Dear Blake Community,
To help encourage and foster conversations and dialogue about how 'unlearning' is critical for learning, our topic/question of the week is: One of the best things about encouraging others to try something in a new way is that by doing so, you remind yourself to follow your own advice.
After a very busy and full (and cold!) first week of 2015 at Blake, I hope that everyone was able to stay warm and enjoy a break this weekend. After celebrating my brother's birthday on Friday evening with our families and parents, our Saturday was a nice mix of some much needed down time and more celebrations - watching the Patriots game and enjoying a low-key birthday party for Maggie (11 years old this pasts week, as hard as that is to believe!). Sunday afternoon we got in some more down time, watching the playoff games before Sunday night family dinner.
I shared last week that one of my intentions/resolutions for 2015 is to keep the 'big picture' in mind at all times. In the process of mapping out the plans for the faculty meeting and professional afternoon this week, I have found that I have needed to continually take the metaphorical steps back to keep the common thread-lines of our initiatives moving forward. It is easy to get sidetracked or really mired in the details, but I aim to offer a broader perspective as we use the questioning process to make progress. With this in mind and the hope to keep things simple, I am sharing a few posts this week that helped center my thinking and focus for our work...
10 Classroom Ideas to Try in 2015
by Jennie Magiera in Education Week Teacher
The ideas shared in this post are all connected to the integration of technology in the classroom, but the mindset that these ideas represent are of the spirit of experimentation, trying things out, innovation, piloting programs, and maintaining relevancy. This overarching mindset is necessary and will always be pertinent to students and staff. I encourage everyone, including myself, to keep trying new ideas in a measured manner, reaching out for support, and reflecting upon the impact of these new endeavors.
Outlook on instruction: Class around the clock
by Jessica Terrell in District Administration
This brief post offers an overview for the year about how teaching and instruction has changed and what it will look like in 2015, with three broad categories - greater individual attention, smarter use of data, and differentiated professional development. As noted in the quote below, I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that our discussions should be grounded in how to best engage both students and teachers in the classroom.
"Some exciting advancements are on the horizon for classrooms in 2015. While they sound technical, the biggest changes aren’t going to be driven by an app, a computer program or a new kind of tablet—they will come from new theories about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom."
Unlearning is Critical for Deep Learning
by Jal Mehta in Education Week
This post by Jal Mehta struck many chords with me and I love the idea of the 'spiral of deep learning'. It is an honest perspective on the messy nature of learning, and that examining our own biases and beliefs can be humbling and difficult. This is true for students and staff, and the shared framework for managing transitions I found to be helpful: letting go, neutral zone, and beginnings. These are important to acknowledge and identify our own locations in this process of transition as we 'manage' and 'respond' to change in education this year and in the coming years.
"Learning is fundamentally an act of vulnerability. It is an acknowledgement that what one knows is not sufficient, and that new information and new thinking about that information is needed."
"At the end of the day, the factors that facilitate unlearning are the same qualities that mark good organizations and good teaching environments: psychological safety, the normalization of failure, the recognition that rethinking core assumptions is critical for significant improvement, and the development of challenging, rigorous, but supportive communities that help people do this kind of learning. If school leaders organize their schools with the explicit intent of creating these kinds of environments for students, it will be much easier to do the same kind of learning with the adults (and vice versa). And if districts and states can fight their usual instincts to apply pressure and seek immediate results, and instead create the space for schools to do the kind of experimentation, unlearning, and re-learning that significant change entails, they will be more likely to see the kinds of qualitative change in teaching and learning that they seek."
Next Monday we have no school in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, and I would be remiss if I did not highlight some of his words or reference the impact he had. Below are two quotations that apply to the realm of education and the growth of our students, keeping the ideas of the 'big picture' in mind to guide our actions. I will be posting them in my office and we will be sharing quotations from Dr. King all week during the morning announcements.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Examining our own thoughts and beliefs, keeping our practices relevant, and fostering character development are at the heart of our work. I like the notion of 'unlearning' and embracing the framework of transitions and 'making change' - I believe it will help all of us (students, staff, and parents) as we move ahead. Annie Garofalo's presentation this week modeled the spirit of 'leaning towards yes' and being open to looking within as key steps towards acceptance of oneself and others, and this is essential in the learning process as well. I hope we can all embrace these concepts and ideas noted above as we strive to move forward for our students. I am looking forward to the discussions we will have this week at our staff meeting, site council, professional day on Friday, and our day-to-day conversations.
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