Hopefully this update finds everyone doing well and rested, potentially after a late Saturday night watching the Patriots game! Our weekend was another busy, but good one - staff party Friday afternoon, kids' activities, and the 'Taylor Swift-themed' party at our house for Maggie's 10th birthday. It is hard to believe that it was 10 years ago that she was born! Needless to say, it has been quite a sentimental week in our house. We are looking forward to the long weekend coming up!
With the MLK, Jr. holiday coming up I have been taking some time to think about his work and the mindsets/habits of thought that should be both introduced and conveyed to our students. It is always important for our students to understand why we have holidays, and to be given historical context for these days. In essence, the question becomes, 'What is it that we want to recognize in regards to MLK, Jr. day'? With the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's 'I have a Dream' speech taking place last August, there are many opportunities for lessons and topics of discussion for our students. Since August I have been setting aside various readings and articles, and I have highlighted a few that have had a significant impact on me and helped to shape my thinking, as an educator, learner, and parent. It is clear that Dr. King's leadership/influence, sense of responsibility in relation to his convictions, and inspiration are habits and traits that have had a lasting impact on others. The links and articles noted below connect to each of these characteristics...
I Have a Dream - MLK, Jr.
Although I have heard clips throughout the years, I found it quite centering to take 17:28 of my day last Tuesday to listen to the speech in its entirety. If this week is too busy and it is hard to find the time, perhaps setting aside 20 minutes during the long weekend is a possibility.
The Lasting Power of Dr. King's Dream Speech
by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times
This article by Kakutani speaks to Dr. King's leadership and the influence of his words: "Dr. King’s speech was not only the heart and emotional cornerstone of the March on Washington, but also a testament to the transformative powers of one man and the magic of his words. Fifty years later, it is a speech that can still move people to tears. Fifty years later, its most famous lines are recited by schoolchildren and sampled by musicians. Fifty years later, the four words “I have a dream” have become shorthand for Dr. King’s commitment to freedom, social justice and nonviolence, inspiring activists from Tiananmen Square to Soweto, Eastern Europe to the West Bank."
Inspiration and Responding to the Moment
Making Serendipity Tactical: Is Randomness Part of Your Leadership Strategy?
by Angela Maiers
As a true planner and one who likes to have everything set, it is often hard to adapt to change or surprises. However, as Maiers points out in this post, the key is to respond and allow our 'interruptions to be the work'. I believe that Dr. King understood this principle, and embraced the mindset of 'tactical serendipity' (the intersection between structure and spontaneity): "...fully embracing the choice to be random, ready to accept the unexpected gifts from the random collisions you will encounter." I enjoyed this post and believe it will help me in my work with both students and staff. Inspiration can not always be planned, and Dr. King's words underline and convey this understanding.
Sense of Responsibility in Relation to his Convictions and Inspiration
Mahalia Jackson, and King's Improvisation
by Drew Hansen in The New York Times
Both at work and in my personal life, as I am sure is true with everyone, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the inherent responsibility that is present or 'felt' in my role (whether that is as a principal, father, husband, or friend). The idea of 'responsibility' carries a great deal of weight, but when I am thinking clearly, I am reminded of the advice that a dear friend of mine has given me - responsibility is simply the 'ability to respond'. We do not need to have all of the answers to a problem to be responsible; rather, it is more important, and far more realistic, to have the ability to respond to problems or challenges. And, having a strong sense of one's own convictions is critical. Dr. King certainly showed this in his words and actions. This article by Hansen highlights the 'I Have a Dream', with Dr. King responding to the words of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson in the middle of his speech. Building off of Maiers's post, his ability to respond to the moment and inspire was, and still is, remarkable: "Nearby, off to one side, Mahalia Jackson shouted: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” King looked out over the crowd. As he later explained in an interview, “all of a sudden this thing came to me that I have used — I’d used many times before, that thing about ‘I have a dream’ — and I just felt that I wanted to use it here.” He said, “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” And he was off, delivering some of the most beloved lines in American history, a speech that he never intended to give and that some of the other civil rights leaders believed no one but the marchers would ever remember."
My hope is to carry forth these ideas this week and moving forward in my work. If we can bring these principles to our daily work (a noble/lofty, yet worthwhile pursuit), I do believe we will be serving our students and one another well. The sources and roots of creativity are grounded here as well. As I look forward, a goal of mine is to continue building my capacity to respond to the moment and build upon the relationships and connections I have made with others. This post by Isaac Pineda (3 New Year's Resolutions Educators Should Consider) is one that reminded me of the essence of 'connections' in education: "Becoming a connected educator is one of the wisest decisions that will have an impact on you, the kids you teach and everyone around you. But, what does it mean? It’s simply harnessing the power of technology to leverage your instruction. It’s incorporating technology in your teaching practice to boost student engagement and motivation. It’s a commitment to become a lifelong learner." I am looking forward to our work this week and opportunities that will be presented to us.
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