Dear Blake Families:
I hope everyone is having a nice start to the weekend. After running in the 'Taylor's Triumph 5K' we headed up to New Hampshire for the weekend for my cousin's wedding. It was great to spend some time with family by the water - a preview and reassurance that summer is not too far away!
As I shared with the staff at last Monday's faculty meeting, this time of year for an educator that lends itself to the practice of reflection and introspection. I am proud of the work that takes place at Blake every day as we work collectively with our mission statement as a guide: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world. This mission guides our work and will help us to stay centered as we examine, discuss, and explore important aspects of teaching: homework practices, study skills, common assessments, feedback, department protocols, grade distribution, and DDMs (district determined measures), just to name a few. On Monday evening I presented the 2014-2015 Blake School Improvement Plan to the school committee and left with a sense of pride and promise - for the work that has taken place and the work that lies ahead. I would like to thank the Site Council and the entire staff for the input and contributions towards the development of this plan. I encourage our community to find some time to read through the SIP when you get a chance, as the more informed we are as a community about our aims, the healthier and more fruitful our conversations will be.
At our end-of-year luncheon in a couple of weeks, continuing a tradition from the past few years, as a staff I will be asking everyone to reflect and jot down thoughts on the following:
As the last couple of weeks of our formal work together come to a close, I will continue to ask you to join me in this practice of reflection, individually and collectively, to improve our craft/practice/art as invested parents and educators. To continue a tradition that was established a few years ago, at our end-of-year luncheon on the last day of school, I will be asking the entire staff to take some time to reflect upon the following questions...
- What was meaningful this year? What made teaching worthwhile? What mattered?
- Describe a positive interaction or experience you had with a student during this academic year.
- Describe or explain an accomplishment you attained or something you are proud of taking place during this academic year.
- Describe a particular student or situation during the school year who or that you feel you could have handled in a way that would have resulted in a more positive learning experience.
- What is an area that you would like to grow professionally?
Over the next couple of weeks, I have encouraged our staff to take some time to think about these questions once again, reflecting upon the past year. This last of stretch of school can certainly be trying, but my hope is that these questions will help center our work and remind us of the important role we play and impact we have on our students and community. Please help me with this process as well.
With the busyness that comes with this stretch of school, I hope that our staff members are able to take some time to think about these questions and ponder the answers. They may help 'calm' the chaos and keep student learning and professional growth on the forefront of their thinking, while highlighting and underlining the importance of our work with students in the context of our community. In a similar vein I encourage parents to think about how these questions may translate to the support they provide for their children. I will do my best to do this, as both an educator and father, and I ask that you help me in this practice as well. Below you will find two posts that I believe are worth sharing at this time of year...
The first two posts highlight some practices for educators to gain feedback from students at the end of the year - a practice I always employed as a classroom teacher and found invaluable (although geared towards the realm of educators, I believe they also can carry meaning for parents)...
3 Ways of Getting Student Feedback to Improve Your Teaching
post by Vicki Davis in Edutopia
"Students are what we do. They are the center of our classroom, not us. However, as a teacher, I am the most impactful single person in the classroom. Honest feedback from our students will help me level up. I've been doing this for more than ten years. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry -- and sometimes I'm mortified. But I can honestly say that every single piece of feedback I've received has made me a better teacher. And great teachers are never afraid of having or inviting hard conversations."
Wrapping Up the School Year: 5 Reflective End-of-Year Activities
post by Lily Jones
How and Why Teachers Should Start Using Twitter Right Now
published on dailygenius.com
As an avid user and proponent for Twitter, I encourage all of our staff and parents to join the Twittersphere. It has become my primary source of professional development and have gained so much from this collaborative, growth-oriented, and collegial environment.
Summer Reading for Educators
post by Joystick Learning
Summer is a wonderful time for reading and the three books noted are at the top of my list for the next few months. Perhaps you might be interested in them as well.
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