To help encourage conversations and dialogue about collaboration and the importance of leaning on others, our topic/question for the dinner table is: How does collaboration help you learn? Leaning On Others (Week of 9/29/19) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
Blake's Guiding Lights
Blake's Core Values: Respect, Responsibility, Resourcefulness, Reflection
Our Essential Question: How can we cultivate and curate the progression of student learning and growth?
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 felt lucky last Friday to start the weekend with a nice bike ride along the rail trail in Holliston - it felt great to be outside, clear my head, and take time to reflect upon the past week. I have done my best to embrace the district’s guidelines for homework for myself (not always an easy task), and the bike ride was a nice way to frame some thoughts with the hopes of putting them aside for a few days. I’m hoping I can try and carry this practice forward!
Topic/Question (Week of 9/22/19): What problem(s) do you want to solve? What do you need to learn to help solve this problem? Be specific.
- I want to solve the problem of climate change and the human impact on our environment. I need to learn the most effective ways to advocate and become involved in this cause.
- I want to solve the struggle between pleasure reading and academic reading. Striking a balance is an ongoing area rich in development!
- I want to learn why so many teens and adults feel the need to self-medicate (with both legal and illegal substances). What is missing in their lives that makes them constantly crave altering their consciousness?
- I want climate change to be solved. I don’t know what I can do to help this.
- I want to become a better artist
- World peace. Communication skills.
How Collaboration Unlocks Learning and Lessens Student Isolation
by Jo Boaler in MindShift
In this post Jo Boaler espouses the important role that collaboration plays in learning - providing opportunities to connect ideas, foster equity, and simply open up more pathways.
...when we connect with other people’s ideas there are multiple benefits for our brains and for our lives.
The fact that it took work to teach students how to collaborate with each other after they had spent thirteen years in school speaks to the problems in our school system, where the common pattern is that teachers lecture and students work through problems alone. The team leading the work‐ shops was right to point out that success in college requires working with others and making good connections. Many people know this, but they still see no role for collaboration in learning.
Part of the reason students give up on learning is because they find it difficult and think they are alone in their struggle. An important change takes place when students work together and discover that everybody finds some or all of the work difficult. This is a critical moment for students, and one that helps them know that for everyone learning is a process and that obstacles are common.
Collaboration is vital for learning, for college success, for brain development, and for creating equitable outcomes. Beyond all of this, it is beneficial to establish interpersonal connections, especially in times of conflict and need.
Jay has studied resilience over many years and points out that people who survive hardship often do better, but not through “bouncing back,” as some think, because the recovery process takes time and is more of a battle than a bounce. She also points out those who ultimately benefit from hardship, becoming stronger and resilient, do so when they maintain self‐belief, when they “own the fighter within,” and when they connect with other people. The thing that people who overcome hardship and do not become defeated by it have in common is that in times of need they all reached out to someone—a friend, a family member, or a colleague—and those connections helped them survive and develop strength.
Inviting Mr. Rogers into Your SEL Classroom
by Cheryl Mizerny in MiddleWeb
This post draws on Mizerny’s ‘channeling’ of the principles of Fred Rogers, offering suggestions for how to operationalize them in the classroom: Modeling, Setting the Tone, Learning Their Names Quickly (and pronounce them correctly), Being Polite, Getting to Know Them, Helping Them Bond, Minimizing Competition, Celebrating Everyone, Communicating with Them, and Being Seen and Valued.
In the 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Abraham Maslow outlined his Hierarchy of Needs and many educators continue to be familiar with the concept. Maslow believed humans could not be motivated to function at the highest levels until their needs at the previous levels were met. In the classroom, teachers are tasked with helping students reach the highest level by making sure their physiological, safety, and “belonging-ness” requirements are satisfied. Fred Rogers tackled these topics in every show.
Another Fred Rogers quote from the Education World interview makes me feel like I’m on the right track… “When children learn more about one another, and when they know their teachers recognize and celebrate their differences, they are more likely to feel a sense of community in the classroom. Teachers foster mutual respect when they provide activities that encourage conversation, sharing, and interaction.”
It is, and will continue to be, important that we intentionally foster experiences and structures for learning that allow students to practice collaborating with one another. It is truly one of the key learning skills and our systems of feedback will hopefully continue to be refined so that this skill is developed. The same is true for us, as educators and caring adults, in this community. It is important that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, so that we may find the courage to recognize the benefits of help from and for others as we grow and learn.