To help encourage conversations and dialogue about the practice of gratitude and Thanksgiving, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What are you thankful for this year? Naming and Sharing Our Gratitude (Week of 11/24/19) (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.
Have the days of November gone by faster than other months this year? It truly seems like yesterday that we were getting ready for Halloween - and, with Thanksgiving being so late this year, I am having a hard time believing it is this week! I felt quite fortunate to be able to attend the Learning and the Brain Conference (see some notes below) in Boston, and the highlight of the weekend was the performance of Frozen Jr. at Blake on Saturday night! Congratulations to the cast and crew and thanks to Tracy Allen, Maureen D., Joe, Nancy M., Ann Marie Tremblay, Ashley Rimbey, Jean Plonski, Christi Barney, Melissa Landis, and all of the parent volunteers - special kudos to Tracy for her leadership and work with all of the students!
- It is so important to reflect and convey our thanks
- We need to act on our gratitude
- A community must be inclusive of all
- Modeling our gratitude and acknowledging our areas of growth for where we are ‘falling short’ is critical
- We must practice, adjust, listen, recalibrate, and stay with our work - it will help us foster a culture of gratitude and support
- Gratitude is an intentional practice
- I hope we can learn and give thanks to one another
- Giving thanks is something that we all can do
As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, my traditional sharing is one that is grounded in gratitude - gratitude for tangible ‘artifacts’ of recent learning, reflective/active learning, and learning as a community - along with some ‘annual sentiments of thanks’ (Fair warning - it has been a reflective week and weekend for sure!)…
Recent Learning - I am thankful that we are a learning community that is willing to share and listen to one another
Thanks to MCPE (Medfield Coalition for Public Education), I was able to attend the Learning and the Brain conference this past weekend (#latb54) - a wonderful conference that ‘connects educators with the latest research on the brain and learning and its learning implications for education’. The focus this year was: ‘Applying Learning Sciences for Deeper Reasoning, Retention, and Reflection. I will be sharing more in the coming weeks and months, but here are a few ‘mindsets/notes/take-aways’ from a few keynotes, along with some notes from #MedfieldTalks and a keynote from the #ETTInnovate conference earlier in the week (it has been an impactful week of learning!)…
Why Mind, Brain, and Education? Why Now?
by Kurt W. Fischer, David B. Daniel, Mary Helen Immordina-Yang, Elsbeth Stern, Antonio Battro, and Hideaki Koizumi in Mind, Brain, and Education
This article, published in March 2007, outlines the origins of Mind, Brain, and Education from the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society - the goal and purpose is to join the collective efforts and work from education, biology, and cognitive science.
Human beings are unique in their ability to learn through schooling and diverse kinds of cultural instruction. Education plays a key role in cultural transformations: It allows members of a society, the young in particular, to efﬁciently acquire an ever-evolving body of knowledge and skills that took thou-sands of years to invent. It is time for education, biology, and cognitive science to join together to create a new science and practice of learning and development.
Answering key questions about mind, brain, and education requires reciprocal interaction between scientiﬁc research and practical knowledge of educators and caregivers. There must be a dynamic interaction between scientiﬁc research and practical knowledge, with practice shaping scientiﬁc questions as much as research shapes practice.
Scientists sometimes argue that relating biology to education is premature: They say that science ﬁrst needs to answer the deep questions about how the mind/brain works. To the contrary, we afﬁrm that research in educational settings will shape the great discoveries to come concerning basic biological and cognitive processes in learning and development. Research in practice settings is essential for the ﬁeld of mind, brain, and education, in the same way that research in medical settings is essential for knowledge about medical practice.
Barbara A. Oakley - Learning How to Learn: Helping Students Succeed in School
- People are starved for information about how we learn effectively
- It can be good to follow your passions, but it is really important to broaden your passions
- Retrieval practice (‘recall’) is the most powerful technique to help you learn
- Sleep is critical - retrieval practice happens during sleep
Linda Darling-Hammond - Teaching for Deeper Learning: Implications of Science of Learning and Development
- Shift from Genetics to Epigenetics (malleability and plasticity)
- Development is catalyzed and shaped by human relationships - fostered by experience
- Key elements of Adult-Child Relationships - secure attachment, positive regard, buffering stress, supporting sense-making
- Development of Neural Networks is enhanced by…
- Social interaction
- Rich environments
- Green space
- Physical activity
- Mental activity
- Emotional and cultural well-being
- Development of Neural Networks is impaired by…
- Sleep disruption
- Dietary deficiencies
- Identity threats
- Cognitive flexibility is enhanced by…
- World Languages
- As human beings, we are born to be inquirers
- The ways in which we can teach can induce a growth mindset
- Assessment for Learning: How Feedback Can Be Leveraged…
- Errors are welcomed
- Peers support learning
- Assessment is for learning, not for ranking
- Psychological elements have huge impacts from the practices we choose
- Performance assessments are critical
- Everything students need for their learning, teachers need
David H. Rose - Deeper Learning for EVERY Student: Neuroscience, Technology, and UDL
- ‘It’s going to take a lot of work on both of our parts’
- ‘You are important to me’
- We need to think about control vs learning
- Who has a ‘disability’?
