Dear Blake Families:
After the rainy start to the weekend, I hope everyone has been able to find some time to get outside and enjoy some of the fall weather. Our weekend felt like our weeks at school - busy, but also fulfilling - 'family night out' at a Mexican restaurant, soccer on Saturday with the kids, a brief visit with the Heims to see Jacob, and dinner with friends on Saturday evening. We enjoyed a quiet (relative, I know, with three active children!) Sunday afternoon and evening as we recharged for the coming week!
This past week I found myself particularly focused and thinking about the political season and the upcoming election. On Monday evening I watched the webinar of the live debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's education advisers at Teachers College, Columbia University. Then on Wednesday evening Katie and I watched the second presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney. I have always enjoyed watching the debates, and the debate between the two advisers on Monday evening was of particular interest to me as the topic, education, is near and dear to my heart as both an educator and a parent. As a school we have also been planning the work we will do with our students before the election, to provide an overview of the electoral college, candidates, and the process. There are many resources for teachers to use to help incorporate the election issues into the classroom and here is the link to a resource entitled 'Awesome Activities for Students to Learn About Election Issues' from the MindShift blog: MindShift Election Resources
The resources come from an Internet resource entitled Infinite Thinking Machine, and some of you may find it of interest as you discuss the election with your children.
Each political season we often think about and discuss what our role as teachers is when introducing the election process and the presentation of issues or ballot questions. It is important for us to present the issues and topics in a thoughtful and fair manner, yet that can be a challenge when students ask our opinions, viewpoints, or simply 'who we voted for'. It is not my typical approach with students to hide answers, but in this realm I think it is important to be extremely thoughtful and mindful of our responses. The emerging adults with whom we work are curious, interested, and we want to help them to establish the skills to come to conclusions on their own. Along these lines, I have posted an article (located on the Articles tab of this blog) I came across at the end of the summer from Edutopia entitled 'For the Sake of Student Learning: Putting Our Voices Aside'. This article from Edutopia, written by Heather Wolpert-Gawron, touches on the topic of religion and faith in schools, but I believe it directly correlates to this topic. In her reflection I believe Gawron frames her role nicely, when asked a question about religion: "So I thought about my goal as teacher to create independent learners and thinkers, and I responded the only way I could. I said, 'I'll let you decide that'...Being a teacher isn't about blowing a kid's beliefs out of the water by pretending my opinion is the authority opinion in the room. Being a teacher is about guiding them to find their own answers in as unbiased a way as possible." I wholeheartedly agree and encourage both staff and families to keep this in mind over the next few weeks and throughout the year as topics and issues of a similar nature arise. I will do the same and hope that Katie and I can keep this in mind with Grayden, Owen, and Maggie as they grow, learn, and hopefully develop into critical, independent, curious and contributing members of our society.
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