To help encourage conversations about purposeful learning for both students and adults, our topic/question of the week is: It is hard for a child to understand and value things through the perspectives of the adult. Therefore, the moment a student steps into the first classroom, the student should be given every opportunity to understand that the best form of appreciation is the kind that comes without solicitation; and it should become a natural act, one that it occurs even if the child does not fully understand what the adult has done is for their good. As for the adult, first they must always ask themselves and ask themselves again if what they are telling the students to do is the right thing, and second, the same opportunity goes in reverse; to a fault at times, for sure. Do you agree with any or all of this?
I hope that you are reading this in a relaxed and rested state of mind, having taken advantage of the beautiful weather this past weekend. These few days allowed for some much needed down time with Katie and the kids after a busy week in D.C. with the 8th grade - and, yes, the annual nap on Saturday was taken! We spent time tending to the garden, going for bike rides, eating some ice cream, and getting together with friends.
Our trip with the 8th grade was a success and it was wonderful to see our students and staff in a different light - making connections to their learning, learning new material, and fostering new friendships and relationships. I would like to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of our chaperones for their care and support for the students throughout the week: Eileen Hurley, Jess Waite, Cynthia McClelland, Kelly Ruminski, Jillian Chiasson, Gabby Harvey, Cori Jacomme, Seth Hellerstein, Susan Cowell, Jason Heim, Sara Donovan, Sandy Spierdowis, Erin Kearney, and Tricia Williams. A big thanks as well goes to Debbie Avery for all of her help coordinating and planning the trip! As has been my experience with our students throughout my career in Medfield, the character, actions, and interactions with one another were commended by adults and tour guides at the memorials, monuments, and museums.
At the proverbial end of the day, our mission statement and what is best for kids will guide all of our decisions for learning. Those phrases - 'mission statement' and 'what is best for kids can sound trite and overused, but I do believe this 'broken record' is one that is both pertinent and relevant. It is only trite if they are not meaningful and hold real value in our beliefs and actions. As we plan our lessons and experiences both in and out of the classroom, we should keep asking our students and one another questions about 'traditions' and 'relevance' to meet students where they are and bring them forward. With these ideas in mind throughout the week, reflecting on the ride home, and continuing through this weekend, I am sharing several posts below that highlight the importance of experiential learning, telling our stories, 'the real world', and looking ahead the final stretch as we near the summer months. The common thread amongst these articles and posts is to take time to listen, reflect, and communicate.
Thinking about Blake and the field trips we plan, the first two posts support experiential learning, and also present both the benefits and impediments of these ventures...
The Benefits Of Learning Through Field Trips
post by Steve Berer in TeachThought
"Ken Robinson, in his engaging TED talk, ‘How to Escape Education’s Death Valley‘ says there are three principles that make human life thrive: “diversity, curiosity and creativity.” Also from Robinson’s TED talk: “If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget.”"
Children learn much from field trips that they can’t get from lectures or textbooks
post by Jay Matthews in The Washington Post
"Like many adults, I have fond memories of visiting museums and factories when I was in school. I liked skipping class, of course, but some of those exhibits and industrial processes opened new perspectives on adult life. An unusual new study by the University of Arkansas reveals that even today children learn much from field trips that they can’t get from teacher lectures or textbook pages. The Arkansas researchers, Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowden, set up a randomized experiment involving more than 10,000 students. Some visited the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., and some did not. All were then surveyed. Those who went on the field trip showed higher levels of critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance and interest in art museums than similar students who didn’t. Even more impressive to me was the fact that those who went on the trip remembered important details weeks later."
In The Real World
post by Karl Fisch
This phrase is used by all in many different scenarios, regarding the educational practices that we employ for our students. I appreciate, value, and espouse Fisch's perspective on these words.
""In the real world . . ." is a sentence starter you often hear in schools. In fact, I've said it many times myself. We need to stop."
"Our students spend the better part of 13 years of their lives in K-12 education. This is their real world. The time our students spend with us is real. The experiences - the joy, the sadness, the learning, the relationships - those are all real. No matter how well-meaning we might be when using that phrase, we trivialize our students' lives when we use it. Their life in school is no less real than adults' lives outside of school."
It’s Time to Uplift the Teaching Profession
post by Starr Sackstein
Sackstein's post encourages us to continue telling our stories, sharing our work, and publishing our efforts. I could not agree more.
"What we need to do now as a profession is to uplift each other – remember that we are respected and what we do is important. We need to walk around with pride about the work we do and treat each other with reverence. With social media being the powerful tool it is, educators at all ends of the spectrum have an opportunity to really showcase the amazing things that happen in our spaces. If we get in to see each other physically or virtually, we can find a way to provide positive and constructive feedback to foster growth in pedagogy and therefore in our students."
"Put your story out there, the story of your kids – because I know there is far more good going on than the world knows about… if the media is going to focus on the terrible, horrible few than we need to bombard social spaces with the amazing many."
The "Fast and Furious" Homestretch
post by Matt Levinson in Edutopia
With June right around the corner and the 'final stretch' ahead, Levinson encourages all of us to celebrate student growth, savor the moments, and take time to reflect upon the 14-15 academic year.
"Find the small, everyday moments to appreciate and reflect back on. This is the time of year when it's critical to take one or two steps back for a fresh look at all that you have helped to build in your classes with your students. It hasn't been easy, and it's been frustrating at times, but you are almost there. Appreciate a colleague who has helped you through a challenge this year. Take some time to reach out to that colleague, thank him or her, and share how much of a difference he or she made in your teaching world. Think of a time when you were there for a colleague. Check back in with that colleague to see how he or she is doing now. Even though the days are fast and furious, recognize that the work you are doing is helping students grow and develop. Recognize how, through your efforts and day-to-day perseverance, these students are now demonstrating the skills and habits of mind that you have worked so hard to cultivate. Fast and furious it is."
In addition to the new ideas gained and brainstormed throughout the week to maintain relevance in our work, I also believe in the value of traditions and am ending this post with two quotations that I shared last year at this time. For me they hold true to my beliefs for our students, our school, and our community...
"I never forget that I live in a house owned by all of the American people and that I have been given their trust." -- FDR
"I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end." -- Abraham Lincoln
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