To help encourage conversations and dialogue about the ways we can help one another in our community, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What can you do to help support and foster the strengths in others? Fostering Strengths (Week of 10/7/18) (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.
With a beautiful afternoon to welcome the weekend last Friday, I hope that the three day break was enjoyed by all. With soccer games, dinner with some cousins, celebrating my mother’s 78th birthday, and seeing A Star is Born, I would say that we had a chance to recharge, relax, and regroup.
This may be the most often asked question that we share and hear. It drives our planning, decisions, actions, lessons, and is at the heart of our vision and mission. It comes up in some fashion, directly and indirectly, at most meetings and interactions and this was certainly true for me this past week...
- Faculty meeting - discussing the newly adopted homework policy and the role digital portfolios will play for our students
- Site Council - outlining initiatives for the year and potential resources to connect families and school
- Department Chairs - connecting departmental goals to the greater goals of the school and district
- SEL Task Force - discussing current/potential programming and schedule implications
- Professional Afternoon - sharing learning from Challenge Success, professional goals, educator plans
My Notes from Madeline Levine’s Sessions at Challenge Success
- Aside from genetics, the greatest predictor of depression is perfectionism
- Research says teens do not feel invulnerable - it’s that they greatly underestimate risks - it’s not that they like risks; profoundly affected by peer presence - Think about driving - alone or with peers - awful with peers
- ‘I can’t stand to see my child unhappy’ - then you’re in the wrong profession; we are going to see them unhappy
- If you’re not feeling good, it’s going to be hard on kids
- A good predictor of substance abuse is a permissive house
- We need flexibility, agility, take risks, try and try again
- VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous - that is the world
- I’ve never had a patient say ‘My parents listen too much’ - When you listen, do not be rehearsing your response
- Biggest thing we do with our students is modeling - Address sexist language, etc.
- Parenting is a long-range project - It’s not polaroids; We want them to have work they like, healthy relationships, be curious, take care of themselves
- No consensus on what students are going to need (scary, worrisome) - Used to be coding - there might be automated coding
- In times of uncertainty, we go back to status quo - that’s not good
- Need to encourage ‘safe risks’
- ‘It’s what you pay attention to’ that will matter as a parent
- Covert vs Overt reactions - Do our beliefs reflect our practices? Is there a connection?
Topic/Question (Week of 9/30/18): What do you do to relax and take a break in your ‘down time’?
- I will get outside and do a lot of walking looking at everything going on around me or just focusing on walking.
- I read fun books, watch movies, and, unfortunately, spend too much time on my computer perusing Facebook and browsing/shopping.
- Play with my dog
- Video Games
- read, cook, spend time with family
- Read and listen to music (not at the same time.) 📕🎶
- I hangout with my dogs
- Watch TV
Why parents should try to be happy, even when their child isn’t
by KJ Dell’Antonia in The Washington Post
The title of Dell’Antonia’s post spoke to me and the information within helps to provide a framework and focus on our students and children. As one who can ‘take on’ the challenges/problems of others with the intent of helping in mind, this mindset helped me to take a step back and allow room for the necessary growth and processing to take place.
A child’s life is full of setbacks...From such struggles as these, our children go onward. They aren’t in the same class as all their friends. They leave their homework at home and can get only half-credit. They don’t make varsity, they break a leg in preseason and can’t play that year, they fail a test because they studied the wrong thing, they don’t get into the dream college. They’re disappointed, angry, miserable, crushed.
When life really has our kids down, it’s tempting to go right down with them. Being happy when your kid is not sounds wrong. Isn’t the saying “you’re only as happy as your unhappiest kid”? We believe we’re supposed to throw ourselves into sympathizing and empathizing — and then we take that too far, as modern parents do. Their experience becomes our experience. That’s not good for our kids, and it’s not good for us, either.
When we board our children’s emotional roller coasters, we make things more difficult for them. Suddenly, they have an even bigger burden than their own unhappiness: ours...Of course, it’s easy to give lip service to this idea — to model a reasonable reaction for our kids even while our hearts are breaking for them on the inside. Do that, and you’re halfway there — but we owe it to our children, and to ourselves, to take that next step and go ahead and feel happy — or sanguine, or secure, or comfortable, if you prefer a different word. Our children don’t want to be responsible for our happiness. They want to be responsible for their own happiness. Their heartbreak — whether it’s over missing the cutoff for the fifth-grade spelling bee by one word or divorcing their partner of five years — is their heartbreak, not ours.
Empathize. Sympathize. Cry for them and, maybe, with them. But know that it’s okay for you to give them a hug, or put down the phone, and head out for your tennis game and enjoy it. Probably not as much you usually would, but some. Because you’re okay — and it’s important for your kids to know it. In fact, it’s part of what helps them find their way to okay, too.
How to Be a Strength-Based Parent
by Lea Waters (@ProfLeaWaters) in Greater Good Magazine
As we examine meaningful and effective systems of feedback for our students, Waters highlights the benefits of a strengths-based approach. The information within has significant implications for our work with students and one another as we look to foster an environment of learning, reflection, and growth.
Why do we zoom in on the things about our children that concern us more than the things that delight us? Why do we find it so hard to resist the urge to criticize, nag, and worry? Blame it on our brains. Our “negativity bias,” an ancient survival mechanism, hardwires us to spot problems in our environment more quickly than we spot the things that are going well. I call it the Dirty Window Syndrome: A clean window doesn’t attract your attention; you look straight through it. But a dirty window is something you notice. What’s more, your focus on one specific part of the window—the dirt—means you’ll often fail to see that the rest of the window is still clean and showing you a beautiful view.
The good news is that by learning how to shift your attention to your child’s strengths (the clean part of the window), you can override the negativity bias, clean the dirt, and prevent the problems from getting blown out of proportion—all while building up resilience and optimism in your children.
Our negativity bias helps us to survive, but our strengths help us to thrive. Showing our children how to harness their strengths is a key tool for their happiness, and a recipe for effective and enjoyable parenting. It’s not a “cure-all’’ but is most definitely a win-win.
As Madeline Levine shared, we are living in a VUCA world (a world filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) and I believe that our collective focus on the mindsets referenced above will help us to make progress towards our mission and enhance the learning and truly foster a ‘prepared individual’.
We must educate and develop young people for the world they will be entering, rather than the one we have known. - Madeline Levine
While we all hope that our children will do well in school, we hope with even greater fervor that they will do well in life. Our job is to help them know and appreciate themselves deeply, to be resilient in the face of adversity, to approach the world with zest, to find work that is satisfying, friends and spouses who are loving and loyal, and to hold a deep belief that they have something meaningful to contribute to the world. - Madeline Levine
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
Enjoy the week and take care.