Dear Blake Families:
I hope that everyone has found some time to relax and recharge after a very busy first week of school. Our weekend was a great one - dinner out on Friday night with the kids, soccer games, a neighborhood block party, and watching the first Patriots game Sunday afternoon. I want to take another moment to once again thank the entire staff for their efforts to help establish a smooth start for both students and parents.
At Monday's faculty meeting this week we took some time to talk about individual goals for the year. I find this annual process to be critical in regards to both the personal and collective professional approach to our work. We should constantly be examining what we do and looking to improve. At our opening professional days, I shared with the staff that one of the shared goals have for Blake is to build upon, enhance, and foster the 'Culture/Community of Learning/Collegiality' for our students, staff, and community. I also shared that the district's Leadership team over the summer collectively read On Common Ground, an anthology of essays as to how to foster a professional and collegial culture in schools. In Roland Barth's chapter, 'Turning Book Burners into Lifelong Learners', he presents the argument for life-long learning and talks about teaching students the skills that will foster learning in their endeavors. In this regard, as I shared at our meeting, Barth discussed the need for adults to share their learning with the students:
It is one thing for the adults within the school to be learners; it is quite another for them to make the learning visible. Teachers…may indeed by lifelong learners, but only when they disclose their learning will they fully foster lifelong learning in others…If we are serious about young people becoming lifelong learners, then we first must become visible, lifelong learners ourselves. Wonderful things happen when teachers and administrators transform themselves from 'the learned' who transmit the knowledge to 'the learners' into leading citizens of a community of learners.
-- Roland S. Barth
I could not agree more. With this in mind I asked the content specialists to collect information from the respective teachers in each department to share how we, as a staff, learned over the summer. I have posted a copy of 'Blake Summer Learning and Endeavors' (located on the Forms and Documents tab of this blog), highlighting and recognizing our collective work (specific names are not indicated) as lifelong learners. You will see that I have separated 'academic learning' from 'life/interest-based learning', although these often blur. This summary certainly does not cover everyone's work, but it does provide a snapshot of the work that took place. Reading the summaries from each content specialist affirmed the belief and faith I have in our staff's professionalism and commitment to education.
The second key point made by Barth is that it is in the 'non-structured and non-school time' that we can only truly measure our success in fostering a sense of lifelong learning…
How might a school measure not just whether a student is advancing from one grade to the next, but the extent to which students are graduating as at-risk learners or as lifelong, insatiable learners? The answer, I believe, is very simple, albeit sobering: examine what students do on their own time. Ultimately, real learning - lifelong learning - like character, is what students do when no one is looking.
-- Roland S. Barth
I believe this holds true for students, staff, parents, and the community. Summer is a special time for everyone, and it allows us time to recharge and relax. But, as displayed in the Blake staff's own endeavors, it is also a time for lifelong learning. I hope that we, both as educators and as parents, can keep Barth's ideas in mind as we work with our students - ask questions, establish opportunities for learning in both school and in 'down time' and most important - share the learning that you are doing with them. It is important and holds great value.