Dear Blake Community,
With the end of October here and November on our doorstep, I hope that everyone enjoyed a restful couple of days over the weekend. After a very full couple of days (Friday night dance at Blake, Holliston's youth soccer 'Spookerfest' - an annual event!, and Maggie's performance in Peter Pan on Saturday evening), we did our best on Sunday to take it easy, watching the Patriots, going to Owen's basketball game and having family dinner before our week began. Our first 7th/8th grade dance this past Friday was a great success and I would like to thank all of the staff who chaperoned the event to help provide a safe and positive experience for the students: Eileen Hurley, Kelly Ruminski, Deb Manning, Elise Malone, Erin Winter, Kristin Buley, Matt Marenghi, Patty Graham, Tracy Allen, Cynthia McClelland, Gabby Harvey, Jess Waite, Erin Kearney, and Kelly Campbell. It is great to have a nice cross-section of staff for our students.
As you know an ongoing area of growth for me is establishing a healthy work/home balance. I know how fortunate I am to have a job that I love and a vocation that reflects my values and beliefs. I have shared many times that the lessons I have learned as an educator have helped me as a father, husband, and friend, and I know that the converse is true as well. The growth and endeavors that we are embarking on feed both my professional and personal lives, so it is sometimes hard to tease out the separation. If I'm being honest with myself, though, I know I have used that as my rationalization to dive more deeply into my work. A year ago I attended Robert Kegan's workshop on the 'change process' and I certainly still have room to grow in regards to my goal of 'balance'. With this in mind, I am sharing three posts that I hope you find of interest - they all related (some more directly than others) to the ideas of work/home balance as educators...
The Secret Lives of Teachers
by Steve Drummond in NPREd
I appreciated Drummond's post, from both the lens of a student and a teacher. I still remember as a kid seeing one of my teachers 'out in public' and not having any clue how to interact with her. It is important that we not only acknowledge our lives outside of school, but to make sure that we give time to our outside lives as well. I also believe it is important as educators to bring aspects of ourselves into school - to help highlight and show students that we are not 'just teachers' - that the word teacher encompasses much more than that and who we are as individuals help to shape our teaching. It also served as a great reminder of the importance of fostering the 'outside lives' for all of us.
"Many people remember it vividly: the disorienting feeling of encountering your teacher in the grocery store, or in the line at McDonald's, talking and acting just like other grownups. A jarring reminder that they have lives outside the classroom.But of course teachers go off and do all sorts of things: They write books and play music and run for office and start businesses. For some, a life outside the classroom is an economic necessity. In many states, more than 1 in 5 teachers has a second job...And still others have some private passion that has nothing to do with teaching or school — it may be the thing that keeps them fresh and fired up when they are in the classroom.For others, it's a natural outgrowth of their lives as educators: the drama teacher performing in community theater, the history teacher/Civil War re-enactor, the music teacher onstage at open-mic night."
Sweet Ideas for Halloween-Inspired Learning
by Gretchen Vierstra in The Teaching Channel
With Halloween this Friday I thought that everyone might enjoy reading some different ideas that could be potentially brought into the classroom. It also reminded me of some nice ways to bring our own aspects of ourself into school in a creative manner.
Helping Kids Take Criticism Constructively (Even When It Isn’t Constructive)
by Jessica Lahey (@jesslahey) in The New York Times
With Term 1 interim reports sent home on Friday, I found Lahey's post and ideas of a 'growth mindset' to be timely and relevant. A 'growth mindset' in regards to 'criticism' is important for students and adults alike and is certainly an area I know that I can still find improvement. She highlights six reminders that I believe will help us to keep in mind as we work towards enhancing and improving our methods of feedback.
"We all face criticism, both constructive and destructive, but how we deal with that criticism determines whether we persevere and learn from experience or crumple under the weight of our own self-loathing and despair. Receiving feedback is a skill, and like most skills, it requires practice, and a willingness to change and improve. Most children get plenty of practice. Ironically, adults need to help them make that practice count — by giving them feedback on how they handle criticism."
"A growth mindset is the best gift we can give our children. Thus armed, they can be brave in the face of constructive criticism, believing it can make them better, stronger and smarter. They won’t need us to dress it up or sand it down because, given a growth mindset, kids can handle the truth. When the worst happens, and malicious criticism comes their way, kids with a growth mindset will able to focus on their own effort and progress rather than the expectations and limitations other people place on them."
"Criticism comes to everyone, eventually. It’s inescapable, and more relevantly, it’s a necessary part of growing up. As we can’t protect children from it, the best we can do is ensure that they are equipped with the emotional fortitude and strength of character they will need to forge ahead, stronger, smarter and braver for the experience."
I certainly do not have the answers as to how to attain the 'ideal' balance for work and home. I do know, though, it is a worthy goal and is one that we want for our students, for now and for their futures. If we can continue to acknowledge our own areas of growth (fostering a 'growth mindset') while feeding our lives outside of school, I think we are moving in the right direction. This is an uphill challenge for me, but it is one that is worthy of the proverbial climb. Please continue to push me and hold me accountable - I appreciate it.
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