To help encourage conversations and dialogue about reflection and the importance of restoring oneself over the summer, this week's topic/question for the dinner table is: What will you do this summer to help you come back 'recharged' for the next school year? Please see link to Google Form to share your responses: Summer Recharge (6/19/16) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
I hope that everyone was able to enjoy the beautiful weather this past weekend before our last few days of school. We had some nice down time with the kids and watched the boys' summer baseball games - amazing how the busyness just shifts into the next season! On Sunday we headed into Fenway Red Sox game as a family before celebrating Father's Day with my parents in the evening.
This last week of school is always one full of mixed emotions as we recognize accomplishments and celebrate together while also saying our goodbyes. It is an incredibly busy time and can be hard to slow down the pace and find time for reflection. I always look forward to setting aside some dedicated time after the 'end of craze' has settled bit, to note both the successes and challenges of the past year. Beyond the benefits of thinking back about our work, this process of reflection helps to shape and align the work that lies ahead. In essence, it helps to hold me/us accountable and gauge progress towards our mission: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world. I encourage all of our staff, students, and parents to join me as well in this exercise. As shared last week we will be gathering as a staff for our end-of-year luncheon on Thursday to bring some closure to the year, and I will be asking everyone to reflect upon the following questions...
- What was meaningful this year? What made teaching worthwhile? What mattered?
- Describe a positive interaction or experience you had with a student during this academic year.
- Describe or explain an accomplishment you attained or something you are proud of taking place during this academic year.
- Describe a particular student or situation during the school year who or that you feel you could have handled in a way that would have resulted in a more positive learning experience.
- How have you 'lived' our mission statement in your work and growth this year?
- What is an area that you would like to grow professionally?
Approaching the last day of school and thinking about the goodbyes that await us, I feel this innate drive to 'get it right' and make sure that we 'send everyone off' with a powerful closing. I have to admit that some of this comes from the 'romantic' in me who loves symbolism and believes in the power of community, but I also do recognize that we never really can 'get it all right'. Learning is a process with ups and downs, and the trajectory of a school year reflects that roller coaster. To help bring some closure with this last Natworthy of 15-16, I am highlighting a few posts that embody a reflective approach to continuous learning and growth - a core aspect of our mission...
Books to Help Teach Kids To Be Inclusive and Compassionate
by Suzanne Nelson in The Washington Post
I always look forward to summer time to both discover and catch up on my summer reading lists. This post by Nelson shares the impact that literature can have on all of us, as we work to be better versions of our selves.
Every moment we share books, music, conversation, or meals with people who might not be completely like us, is one moment more that we benefit and grow as human beings, that we recognize the beauty, fluidity, and worth of our differences. And the more we do this as adults, the more our children recognize how to interact, how to have empathy.
The Five Questions That Most Define My Work
post by Will Richardson (@willrich45)
Will Richardson is a wonderful educator and thinker who pushes me out of my comfort zone of thought with his posts, questions, and beliefs. At the heart of this post is Richardson's view that questioning, specifically the inquiry process, drives authentic learning. I love the question he poses at the end (very timely for Father's Day).
...our lives are driven by questions, and the pursuit of interesting questions is the vehicle through which we learn most effectively. Think of any great invention, any great achievement, for that matter almost every act in our lives; they all start with questions, large or small. And like adults, kids learn most profoundly around questions that matter to them.
These still pale in comparison to “How do I raise two kids to be productive, happy, caring, engaged, loving human beings who love to learn?” But they’re where my professional head is at for the moment.
Come Back Better
by Rebecca Mieliwocki in Education Week Teacher
This post reflects on the 'musings' of first-year teachers, expressing their thoughts on the first year of teaching as they look ahead to 'come back better' year 2. The ideas hold true for all of us - new teachers, veteran teachers, parents, and students. It reminds me that we are so incredibly fortunate to have the chance to renew and start again each school year. Let's be sure to take advantage of that.
Leave it to some first year teachers to perfectly sum up our work--work that is full of mistakes, miracles, and all the wonderful little ironies that fill our lives as teachers.
The beautiful dichotomy of our work means that while we are always striving for professional perfection, the complexities of the work and the children we spend our time with make it far too difficult to ever master completely the craft of teaching.
Wherever the next several summer weeks take you, make sure you take time to stop and rest. Let the lessons of the year sink in. Savor the successes and learn from your stumbles. Be kind to yourself; after all, you're a learner too. Immerse yourself in all the things you love to do that make you the kind of interesting person your students love to learn from. And when you come up for air, pick one thing about your teaching you'll improve for the year ahead. Then, come back better.
15 Ways Fatherhood Changed Me as a Teacher
by John Spencer
The past two years I have shared this post at the time of Father's Day and I always find it worth the read. I feel incredibly fortunate that my 'roles' as a father and educator have benefited one another. I am continually learning and reflecting and for that I am incredibly thankful. Happy Father's Day to all fathers in the Blake community!
With great appreciation for the efforts that have been put forth by the Blake staff this year, I want to express my sincere appreciation for continually giving their best to our students, one another, and the community. My annual hope is that everyone gets some well-deserved time to relax, recharge, and simply take a break during the summer months so that we can all, as expressed in the post above, 'come back better'. I hope to be able to convey my personal thanks to everyone and to share my wishes for a wonderful respite. I have said it many times and I promise that these sentiments are genuine and sincere - Blake Middle School is a special place and I am honored and privileged to be a part of this community. I am excited by what the future holds for our students and staff and am proud of the discussions and work that have taken and will be taking place. Thank you for the collective willingness to continually learn, grow, and support one another.
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
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