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Cliff's Corner - 11/9/2017

posted Nov 13, 2017, 3:34 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner - Hey everyone, Here’s what’s happening in counseling this week.  

I only came to half of the 6th graders for guidance lessons this week, thanks to our schedule. I’ll make up the other 6th graders Thanksgiving week so they will get the same information. All the other classes are scheduled for Wednesday-Friday so I’ll have to wait to see everyone else until next week. We will continue our mindfulness studies (4 more lessons) until Winter Break. The video for 6th grade was this one:

Again, mindfulness is best done as a daily practice. Doing it with your kiddos sets the example for them and opens the door for you to share some of your challenges with them as well as show them ways to work through it. Here is a decent read about how Anxiety and Mindfulness work together:

Please remember to gently process conferences with your students. Some are pretty worried about them, especially middle schoolers who have to lead the whole meeting. Talking through that anxiety and maybe sharing a time you had your own nervousness around being graded or reviewed can be helpful.  

Our Question: “How did issues around race affect the events in a movie you watched together recently?”  

Thanks again! Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 11/2/2017

posted Nov 3, 2017, 4:05 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner Hey all,

I want to share a Marshmallow Test story that really illustrates our quirky school. Last year, I gave the Marshmallow Test to all the kids and the vast majority were quite successful and got two marshmallows. A week later, one of them showed up at my office holding both of his still uneaten marshmallows. They were a little crusty and bordering on nasty, but I laughed and gave him a third marshmallow. Last week, during the marshmallow test, he still had his three marshmallows from last year! Disgusting, but so very Winterhaven!

Otherwise, we are continuing to work on mindfulness, the non-religious branch of meditation. I sometimes hear from students “I tried it once, it didn’t help” and I try encouraging them by reminding them that practicing mindfulness is like growing a tree. You can’t see it grow day to day, but if you look back after a month of growth, you will see the difference. Ideally, these mindful moments would be supported at home. Here’s a quick article on how to fit mindfulness into our already busy lives.  

Using an app on your device is also a popular option. There are many including Breathe, Calm, Headspace, Flowing, Smiling Mind (We use a lot of their videos in class) and my personal favorite, Insight Timer. It’s important to start small and not jump into a 20 minute meditation, but it also important to do this regularly.  


How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Every Day | Brit + Co

At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that mindfulness is more than just a passing trend among millennials. In the past few years, mindful practices have gained ...

We used this video in the 5th and 6th grades.



Buddhist Monk shares his Secrets of Meditation

Meditate anywhere, anytime!

 And this one in K-2


"Just Breathe" by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh ... - YouTube

The inspiration for “Just Breathe” first came about a little over a year ago when I overheard my then 5-year-old son talking with his friend about how ...

I don’t get to see 3rd and 4th this week, they’re my Friday folks.  

I finished up the first of four kindergarten small groups this week. I get to meet with every kid sometime this year to play games and build the relationship between us. We also do some problem solving skills and sportsmanship stuff as well as introducing the talking monkey, a stuffed monkey that we use to let us know whose turn it is to talk.  

Our Question:

When we talk about cultures, what is the difference between Acknowledging, Affirming and Promoting? How can we make sure we are at least affirming all people?

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 10/26/2017

posted Oct 27, 2017, 12:02 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner Hey all,

Here’s what’s going on in the counseling world at Winterhaven.  

Last week in the K-6 classrooms we did the Marshmallow Test. I had to attend to some crises and had to miss 2nd and 5th, so we will get them this week. For the rest of the classes, we will move into mindfulness training using some basic lessons from Mindful Schools and Mind Up! Together, we will watch this introduction video:

The older grades may also watch this TED Talk:

6th grade will also get our district Pocket Directory handed out and explained to them. It is a small pamphlet with resources for them that every middle school student in the district gets. I’ll go over it quickly with them as well. 7th and 8th had them handed out in their core classes already.

Be sure to hug your kids this week. There is a lot of depression, stress and anxiety in the building. I keep encouraging our kids towards the trinity of relaxation: exercise, art and mindfulness. Together they work exponentially and best if done daily and together as a family. Don’t we all need a little help with letting go of the stresses in our lives? In a few weeks, you can ask your students to teach you about mindfulness, which will help you talk together as well as solidify their learning.

