Carl Sandburg Middle School

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About Sandburg » Principal's Message

Principal's Message

Dear Tiger Families,


As we move through the school year I encourage you to talk with your son or daughter about the Tiger CODE.  What's the Tiger CODE, you ask?  Well, The Tiger CODE (Creating Community, taking Ownership, engaging in Discovery, and giving Effective Effort) is how Sandburg lives it mission statement:  Committed to Success; Prepared for a future of possibilities.

While creating community, taking ownership, and engaging in discovery are all important, but the glue that holds the CODE together is effort.  Without effective effort, community is not created; ownership is not taken; and discovery stops.


Effort, as we all know, is how we work. Effective effort is effort that produces an intended result. As you talk with your children about their successes or struggles in school, please don't focus your discussions on their ability. Getting an A or an F on an assignment is result of the effort put into it, not your child’s intelligence. When you talk with your child about grades, focus the conversation on the type of effort he/she puts into his/her work. Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, argues that helping children understand that the outcome of their work is based on their effort, rather than solely on their ability, encourages them to keep trying.

Trying again is the key to learning anything. When a child believes that success is based on intelligence, he/she will become defeated or fatalistic (“I'm not good at anything”, or “That teacher just hates me”). This type of negative mindset does not help any of us want to try something again once we have failed at it. When children grasp the role that effort plays into their successes and failures, they will understand that their goals can be reached by working on their effort.

I encourage you all to talk with your children about effective effort. Every six weeks, all CSMS students bring home a grade report. Please sit with your child and discuss how his/her grades relate to the effort he/she has given to theme. Please consider the following characteristics of effective effort according to Jon Saphier, author of Skillful Teacher.


  • Take the right amount of time
    • Too little time = bad job
    • Too much time = wasted effort


  • Work efficiently (don’t waste time with too much detail or on aspects that don’t matter much)
  • Work without distractions (quiet, no TV, no multitasking, no cell phone)


  • Know when to get help
  • Know who to ask for help or where to go to find help on your own


  • Use smart tactics
  • Know what to do when a strategy isn’t working
  • Remember the tips you have learned

Use of Feedback

  • Get feedback (from parent, friend, teacher, etc.)
  • Apply the feedback to improve performance


  • Don’t give up
  • Find ways to get around problems
  • Try your hardest


Don’t be afraid to try!

Live the Tiger CODE!

Mark Pilut