Auburn Middle School Monthly
The Principal's Perspective, by Mr. Desto
A few years ago, when I was superintendent, some high school students got together an appealed to me for time off the day after the Super Bowl. That interaction went as follows:
Dear Mr. Desto,
Southeastern Regional High School, and Brockton High students and teachers have a 3 hour Delay Monday after the Super Bowl with the Patriots and Malden High School has no school. The students at Shepherd Hill are wondering if we can have a 3 hour delay or even a 2 hour delay like other Massachusetts schools so we can watch and enjoy the game and not be tired in the morning for school. #shepherdhillstrong #patsnation
~ sincerely Shepherd Hill students ️
Dear Shepherd Hill Students:
Thank you for your respectful and well-written request. Though I am an enormous fan of sports and will be watching every minute of the Super Bowl, I feel I would be wrong to deprive all of my hard working students of 2 or, I shudder to even think, 3 hours of precious educational time. Therefore, unless weather is a factor, we will be starting school at the normal time Monday morning.
Also, I've been doing some advanced calculations. The Super Bowl starts at 6:25 and usually ends by 10:00. I don't think many high school students go to bed too much earlier than 10:00. So it is possible - likely even - that a high school student, if he/she really wanted to, could watch the entire game and still be asleep at close to the usual time. Go figure!
Thanks again for your request. Enjoy the game. Go Patriots.
It was a good-natured and fun interchange between my students and me, but I recall thinking that kids today are growing up in a time where they are rarely expected to be resilient. I don’t want to overdo this point or sound like my grandfather may have, but adults are significantly easier on kids than they used to be. Each of us could tell stories until the cows come home about how tough the adults in our lives were on us when we were kids. It’s fun for me to sometimes think of how the coaches of my youth would fare with today’s kids and today’s more sensitive expectations.
All in all, the fact that we are more sensitive with our kids is not a bad thing, and you won’t find many people who treat kids with more respect than I do. Still, I wonder, and I ask you to do the same, if we haven’t accidentally deprived our kids – by being so overly helpful – of the very thing that made us successful in the first place. In other words, as I look back, while I appreciate the education I got in school, what helped me most were the times I was down and had no choice but to figure out how to pick myself back up…because make no mistake: my mom and dad weren’t going to do it for me. If it was my fault, I had to own it and weather the storm on my own. I’ll bet you did, too.
Though it’s tempting to come to the defense of the children we love, it often does them a disservice. Our reaction, outwardly (because inwardly, we may feel otherwise), should always be to get our children to 1) take responsibility, 2) accept consequences and 3) come back smarter and stronger for having dealt with the mistake. We should always encourage our kids to accept their part in the problem without pointing fingers. That doesn’t work in life anyway. All adults know this, but in 2019, it has become harder to teach it. Why? What’s different today than all those years ago?
Here’s a theory set forth by author Annie Murphy Paul in her article entitled “The Rise of the Helicopter Parent.” In it, she cites the research of Professor Holly Schiffrin, who studied thousands of college students to see how their parents’ styles influenced their success. What she found was that the children of hovering, micromanaging parents had a greater chance of becoming anxious, depressed and eventually, of dropping out of school. Paul also mentions the work of journalist Hara Estroff Marano, whose book A Nation of Wimps at least partly blames the “digital umbilical cord;” that is, the fact that many parents have their children on a non-stop texting loop throughout the day. According to experts in the field, when combined with making excuses for children instead of making them own up to their behavior, this type of scenario ultimately leads to children becoming young adults who lack confidence and coping skills. Thankfully, there are solutions.
In his article “Building Resilient Kids,” former New York Principal Peter DeWitt writes “If we want our kids to be successful when they grow up, we need to begin teaching them how to be resilient now.” He goes on to cite the research of perhaps America’s foremost expert on raising resilient children, Dr. Robert Brooks. In his book Can Do Kids, Dr. Brooks lays out a formula for helping our kids learn to be resilient. Among the many parts of the formula are the following gems:
1. Accept your kids for who they are.
2. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities.
3. Stress your child’s strengths.
4. Let your kids solve problems and make some decisions.
5. Use discipline to teach lessons.
6. Give your children your undivided, in person attention. To this he adds, “Many parents are looking at their phones when they should be listening. If you need more advice on this, listen to Harry Chapin’s ‘The Cats in the Cradle.’”
I hope you find some of the above suggestions helpful. I’m not too proud to tell you that I can learn a lot friom this myself.
In the final analysis, it is a living contrast that by so desperately trying to help our children, we sometimes shield them from the one thing that can help them the most – the ability to own up to and learn from their mistakes. Strangely, in order to help our children learn to succeed, we’re going to have to allow them to fail. At Auburn Middle School, we have children at a time when they make frequent mistakes. We consider it part of their middle school education that we coach them through their mistakes and help them understand different ways of avoiding making the same mistakes over and over. We hope you will join with us in this worthy endeavor. Kids learn best, in the classroom and out, when school and home work together.
So we won’t have days off for the Super Bowl. But if we can work together to help our children navigate their inevitable mistakes, maybe we can teach them a New England Patriots specialty – how to show up…on time…every day…be a good teammate…and do their job. That formula has been good for 6 Super Bowl Championships, and it is almost always good for success in life, as well.
School Dance Information
Unfortunately, due to lack of interest, the 6th grade Sock Hop has been cancelled.
- Wednesday 2/20-Twin/Faculty Clone Day
- Thursday 2/21-Crazy Hair Day
- Friday 2/22-Auburn School Spirit Day