- It depends
- Depends on context
- What determines where each of us are on the spectrum?
- Biology and Environment
- Both biology and environment determine the cut-off for disability, ‘abnormality’
- Culture determines the cut-off
- Cultural determination
- Brilliant after school, but not during school (many of our students)
- Where am I on the spectrum?
- It depends…
- Context is important…
- Need to consider the emotional components of the brain
- We need to reduce the barriers and increase the access/pathways to learning
David B. Daniel - The State of the Onion: Peeling Back 20 Years of the Science of Learning and Instruction
- Schisms between practitioners and research
- Mind, Brain, and Education - Goal is Usable Knowledge
- How can I model complexity without bringing in the real world? (We must bring it in)
- Goal is to be evidence-generative! Not just evidence-based
- Mind-Brain Education - ‘Education by any things necessary’
- Evidence-Based vs Evidence-Demonstrated
- Picture of baby goats (kids) - ‘these are kids’
- What is ‘evidence’ for teaching?
- It is the interpretation of the evidence that makes a difference
- Is it credible or just persuasive?
- Skepticism has to be in place
- Situating science is very difficult
- When you try and put it all together, it becomes complex
- We have a ‘Science of Learning’ - We do not have a ‘Science of Teaching’
- Goal of science of teaching is to crete an arsenal of tools
- Goal is not to create best practices
- It is to create an arsenal of tools
- Goal is not a silver bullet
- Good teaching is the culmination of the small impacts of everything you do…
Notes from Dr. Colin Rose’s Keynote at #ETTInnovate…
Assistant Superintendent of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps for the Boston Public Schools
Ecology of Equity: Focus on CLSP
- CLSP - Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices
- Need to Shift from Achievement Gaps (Onus is on the student to adjust) to Opportunity Gaps (Onus is on the system to adjust)
- Targeted Universalism - High Standards; Targeted Approaches
- Where do we start?
- Capacity building is the key…
- We need to define things first
- Three Competencies of CLSP…
- Awareness: Comprehend your cultural frame of reference/bias
- Cultural learning/relationship-building
- Construction of a repertoire of culturally and linguistically sustaining practices
- Why’s for CLSP…
- Positive working and learning environments
- US Economic and Political Health
- More Effective Pedagogy
- More Effective Pedagogy
- CLSP/CRT - It is a framework, lens, and mindset, not a set of best practices or simply multicultural content
- There are consequences to not knowing and not adapting
- All learning is contextual
- We need equity by design, not happenstance
Notes from James McCauley’s Presentation on Resilience, Riverside Trauma Center
- You don’t bounce back after a traumatic event - you are changed
- This is hopeful work
- You need to start with yourself…
- Ask your child…
- ‘In what situations do you already feel strong or effective?’
- ‘In what situations would you like to feel stronger or more effective?’
- Three Kinds of Responses to Stress
- Positive, Tolerable, Toxic
- ACES Score (Adverse Childhood Experiences)
- Most positive impact against ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is having one caring adult - keeps them from developing toxic stress
- Need to teach flexibility in thinking
- Gritty people give help and get help
- 4 Techniques of Mental Toughness (‘Borrowed’ from the Navy SEALS)
- Goal Setting
- Positive Self-Talk
- Breathing/Arousal Control
- The Central Governor Theory: Our brains give out before our body
- Celebrate small wins (not miles - yards; not months - hours)
- Small achievable objectives
- Continually reset objectives
- Talk about challenges, not barriers
- Mental Rehearsal…
- Practice, imagine, rehearse
- What is your positive ‘speech’ in support of your goals?
- Slow breathing is a great focusing strategy
- Practice Gratitude - gratitude journals
- Biggest protective factor is strong social connections
- Social connection is the greatest predictor of happiness
- Find 5 Happy Friends
- Importance of play - if it isn’t fun, it isn’t play
- Look for cues in your children for when it’s time to talk
- Strike when the iron is cold - address it later…
- W.A.I.T. - Why Am I Talking? (Listen first)
- Sleep is so important
Reflective/Active Learning - I am thankful that our community seeks out learning and reflects upon our experiences
Reflection is at the heart of active learning, and I appreciate the interactive nature of engagement that we aim to promote and practice at Blake. The two posts below espouse the practice of gratitude and keep our learning in a contextual framework, and the weekly sampling of responses from last week’s question of the week help us to listen and stay relevant for our learners and community…
How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain
by Joel Wong and Joshua Brown in Greater Good Magazine
This brief post offers insight into the psychological benefits that exist when one practices gratitude. The intentional practice of gratitude is an important take-away from this post.
- Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions
- Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it
- Gratitude’s benefits take time
- Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain
Regardless of whether you’re facing serious psychological challenges, if you have never written a gratitude letter before, we encourage you to try it. Much of our time and energy is spent pursuing things we currently don’t have. Gratitude reverses our priorities to help us appreciate the people and things we do.