Our question of the week:  What makes talking about race difficult?  What can we do to overcome this?

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Regarding 8th grade transitions to High School:

8th graders heard from Benson Tech last Friday.  Many of them sound interested. Benson also has a shadow day on November 17th if your student is thinking of going there, permission slips should have already gone home. If they didn’t, replacements are hanging outside my door or on Benson’s website. They need to be back to me by November 1st so we can have the details figured out. 

Speaking of high schools, here is the link to the district page with all high school Open Houses and other activities each high school puts on.  

Every year there is a family or two who are surprised by which high school neighborhood they are really in. The west side changed pretty drastically recently with a few subtle changes on the east side as well. Double check your neighborhood schools here:  

The lottery for the high school choice system is super early this year, November 13th - December 1st.  Fair warning: it will be extremely difficult to transfer somewhere other than Benson, MLC, or Jefferson.  

Cliff's Corner - 10/19/2017

posted Oct 23, 2017, 3:04 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor Corner Hey folks,

For the K-6 classrooms this may be their favorite week with me.  We are starting Mindfulness and looking at our ability to control ourselves and quiet our “monkey minds”.  This week, we are replicating an experiment done at Stanford University in the 60’s, affectionately dubbed “The Marshmallow Test”.  Each student gets a marshmallow (or three skittles if that is more tempting to them) with the explanation that they can have another in 20 minutes if they don’t eat the first one at all.  It is a chance for kids to demonstrate their ability to delay gratification and use self-control.  We tie mindfulness in (since almost all of them have had it last year and the year before) as a way to be in the moment, recognize your desires and link them to your larger desires and goals. We also get to talk about the effects of peer pressure since that is largely brought up as an influencing factor in people’s choices here at Winterhaven during this “test”.   A couple videos for this week:

A TED talk about the experiment:

An amusing video of the experiment in progress:

We go into more formal mindfulness training next week.  Again, mindfulness is a non-religious form of meditation that has been showing some pretty strong benefits in recent studies.  In particular, schools that are training students about mindfulness are reporting a pretty significant reduction in bullying behaviors and reduced anxiety among the students.  

A parent shared a great critique of the Marshmallow Test from an equity perspective.  Here’s the link, and it is well worth the time spent to watch the video and chat about it.  I haven’t shown this to students, so this would be a good springboard to talk about the weekly question:

How do your family’s life circumstances affect your ability to be the best humans you can be?  How do the experiences of others affect theirs?  This can easily fall into generalizations, careful.  Tear those apart together, if you can, and look to replace any judgements with compassion.  

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 10/12/2017

posted Oct 17, 2017, 9:38 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Hello all,

In the K-6 classrooms, we are shifting our focus from Kindness (check out the Kindness Chain in the front hall!) to Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a secular type of meditation that has been shown in many studies to help with student relationships, bullying and overall school climate. 

We kick off this week with “The Laughing Game” in the 5th and 6th grades, a competitive game that relies on each student being able to maintain focus and not crack a smile while half of the class is really trying to get them to laugh. It is a good chance to talk about calming yourself and focusing through distractions and a way to introduce mindfulness to kids who may never have heard of it. Kindergarten through 2nd grade will work on staying focused and still despite the bubbles I blow around them before breaking off into other more yoga based activities. 

Next week, we will conduct the “Marshmallow Test”, another student favorite based off of an experiment done by Stanford University many years ago. More formal mindfulness training begins after that.  

7th and 8th graders have been stuck with me in Tech class doing Career Ed. We looked at the Japanese concept of Ikigai which is the overlap between what you love, what you can get paid for, what the world needs and what you are good at. We finished the two class session with a quiz on the students’ Holland Code and a scavenger hunt looking at all the many things the adults in the building have done for work before they became educators. Both the lesson on Ikigai and the link to the Holland Code quiz are on my very sparse and even more seldomly updated website if you are curious.  

Benson High School will be here visiting the 8th graders on Friday the 20th. Their high school lottery opens November 13th and closes December 1stYou’ll want to contact the Enrollment and Transfer Center of PPS if you are thinking of having your child attend somewhere other than your neighborhood high school.  

