To help encourage conversations and dialogue about the ways we foster and continue our own learning, our topic/question for the dinner table is: How have you grown as a learner this year? Continuous Growth (Week of 10/28/18) (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.
It was wonderful to welcome our 7th graders and teachers back from their excursion to Nature’s Classroom Friday afternoon! A special thanks to all of the chaperones for their willingness to support the experience: Kelly Campbell, Matt Millard, Deb Manning, Juli Dalzell, Jon Haycock, Lucas Mihalich, Mark Nickerson, Greg Keohan, Michael Gow, Judy Silva, Diana Mileszko, Mike Gibbs, Kristin Buley, Lisa Matthews, Jen Dondero, Kathleen Caprio, Kaylie Bourgeois, Kerrie Krah, Maura Batts,, and Amy Cuomo. And, of course, a very special thanks to Judy Silva, Kelly Campbell, Jen Dondero, Aimie Keigan, and Tricia Williams for their thoughtful planning, care, and preparation for a safe and successful trip! With the ‘hunkered down’ feel on Saturday with our Nor’easter, we had inside sports and a relatively lazy day as a family and enjoyed family dinner and the Red Sox game Sunday evening - a late and exciting outcome! I can’t believe that November is 3 days away - where does the time go?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I find myself the reflecting on the message from Marc Brackett, founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, regarding a culture of learning. A couple of weeks ago I highlighted Brackett’s ‘# 1s’ from his keynote and workshop at Challenge Success in a blog post (Developing Learners)...
- The # 1 predictor of engagement is relevance
- The # 1 priority is adult development (‘adult development over child development’) - ‘we can’t ask people to do things we don’t do ourselves’
- The # 1 challenge we face is getting adults to see it as their inherent responsibility to do their own professional development
- When you are in a conversation if you open up you may be able to see another's side, perspective, you've not seen before.
- They teach us understanding of how others speak and how to talk
- Conversations are a great way to really dig deep into a topic with another person. It is great to get different perspectives on a topic and gain ideas from others. It helps to not always expect a huge, direction altering change from a conversations, but I try to look for three small takeaways that might nudge my thinking in different directions. I often feel that some of my best learning comes from good conversations with peers / colleagues.
- Real life experiences and especially from conversations help all of us recognize what it is to be human and is one of the greatest learning tools in life.
- Conversations help us learn by teaching us about others feelings and other ways of learning things we didn’t know of.
- It helps you really focus and process words which is a skill we will always need.
- Conversations help us learn by engaging us to use more words.
- We learn about other people and our relationship between them. For example I had a BFF, we were never separated, but one day we figured out that we weren’t just friends, we were COUSINS.
Not just high schoolers anymore: My middle school students are feeling the pressure to succeed
by Phillis Fagell (@Pfagell) in The Washington Post
Fagell recognizes the various paths we take as adults for learning and development, and offers some strategies for parents as we aim to support ‘detours and discomfort’.
...as a community, we are not making it easy for kids to take the risks that lead to self-discovery. The stress level among my 13 and 14-year-old students approximates what I saw several years ago when I counseled high school seniors. There is a sense that they need to follow a prescribed path, to perform well in every discipline. Parents and students fear that even middle school choices might have an impact on college admissions. As a result, when students earn a low grade or don’t like their math placement or get cut from a team, they can become unmoored. Intellectually, we know that no one needs to be good at everything. In practice, it can be hard to take the long view.
I empathize with parents who are trying to control as many variables as possible and become concerned with issues like course rigor or grades. It’s an understandable reaction to uncertainty, but unfortunately there are no clear guidelines. To be sure, the path after high school was a bit more predictable in the 1990s. The world now seems to be in constant flux, and that is unsettling.
By thinking holistically about our priorities for our children, we can give them a sense of control over their present and their future. If we can honor what makes them unique and help them develop self-awareness, we will lower their stress level...As I have discovered in my own life, it’s okay to experience detours and discomfort. Our children’s lives will be richer for it, and even the dips will provide helpful information as they find their way.
Five Characteristics of the Divergent Teacher
by Mandy Froehlich (@froehlichm)
Along with Elisa Bostwick (@elisabostwick), Froelich offers a framework for educators with an eye towards embracing ‘divergent teaching’: The ability to recognize our own assumptions, look for limitations and challenge our own thinking in regards to teaching and learning. It’s taking an idea and creating new thinking that will facilitate student learning in new, innovative directions for deeper understanding. It is diverging from the norm, challenging current ideas, looking for a variety of solutions, and being willing to fail and grow. (Divergent EDU, 2018) The five characteristics they outline (deeply reflective, voracious learner, tenacious, mentor, and courageous) are ones I hope to embrace and are reflected in our mission for our students, educators, and community.
Divergent teachers create experiences that encourage learners to consider and explore new ideas within a culture where all individuals (educators and students) are supported to step beyond their zone of comfort by developing new ways of thinking and promoting more in-depth learning.
More than ever, in today’s world, we need to empower learners to explore new possibilities and ideas by fostering divergent thinking, expanding on creativity. Carving out time for learners to ponder their curiosities and explore their wonderings inspires our youth to stretch their thinking to ideate.
Enjoy the week and take care.