and we are upgrading our laptops, which will be housed in the lab and can be used anywhere on campus.

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math)

Building on our educational philosophy of providing the right balance between rigorous academics and social-emotional learning, we have some truly inspirational enhancements in store. All divisions are expanding the STEAM emphasis in their programs.

LEADERSHIP - “The Leader in Me

Next year’s annual theme in the Elementary Division, The Leader in Me, is designed to promote leadership habits in the entire school community. Leadership is the umbrella term to encompass the many character traits and basic life competencies that parents, business leaders, and educators are voicing as the desired skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century (below). Emphasis will be on The 7 Habits of Happy Children (adapted from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

The program focuses on the following competencies and skills:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Executive Functioning
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Self-Direction
  • Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
  • Leadership and Responsibility

 TEACHER AVAILABILITY IN THE MORNING (Elementary Division)

We have found that some mornings, prior to our 8:00 a.m. start time, parents wish they had more opportunities to converse with their child’s teacher. Teachers were sometimes inside setting up for the day and weren’t always readily available before 8:00 a.m. For next year, we have adjusted the schedule so there will always be a teacher from every classroom on the playground from 7:45-8:00 a.m.

- THANK YOU FOR YOUR FEEDBACK -

Your feedback and opinions are incredibly important to us. While there are many ideas we would love to incorporate, we are not able to do everything right away. It is our sincere desire to continue to have excellent two-way communication with you, and please know that the administration is always at your disposal for any questions, comments or concerns. 

 

Increasing Social-Emotional Independence

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

Something happened a couple weeks ago. It was nothing new; it is nothing out of the ordinary. However, it epitomizes our school’s (and our teachers’) approach to social-emotional learning.


THE SITUATION: A kindergartner is having a difficult time saying goodbye to Mom. The teacher is outside the classroom helping the child prepare to join the class.


THE SOLUTION: Rather than an adult trying to solve the problem or the parent entering the classroom, the student was able to make the choice to come in and go directly to the classroom library to take a break and regain composure. More importantly, the student was able to self-select a tool (one of the calming sensory bottles stored in the library area) to help herself calm down and transition into the school day. If you haven’t yet seen them, they work like magic for many children!


Within less than two minutes, the student had calmed down and was able to sit and watch the beginning of Morning Meeting (by far the most important time in the school day). And within another one to two minutes, the student had joined the class on the rug for Morning Meeting.
WHAT THIS CONVEYS
 Belief that the child is capable of overcoming the situation.
 Belief that children, like adults, need autonomy and opportunities to make choices.
 Belief that adults don’t need to solve every challenging situation a child faces (though we do provide support!)

This is a small situation that occurred within a matter of minutes, but I believe it sends a strong message about our school’s philosophy of teaching children various tools and allowing them to use these tools with increasing independence.

I congratulate our teachers for constantly innovating and bringing in creative ways of teaching, both academic and social-emotional skills. If you have not been on the school blog on the WHPS website recently, I encourage you to take a fresh look at even more of the ways our teachers and our school continue to live out our ESLRS (Expected School-wide Learning Results).

She Doesn't Seem to Love Learning Anymore!

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

Have you heard this before?

[Insert name here]’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.

 

Jessica Lahey has a new book: The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. The book came out earlier this school year, but the topic is evergreen!   

In the The Gift of Failure, Lahey talks about wanting the world for her children. Yet, the very things she has done to encourage the sort of achievement she feels will help them secure happiness and honors may be undermining their future success.

Lahey gives the example of Marianna. 

“She is very smart and high-achieving, and her mother reminds her of that on a daily basis. However, Marianna does not get praised for the diligence and effort she puts into sticking with a hard math problem or a convoluted scientific inquiry. If that answer at the end of the page is wrong, or if she arrives at a dead end in her research, she has failed—no matter what she has learned from her struggle. And contrary to what she may believe, in these more difficult situations she is learning. She learns to be creative in her problem-solving. She learns diligence. She learns self-control and perseverance. But because she is scared to death of failing, she has started to take fewer intellectual risks. She has trouble writing rough drafts and she doesn’t like to hypothesize or think out loud in class. She knows that if she tries something challenging or new, and fails, that failure will be hard evidence that she’s not as smart as everyone keeps telling her she is. Better to be safe. Is that what we want? Kids who get straight As but hate learning? Kids who achieve academically, but are too afraid to take leaps into the unknown?”

Fear of failure also rears its ugly head when children are doing homework. Not long ago, I spoke with a parent who hired a tutor the moment their child began struggling with math homework. This was a very well-intentioned thing to do. Providing a tutor is not an inherently bad idea. It can be one way to avoid power struggles at home when a child, as typical older elementary children do, can resist help from Mom or Dad. Nevertheless, we also have to be cautious about overemphasizing the importance of getting a correct answer. As an educator, I would much rather see a child come in with scratch paper detailing the approach(es) they tried on the homework and a WRONG answer than a right answer without the struggle and creative critical thinking. 

I encourage parents and caregivers to think about how we can foster creativity and diligence in our children and worry less about homework coming back to school with correct answers. Each night’s homework is a form of formative (informal) assessment, and teachers often modify their lesson based on how students do on homework. 

As a school, we have designed our program with emphasis on each student achieving and striving to beat their personal best. It's the reason why we honor character, perseverance and bucketfilling even more than academic achievement. It's the reason why we utilize cutting-edge developmental programs like Writing Workshop, Words Their Way, and the Columbia University reading assessment system. These programs enable students to work for their personal best and receive specific feedback about what to try next. And it's the reason you'll hear our teachers choosing their words with the care and precision of a surgeon!

I think it's safe to say that our shared goal is to help our children develop into well-adjusted, confident, balanced individuals. Getting an occasional low grade in elementary school should not be a source of anxiety or frustration , but rather it should be looked at as a chance to learn something.  As you look over the trimester 2 report cards with your child, I encourage you to look at a B or a C (or an S) as an opportunity to show even more determination and perseverance in the final trimester of the school year. Focus on the process, and the product will be just fine!

 

 

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