Dear Blake Families:
Hopefully everyone was able to enjoy the milder weather this past Saturday as we all look forward to more of the same in the near future! Our weekend was great - dinner out with the kids on Friday evening, sports on Saturday, and a night in Boston for Katie and me to thanks to Katie's mom. We enjoyed a relaxed afternoon with the kids on Sunday.
One of the high points of this past week was Wednesday morning, participating in Memorial's reading program and reading Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian and Wemberley Worried by Kevin Henkes to Jeninne Nickerson's Kindergarten class. These books are two favorites for our kids, and as a worrier it is not hard for me to identify with Wemberley! It was a great way to 'break up' the day-to-day routine and get a new perspective. As a side note related to reading, my mother shared a quotation with me earlier in the week from Marcel Proust that I thought was worth sharing: "In reality, every reader, while he is reading, is the reader of his own self. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument, which he offers to the reader to permit him to discern what, without the book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. The reader's recognition in his own self of what the book says is the proof its truth." I also felt fortunate to be able to be challenged in my thinking, via a webinar Tuesday afternoon an ASCD webinar ('Engaging Minds in the Classroom: The Surprising Power of Joy') and the MassCue conference on Thursday. I have to admit that I am feeling tired after this full week, but I am also invigorated by discussions that took place at our faculty meeting, homework study group, cluster level, site council, and hallways.
At MassCue I attended a workshop with John D'Auria (@johndaur) for administrators and teachers who are looking to help navigate the paths of change in the fast-paced realm of education. Through a series of questions, prompts, and discussions, John pushed the attendees to collectively and individually answer the question: What does a reflective, learning culture look like? He referenced Amy Edmondson's work and these are a few notes that resonated with me...
- In schools where adult learning is 'off the charts', the learning of the students is also 'off the charts'
- Indicators of a reflective learning culture: growth mindset, trust & listening, feedback & dialogue
- It is critical to establish a culture of psychological safety and accountability - both are critical for learning to take place
- We should shift our language: from 'proving' to 'improving'; from 'demonstrating skills' to 'developing new skills'; from 'being better than others' to 'being better than you were in the past'
- To learn we must be comfortable...not knowing, not being right, asking for help, reporting mistakes, failing, disagreeing (agreeably) with colleagues & supervisors
- A culture of reflection is a necessary component of learning and continuous growth
Using these points as a framework of thought, below are a few posts from my reading this week...
A Useful Framework for Transparency in Education
I appreciated this post and the visual within as a model for transparency in our work - something we should continually be striving towards with our students, parents, and colleagues.
How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom
by Carl Hooker in MindShift
With all of the work we have done and will be doing with technology, we must always keep in mind that the device is just that - a device. It is the pedagogical shift in our teaching and approach to learning that must always adapt. The iPad and the integration of technology in our work has certainly influenced change in our work and helped to bring forth positive change, but the real change comes from our work as caring, progressive, knowledgeable educators who are acknowledging and, as Hooker says, 'embracing' each new reality.
"As educators, it’s our job to make sure that students (and adults) are learning. Part of that process isn’t only about making an engaging activity or lesson, but also realizing how the modern brain learns. Teachers all over America are faced with this challenge of keeping students engaged in the classroom when their world outside of school is one of constant engagement and stimulation. Knowing the world outside of our institutional walls is only one step in addressing modern learning styles. How to act and adjust schools today is the next step in making the classroom of today ready for tomorrow."
"...the world around us is changing. This change affects the way we think, learn, and connect. In education, we have three options when dealing with these changes: avoid it, struggle with it, or embrace it. Technology would seem to be the panacea for solving all of these issues when it comes to engaging the digital brain. However, while it does have an impact in the classroom, the greatest impact still lies within the teacher and the content that they are trying to get their students to learn. Until the pedagogy and purpose align with this new world, we are all left fighting a battle rather than embracing it."
A Letter to Teachers
by Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis in Huffington Post
Roig-Debellis's heartfelt post is one worth holding on to, bookmarking, and referencing from time to time. I know I will.
"Never let anyone make you forget why you started out on this course. You did it to enrich the lives of children, to make their lives better, to help them succeed. That is all that matters. As a young or old teacher your days may get bogged down by meetings, paperwork, high-stakes testing, grading, new initiatives. But it's like anything in life: you have to take the good with the bad. Life is a balance. Those difficulties/annoyances are just a tradeoff for all of the amazing activities and opportunities you have going on in your classroom."
"Am I saying it's always peaches and roses? No. Nothing in life is. We all have "bad" days. We all get in arguments/disagreements. We all wake up on the "wrong" side of the bed. What I'm saying is that teachers impact and influence the students they teach in profound ways. In ways that shape the rest of their lives."
At the end of the day I hope we can continue to reflect upon our practices, push and challenge one another to take risks and grow, collaborate, and take pride in our work. These are the same hopes we all have for our students.
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