Dear Blake Families:
I am sure I am not the only one who felt that the transition from April vacation back to school was a quick one - hard to believe that the 'countdown' towards the last day of school is kicking in! This past week was a busy one at Blake - 6th grade field trips, Shakespeare assemblies, discussing attire guidelines with students, interscholastic sports, and recognition of Earth week - all amidst the 'day-to-day' teaching and learning. I know it can appear as though the 'teaching and learning' can take a backseat at times, but I do believe that these enriching opportunities for our students serve them well, and I commend our staff for their support in this regard. I hope that everyone was able to find some time for yourselves this weekend, taking breaks amongst our busy routines.
At Teamworks (cluster leader meeting) this past week we continued our yearlong discussions about the values we espouse at Blake and how we recognize student achievement, effort, and progress. Our discussion centered on current practices, as well as potential practices that we may employ. This is an important conversation and one that we will be pursuing over the next couple of months, as well as in the coming years. You know I am a believer in continued reflection of our values and practices - making sure that they are aligned, appropriate, and authentic. In essence, we should always be thinking about these questions...What do we want for our students? What values and goals do we want to recognize? How can we appropriately honor and recognize the attainment of these accomplishments?
I believe it is important to establish a healthy culture within our community - setting goals, creating opportunities for creativity, fostering growth, and continually recognizing both effort and achievement. As highlighted in the weekly blog, several of our students were recognized this past week for accomplishments in both music and science. I value and commend our students for their efforts, and we will also be thinking about other modes of encouraging individualized achievement in realms - both in and outside of the classroom. Although I am not always a believer in 'fate', I have to admit that sometimes the planets do feel as though they are aligned. Having this topic on my mind as of late, it was serendipitous to receive an article this week, written by op-ed columnist David Brooks in The New York Times, entitled 'The Creative Monopoly'. The article, listed on the Articles tab of the blog for your reference, was sent by a colleague to the 'principal job-alike group', and we discussed aspects of it at our meeting on Friday morning. In his column, Brooks presents an argument that capitalism and competition often get confused: "We tend to think that whoever competes best comes out ahead. In the race to be more competitive, we sometimes confuse what is hard with what is valuable. The intensity of competition becomes a proxy for value." As with most columns, I do not necessarily agree with every point, but I found it thought-provoking in regards to the ideas introduced about 'value-creation' and 'innovation' - two important traits that we want for our students. Towards the end of his column, he also supports a balanced approach, which tends to ring true for me: "We live in a culture that nurtures competitive skills. And they are necessary: discipline, rigor, and reliability. But it's probably a good idea to try to supplement them with the skills of the creative monopolist: alertness, independence and the ability to reclaim forgotten traditions." Our job-alike group spent some time discussing the article Friday morning and the implications of values and recognition in our respective communities. Once again, I was reminded and encouraged by the many possibilities for doing so, both currently and in the future, at Blake. I do believe that many of our practices are serving our students well, but I also feel, as with most of our endeavors, that we can continue to grow as a Blake community in an effort to appropriately foster and recognize both improvement and achievement, both independently and collectively, for all of our students.
As noted last week, we will be building off the parent/guardian survey with our students, in an effort to gain a 'greater perspective' of our culture and practices at Blake. We will also be taking some dedicated time at Site Council and in a parent forum to discuss these various topics - information is detailed in the 'Important Dates and Announcements' tab of this blog. I look forward to these discussions and welcome your thoughts.
Please click here for Important Dates and Announcements.
Best wishes for a great week