Volume 3

Happy Monday South Parents and Staff:

Here is a link to the Weekly Bulletin for September 23-28. It is also attached.

Homecoming Successes:

We had a successful Homecoming Weekend! 

Our Volleyball team brought home the overall win from the West Spiketacular, and our Cross Country teams won five of the six division races at the Big 8 Invite, with our Girls Varsity in the hunt for a Region Championship next weekend.  Our Flag Football team beat Bartlett for a second time this season, and our Football teams fought hard against strong Service High teams. 

Here are some images from the week’s spirit days, our Jazz Band, and a few from athletic events this last weekend. If you are interested in getting more frequent updates, you can follow me on Twitter @Dr_Almon

Quarter I Midpoint & Academic Updates:

Believe it or not, this week marks the midpoint of Quarter I. In four-and-a-half weeks first quarter grades will be issued and Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on October 23rd. Now is a good time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the first month and a half of school, and to set short term goals for improvement for the next four weeks in order to finish the quarter strong. 

In academic news, there will be a representative from Stanford University in the commons this Tuesday at 2 pm. Please also see the Curriculum Office announcements on the first page of the above linked bulletin for details on practice SAT and ACT, as well as information regarding the PSAT. There is also information about a Frontier Tutoring presentation and the BP Scholarship.

School-Life Balance:

As the school year progresses oftentimes fatigue, stress, and anxiety start to build for students. It is important to make an effort to establish some balance between school commitments and taking care of ourselves. Please see this linked infographic with helpful tips for doing so.

Working Agreements:

Last week I shared the five words our staff and students thought were most important to keep in mind when considering how we would like to treat one another. Those words have been drafted into working agreements, which read as follows:

  1. Value others and help them when in need.
  2. Tolerate differences and treat others in a manner in which you would want to be treated.
  3. Take responsibility, advocate for yourself, and be mindful of others.
  4. Put forth consistent effort; listen before speaking, and affirm others.

In the near future, these will be posted in our classrooms and workspaces and be the foundation on which we base our work. 

A BIG Idea: The Attention Economy & How We Can Maintain Focus:

Last week I listened to an interview Tim Ferriss conducted with Tristan Harris who is a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology. His goal is to influence technology companies to design their products and services in a way that does not lead to constant distraction and negative side effects. He points out that social media companies make money by keeping us engaged for as long as possible with their apps. They do so despite the potential for near constant distraction and miscommunication, along with undercutting relationships and decreasing productivity. 

Tristan Harris, in his interview, provided a few key tips/tools for managing our use of social media. Here’s a brief summary of those tips:

  1. When writing in a Word or Google document, enter full screen so that potential distractions on the screen are hidden.
  2. Turn phones on do not disturb when needing to maintain sustained focus.
  3. Take all social media apps off your phone’s home screen, turn off push notifications, and place the productivity tools on your phone on the home screen instead.
  4. Practice no phone use at the dinner table and at bedtime. 

The ideas in the interview reminded me of Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last and the E.D.S.O. chapter (Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin), which addresses how social media triggers a dopamine response, which makes us feel good each time we get a like or response, yet leads too many of us to pay too much attention to our phone to the detriment of real human connection and sustained focus on important tasks. 

Sinek further points out that serotonin and oxytocin are neurotransmitters that help us forge trusting relationships, feel safe, and keep our immune systems strong, and that social media does not promote the release of these two vital chemicals in our bodies. The only way to do so is to have mutually productive interactions with others. 

All this is to say that we should all make an effort to focus on authentic connections with others because it is good for our health and has the ability to reduce anxiety, and make us all more productive.

To capture my purpose in sharing the above information, I'll end with an observation by Maynard Webb, an American businessman and author who asserted that, "I love using the latest technologies to make life more efficient, but I don't want to advocate that technology replaces the need to get together and enjoy human connections with people."