Grey Matters, December 16, 2019; Volume 8, Number 16 

Hi Everyone, 

During the first set of parent/guardian-teacher conferences last week, more than a few teachers were asked for advice about how to ask their kids about school and to hear more about their day to day experiences.  Even though we are about to enter the Winter Break, I thought I’d pass along a series of questions that a colleague shared with me that others have found to be (occasionally) effective in eliciting more than an incoherent grunt.  I’ve also adapted a few of them to be phrased in ways where you might ask them over the Winter Break and more about how things went during the first few months of school. I also reiterate my suggestion that using car rides can increase the odds of experiencing a dialogue that includes some worthwhile substance.  The original document I received had more than 25 questions - I’ll list around eleven of them below. If you find a few of these questions a bit more successful than others (there are questions that may totally flop), please send them my way and I’ll re-share with everyone the ones that tended to generate some extended conversation.  And please also send your own questions that you’ve found helpful!

In order to foster empathy, curiosity, and imagination rather than achievement at school, try to get your child to talk about their experiences during the day rather than tasks completed or grades received.  Here are some suggestions for conversation starters.

What was the best thing that happened at school today (this year)? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)

Tell me something that made you laugh today.

Where is the coolest place at the school

How did you help somebody today (sometime this year)?

Tell me one thing that you learned today (recently/this year) that made you stop and wonder.

When were you the happiest today/this year?

Tell me something good that happened today/this year.

What word did your teacher say most today?

Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to (for the rest of the year)?

Where do you feel the most relaxed at school?

Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is that person so funny?

If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?

We have this final week of school before the start of the Winter Break.  Here are several reminders and updates:  

The next set of parent-teacher conferences is this Tuesday, December 17.  That means that all students will again be dismissed at 11:10am.  Please be sure to confirm with your child plans and expectations for after school as they will not be able to remain in the school building

We have a full day of school on Friday, December 20, and then the Winter Break begins!  If you and your family are beginning your break a bit before that (or a lot before that), please be sure to let our front office know so we can take accurate attendance (email Katy Frey at [email protected]).  It would also be important to have your child speak to each of their respective teachers about missed work and assignments. 

School resumes after Winter Break on Thursday, January 2 (translation: don’t send your kids to school on Wednesday, January 1 - we won’t be there! We have our final set of parent-teacher conferences scheduled for the evening of Thursday, January 9.  There will be a full day of school on that Thursday of conferences, and then a half-day of school the following day (Friday) where students are dismissed at 11:10am.  

Save the Date: The Winter Band Concert is the evening of Wednesday, January 15, and the Winter Chorus and String Ensemble Concert is the evening of Wednesday, January 22.  

We have many students participating in the Ski and Board Club when we return from the Break.  Please remember that ski and board gear can not be brought on AB buses in the morning, and that means on Tuesdays Ski and Board Club members are dropped off in the morning with quite a bit of gear.  The first session of Ski and Board Club is Tuesday, January 7. For those of you planning to drop off kids and gear in the lower parking lot, it would be immensely helpful if the gear was organized in a way that supported a speedy drop-off.  The best case scenario is if you have those ski bags that package everything up all nice and are easy to carry. Believe it or not, some of our 13-year olds throw their equipment all over the trunk before leaving the house (I know, hard to imagine), and then everyone in the parking lot gets to watch them and me get tangled up in boots, poles, and helmets.  I’ll do my best to help kids with getting gear out of the trunk, and anything that you can do in advance would be much appreciated. There are also some families who choose to drop off their child’s ski/boarding gear later in the day and bring it to the auditorium where it is stored.  

Finally, I want to provide 7th grade families with a preview of the Signs of Suicide (SOS) lesson and mental health screening tool that we now conduct annually to students in 7th and 9th grade.  Because that program is scheduled to take place in mid-January, families of 7th grade families will receive notification about it when we return from the Winter Break, and so may be helpful to provide a brief preview for all of you at this time.  The Signs of Suicide Prevention Program is a universal program for middle and high school students that has proven effective in helping students who are concerned about themselves or a friend.  It is the only school-based suicide-prevention curriculum listed by the Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) in its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression.  At RJ Grey, the program is scheduled this year to take place in 7th grade team classes during the week of January 20 and January 27, with two teams scheduled per week.  For parents and guardians who would like to preview the Signs of Suicide lesson and the video used during the lesson, we are hosting an information session on Tuesday, January 7 at 6pm in the Junior High Library.  Joining us that evening will be a staff member from the Riverside Trauma Center.  At that session we will provide an overview of the program and answer questions that parents/guardians might have. Families of 7th grade students will be receiving a letter about the SOS lesson and mental health screening tool, along with a consent form that we will need parents and guardians to return by Friday, January 10th. The consent form allows you to select your child’s level of participation in the program.  Thank you in advance for your assistance with our continued implementation of this important program.  

Have a great week, everyone.  Happy holidays and a happy new year.  



Posted by ashen On 15 December, 2019 at 5:02 AM  

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