Dear Blake Families:
Hopefully everyone found some time to breathe and get outside to enjoy the autumnal weather, after the muggy and swamp-like days we had this past week. The five day week certainly provided all of us the feeling that school is 'back in session'! As a family it was a nice, low-key weekend - soccer games, gardening, and family dinners. Thank you to the eighth grade parents/guardians for your attendance and participation last Wednesday at Parent Information Night. We hope you found the night to be informative and that it helped to generate excitement and investment in the 2013-2014 school year. I would also like to thank the entire Blake community for their generous donations to the Medfield Food Cupboard. The amount of food that arrived on Monday was impressive and moving. Thank you to Tracy Allen for her efforts in coordinating this drive.
I always enjoy our parent information nights as they provide a concrete opportunity for us, as a staff and school, to open up the doors and give parents an opportunity to experience a 'taste' of their child's education. They are also a wonderful opportunity for both teachers and parents to reflect, a core value we espouse and want for our students. It is one of my strong beliefs that we should be transparent with our work - 'Do what we say and say what we do' - and that our students can only benefit from open, honest communication. These nights give us a chance to do just that. As we outline our curriculum, goals, and expectations for parents, we are essentially placing value with our words with the hopes of working together to foster action and growth.
This week I am sharing an article by Mary Jo Asmus, Being Impeccable With Your Word, that presents 'structures' for communication to keep in mind in an effort to be truly 'impeccable' with our words: intent, honor, silence, clarity, tone, and integrity. Each one of these 'guides' are layered and complex, but I believe they are noble and worthwhile to keep at the forefront of our thinking when we are communicating - with students, parents, and one another - in both oral and written form: "We swim in language as fish swim in the sea, not noticing the power that our words have to manifest, to create, and to destroy. So often we walk through our days speaking whatever comes to mind without thinking through exactly what we want to convey. Those of us who tend to 'think out loud' need to continually remind ourselves to pause and to express our words with intent and care." Although we may not always agree on the path to support or challenge our students, we do have a common interest in our mind. 'Impeccable' is certainly a lofty goal for our words, but I think that's ok. Asmus's article is written with a 'leadership' audience in mind, but I see implications and connections for all - administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
In the spirit of transparency, collaboration, and open communication, I am taking time at each of the parent nights to outline my goals for Blake for the 13-14 year (Educational Technology; Professional Growth; and Preservation/Examination of Middle School), along with our theme of creativity. My intent is to engage all of us in this work together so that we can collectively improve and enhance the experiences for students. I also hope that our open lines of communication will help breed more opportunities for learning - bridging the 'gap' from school to home. I have compiled our staff's responses about the value of creativity in the hopes of helping all of us to see a concrete framework for this endeavor, and to potentially encourage broadened thinking for everyone.
In addition to the outlining of goals, I am taking time at the parent nights to talk about 'mindsets'. As shared at our opening professional day, his has been a field of research of particular interest for me and I see implications on a daily basis for our work with students at Blake. I have posted an article by Sarah D. Sparks from Education Week, 'Growth Mindset' Gaining Traction as School Improvement Strategy', that you may find of interest. Sparks references Carol Dweck's work (fixed vs growth mindsets) and highlights schools that are explicitly looking at 'neuroplasticity' (the concept that the brain changes with experience). One salient point for me in this article is the reference to many students' willingness to 'fail outside of school', citing video games and the failure rate (around 80%) they experience. As we look for ways to foster creativity and embrace a culture of 'good failures and learning from mistakes', I see a direct tie to this work and field of mindsets. I found both articles, coupled with the compilation of responses for creativity', to be an excellent reminder for me that we must be intentional and purposeful, with both language and actions, in all of these endeavors.
Please click here for Important Dates and Announcements.
Please click here for Thursday Packet Information.