It was a real treat to enjoy the lovely weather this weekend and I hope everyone was able to take advantage of it! We enjoyed a nice one, attending the kids' sports games and a dear friend's wedding party Saturday evening in Cambridge. On Sunday we went apple picking and got some pumpkins as well.
This past week, thanks to the support of MCPE, I was fortunate to attend Rick Wormeli's (@rickwormeli2) two-day workshop on Standards-Based Assessment and Grading with a team of teachers from Blake. At most workshops and professional development endeavors, I am pleased if I leave with a few new ideas or strategies to bring back to Blake. This particular workshop, however, was incredibly rich, challenging our thinking and offering practical and thought-provoking ideas. My notes and list of implications and ideas for Blake is still growing each day as a result!
Professional development is of utmost importance to me and I do believe it is the best investment we can make in ourselves as educators - fostering a culture of growth and improvement. As I think I shared last year in the past I would always be looking for 'take-aways' from workshops and conferences, but I have moved away from that term. 'Take-aways' in my mind feels too 'disposable' - in contrast, I prefer to focus in on new mindsets that I can adopt to permeate my thinking. With this in mind here are a few mindsets that are in my current thinking (some new and some affirmed) from the conference...
- 'We are not a composite of all of our weakest digressions' - we need to take everything in context and examine situations in that manner
- 'What does that mean to you?' - a great question to ask in many different situations
- Most recent evidence is most accurate - we can not simply rely on the past - we must continually be assessing our students for honest feedback
- Our goal is for students to surpass us - at times the goal is for students to match our thinking; the goal should be for students to surpass our thinking so that our society can grow
- When learning is the goal and learning is the reward, there is no cheating.
- Competence and Maturation = growth
Reading through my notes and thinking about what it is that we want for our students in regards to assessment, grading, and feedback, I find myself seeing many parallels for what we want as adults. Those mindsets and ideas are ones that I hope our colleagues, parents, and supervisors have for me as an educator. I think this is important for me to continually acknowledge and I hope that our discussions as a staff and with parents reflect this thinking as well. A trajectory of growth is critical to foster in learning, and our systems of feedback and assessment should reflect a culture of support. This week I am sharing a few posts that support the ideas of reflection, growth, and relationships (professionally and personally)...
Learning How to Exert Self-Control
by Pamela Druckerman (@pameladruck) in The New York Times
In this post Druckerman writes about Walter Mischel, the Columbia University professor who established the famous 'marshmallow test'. She shares Mischel's current work and his desire to continually grow and learn. A key finding from his work is that self-control can be taught, and I particularly liked Mischel's idea of a 'burning goal' is what helps students to 'activate' the skills that they have acquired...
"He says we anxious parents timing our kids in front of treats are missing a key finding of willpower research: Whether you eat the marshmallow at age 5 isn’t your destiny. Self-control can be taught. Grown-ups can use it to tackle the burning issues of modern middle-class life: how to go to bed earlier, not check email obsessively, stop yelling at our children and spouses, and eat less bread. Poor kids need self-control skills if they’re going to catch up at school."
"At the moment, my burning goal is to be like Walter Mischel. At 84, instead of slowing down, he’s preparing for his American book tour and fielding questions from Polish journalists. His secret seems to come straight from the marshmallow test: distraction. “It’s to keep living in a way one wants to live and work; to distract constructively; to distract in ways that are in themselves satisfying; to do things that are intrinsically gratifying,” he says. “Melancholy is not one of my emotions. Quite seriously, I don’t do melancholy. It’s a miserable way to be.”"
Raising Teenagers: Protect When You Must, Protect When You Can
by Jessica Lahey (@jesslahey) in The New York Times
One of the most essential lessons I have learned is how critical it is to be informed and take advantage of resources. It can sound trite, but the more informed we are, the better we all will be. Lahey's audience is primarily parents, but it is not too far of a stretch to see the implications for educators working with teenagers, or for simply seeing how the message applies to ourselves as well. Our work is a continual 'push and pull' and I think the principles within the post are wonderful.
"I don’t think adolescence will ever be easy, either for my boys or for me, but I am trying to keep up my end of the deal by removing one piece of their scaffolding, every day. When my older son violates curfew, or my younger son takes off into the woods with my saw and his knife to whittle a staff out of a sapling, I look to my favorite piece of advice from Dr. Steinberg’s book, propped up in the back of my desk: “Protect when you must, but permit when you can.” Because that, I can do."
Your Kids are Using Social Media...Are You?
post by Craig Badura (@mrbadura)
October is Connected Educators month and the question posed by Badura is an important one, for parents and educators alike. I encourage everyone to read this post and to reflect upon the role that social media plays in the lives of our students. Within his post he also references a wonderful quote by Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt): “Our kids are growing up on a digital playground and there are no teachers on recess duty!”
"I would highly encourage you to sit down tonight with your child and have them share what social media sites/apps they are currently utilizing. If you are unfamiliar with any of the sites/apps, have your child explain to you how it works and how they are using them. Then, I would highly encourage YOU to download those apps, create and account and start using them. “Friend” your child or follow them on the accounts. Be sure they do the same. Because we have taught them the importance of online safety during Digital Citizenship, many students have made their accounts “private.” If their account is private, they will need to allow you to “follow” them."
I look forward to sharing, piloting, and implementing many of the ideas that were shared from the workshop, finding ways to integrate the principles into our mission and various initiatives we are exploring as a school. As the year progresses I hope we can continue to share resources and keep our lines of communication open, for the academic and social/emotional benefit and growth of our students. These conversations are incredibly important and I welcome them.
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