And our question of the week:  “What have you done to make the world a more accepting place for people of color this week?” Many of us might be drawing blanks. This is a chance to brainstorm things you can do as a family together and maybe reach out to other people in the community both for guidance and assistance.  

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 10/5/2017

posted Oct 12, 2017, 10:25 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

“I don’t want people to be unkind to anyone”

“Don’t be mean / Be kind/ Otherwise bad luck will/ come up from behind”

“Get people’s spirits up when they feel down”

“Believe that you and others can follow their dreams”

If you get a chance, take a close look at the kindness chain forming in the front hall that I stole these quotes from.  It is the culmination of our kindness unit that we have been working on since the start of school with the K-6 students.  It is full of good ideas and very specific requests for kindness.  Each link is by an individual student and has what they can do on the outside and what kindnesses they would like towards them on the inside.  I turned them loose if they wanted to do it their own way and stay on topic, so some may be a little different.  We used the book “How Full is your Bucket?” with the younger grades to illustrate this concept with them.  

We will be shifting into mindfulness starting next week and through November using a mix of Mindful Schools, Mind Up, Yoga Calm and some other curriculum.  Mindfulness is secular, non-religious meditation.  There has been a huge amount of recent research showing benefits in academics, mental health and reducing bullying and aggressive behaviors after mindfulness practice.  I’ll be encouraging you to take on this practice at home as well to support our kids here.  

Thanks to the 24 parents who filled out my Needs Assessment last week.  I’d appreciate all of you taking the time to fill it out as I do base my year off of what these needs are.  I’ll publish the results in a couple weeks, the students will be done this week.  


Winterhaven Needs Assessment -Families

Please rate each of these topics for what would be most helpful for your family to cover

And to our weekly discussion question:  “How have you reached out to someone different than you lately?  What was difficult about it?  How did it go?  What got in the way if you didn’t?  How can you overcome these obstacles?”  

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 9/28/2017

posted Oct 12, 2017, 10:23 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Hey all, this week we continue to look at kindness in the K-6 classes.  Besides watching a couple Thai commercials ( and ) and discussing them, we are making links in the kindness chain.  The inside of each link is how we want to be treated kindly and the outside is something we can do for others.  The complete chain should be up next week in the front hall!  

For 8th graders, the high school transition legwork is happening even earlier than the “ridiculously early” that it was last year.  The high school lottery officially opens November 13th and closes December 1st.  If you are thinking of going somewhere other than your neighborhood school, you’ll need to get in the lottery again.  However, the district is really pushing for everyone to go to their neighborhood schools, so it is difficult to get in a different high school, other than Benson.  Because of this, Benson HS will be visiting our 8th graders October 20th and showing them what Benson has to offer.  I expect Cleveland and Franklin and possibly Grant to come visit in the coming months as it becomes time to choose classes (aka forecasting).

One of the things that has been coming up in Winterhaven is the casual commenting on people’s physical attributes.  We want to remind our students that even light hearted comments can hurt the student they are directed at as well as others who overhear.  The more we can remind our kids that all of them are beautiful in their own unique way, the better all of their self-esteem will be.  

Related to that:  In order to keep my finger on the proverbial pulse of the school, I’ve made a few needs assessments using Google forms.  Please take the time to fill this out to let me know where I should be focusing my attention:   Your students also completed (or will soon) a version of this as will the staff.  I’ll use this data to inform my work here at Winterhaven for the year.  

Our question of the week is centered on the current events in the NFL.  “How do you believe people should protest injustice?  What should the limits on their protests be?  Why?”  Again, these topics are in support of our PTSA’s goal to have all of our kids graduating from Winterhaven as informed, considerate, thoughtful people.  

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 9/21/2017

posted Sep 22, 2017, 10:51 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor's Corner 

This week in counseling we are continuing to focus on kindness in K-5. After watching the Kindness Boomerang again and starting our own boomerangs, our second graders had a really cool idea of us making those boomerangs not just a simple artsy worksheet but a screenplay for a movie.  I’m not sure about the logistics of whether that is feasible yet, but ask them about it next week! A really cool idea from the creative minds of our students! 

