Top 20 Blog

A series of Top 20-related articles from Principal Rathke

The Power of Talk

I am currently reading the book “Reclaiming Conversations: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,” by Sherry Turkle. Here’s an excerpt that resonated with me:

“It is not enough to ask your children to put away their phones. You have to model this behavior and put away your phone. If children don't learn to listen, to stand up for themselves and negotiate with others in classrooms or at family dinners, when will they learn the give and take that is necessary for good relationships or, for that matter, for the debate of citizens in a democracy? Reclaiming conversation begins with the acknowledgement that speaking and listening with attention are skills. They can be taught. They take practice and that practice can start now. In your home, in the classroom and at your job.”

Comfort Zones

Let’s go outside our comfort zones today. Today, raise your hand in class. Participate in discussions, share your answers and ideas—even if they’re “out there.” Remember: big learning happens outside your comfort zone.

Social Emotional Learning Vision Statement

At Justice Page School, students and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Creating a Culture of Learning

We want to be problem solvers, not problem namers. We can announce, "there is trash on the floor!" or we can help by picking up the trash and throwing it away. Cleaning up the mess makes us problem solvers.


The challenge I have for each of you today is to focus on listening. Listening is hard sometimes. You might get distracted by noises in the hall or other things in your room. Or maybe you let your mind wander and think about other things. If you get distracted or have life on your mind, gently tap your head and whisper "Not Now" to yourself. Then refocus on what you need to learn.

You Matter

The month of December we are focusing on "Communicate YOU MATTER" with staff and students.

This cornerstone fosters human development by creating a positive culture of safety and trust. A natural need for humans is to feel that they matter. By being aware of this human need, we can be deliberate in communicating "you matter"!

Some ways we can communicate that ...


Listening not only helps you learn, it helps other succeed. When you're a good listener, you communicate "you matter" to the person who's speaking.

Today, communicate "you matter" to your teachers, classmates, and parents by listening to them.


Stay curious! When you listen and know what the other person wants as well as what you want, sometimes you can discover how to get both of those things. That is totally how you live as an effective communicator, listener and thinker!

The Frame

It's time for action. Here are some questions that you can ask your student to help understand how they see things and feel about things:

  1. Consider your most challenging class
    • How do you see it?
    • How do you feel about it?
    • How do you act in this class?
    • What results are you getting in there?
  2. Challenge yourself to see the situation differently.
  3. How would a new way of seeing it affect your feelings and actions?
  4. What different results might you get?
Becoming a Top 20 School

The Process of becoming a Top 20 school consists of our individual journeys and the collective journey of each member of Justice Page Middle School. The purpose of this blog section is to communicate the Top 20 practices and principles we want to imbed in our school community and provide personal reflections regarding our own participation in accomplishing the goals.

The strategy for becoming a Top 20 school is to implement 20 Top 20 practices, all of which are intended...

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