Dear Blake Community,
After a busy week (hard to believe it was only a four day week), I hope that everyone was able to enjoy the beautiful autumnal weather this weekend. We enjoyed a pretty relaxed weekend, attending the Medfield-Holliston football game Friday evening, doing leaf pickup, and some simple down time with the kids.
This past week I was fortunate to find time to have a couple 'check-in' meetings with staff, colleagues, and parents. A few were scheduled, but others were impromptu conversations that afforded me an opportunity to listen and talk through some ideas, questions, and concerns. I so enjoy these conversations and they were a great reminder for me as to how important the day-to-day dialogue is for us. The nature and topics of these discussions varied, but a common sentiment certainly was shared regarding the 'expansion' that has taken place over the last 5-10 years in the role of an educator. Our jobs have grown and the pace has certainly increased, and at times this can lead to exhaustion and frustration. I would be lying if I did not admit to sharing these feelings from time to time. And, if I am being honest with myself and others, I also recognize that I can (and do) contribute to the rapidity and pace at Blake. I do have high expectations for all and these conversations help me to hear the different perspectives and are important to keep me 'in check'.
In taking some time to reflect upon the feelings of being overwhelmed and/or frustrated, when I'm in a good place I work to identify what keeps me going and encouraged in our work. For me a constant and necessary aspect has been the conversations and relationships with both students and invested adults, be they parents, teachers, administrators, or community members. It probably comes as no surprise how much I value reflection as a core part of our culture at Blake, for students and adults, and the learning and growth that has taken place for me has come from the connections I have made with others. With this in mind and as part of 'Connected Educator' month, I am sharing a few posts that relate to the role that connections play for educators...
The Top 4 Excuses for Not Being a Connected Educator
by Angela Watson (@Angela_Watson)
Watson's post highlights four common 'excuses' that she has heard (or maybe even felt) and some counterpoints for connections. This by no means implies that these are sentiments I have heard from our staff here at Blake, but I did find her approach to connections to be interesting and worthy of reading.
"Being a connected educator has transformed my teaching and added so much joy to my life that I want every discouraged and overwhelmed teacher to know: You can become energized once again. You can love your job!"
The Downside to Being a Connected Educator
by Pernille Ripp (@PernilleRipp)
Ripp's honest perspective and recognition of her own feelings are refreshing and important to hear. As noted above, I can certainly identify and affirm that each of her 'bullet points' have been thoughts I have experienced. That said her ending words ring true for me regarding the overwhelming benefits I have found through the connections I have made.
"Don’t take this post the wrong way, I love being a connected educator, but I am not a fool when it comes to the downfall of it all. I struggle with many of these things regularly and yet every time I run into something negative, I consciously reaffirm my decision to be connected. The positive outcomes will always outweigh the negative, but let’s not fool ourselves that being connected is always a magical thing. It can be, but it can also be hurtful, brutal, and time consuming. And yet, I wouldn’t go back to how I used to be; the benefits have simply been too great."
A reflective, collaborative mindset for Connected Educators
by Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby)
I have referenced Tom Whitby in the past and am sure I will in the future. He is certainly a big proponent for connections and the integration of technology. He has inspired me in his openness for 'push-back' and opposing thoughts - always looking to hear 'the other side', an admirable trait and one that is worthy of aspiration, both personally and professionally.
"I see connectedness for educators as an accelerant for reflection. It promotes self-reflection, as well as reflection on education as a system for learning. It also stimulates reflection on the pedagogy and methodology within that education system. The whole idea of connectedness relies on the hope that educators are reflective. If they are not reflective, or lack the vision of the big picture of being connected, then we could have Connected Educator Month, every month for the next twenty years and never affect any change in the system."
"The more we collaborate, the more we reflect. The more we reflect, the more we need to collaborate. Being connected, for me, has expanded both my collaboration and my reflection. My goal is to get others to do that as well. Using technology to connect more educators with a reflective and collaborative mindset is the best hope for an education system in need of change."As a big proponent of reflection, I enjoyed reading Whitby's perspective as to how he views reflection, collaboration, and connectedness as distinct, yet intertwined. For me the importance of connectedness and impact it has had and continues to have for me has been simple - providing an avenue for growth, reflection, and continued learning. At the proverbial 'end of the day', this is what we want for our students and community, as reflected in our mission statement: 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. I look forward to continuing to foster the connections, both with those at Blake and those outside of Blake, as the days continue in our work together. Please know I welcome the conversations, ideas, and divergent thinking that can come out of the connections we have made. They do take time and can interrupt our work, but at times I think that is just what we need.
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