To help encourage conversations and dialogue about how the process of reconsidering can foster growth and understanding, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What idea, thought, or belief do you think is worth reconsidering? Considering and Reconsidering (Week of 5/21/17) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
With the summer heat bringing last week to a close, I hope that everyone was able to have a nice weekend and enjoy the beautiful sunlight. It sure had the feeling of summer, and we could certainly see that reflected in the energy of the students! Our weekend was relatively low-key - after the 7th/8th grade dance Friday evening (and tough-to-watch Celtics loss!), baseball games for the boys, and walking around for Holliston's SpringFest, we had a relaxed Sunday evening. A special thank you to all of the chaperones who helped with the dance: Brian, Nancy, D., Tom, Maura B., Marissa, Eileen H., Kath, and Greg. It's always great to have a cross-section of staff - thank you!
This morning we are heading down to Washington, D.C. with our 8th graders and I wanted to share a couple of self-reflective 'sharings' (I think I just made up this word!) from this week...
I feel as though I say this all the time (and I'm sounding more and more like my parents every day!), but I can't believe how quickly time is flying by. No matter what the actual schedule or events that comprise the day-to-day and week-to-week schedule entails, the days and weeks are certainly full. Over time I have come to realize that it is not necessarily the actual events that make it full, but rather the energy and mindset that I bring to the week. Of course there are certain situations that induce elevated levels of stress and/or necessitate a more pronounced level of energy than others, but I also know that my response or mindset has a significant impact, or influence, as well. This self-reflection about 'what I bring to a situation' has come to light at varying times throughout my personal and professional life, and this past week's interactions, 'events, conversations, and readings brought it forth once again.
I have shared before that the roles, realities, or lives (whatever word seems most appropriate or applicable) of an educator and a parent often intertwine and it can be challenging to separate the two. They influence one another and have really challenged me to reflect, do some self-examination, and grow. Both are works in progress and I do believe that they make the other better - a sentiment I have heard and discussed with others (and, it is not exclusive to parents - our lives as educators influence our personal/family lives on many levels). This past week I found myself making connections at both 'school' and 'home' - attending a follow-up panel discussion in Holliston to the screening of Most Likely to Succeed, celebrating Eileen's completion of the Leadership Licensure Program (congrats, Eileen!), prepping for the upcoming D.C. trip, and having conversations with friends and family.
So, why share these reflections? What's on my mind? I continue to find my own thinking challenged - my assumptions, beliefs, ideas, and thoughts and I think it critical to recognize this and think about the roots of these challenges. As one who truly knows and understands the benefits of change, messy learning, and struggles on an 'intellectual level', I also am very self-aware of the struggles that I can personally encounter with this process. I enjoy and thrive on routines, known entities, and predictability. So, a dichotomy exists - belief vs practice, and 'practice' vs 'preaching'. Questions come to mind and I want to make sure that each one is given its due, and it is both interesting and invigorating to embrace a notion of 'consideration and reconsideration' as educators, parents, friends, and family members. In the spirit of continued sharing of thought, these questions are currently circling about in my head...
- What idea, thought, or belief do you think is worth reconsidering?
- Ideas of balance - what do we each bring to this?
- What lens do we each bring to a situation? What lens do I bring and does it change?
- What does experiential learning look like?
- How do we really measure growth?
- What do we really want for our students? What do we want for our educators? What do we want for our community? What do we want for ourselves?
- Why are we doing (fill in the blank)?
I hope you get a chance to read the posts below and that they resonate, elicit questions, and foster dialogue (and, as I write this, I do recognize that in my zeal to share ideas I am also challenging 'balance' of home and work - something for me to consider and reconsider) - they are ones that helped feed, answer, and consider/reconsider the questions noted above. They helped me to shed light on an overall premise/belief of mindsets and balance (Bariso's post), highlight a current day-to-day reality of schools (Larkin's post about fidget spinners), and push all of us to keep the 'end goal' of education in mind (Couros's post) - all under the umbrella of consideration and reconsideration...
A Top-Rated College Professor Just Gave Some Brilliant Career Advice. Here It Is in 1 Sentence
by Justin Bariso (@JustinJBariso) in Inc.
In this season of commencement speeches, Bariso highlights psychologist Adam Grant's speech given at Utah State University. By thinking through perspectives and looking at them from all angles, Grant sums up his message with this sentence: True success is all about finding proper balance. In so doing, he challenges some truisms about generosity and giving up and offers a moral after shining some light on a few examples.
