Dear Blake Families:
Hopefully you are reading this, having found some well-deserved down time at some point (or maybe all points) this past weekend. We had a busy, family-centered weekend - family dinner, soccer games, Celebrate Holliston Day, and our neighborhood block party. Sunday afternoon my son, Owen, and I headed to the Patriots game - hoping to stay dry! Thank you to the seventh grade, sixth grade, and related arts teachers for successful parent nights this past week. As with the eighth grade night, an overwhelming sense of community was alive and present at Blake - thank you to all!
The mindset of 'embracing mistakes' is very important to me, and I was encouraged and inspired by the clip that I shared at the beginning of our staff professional day together this past Friday, Liking Mistakes. When Tracy Allen shared it with me a couple of weeks ago, I knew that is was worth sharing and I felt a deeper level of connection with Chris Staley's words. I strongly recommend bookmarking this clip and coming back to it at different points in the year, as the connections for our work with students and with one another are both salient and meaningful (craftsmanship of risk, the idea that messy has meaning, recognition of vulnerability, and the important understanding that 'we all have a story').
Mistakes are a critical part of the learning process, and in order for the mistakes to have a real impact on our students in a meaningful way, a genuine sense of community must be in place - a community of learners who support one another. For our students to learn, we as adults must be willing to learn and model a passion for learning. As Lydia Dobyns expresses in a recent article from The Huffington Post, Paying It Forward: Teachers Model a Passion for Learning, adults have a profound influence on students: "Everyday and everywhere, adults, frequently teachers, make a positive difference connecting with seemingly unreachable students -- those with talents and abilities either suppressed or not yet discovered, often whose behaviors mask what is at their core -- a youth struggling to find his or her voice." One of the real highlights of the year for me thus far was popping into the various department and team meetings during our professional day, as goals and initiatives were discussed. For all of us to improve the learning experience for our students, we must work together and be all right with the acknowledgement of our weaknesses and areas that need improvement. A true spirit of purposeful reflection, coupled with a desire to improve and learn, will help us to establish benchmarks for improvement. This spirit and desire will, as a result, keep us as Dobyns states, 'hungry to learn' and, in turn, model and foster the passion for learning in our students: "The best teachers are themselves hungry to learn as adults -- eager to find ways to reach "difficult" students, creating projects that motivate and engage, finding ways to coax the hidden talents out of each student, making learning real and relevant. Perhaps this is the best way to pay it forward. Adults modeling the intrinsic value of "learning to learn" in their daily lives, providing learners powerful ways to do what they do. Taking risks and opening the shared learning experience -- providing students with ways to take responsibility for their own learning, their own voices."
Our work is full of challenges, and our passion for learning can often be as much of a 'challenging influence' as it is a 'positive influence'. I so appreciate our staff's desire to improve and to take care of our students in all facets - academically, socially, physically, and emotionally. The words of Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President, are worth reading and re-reading on a frequent basis, as they keep me centered on the task at hand: "I remember watching my two little boys when they were young, going to school, and thinking: Gosh, I'm giving the adults in that site the two most important things in my life. Any parent who sends a child to school gives teachers the most precious thing in their life, their children, and we ought to respect and honor that profession."
As I have shared many times, one of my continued goals is to try and establish 'balance' between work/home and to 'unplug'. As much as I love the 'work' aspect of my life, it is more important to feed the 'home' portion of my life. I know I am not alone with this struggle, and it is important to recognize and be mindful of the internal, and external, 'push and pull' we feel. Although it may not feel that way, we are still only in the beginning phase of the school year, and I hope we can all encourage each other to recognize, acknowledge, and support these oftentimes tugging influences. I can give the advice, but have a hard time following it. I am fortunate to work with such a fine cohort of educators in an education-centered community and want to thank everyone once again for their collective work.
Please click here for Important Dates and Announcements.
Please click here for Thursday Packet Information.