To help encourage conversations and dialogue about listening and fostering relationships, our topic/question for the dinner table is: How can you be a better listener? Please see link to Google Form to share your responses: Fostering Dialogue (Week of 9/25/16) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
With some of the humid and warm days we have had over the last couple of weeks, it was wonderful to wake up to a cool, crisp autumn morning on Saturday. I certainly do not want to rush time, but it reminded me how much I enjoy autumn and am glad it is here. After watching the Medfield-Holliston football game Friday night, we had our Saturday sports routine before going to MCPE's fall ball that evening. I am always moved by the immense level of support that exists in our community for the schools, and that was certainly the case on Saturday!
After a very full week with not a lot of time to take a break, I am going to keep it brief (rare, I know!) and simply share two posts that resonated with me this past week. They affirm my strong belief, and I believe the shared beliefs of the Blake community, that personal connections, listening, and relationships are of paramount significance for learning. I hope we, parents and educators alike, can keep them in mind as we continue our daily work towards our mission...
Relationships > Everything Else in Education
by AJ Juliani (@ajjuliani)
Juliani's post references the words of wisdom from his grandmother, serving as a good reminder for all of us that all progress begins with relationships.
“It all comes back to relationships. Whether you use technology or have face-to-face conversations, it has to be about building that relationship if anything different is going to happen.”
I’ve been lucky enough to be in some amazing schools and teacher classrooms over the past few years. Without fail, the #1 trait I see in each of these places is a focus on relationships. The relationships come from having opportunities for inquiry, challenging students, solving problems together, and doing work that is meaningful. But they also come from small side conversations, moments in the hallway, supporting outside of the classroom, and taking longer than expected to talk about an issue in class.
It’s not only the kids where relationships matter. It’s all of us. Think of the best teachers you’ve had. Think of the best leaders you’ve had. Think of the best colleagues you’ve had. In my case, they all put the focus on relationships first, and everything else second.
When Teenagers Bristle at ‘How Was School?’
by Lisa Damour (@LDamour) in The New York Times
Having asked my own children this question many times, Damour's post helped to reshape my language, reflect upon one's audience, and gain a better lens through the eyes of our children and students.
As adults we can often forget how stressful middle and high school can be. While some students are energized by school, most find their days taxing, even under the best conditions. Adolescents may have fun at school with their friends, but they are also in close quarters with scores of peers they didn’t choose. The rough adult equivalent would be to spend nine months of the year in all-day meetings with 20 or more random age-mates — and be expected to bounce home and share enthusiastic updates.
At the literal end of the day, most parents simply want to connect with their teenagers. More than it may seem on the surface, our adolescents often want to connect with us, too. To help make this happen, we might set aside our terms and consider meeting them on theirs.
“Please tell them that when I complain about my school day, the only thing I want them to say back is, ‘Oh my God, that stinks.’ ”
A hope I have is to find and take the necessary time to listen so that more relationships can be fostered and developed. My door is always open.
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and to be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. - Ralph Nichols
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
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