To help encourage conversations and dialogue about the alignment of one's practices and beliefs, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What is one belief you would like to put into practice? Please see link to Google Form to share your responses: Matching Practices with Beliefs (Week of 10/2/16) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
I hope this update finds everyone well rested and relaxed, having taken some time to relax and simply be. We have enjoyed a fun adventure with the kids this weekend in New York City - many highlights, but two favorites were seeing The Lion King and a trip to Dylan's Candy Bar. New York City can certainly be 'an adult portion' of entertainment, to quote Levon Helm from The Band, but it is always so fun to visit!
It was great to have the 7th grade students and Blake staff back in the building on Friday after a successful trip to Nature's Classroom. I want to thank all of the chaperones for volunteering their time to provide a safe, meaningful, and memorable experience for our students: Emily Alland, Tracy Allen, Maura Batts, Kelly Campbell, Kathleen Caprio, Juli Dalzell, Michael Gow, Jon Haycock, Eileen Hurley, Greg Keohan, Kerrie Krah, Deb Manning, Lisa Matthews, Lucas Mihalich, Matt Millard, Amy Reynolds, Judy Silva, Josh Walas, and Nate Walkowicz. I want to an extend an extra thank you to Judy, Kelly C., Tracy, and Tricia for their tireless hours preparing for a safe, productive, and smooth week. And a thank you as well to the 7th grade other teachers who helped provide a rich experience for students and assisted with the necessary coverage throughout the week.
Our work as a staff during Friday's professional afternoon (self reflections, defining goals, and outlining educator plans) will help us to better articulate and further the path we are taking towards the overarching goals we have as a Blake community...
- To artfully design and implement curricula that amplifies student learning through innovative practices, authentic engagement, and skill acquisition
- To foster teaching practices and professional growth with clarity and purpose to improve student learning
- To enhance our climate and culture of student reflection, assessment, and feedback for optimal learning, engagement, and experiences
Spare 30 Minutes Per Day to Make Yourself a Better Leader (Especially if You're an Introvert)
by James Sudakow in Inc.
As an introvert the title of this post 'jumped off of the page' and I appreciated the clear reminder of the importance of finding time for oneself in the midst of a busy, 'message-filled' day. I am not sure how or when, but I am going to try and find these 30 minutes in the midst of my schedule - fostering my own reflection, mindfulness, and sense of self.
To get practical and make it do-able for myself, over the last year I have forced myself to take a 30 minute retreat ever day to think or just temporarily detox...A simple 30-minute daily retreat is an easy way to ensure we all get the time we need to think about our work, solve problems and come up with ideas.
Time to Put My Beliefs to the Test: Starting a New No Grades Classroom
by Starr Sackstein (@mssackstein) in Education Week Teacher
Sackstein is an educator I greatly admire (and one I recommend following) for her earnest commitment to meaningful feedback for her students. This post reflects the feelings she experienced this fall, starting anew in a different classroom, school, and structure. Her approach and ideas that are shared encourage thoughtful listening, reflection, and conversations.
After reading the encouraging words and suggestions, I realized it was time to really put my beliefs and theories into action by starting over from scratch...Because I'm starting from scratch again, I will remember to be as patient as possible because this is a huge shift from traditional. At some point, I too, stood where they are and had to find my way. Everyone takes their own time and I can only do what I can to do what I know to be best for students.
Feedback will continue to be the center of what propels students learning and reflection and conversation about growth. But the students need to be taught the language first. I can't assume they know because they don't.
Baby steps. Things won't happen as quickly as I want, but they will happen and great change is possible. My being able to be vulnerable about these changes and my fears about them is a testament to how change is hard but still worthwhile.
The links below (posts and videos) are ones I have shared in the past at the beginning of Connected Educators Month, and I think they are worth reading again.
The Growing Importance Of Connecting And Staying Relevant
post by Ron Thomas
Thomas's post is not necessarily aimed towards educators, but the implications and message hold true. He openly acknowledges the opportunities, risks, and shifts in 'power' that social media bring and encourages us to embrace these shifts.
Social media has moved into our society at warp speed. I call it the disrupter of the century. There is nothing that has affected us more than social media and the Internet.
Everyone in this space needs to find their own niche. I post about once per day on HR or organizational issues. That is my brand that I have developed over the years. There are some platforms I use more than others, but I try as much as possible to stay connected. Why do this? Because it is where the action is and I do not want to become irrelevant as some of my peers who boast that they have no social media interest whatsoever. That, to me, is like telling someone I have completely given up on business and life. In the end, if you want to be relevant in your business, you have to be in it.
Connected Education Video Clips
Connected Educators (4:54)
Using Twitter effectively in education - with Alec Couros (3:12)
Whom Should I Follow on Twitter?
by Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby)
Whitby is an educator I follow and one that has helped me to tangibly realize the power of connections with other educators via Twitter. The strategies he outlines help to structure the overwhelming nature of Twitter for those both new and experienced with this medium.
For some reason any post with Twitter in the title does not do well with a general population of educators. Social media as a source of professional development has yet to catch on in large numbers among educators. There is however a growing number of educators using Twitter who look for strategies to better serve them in social media for collaborative learning. Whom should I follow on Twitter and how do I find them are key questions that need to be addressed.
A big problem with collaborative learning through social media however is that it is not a passive activity. There is no way of getting around the work one needs to do in order to get positive results. Having a plan or a strategy does make things easier. Focusing on following educators, who themselves are focused, makes for best results. Don’t just follow those whom you agree with, but follow those who challenge you as well. The most important thing to remember in Twitter: Big numbers of followers may impress some people, but whom you follow is far more important than who follows you.
As you know I always look forward to our time together as a faculty (formally via meetings and professional development and informally via luncheons, get togethers, and conversation) as it provides the opportunity for more connections to be made and relationships to grow. Listening to Brian's 'Why I Teach' reflection last Friday, I was struck once again how fortunate we are to hear one another's stories and increase the empathic culture we are trying to nourish as a community. The quotations that Brian shared are listed below...
Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. -- Albert Einstein
Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. -- Theodore Roosevelt
We talked at the beginning of the year about the importance of 'starting with and remembering our whys' to ground our work - both relational and academic' - with our students. That process, I believe, will help all of us to get a few steps closer to the realization of the alignment of our beliefs and practices. I'm hoping that the connections that are made this week, and in the coming weeks, will help as well.
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
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