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Principal’s Blog

Ms. Takimoto, Principal

Back to School

September 20, 2015

By the time I see families at Back to School Night, students have been working for almost three weeks.  While I usually start my presentations with student expectations and work, this year I shared them in the context of continued growth for all of us in our 21st Century skills, collaboration in particular.

The Harding community has always had shared aspirations for the school and students. The Common Core State Standards and Local Control Accountability Plan set rigorous expectations but collaborative work to date has us on our way.  I am excited for the students and pleased with our leadership groups, Instructional Team, SSC, and PTA, that are more connected now than ever. Only as a united group can we build the shared skills and resources needed for growth and student success.

The goal that students set for themselves this year is to increase their actions in support of the greater community.  The two primary ways that adults can take action as a whole community in supporting student success is to get your child to school on time everyday and give $16 for PTA membership (remember, this doesn’t mean you have to go to meetings or do anything else).  If you want to do more, talk to your child’s teacher or PTA and SSC members about the variety of opportunities to support students. We welcome your participation and I thank you all in advance for your contributions towards making Harding a great place for learning.
Have a connected year!


PLAYWORKS for every kid

March 5, 2015

I am sure your child has already shared something about the new recess system: PLAYWORKS. Our District’s Local Control Accountability Plan includes action items and funding to address state priorities towards improving student engagement and school climate. At Harding, the District is funding training for a team of teachers and staff to implement and maintain this comprehensive recess program designed to increase physical activity, decrease bullying, and enhance learning.
Harding staff and students have worked hard using the BEST (Building Effective Schools Together) system to collaboratively develop and practice shared expectations for how we work together at school. Using our school rules, Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe, and Be Kind, we hope to create a space where all students feel safe and valued. Our discipline records have steadily improved since implementing the BEST program but the one area we noticed that most of our discipline incidents come from is recess, and all of the recess issues are either conflict between students or bullying. We want to change this with PLAYWORKS.
I invite you to learn about PLAYWORKS, by exploring their website, http://www.playworks.org/about, asking your child about recess play over the next few weeks/months, and/or joining me in the auditorium at 6:30pm on March 19 for my Open House presentation. On the 19th I will describe the program in more detail, identify where we are in the implementation process, and update everyone on our data and plan for monitoring discipline. Thank you for supporting our efforts towards creating a great place for all children to learn.



Learning From Mistakes

December 19, 2014

My most powerful learning has come from mistakes I’ve made and a key part of that learning was resiliency.  As we continue to wade into the Common Core waters together I want to share how teachers use student mistakes and how students need to experience mistakes and learning challenges to develop a mindset for lifelong success.
Teachers analyze student errors to inform their teaching.  Student mistakes can tell the teacher what parts of instruction were not understood or mastered and direct follow-up lesson planning for the whole class and/or individual students.  This includes homework errors and struggles.  It is important for families to support their child’s homework completion with the time, space, and tools to do the work but step back and allow the child to complete work on their own.  Encourage/help your child to think of and write questions for the teacher when they get stuck and/or mark the work completed that they are unsure of.  Homework is not about getting it right, it is about getting it, and the teacher should be informed when it is too hard or too easy.
Students need to develop a mindset that learning comes from effort.  They also need to develop the stamina needed to keep working through challenges and mistakes.  Stanford researcher, Dr. Carol Dweck, is a leading expert in motivation and personality psychology.  Dweck found that having a “growth mindset” leads to student success in school and life.  The El Cerrito Family of schools (El Cerrito High, Korematsu Middle, Harding, Washington, Stege, Madera, Fairmont, and Kensington Elementary Schools) is hosting an evening with Carol Dweck on Thursday, January 22 at 7pm in the El Cerrito High School Theater.  If you are interested in learning more about her work and how you can use it to help your child, read her book and/or come hear her talk about her research findings at this “El Cerrito Community Reads” event.


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success on Amazon

The Role of Mistakes in the Classroom

My Favorite No: Learning From Mistakes

A Study on Praise and Mindset

The Effect of Praise on Mindset