Dear Blake Families:
I hope that the five day Thanksgiving vacation has served everyone well and that the Thanksgiving holiday was a nice one for all. Whether you spent time traveling, staying at home, with family or friends, celebrating Hanukkah, or joining the Black Friday insanity, hopefully the break was just what you needed. I would like to once again thank all students and staff for helping to put together our Celebration of Voice assembly - it is always a wonderful way to gather as a community and the energy as we head off was electric - thank you! Our family had a very nice break, despite the arrival of the 'family winter colds', as we were able to get together with both sides of the family for a bit, get some rest, and simply enjoy the quiet.
Although the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas always feels quick, this year the three weeks will be sure to move at a rapid clip. I have shared a number of times that one of my personal goals is to strive to strike a healthy balance on many levels - personal/professional, new/old initiatives, and leadership/delegation to name a few. A 'good problem' I often encounter is that many of the ideas that come across my desk (from parents, students, staff) would benefit our students, but it is impossible to entertain or simply do all of them. In the spirit of trying to 'lean towards yes' and sometimes listening too often to the internal optimist within, I have found myself (and as a result, others) overwhelmed when I (again, 'we') have simply taken on too much. When confronted with this dilemma, it is important to fall back on our mission and make sure that the task/initiative/idea is in line with our overarching goals, theme, and current work. As you know one of the passions that feeds me as an educator is keeping up-to-date on current trends that affect and impact our profession, and reading educational journals. With some quiet time over the last few days, I was able to do just that and am sharing a few articles/resources that I read or reread this weekend that helped to center my thinking. With Term 1 coming to its end this week and this 'very full' period before the new year now in front of us, my hope is that these will help all of us simply focus on some guiding principles of our work -- the theme of creativity, importance of failure in the learning process, balance, and commitment to transparent communication with our community. With each article/resource, I have provided a brief summary, highlight, or quote that resonated with me and I hope will do the same for all of you.
Link between Gratitude and Creativity
Coming off the Thanksgiving holiday I found this article to be particularly pertinent with our theme of Creativity for Blake this year. It also speaks to the importance of the impact of our own mindsets and the mindsets we hope that we are helping to foster in our students.
"Gratitude has a positive, measurable effect on your happiness...And as it so happens, “positive affect” (or the experience of positive emotion) has been shown to enhance both creativity and problem-solving ability...Indeed, research indicates that positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love encourage us to engage with our environment, build relationships, try new things, play, and generally serve to “broaden and build” our lives. Positive affect helps us engage in the very sort of activities that encourage discovery, growth, and creativity."
Five Examples of Failure that Resulted in Innovation
This post highlights some concrete examples of unintended innovation as a result of failure: pacemaker, superglue, stainless steel, post-it notes, and chocolate chip cookies. In the realm of 'mindsets', this post reminded me how important it is to step back and get 'perspective' as well.
"Failure is not always a bad thing. In the innovation world it means you are trying to discover and create forward looking products. The above examples show failure in one application may mean innovation in another. This open innovation mindset needs to be accepted by companies, if people are told they cannot fail them then they mostly likely are not innovating as best they can."
Teach Kids to be Their Own Internet Filters
As we continue to expand our efforts with mobile learning and the integration of technology in our classrooms, this post by Katrina Schwartz serves as an excellent reminder that we must think about 'balance' and be sure to focus on what is important. Specifically...we have a responsibility to teach strategies to our students, the learning must be relevant, and it is absolutely critical that we foster a culture of trust and responsibility with our students. Schwartz highlights New Canaan (CT) High School's Library Department Chair, Michelle Luhtala and the key views she holds for helping students navigate this ever-changing landscape of technology: “If we are not teaching the kids to use the web as a vehicle for enhancing learning and teaching them to be the filter, that’s a dereliction of duty.”
44 Proven Ideas Parents Can Use to Help Their Children Do Better in School
I hope to continue to 'break down the walls' between home and school and engage parents/guardians and the greater community with us in our ongoing dialogue and work to better the educational experience for our students. Although this list is not 'all encompassing' in nature, I do believe that there are some tangible 'talking points' for home. Technology and social media have certainly helped us to engage parents/guardians in an efficient manner, but nothing replaces 'face to face' interactions.
You have heard me say many, many times that I am biased, but I firmly believe we have an excellent school and that Medfield is a special place to teach. As I said at last Tuesday's assembly I feel incredibly fortunate to work at Blake. Amidst the craziness and chaos of the holiday madness, my best intentions are to keep the focal points noted above close to my heart and mind as I work with students, staff, and parents alike.
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