The recent tragedy in Parkland, FL brings to light conversations about how to create and maintain safe learning environments for our students. As we all reflect on ways we can make a difference locally and nationally, cope with the tragedy, or bring about positive changes so that such events do not continue in our nation, let's pause to think about what we can do each moment, every day in our schools to create a safe environment. I was struck by one of the teachers who had sheltered many of her students from the shooter who said "I just love those kids. I love every one of them as if they were my own."
If we want to create the safest environment for our students, it is by creating a culture where we really know our students as if they were were our own. Creating those cultures do not happen by accident, rather it happens through purposeful efforts to personally know your students.
Challenge: Think about all of your students. How well do you know them all? Do you know their interests, their hopes and dreams, their greatest challenges they have overcome? Do you know who their role models are, which classes are their favorite, or what their hobbies are? Take a moment to get to know a student that you don't know as well as others.
I was recently very fortunate to tag team with Courtney Henry, Brenda Webster, and Dave Quinn on a PD session we provided for teachers and administrators on Genius Hour/20% time. We brought in teachers and students to share their various experiences with trying Genius Hour in their various classes, which ranged from elementary classrooms to high school A.P. courses. Of the examples provided, what stood out was the greatest successes came from projects where students became really passionate about their projects in pursuit of true inquiry and interests. In our presentation, we had one slide where we discussed ways to find the true genius in all our students. How can we redefine genius so we can move beyond a traditional view of high achievement and find the genius in our students who can seek and solve problems, or make a positive impact on our world?
This week's challenge: Think about your students, seek to find the genius in each one of them, and celebrate it.
Heading into Superbowl Sunday, you might not know, but the New England Patriots have always promoted Volunteerism and Community Outreach. One of their initiatives is called Celebrate Volunteerism; which is an initiative they have to become involved in the community and give back.
In many of our vertical curriculum days in district we have been crafting our vision of the graduate. Some of the characteristics that we have said that we would like to see in our graduates of the future are that they can empathize with others and are civic and service-oriented.
Questions to Think About:
How can we provide students with opportunities to practice citizenship, service, and character development? How are we connecting our learning with current events? How can we promote service learning in our classes?
Take one lesson that you will be doing in the next few weeks and look for a way you can add in a connection to service, current events, or a way to engage students in civic discourse and empathy.
#GO PATS, #NOTDONE