Dear students, Welcome to 4th grade! In the past years we have been able to get to know each other when you spent some time in my class with my students, and when I went to your class to help you a little bit with MCAS. Now I am finally going to be your full time teacher, I am so excited for that. This year you will learn many interesting new things, and if we can, we will work on some fun projects together. Here are some things you need to know about being in my class:
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 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 sometimes I will leave you on your own 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 if we are allowed to do that during this school year.
And of course, you will have fun, because learning is fun! During the school year, if conditions due to Covid allow, I like to incorporate fun games and activities, I LOVE hands on activities, 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 in Spanish, 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! Gracias, Sra. Willinski