Dear Blake Families:
I hope everyone has found some time to enjoy the lovely weather this weekend, in between sessions of grading, catching up, and finalizing plans for the end of the year - it is hard to believe that we only one week left of school! Our weekend thus far has been a fun and busy one, consisting of end-of-year parties, soccer games, and play dates for the kids (all, of course, amidst the routines of 'catching up and trying to think ahead' on the weekends). As I noted last week, I so appreciate our staff's energy and dedication to the students as we truly enter our final stretch.
I am sure I am not alone in feeling as though the month of June can bring about mixed feelings and emotions - reminiscing about the past year, excitement about the summer and year ahead, anxiety and 'pressure' to check things off of the ever-growing 'to do' lists, etc. It is a unique feeling of dichotomy to want both more hours in the day to get everything done and more time to rest, relax, and recharge. My wife, Katie, is great about reminding me that these are 'annual/cyclical' feelings for me and that 'it will all happen' - I have also come to realize that I can offer the same advice and insight to others, but it is much more difficult to follow for myself. This time of year - ending one academic year and planning for the next - is full and can be all-consuming, and it is a challenge to find time for reflection. I was fortunate this past week, however, to 'step outside of the routines' and find myself recharged and rejuvenated - meeting the incoming 6th grade Dale Street students with Kelly C. and Tracy Allen, planning for the Vietnam Memorial at Blake, interviewing candidates for our 'open' teaching positions for 12-13, and planning for our guests from China next week.
Each of these meetings and responsibilities took time away from tasks (master scheduling, responding to e-mail, organizing materials); however, they all were directly related to some of the most important work we do as educators - connecting with students, fostering positive relations, and establishing opportunities to help continue feeding the student-centered environment at Blake. They also served as a reminder about perspective and the importance of viewing challenges through a 'half-full, leaning towards yes, optimistic' lens. Thursday evening, when reading some articles, I came across this quote from the Roman fable writer, Phaedrus: The mind ought sometimes to be diverted that it may return to better thinking. These words resonated with me as I realized the 'diversions' of the past week were actually the things that helped me find my focus and recenter my thinking. By allowing oneself to be diverted and/or 'distracted' during the busy times, a new perspective can be found. And, as summer is knocking on our door, we can also look forward to the 'fruitful diversions of thought' that are often encouraging, fulfilling, and productive.
So, as we approach this final full week, my hope is that everyone can find some to step back, breathe, and reflect. At our end-of-year luncheon next Tuesday, continuing a tradition from the past two years, as a staff I will once again be asking everyone to reflect and jot down thoughts on the following:
- A positive interaction you have had with a student during the academic year
- An accomplishment you attained or something you were proud of during the academic year
- An area you feel you want to grow professionally
- Something you are looking forward to for the summer
I have encouraged our staff over the last week to pause and think about these questions once again, reflecting upon the past nine to ten months. Although we are feeling tired, stretched, and even frustrated, I think it is worthwhile for them to remind themselves of the work they have done and the value they hold in this school and community. I encourage all of you, as parents, guardians, and the greater Blake community, to do the same. It is hard for me to follow my own advice but I am going to try, so please help me out and hold me to this as well.
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Best wishes for a great week.