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Dear students, Welcome to fourth grade! Right before the end of the school year I had a chance to briefly meet you when you visited the fourth grade classrooms with your teachers. I remember that you were all so excited to move to fourth grade, and that you were such good listeners and asked very good questions. Now the time is coming to go back to school, and I am so excited to get the chance to know you better and to teach you this year. If you want to know a little about me you can click here or go to the top menu and click on the page "Meet Mrs. Willinski". Although I will be your homeroom teacher, you will also get to know Mrs. Parent and the other fourth grade teachers, because we will be working together to make sure that you will meet the fourth grade standards and be ready for Miscoe. Click here to learn a little bit about Mrs. Parent. In fourth grade you will learn many new and interesting things, and if we can, we will work on some fun projects together. If you want to take a look at some of the things that we have done in the past, you can check out my blog here, and if you want to learn about the math, language arts, science and social studies curriculums, you can go to the top menu, where it says More+. Apart from learning academics, I find it really important that you love coming to school. I like to create an environment where you feel safe, valued and listened to, where your opinions are heard, and where your emotions are validated, where we work together as a team to help and encourage each other, and where we don't see mistakes as something bad, but as opportunities to learn. For that reason, here are some other things that you will learn:
You will learn to build stamina. Reading, writing, and solving hard math problems require that you persevere, focus, and spend long periods of time working on just one thing. It may seem daunting, but I promise to teach you how to build that stamina muscle little by little, so that by the end of the second month in school it will be easy for you to spend longer periods of time working.
You will make tons of mistakes, and it will be perfect. Yes, you will learn to celebrate making mistakes and to learn from them, because we are all human, and we will make many. In my classroom we celebrate mistakes, sometimes we intentionally make mistakes, because the "what ifs" and the wrong solutions will give us deeper learning. We will also learn to respect everybody's mistakes, and not laugh about them, because we want to be in a learning environment where everybody is respected, cared for and cherished.
You will learn at your own pace, and you will respect each other's pace. We all have different ways of learning, and knowing the answer right away doesn't mean that you are the smartest kid. There are many types of intelligence and we respect all. What matters is not how fast you can learn, but how deep you can learn. Did you know that the smartest mathematicians on the planet are really slow thinkers?
You will learn perseverance, giving up is not allowed. Sometimes you will face really hard problems, sometimes I will guide you, and many times I will give you time to find a solution, because sometimes having to solve a problem on your own is the best way to find your own resourcefulness. Perseverance is a skill that grows with practice, and you will find plenty of moments to practice it.
You will learn mindfulness. Caring for your mind is as important as caring for your body. You will learn about how your brain functions, how some strong emotions highjack your learning, and many techniques of mindfulness and breathing exercises to bring your mind back to a state of calm, where your brain is ready to learn again.
You will learn to collaborate. Working in a group requires many skills, like having to slow down to your friends' pace, having to negotiate who will be first or second, having to give everybody time to share their ideas, having to take the best of all ideas so everybody feels that their ideas matter, and many more. You will learn these skills by working in different groups.
And of course, you will have fun, because learning is fun! I LOVE hands-on activities, games and especially Escape Rooms!
With all this said, the only things I expect from you are that you put forth your best attitude for learning, that you ask for what you need respectfully and that you show consistent effort. One more thing, I would like you to bring a small bag (like a lunch paper bag) with some items that showcase some of the things you did this summer, it can be pictures, souvenirs, a craft you've made, or any other small item. We will use them the first weeks of school to talk about our summers, to get to know each other better, and also to get ideas for writing. I will bring my own. I am looking forward to start this school year with you, it will be fantastic! Thank you, Mrs. Willinski