November 19, 2017

Dear Ray Community,
        We are a wonderful high-performing school with goal-driven teachers, students, parents, all.  For many of us, failure comes hard.  Failure can feel like do or die.  And it's not, of course, depending on our mindset.  Viewed as an opportunity, missing the mark is one of the most powerful educational (or social) moments of all.  What can I learn from this?  How can I grow?  What might I do differently next time?...          
        I invited Ray educators to weigh in on the value of "failing forward" in their classrooms.  Their answers are varied and powerful and I find myself unable to cut out any--even though this makes for an exceptionally long opening commentary!  I hope you find something valuable in these words.  (Some responses have been condensed.)

        "We love mistakes in our room," says Kindergarten teacher Tia James. "We talk regularly about how we learn from our mistakes, especially if we are not afraid of trying again and doing our best." K colleague Sheila McCoy agrees. "I thank children for sharing their mistakes so we may all learn."

        Grade 5 teacher Joy Roy talks with students from the get-go about the value of falling short. "From day one in class, we term failure 'productive struggle' or 'making mistakes to learn.' In addition, I infuse these concepts into our monthly character trait studies. For example, I might ask about courage: "How is one courageous if s/he struggles?"

        Interventionists Aimee Bittinger and Lissy Rooney weighed in with similar ideas. "I don’t think of a mistake as failure," says Ms. Bittinger, "but more as a struggle. When students are stuck, I get excited and let them know they’ve shown me what I need to do to teach them better." Mrs. Rooney concurs. "When a child makes a mistake, I say, 'Oh good!  Now I know what I can work on with you!' And when that child comes out the other side of a tough challenge, I remind him or her, 'This is how you build grit.'"

        Spanish teacher Ana Utell tells her students: "It's healthy to make mistakes because it means you have the confidence to push yourself and reach higher.  I emphasize that when you correct your mistake, the right answer will stay with you into the future."    

        Tim Crawford infuses lightheartedness into mistake-making with his 3rd graders. "I have open conversations with my students about perseverance. I talk about the importance of risk-taking as it may one day lead to discovery and, who knows, it may just jog a memory or create an idea for a solution for someone else. Secondly, when I make a mistake, I announce to my students, 'Oops, it’s my first mistake of the year.' Well, you should hear the responses. 'No Mr. Crawford, it’s your 299th!' All in all, I acknowledge to my students that no one is perfect and that learning through our mistakes is a powerful way of learning."

       Grade 3 teacher Clayton Simmers points out: "Two of our student-created classroom expectations are Be okay with being wrong and Learn from your mistakes. We constantly discuss how real learning happens when people (kids and adults) make mistakes.  I highlight mistakes that I make and praise students when they take an academic chance, especially if they are incorrect."

        "All true learning comes from a place of disequilibrium," says Ingrid Stallsmith, Math Coordinator. "The times we are struggling or challenged are the most beneficial for our brains."

        Karen Wilson, Grade 2 teacher, comments on creating a culture where it's safe to risk a wrong answer, not the easiest things to do in front of one's peers. "To rewind a bit, before failure, there is the critical step of providing students space and opportunities to fail 'safely.' For instance, posing open-ended questions, creating a culture that values what mistakes can teach us, presenting challenges that have multiple approaches and interpretations. In this setting, exploration can happen without fear."

        We conclude with the wisdom of Grade 4 teacher Susan Hendrickson. "'Strive for progress, not perfection' is a saying I use to encourage students and myself."

        I encourage you to ask your children how they view mistakes, failure, "not knowing" how to do something (yet). One 5th grader I queried perhaps said it best of all: "A mistake is only a failure if you give up."      

My best, Lisa

Health Alert! Puppies from Puerto Rico
On Thursday November 9th, ten puppies arrived from Puerto Rico to a Vermont dog rescue 
center.  On November 12, the​​ rescue organization held a public event at Ramunto's Brick and Brew in Hanover where patrons could interact with these adorable puppies and consider adoption.  On Wednesday, November 15, one puppy was confirmed to have leptospirosis, a bacteria that can cause variable symptoms in dogs, other animals and humans: fever, flu-like illness, and gastrointestinal features.  Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of affected animals.  If you attended the "puppy event" and had direct contact with the puppies, their bedding, crates or other items in the dogs' environment, please call your physician.  In some cases, doctors may recommend post-exposure treatment (doxycycline).  Click here for details.