The science behind why you shouldn’t stop giving thanks after Thanksgiving
by Colby Itkowitz in The Washington Post
This post highlights the importance of gratitude, including an interview with gratitude expert, Robert Emmons. I came across this two years ago and it clearly had an impact on many readers, as at that time it was being ‘republished’ - Editor’s note: This post is being republished. The advice is timeless.
On most days, gratitude manifests as an emotional reaction to a favorable event or outcome. But it also can be a way of life. People who consciously choose daily to seek out things in their lives to be thankful for are, research has shown, happier and healthier.
The best way I practice gratitude is to continually think about those people who have done things for me that I could never do for myself. Who is looking out for me, who has my back, who has made my life easier because of their sacrifices? Who and what do I take for granted? Then gratitude becomes, real, concrete, personal. We all have people like that in our lives. I make a mental list of these, and try to think about ways in which I can give back some of the goodness I have received. Basically, I try to practice being non-self-absorbed. Non-grateful people are self-absorbed. Grateful people are absorbed by the good that others are doing for them. Focus on the other — this is the best gratitude message we can give people.
Indeed, gratitude rescues us from negativity. Left to their own devices, our minds tend to hijack each and every opportunity for happiness. Negativity, entitlement, resentfulness, forgetfulness, ungratefulness all clamor for our attention. Whether stemming from our own internal thoughts or to the daily news headlines, we are exposed to a constant drip of negativity. Doom and gloom is on the horizon, as financial fears, relational turmoil and health challenges threaten us. Weighed down by negativity, we are worn down, worn out, emotionally and physically exhausted. To offset this chronic negativity, we need to continually and perpetually hear good news. We need to constantly and regularly create and take in positive experiences. Gratitude is our best weapon, an ally to counter these internal and external threats that rob us of sustainable joy. In gratitude, we focus on the giftedness of life. We affirm that goodness exists, even among the rancor of daily life. This realization itself is freeing, liberating, redeeming. Gratitude works!
Topic/Question (Week of 11/17/19): What adjustments have you made to help improve your own learning and/or the learning environment for others?
- One adjustment I have made is by removing myself from the people who are a distraction
- I try to make sure I understand the information as best as possible, and when presenting information, to be as clear and concise as possible.
- I have tried to balance a "magnifying glass" and "bird's eye" approach to my own learning and the learning of others.
- I like to work more independently and not in groups/partners. I find that it helps me work better.
- Speak softly
- Keeping up with the work
Learning as a Community - I am thankful that our community cares for one another as learners, students and adults alike
This year I feel fortunate to once again be helping, along with Christine Power and Susan Bycoff, to facilitate our New Teacher Induction/Mentor Program. I find this work critical as we work to bridge our schools, bring educators together, and provide a forum for educators to examine and share practices. We took time this month (becoming an annual theme in Year 2) to discuss the critical role that ‘vulnerability’ plays for all learners (students and teachers) in our community. I firmly believe that both vulnerability and gratitude are practices that must be practiced.
Some Thankful Sentiments - Shared and modified a bit from years past...
Although they most likely read and sound familiar and repetitive each year, I promise that the sincerity of these sentiments continue to grow in their depth. We will be coming together as a Blake community for our annual Celebration of Voice assembly on Wednesday to share our gratitude and have fun! As I share each year, Thanksgiving is a holiday that holds great significance for me and my family since an accident I experienced while running ten years ago. It is hard to believe that a decade has passed since that time (Grayden was 3 months old!). At that difficult time, Katie and I found ourselves filled (overwhelmed, actually) with with gratitude, appreciation, and love for the care and support we received from our Holliston and Blake/Medfield communities. Those feelings, sentiments, and emotions are still very strong and present for all of us. I will be sharing my gratitude Wednesday at the assembly, but I also know that I can not share it enough - thank you. It is a privilege to work in a community that has both fostered and encouraged my own growth while also showing deep care for my family. I have shared these words from President Kennedy and the post below the last few years and will be sure to continue bringing them to light each year...
I encourage everyone to find seven minutes this week to watch the clip and share with others.
In Praise of Gratitude
from Harvard Mental Health Letter
I have shared this brief post the last several years - my very dear friend Mike Norton, who has done extensive work on happiness, sent it to me a few years ago. It provides a nice explanation for why gratitude is important and also offers tips to be more grateful.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
It is incumbent on us as a community to recognize and remember that this time of year can be a particularly stressful and emotional one for both students and adults. Personal situations, the loss of loved ones, or memories can bring forth many emotions, so please be sure to look out for one another and also rely on our community for support. Although I wish I could, I know it is unrealistic for me to have the opportunity to personally wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving before Wednesday afternoon. So...Happy Thanksgiving! I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the Blake community and believe we are making a difference. Let us be sure to maintain a culture and spirit of eternal vigilance for learning, listening, and gratitude.
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
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Enjoy the week and take care.