Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I have a dream...50 years later

On a hot August 28th, 1963, a quarter of a million people gathered on and around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. took the podium to address the crowd. His speech from 50 years ago is still regarded as one the best pieces of spoken rhetoric in history. While I work in a district that has a majority of African-American families and will take the opportunity to share this message of needed work and hope, this message can be shared with all students.

Here are some resources for you:

Please mark this 50th anniversary by providing students that the chance to read or listen (or both) to the speech and think about what they can do to make that dream a reality.

You have 1 week to plan! Share your experiences or ideas in the comments!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Don't live in the 10 seconds

Welcome back to another school year. I am sure that there have been changes all over the place. Change can be a wonderful thing, but very difficult to accept and deal with in the moment. We become very comfortable with the status quo, sometimes even when we know there are things that can be improved.

For students, change occurs all of the time causing them to have to continually adapt to new situations. Over the summer, when discussing how to help students express themselves better, about their academic, emotion, physical, psychological, etc. needs, a teacher told me that kids today tend to "live in the 10 seconds". They react before they think about the larger picture, understand the root of the issue, what is the real cause, and what some of the effective solutions could be. When this happens, sometimes students will yell and scream, hit, withdraw from communicating, and other non-effective actions to help remedy the issue. If we, as educators, accept that we must educate the whole child, then we must educate them on social emotional needs, conflict resolution, goal setting and achieving, in addition to their academic needs. But we know this...

As we open the school year, we, the adults, need to keep the big picture in perspective. Teachers might not like having to switch classrooms, when their planning period is, classes are full, teaching assignments change, etc. With the excitement and hiccups that always accompany the opening of school, we need to NOT live in the 10 seconds. We need to look at the larger picture to solve the immediate issues and once things have settled down and reached equilibrium, then we need to reflect on the system and look for improvement. Changes that happen will disrupt equilibrium and that is uncomfortable. Adults need to discern the difference between the discomfort of change and an actual problem. If it is discomfort, give it a chance to work and know that reflection and evaluation will occur to make improvements. If it is an actual problem, we need to develop a solution and then monitor if that is the best scenario for the big picture.

As leaders, we need to exercise our listening abilities to help teachers discern those differences and identify them ourselves. We need to effectively communicate with teachers about the big picture and prioritizing how issues will be handled.

Change is never easy. But when the need for change is communicated, team members listen to one another, and the change is understood to help the system improve, it can be an easier pill to swallow and might allow people to see the 11th second and beyond.

Have a great start to the year!