Invite a Parent to P.E.
During the week of
November 27th through December 1st, the Ray School Physical Education teachers invite adult family members to join them for “Invite a Parent to P.E. Week.” Feel free to drop in for an entire P.E. class time or just a short section. Sign in with Gwyn Dessert in the main office to get your visitor pass before heading down to the gym. Wear your sneakers and get ready to move!
Link to Physical Education Class Schedule

K-1 Sing-Along: Parents return on 12/20
Reminder:  For the next three in-school Wednesdays, 11/29, 12/7 and 12/14, students only will be participating in Wednesday Sing-Alongs in preparation for a Holiday Sing-Along on Wednesday, December 20th.  We look forward to seeing everyone back again on the 20th!

Lost & Found
Anything look familiar?  Please scan this updated photo of the burgeoning Ray Lost & Found collection.  We invite you to stop by school at any time of day to peruse the collection, found outside the gymnasium, or ask your child to take a look and claim any missing belongings.  Friendly reminder:  be sure to mark your child's outdoor clothing, including boots, with his or her name and to check clothing items at home for other children's names.  Mix-ups happen!

Food/Essentials Drive: Hanover Police Department 
During this season of giving, involve your children in donating on behalf of local families and animals in need!  The HPD is sponsoring a food/essentials drive during November to benefit the Upper Valley Haven and Upper Valley Humane Society.  Please click on the following links to see what items are being requested, everything from deodorant, soap, cranberry sauce and stuffing for humans, to dry food, toys, treats, collars and hay for animals:  Upper Valley Haven and Upper Valley Humane Society.

Baking for Good with King Arthur

On 11/9, baker Amy Driscoll from King Arthur Flour met with the entire 4th and 5th grade in the Multi space and walked students through the process of baking a loaf of bread. She covered everything from water temperature to precise measurement to the active properties of yeast to the braiding of bread. Students took supply bags home -- donated by King Arthur’s Bake for Good program -- and baked their own loaves over the weekend. More than 160 pounds of bread were delivered to the Haven.

Guest Speaker:  Mount Washington Observatory

Last Wednesday Will Broussard, Education Coordinator from the Mount Washington Observatory, met with all 3rd grade classes in relation to their Science study of weather and climate.  Mr. Broussard offered a broad overview about how meteorologists measure weather, including the extreme conditions on Mount Washington where it’s not uncommon for temperatures to swing by 50 degrees within hours.  Wear your layers!

Thank you, PTO!
"Heaven!"  "The best day of the school year!"  Ray educators were all smiles on Friday during the annual PTO Staff Soup Extravaganza.  Ray parents generously cooked up 14 different soups along with homemade breads, muffins and croutons (the perfect combination of crispy and chewy, crusts on) and invited Ray staff to partake.  Several in-the-know teachers brought in muffin tins to sample multiple soups at once.  Our sincere gratitude to the PTO for winning our hearts, once again, through our stomachs.  Thank you, in particular, to Soup Fest organizers Jodi Richardson and Jacki Smith.  Click here for a winning tortellini soup recipe from Beth DeSimone. 

Community Events/Interests
Click to learn about a host of local opportunities ranging from a Math Kangaroo competition to a Dartmouth Team Green Kids Club to upcoming kid-friendly performances.  This week we feature a holiday ballet classic...

City Center Ballet’s Clara’s Dream:  12/7-10

The crisp December air heralds the return of Clara's Dream, a Nutcracker Story, to the Lebanon Opera House stage. New choreography lends fairytale magic to City Center's one-hour version of The Nutcracker, a timeless classic that brings the season's dreams to life complete with mice, soldiers, marzipan, sugar plums and a giant Christmas tree.  Click here to purchase tickets for the performance and the pre-show tea.  Added bonus: cheer on several of our own Ray students who dance in the ballet corps

Ray School Calendar

Ray School Calendar

Visit the Ray School homepage for our complete (constantly updating) calendar.