'When Generosity Goes Bad'
Grant cites teachers as a perfect example. "We love teachers who are selfless," he says, but the research shows that "the most selfless teachers ended up being the least engaged in the classroom--and their students did the worst on standardized achievement tests." The more effective teachers, according to Grant, were the ones "who cared deeply about their students but also did what we're all supposed to do on airplanes--they secured their oxygen masks before assisting others."
The Moral: Be generous, but don't lose sight of your own needs in the process.
"Never give up" is terrible advice
"Sometimes, quitting is a virtue," argues Grant. "Grit doesn't mean 'keep doing the thing that's failing.' It means, 'define your dreams broadly enough that you can find new ways to pursue them when your first and second plans fail.' I needed to give up on my dream of making the NBA, but I didn't need to give up on my dream of becoming a halfway decent athlete."
The moral: "Don't give up on your values. But be willing to give up on your plans."
Identifying the right values and working to develop them in yourself are certainly vital steps to success. But remember, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If you really want to prosper, go a step further--and find the sweet spots that help you to become the best possible version of yourself.
Are Fidget Spinners The Problem Or Is It Our Mindset?
by Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin)
Larkin's post references the hotly debated fidget spinners and challenges all of us to delve deeper and to consider all angles. I must admit, as a fellow administrator, that it is easier to find this perspective from an 'out of the classroom' lens, but it is certainly worth thinking about. The mindset that we bring affects all of our decisions, responses, and actions.
While I am not sure how long the fidget-spinner fad will last, I do know that it will begin to fade at some point. I also know that there will be some new gadget or gizmo that will become the next hot item that our kids will want to have in their hands. Will we add that to our growing list of banned items or will we instead take the opportunity to have a constructive dialogue with our students.
When we jump to ban things, we fail to give our students credit for the fact that they are capable of discussing behavioral expectations. We send the message that we don't trust them and that we will need to step in to protect them from themselves. My experience has been to the contrary and I know that students can help us articulate how, when and where a fidget spinner or the next thingamabob should be used in the context of school. If we are wrong, we can always go to the ban as step two.
As adults, I think it is important to get some firsthand experience with something before we make up our mind about it. We need to take an interest in their interests and not just brush them aside as trivial...Unless we are talking about a safety issue, we need to ensure that we are not invoking the centuries-old "ban reflex." Do we see problems first or opportunities?
Compliance is Not the End Goal of Education
by George Couros (@gcouros)
George Couros is an educator who always makes me think, and this post did not disappoint - he poses some great questions within and asks all of us to look at the language we are using as we outline the 'end goals' of education. Empowerment is certainly a goal that we want to make sure we have in mind for all of our students.
Is this what we really want from our students? That they are simply submissive to the will of their teachers? Do we want to develop generations of students that will challenge conventional ideas, think for themselves, or simply do what they are told? I do not know many teachers who would want to be “obedient” to their principals. We teach the “golden rule” to our students; we must follow it ourselves.
Compliance is not a bad word, but it should not be your end goal in education. My belief is that we need to move beyond compliance, past engagement, and onto empowerment...I think the best educators have always tried to empower their students. They know that if you are truly good at your job as an educator, the students will learn to not need you eventually.1 That is why “lifelong learning” has been a goal in education forever. If we truly want our students to be “compliant” when they walk out of schools, they will always need someone else’s rules to follow. To develop the “leaders of tomorrow”, we need to develop them as leaders today.
Helping students find their own paths, not the ones we set out for them, has always been the focus in education, yet we need to be more explicit about this path. We all want our students to be respectful to educators and peers, but hopefully, we all want them to walk out of school, become intrinsically motivated, and find their own ways to success and happiness. Compliance is sometimes a part of this, but it is not the end goal. Are we trying to develop students to fit into our world, or are we hoping that students feel that they have the power to create a better world, now and in the future?
Asking questions and practicing our core values of respect, responsibility, reflection, and resourcefulness will help us keep the dialogue alive. And, I know that it will be a challenge and challenges can be exhausting and tiring. But, if I (and I hope you all will help me) can hold a mirror to my own writing and sharing of ideas, I am confident that these questions and challenges will bring our community of learners (students, staff, and community) forward. The words of Will Richardson (@willrich45) have certainly helped me to reconsider my role as an educator, and this shift brings forth a struggle, but one that is certainly worthwhile...
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
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