Dear Blake Families:
After our first five day week of 2013, I hope that everyone was able to enjoy the mild weather this past weekend. Our daughter, Maggie, turned nine years old last Monday and we went down to Falmouth for an overnight trip on Saturday with one of her friends and our niece to celebrate - ice cream cake, a trip to the Woods Hole aquarium, and watching 'Mr. Popper's Penguins' with popcorn and candy (not to mention the 'fun' of keeping the boys entertained!). Sunday morning we took a walk on the beach before heading back to enjoy the Pats game.
I want to thank the entire Blake staff for their thoughtfulness, care, and professionalism exhibited at the faculty meeting last Monday. I have enjoyed reading the reflections on the progress that has been made thus far and the ideas that are beginning to percolate regarding your professional growth in the future. One of my hopes is that this process of keeping one's goals present and on the forefront of our thinking will continue to become ingrained into our culture here at Blake. I have posted an article (located on the Articles tab of this blog) written by Mark Clements, 'The Importance of Reflection in Education', that I enjoyed and hope you do as well as he touches on many of the ideas and values we discuss for our students. Clements espouses the benefits of reflection and clearly articulates its role in the learning process for students and teachers alike, emphasizing the importance of modeling as well: "Teaching students to reflect on their work by noticing and correcting their own mistakes as well as which activities and behaviors allowed them to be successful is a vital part of the learning experience that far too many classrooms leave out of the equation. As teachers, we should model this expectation by reflecting ourselves and involving students in our own reflections. Only then can we help students understand not to touch a hot stove, as opposed to simply making them afraid of all stoves forever."
As we look ahead to this week I am looking forward to the discussions that will be taking place in Advisory to honor and commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the values that I believe we need to impress upon our students is Dr. King's legacy of service and willingness to take on difficult tasks, topics, and endeavors. Much of his work embodied our theme of Perseverance and the work we will be doing this week and next will provide tangible models and exemplars to both recognize and emulate. In doing some reading during evenings this week, I found two quotes attributed to Dr. King that I believe are worthy of sharing:
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
In this vein I have posted two other articles (located on the Articles tab of this blog) from EdWeek that I believe relate Dr. King's ideas and hold value for the education profession. The first article, 'A Teacher's New Year's Resolution: Brag More', is a reflective piece in which the author, Julie Conlon, shares her personal goal to 'spread the positive' word of teaching in an attempt to alter many of the negative perceptions that currently exist in the 'cultural or societal vocabulary' in the realm of public education: "Each January, I am one of the millions who set goals - saving more, eating less - to improve myself. This year, instead of just trying to make myself a better teacher by grading papers sooner, I resolve to improve the image of my profession by bragging more. Focusing on the positives, I will share my stories with family, friends, and strangers. I challenge you to do the same." The second article, 'Words Count: Let's Change How We Talk About Public Schools', comes from a similar vantage point, as the author Cheryl S. Williams asks her readers to shift the mindset that exists in the conversation about schooling: "If we want our public schools to get better and be as good as we need them to be, we need to change our conversation from accusatory to solution-driven. The current vocabulary, in addition to being inaccurate, impedes real 'reform' that is systemic, collaborative and effective." Both of these articles have important implications for the work we are doing with our students and one another every day. It is indeed important to connect with one another and share all of the positives that take place in a given day, for indeed there are many and we need to find the time to articulate them. As we know, there are also many challenges that exist in our work, and we need to make sure that we do not create 'blind spots', only focusing on the positives. However, a 'solution-driven' mindset is one that will prove to be most productive and benefit our students. I hope that we can help remind one another that these two approaches are important and not exclusive of one another. I also ask you to remind me and 'hold me to task' in these endeavors as well, as questions are asked, programs are examined, and decisions are made for our students, school, and community.
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