Dear Blake Families:
Hopefully you were able to find some time to get outside this past weekend to enjoy this wonderful weather. I continue to be amazed how much the weather can have an impact on the spirits. After a busy day of errands and sports for the kids on Saturday, it was a real treat to come back to Blake for 'A Night of Seuss' - what a wonderful success! It was great to see all of the hours of hard work come to fruition on stage. I want to commend all of the students (both on stage and backstage) to help the performance come together. The added bonus this year, of course, was seeing the staff members (Seth Hellerstein, Eileen Hurley, Kelly Dengos, Marissa Gumas, Susie Boulos, and Deb Manning) on stage with the kids. A special thank you to Tracy Allen, Joan Dion, and Kathleen Caprio for their leadership, patience, and support of the students along with the help of Nancy Deveno, Kayla Armstrong, Eileen Hurley, and Matt Frazier - well done and thank you! I also want to thank many of the adult helpers (both staff and parents) who assisted with study hall coverage and tech week help. As I was driving home with my kids after the show, I felt very fortunate to be part of this student-centered environment.
This week is 'Teacher Appreciation Week' and I am encouraging our staff to try and find time (a challenge, I know) for reflection and for themselves. We are often the toughest critics on ourselves (I know I am), and I believe it is important for each of us to recognize our own efforts as well. One of my continued goals for our students is to find various ways to recognize their accomplishments, and I share that sentiment for our staff as well. I know it is an area that I can improve, and I hope that I will be able to find time this week and in the coming weeks to connect and share the appreciation that I have for our staff.
As I think about ways to recognize both students and staff, I am continually reminded of the multifaceted nature of our work. The middle school years are critical and present many challenges, and it is important that we are always finding multiple approaches to meet the needs of our students. It is certainly a challenge, but a worthwhile one for sure. To that end I am sharing three articles of interest this week along with a TED talk that I believe reflect, highlight, and underline some of the focal points we have for our students' growth. The first article is a post from Education Week written by John Wilson entitled 'Students Need 8 Critical Conditions for Success'. Wilson shares results from the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations' (QISA) 'My Voice, My School Survey', detailing some of the results and identifying, "...eight conditions that can make a difference in the academic, social, and personal successes of a student": belonging, heroes, sense of accomplishment, fun and excitement, curiosity and creativity, spirit of adventure, leadership and responsibility, and confidence to take action. The second article comes from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute - 'The Four Biggest Myths of the Anti-Testing Backlash'. I found this article to be pertinent and relevant as our students begin round 2 of MCAS testing this week. While I do not believe that standardized tests are the sole measure of a student's learning or academic achievement, I do espouse multiple modes of assessment and it is important to hear varying perspectives on the issues related to education - and, the standardized testing debate is certainly a hot topic. Along similar lines, the third brief article, 'Has Technology Changed the Way Children Play?' by Audrey Watters, challenges the notion that technology has 'dampened the way children play', citing a study that, "...suggests that much of the outcry about declining kids' play may be exaggerated." The study (Children's Playground Games and Songs in the New Media Age) is from 2011 and is encouraging to read as we expand our integration of technology at Blake. This does not alleviate all of my concerns on this topic, but again, the research and challenging views are important. Finally, and directly related to the topic of technology, I am sharing a TED talk by Juan Enriquez - Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo. Enriquez was the founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School and has published work on the economic and political impacts of life sciences. His six minute talk focuses on the permanency of our digital footprint, and his reminders are important for children and adults alike.
Many aspects go into our work and I am indeed proud to be a member of the Blake and Medfield community. A special thank you this week to the care and efforts of our teachers - Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
Please click here for Important Dates and Announcements.
Please click here for Thursday Packet Information.