Dear Blake Families:
Despite the rainy and dreary weather, I hope that everyone is enjoying a nice weekend. With graduations and end-of-year festivities going on, I know that 'out-of-school' activities can be just as busy, if not busier, than 'in-school' activities. I so appreciate the continued efforts from students, staff, and families as we are now officially in the 'final stretch'.
At our faculty meeting this week, our staff took some time to reflect upon goals for the year and to begin brainstorming focus areas for the 2012-2013 school year. To help frame the intent of this exercise, I asked the faculty to read Thomas Hoerr's article, 'Values Worth Adding' (found on the Articles tab of this blog) before the meeting. This brief piece of writing resonated with me from the lens of both a teacher and administrator - referencing the importance of thinking in a holistic manner about one's accomplishments through student achievement, but looking at the growth in a 'value-added manner'. I agree with Hoerr's view that growth is critical for both students and staff, and I am a firm believer that we can always look for ways to improve. As the head of a school, I also appreciated his ability to recognize that he must hold himself accountable as well, as indicated in his closing words, which struck a chord with me on a personal level:
When I think about value-added assessment, I think that everyone in my school should be performing better this year than in the past. Sure, I want students to be reading and calculating better, but I also want teachers to be making instruction more engaging and classrooms more exciting. I want faculty committees biting off tough tasks and pushing themselves to figure out better solutions. And it doesn't stop at my door. I want to do a better job of listening and supporting. I want my students and my teachers to be eager to come to school every day because they know that learning is exciting and that they are going to learn more. I want to know how good we are today so that in the future I can look back and see how we have improved. That's the value that I want to add.
My hope is that we will be able to recognize our successes, identify challenges, and map out potential avenues for improvement. As shared throughout the year, our overarching goals as a staff were to strive to make progress in the areas of educational technology, community, and equitable learning experiences for both students and staff - all, under the umbrella of engaging students both in and out of the classroom to provide a 'balanced' education. As a community, we will continue to always ask - 'What do we want for our students, and how can we help them to get there?' One of our shared goals at Blake is for students to understand the value of mistakes in the learning process and for the connections to be made between errors and improvement. In essence, when appropriate, we must give our students 'permission to fail'. Along these lines, I have attached an article from The New York Times, entitled 'Sowing Failure, Reaping Success: What Failure Can Teach' (found on Articles tab of this blog) that you may find of interest when you have a chance. Integrating the word 'failure' into our vocabulary with students will help students to see that it does not just apply to grades, but rather as part of the cycle of learning - falling down and getting back up. Normalizing failure in the overall context of growth and improvement is critical in developing a sense of resiliency within our students.
Looking ahead to 2012-2013, I have posted a copy of the Blake School Improvement Plan for 2012-2013 on the Forms and Documents tab of the blog for your reference. This plan was a collaborative effort, incorporating feedback from our staff and the Blake Site Council, and was shared with the School Committee on Monday evening. We have accomplished a great deal over the past 10 months, and you will see that some healthy goals for the coming year have been outlined for improvement. The theme for this year was one of 'community' in our endeavors, and as we look back and think ahead, I believe that the idea of 'perseverance' is one that I hope will guide our goals and work at Blake for the 2012-2013 year.
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Best wishes for a great week.