Another set of creative minds in the 6th grade had the whole class trying (almost successfully!) to jump the same jump rope together.  It was a great opportunity to talk about problem solving, individualism vs. group goals, and leadership.  Well done sixth grade!  I love challenges like this because the issues that spring up in that scenario are the same issues that cause trouble in the classroom and it gives us a chance to talk about them in a non-threatening, collaborative way.    

I’ve been sharing with the middle school students and staff a blunder I made this summer in an effort to open up discussions of how we handle issues around race and the mistakes we are bound to make in dealing with it.  The deeper we dig, the more of these we are bound to come up with.  I think an important take-away is that if we take the time to process and reflect on these mistakes, a better option may come to mind that we can use in a similar situation in the future.    

Which brings us to our topic for the week’s discussion: “What is one blunder you have made around race?  How did you handle it?  How did you wish you handled it?  How did it make you feel?” This one really needs the adult to be the example before the kids take their turn. I think as parents, we often want to project this air of confidence, but it’s OK to talk about being uncomfortable and not knowing the answer.  That is both expected and necessary for us to move forward.  Younger students may not have the background or the language to talk about this yet, so it may just be you talking about your experiences and normalizing the discomfort they will have as part of their process.    

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw, 

Cliff's Corner - 9/14/2017

posted Sep 14, 2017, 5:23 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor's Corner

Hi folks, 

For the month of September we are continuing our K-5 focus on kindness. This last week, we watched a video called The Kindness Boomerang <> and did some scheming on how we can make this happen in our Winterhaven community. 

Next week, we will be starting a book called Enemy Pie and thinking of ways that kindness can break down animosity and barriers between us.  



Life Vest Inside - Kindness Boomerang - "One Day"

Watch as the camera tracks an act of kindness as its passed from one individual to the next and manages to boomerang back to the person who set it into motion. Has ...

The 6th grade will also be focusing on kindness, but in a much more physical challenge way. We are also working on teambuilding and learning names and about each other since so many of them are new to Winterhaven this year.  

I also taught a lesson on the stages of racial identity to the 7th and 8th graders this week. We looked at Helms’ theory of white racial identity and delved into minority racial identity before setting them loose with other models of identity as well. All of this is done with the intention that students discover and learn more about how the concepts of race impact their lives and the lives of the people around them. It also helps to explain why people hold biases, and how to help each other think through those towards a more egalitarian mindset.

Our “avoiding-the-offspring-grunts-at-the-dinner-table” question of the week is: “How does your race affect your life?” This is a big, broad topic for all of us to explore, and continue to explore as we move through life. Expect this to be difficult and awkward for everyone. We actively encourage your students to embrace their discomfort around topics like this here at school, and it would be great if you could continue to push them and also lead by example outside of school. I know this can be hard to do, especially when you are exhausted after the work day. 

Cliff Shaw, Winterhaven School Counselor;


Cliff's Corner - 9/7/2017

posted Sep 8, 2017, 11:46 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor's Corner: 

Hi all: For this year, I'll be checking in every week on what I am doing in the classrooms. I will also suggest a topic to talk about at the dinner table, which could hopefully initiate a conversation.   


In the classrooms, I will be spending the month of September focusing on kindness and team building.  We will do some activities and challenges (ask them about the counting activity from last week, it was really hard for some of them) culminating in a collective art project that we will hang in the front hall.  The teambuilding will be most intense in the classes that have new students, especially 6th grade where we welcome more new folks than those who have been here.


If you weren't stranded on an island all summer, you might have heard about some increased tension in our country around race. The PTSA and staff would like our Winterhaven community to dig deeper into our beliefs around race this year. I'm still riding off the energy of this summer so let's start with this for a talking point:


Thomas Jefferson feared the "Tyranny of the Majority" - That 50.01% could rule the others with impunity in a democracy. How do we make sure to respect the rights of minorities in this culture?  How could we improve on this?  How could each of us, as individuals do better? I encourage you to zoom into race on this, but you could open with minorities of every type to get the ideas flowing. Obviously, adjust for age, but don't dodge discomfort.  Embrace it, and as a former professor of mine once said, "Use discomfort as a tool for motivation".

--Cliff Shaw, Winterhaven School Counselor;

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