Dear Blake Community,
I hope this weekend provided an opportunity for everyone to breathe, relax, and get a well-deserved break. We have enjoyed a nice few days together as a family - unplugging, dinner out as a family, sports games for the kids, and a visit with relatives who are east for a couple of weeks from California. Monday was a nice 'catch up day' - yard work and a neighborhood dinner before the four day week!
I would like to once again thank and recognize the Blake staff for their commitment to our students. The work we are doing and endeavors that we are embarking on are worthy of the time, care, and thoughtfulness that was in place. Our initiatives are coming together and continue to expand and I am excited about the prospects for our students and our professional growth as educators. I have received a number of notes and e-mails sharing the excitement about this work and I continue to be impressed, encouraged, inspired, and pushed by the true presence and professionalism that is in place.
With these thoughts in mind I am sharing posts this week that I found particularly timely in relation to the work we have done as a staff over the past few days. As I have said many times, an openness to change and feedback is a critical component of growth for students, staff, and the greater community.
No Changes for Me, Please
by Amanda Dykes (@amandacdykes)
I came across this post via Twitter from Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) and it struck a chord. I often hear from colleagues about the resistance they encounter with their staff and parents when it comes to professional development or simply the idea of 'change'. As we work towards the realization of our mission, it is important that we push one another to resist natural feelings of resistance and to continue being open to ideas.
"I hear often that there is no need to change because it works, kids make good grades, they learn to read, and pass standardized tests. If that is the ultimate goal of education then they are correct. If that is the goal of the school, then they are the best of the best. But is that what school is ultimately for? Or is school to give students skills they need for today and for the rest of their lives? Maybe this is the beginning of the problem. We don’t all have common goals or we have short term goals that focus on now."
Why Twitter? Why Not?
post by Cynthia Stogdill (@CynthiaStogdill)
With October as Connected Educator Month, I found Cynthia Stogdill's brief post as a nice articulation of the type of growth we get when we collaborate with other educators. I am certainly not endorsing the '3 a.m. work ethic' (unless that is your personal preference!), but one thing I have found from Twitter and other methods of collaboration is that great ideas arise when I least expect them.
"We cheer each other on when things go well, and offer our support when things get really, really dark. I am a better person and educator because my view is wider and larger than my building, my district, and my profession. And for the record, most of my really good ideas come from Twitter at 3 a.m."
Beyond Twitter and Google +: Staying Focused on Real Connection
by Andrew Marcinek (@andycinek) in Edutopia
As a big proponent of using technology for collaboration, I appreciated Marcinek's 'push back' that he offers - recognizing what is critical at the heart of being a 'connected educator', namely 'student learning and growth'.
"Allow yourself a healthy balance of screen time with analog time. Put the devices down and not only do yourself a favor, but also model a good example for our students. Don't feel the need to sign up for every new app or service, but instead find a few that work for you, and use them effectively in order to make your connected educational life more efficient and resourceful. Sometimes the best connected educators are the ones who can disconnect frequently."
"A connected educator is so much more than social media. A connected educator is invested and focused on his or her students. These educators find time to share digitally and converse in face-to-face forums. I imagine that Twitter will live on and that educators will continue to flock toward it. But remember to keep focused on student learning and growth. And despite all the Twitter followers in the world, making a connection with one student is better than any award out there."
Adolescence Should be Celebrated, Not Endured
by Karen Weintraub in The Boston Globe
My mother shared this article with my siblings and me this week - an interview with psychology professor and author Laurence Steinberg (Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence). This is a quick read offering nice insight and perspective about adolescence and the importance of teaching self-regulation. I particularly appreciated his advice at the end for all of us...
"That people approach adolescence with more optimism and less trepidation. I think that if you approach something — anything in life — and you feel like, all “I really want to do is get through this,” that’s going to determine how you act. You’re going to not make any effort other than protect yourself. I don’t want parents to be approaching adolescence that way, and I don’t want kids to be approaching adolescence that way."
I hope we can all continue to enjoy and embrace this age - it's critical. As we continue our day-to day work with students under the umbrella of study skills, homework discussions, progress reporting, mobile learning, and standards based assessment with an eye towards a 'portfolio approach' to assessing progress, I hope we can keep our fondness and appreciation for adolescence at the heart of our work. Thank you for joining me on this journey - and, as always, I welcome the dialogue and conversations.
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