To help encourage conversations and dialogue about how individuals help to foster a truly diverse and rich community, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What contributions and 'gifts' can you bring to our community? Be specific. Out of Many, One (Week of 5/27/18) (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 only a few weeks left in school (it's hard to believe that the last day is three weeks from today!), I hope that this Memorial Day weekend provided some nice time for family, relaxation, and recharging. Although I know it is a challenge, the intent of the 'homework-free weekends' is for staff and families as well - hard for me to follow, but I did my best! Our weekend was nice and relatively slow-paced, as that is always the hope after the trip to D.C. with our 8th graders - gardening and planting vegetables, some sports with the kids, basketball playoffs, and the inevitable nap that simply just happens this weekend! On Monday we did some more gardening and spent time outside with the kids before the June craze arrived!
These words are the title of the Capitol Tour video that our students viewed at our last stop with the 8th grade. It is a 13 minute video, providing a history of the Capitol while emphasizing the 'E Pluribus Unum' phrase and concept of compromise. Each year I am struck by different aspects of the trip and it is this phrase and video that has stayed with me. It could be for a number of different reasons...
- thinking about our theme of Diversity for Blake this year
- thinking about the differences that each of our students and staff members bring to create the Blake community
- listening to the stories throughout the week of our history and making connections to the current politics of our nation and world
These two concepts, E Pluribus Unum and 'Order and Chaos', are ones I hope to hold on to and bring into the vernacular of the learning community at Blake. At the iPad Summit a couple of years ago, Guy Kawasaki encouraged all attendees to identify and live a mantra (The Art of Innovation – LIVE blog of Guy Kawasaki at iPad Summit Boston Keynote ·Beth Holland). In looking at our mission statement at Blake, a mantra that holds true for us is 'the willingness to adapt'. Two mantras I personally hold ('Lean Towards Yes' and 'Slow it Down') help to center my own work - and, if I'm being honest, are sometimes easier to live than at other times. This week I was able to 'slow it down' and reflect upon the experiences of the trip, finding meaning and making connections for and with our students. Our experiences will not always go smoothly, but each one provides an opportunity for learning and I hope that was and is true for students and staff alike. In this vein, I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to all of the chaperones for helping to provide and foster the learning and experiences that took place this past week for our 8th graders: Emily Alland, Tracy Allen, Susan Bycoff, Susan Cowell, Ann Marie Fratolillo, Heather Gonzalez, Eileen Hurley, Greg Keohan, Jason Heim, Eileen Hurley, Kristin Manning, Lucas Mihalich, Matt Millard, Amy Reynolds, and Tricia Williams. And, of course, a very special thanks to Debbie Avery for helping with all of the preparations for the trip and to Tricia Williams for taking care of all of us!
The posts below do not necessarily hold direct connections to the ideas above, but they connect in the sense of centering our work and ideas back to the roots of 'why we teach' and continuous reflection - two mantras/mottos that we must hold at the forefront of our thought and practice together.
This is Why I Teach: Long Days. Lots of Smiles.
by Bill Ferriter (@plugusin)
This brief post emphasizes the importance of pushing through and 'finding the good' because it is always there - center oneself and focus on 'why we teach'.
...today was a blast. A tangible reminder that if I can push all the crap aside — the ridiculous policies that I can’t control, the paperwork that seems pointless, the public criticism of our profession that is more prevalent than ever before — I can still create experiences that my kids will remember for a long, long time.
4 Reflection Questions for the End of the School Year
by George Couros (@gcouros)
This brief post by Couros encourages continuous reflection, for both teachers and administrators. What I particularly like is the focus on urgency (need/challenge vs want) and service of learning.
What did I do well this year?
Where do I need to grow?
What things will I challenge myself with next year?
How will all of these impact the learners I serve?
Of the many hopes I have for our students and learning community, a central hope is that we continue to be a community of learners for and with one another. By providing experiences, sharing the experiences, and reflecting upon the experiences we will be able to integrate 'why we teach' with 'what we teach' on a more frequent basis.
May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm. Respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance, and intolerance. - excerpt from the National September 11 Memorial Mission Statement
No day shall erase you from the memory of time. - Virgil
If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that's a good picture. - Eddie Adams
Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world, you are no wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. - Edward R. Murrow
The time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first. - Nat Turner
Let the people see what I have seen. I think everybody needs to know what had happened to Emmett Till. - Mamie Till-Mobley
Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome. - Rosa Parks
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them. - Ida B. Wells
The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it...History is literally present in all that we do. - James Baldwin
I cherish my own freedom dearly, but I care even more for your freedom. - Nelson Mandela
We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. - MLK, Jr.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - MLK, Jr.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. - MLK, Jr.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. - MLK, Jr.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. - MLK, Jr.
We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. - MLK, Jr.
I never forget that I live in a house owned by all the American people and that I have been given their trust. - FDR
We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization. - FDR
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR
"The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation...it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world." - FDR
More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars - FDR
The Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech; Freedom of Worship; Freedom from Want; Freedom from Fear - FDR
Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. - JFK, Jr.
With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own. - JFK, Jr.
For the dead and the living we must bear witness. - Elie Wiesel
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
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