The Cardinal Way
Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School
Student Success is a Team Effort!
IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Ask Yourself These Questions
I asked my staff a couple of questions at this years opening day meeting that have continued to be on my mind for the past month. As part of our opening day meeting, I asked my staff to discuss and voice their opinion on the question: “What is the purpose of education?” It was interesting listening to various responses to this big and broad question. I then posed the question: “What do you hope your own children get out of school?” I asked those parents, who had school aged kids in the room to explain their answers to others around them. I challenged my staff to think about their responses to both questions and whether they were aligned. What I want for the kids I teach and my own children should be the same answer, right? I have continued to think about these two questions. What do I want my kids to get out of school? And, does that align with my beliefs as a principal? I hope my answers are the same and I hope those actions show in my daily work.
You may have noticed, I have been talking about my kids a good deal in my blog posts this year. I believe that this stems from these questions. As I have continued to consider what I want my kids to get out of school, I keep coming back to the following three big ideas.
I want my kids to be loved and cared for on a daily basis. If I subtract out the time my kids sleep at night, they spend a considerable more time at school during the week than at home. This means school must be a home away from home. I trust that while my kids are at school they are in an environment that safe and with people who care for them. I know my kids are not perfect, but their unique personalities are what make them special. I want to know that when they are at school that there is someone there who loves them and cares for them. We have an awesome responsibility as teachers - people trust us with their most precious things in the world. Just like my own children, no child is perfect. And every child can be a challenge in their own way, but we must love them anyway. Above anything else, I want my kids to be in an environment with someone who cares for them every day!
I want my kids to have opportunities to try new things and take risks in a safe environment. The point of education must be to help students find their passion and be successful members of society. They need to find an avenue that will lead them eventually to a happy life, future career, and hopefully many future successes. To find this passion we must allow students to explore, try new things, and look down multiple paths. But, at the same time, being the age of an adolescent is a scary time. People this age are often concerned with what others will think, and most students are not willing to put themselves at risk of failure. This is where educators come in, teachers must create safe learning environments where students have the opportunity to fail and learn from those failures. Teachers should focus on planning experiences, not just lessons for our students. We must help our students understand learning is a journey and on that journey failure is a vital part of success.
I want my kids to learn. Please take notice I did not say: I want them to get good grades or to pass a test. I want my kids to learn. I struggle with this idea sometimes. We live in an archaic school system, using ideals and measurements for learning that have existed for decades or centuries even though science has taught us so much in the past few years about how people learn. Wanting my kids to learn, does not always equate to doing well “at school.” I don’t just want them to be able to play the game of school; I want them to be able to apply what they have learned. I want them to be able to transfer their learning to new topics and new ideas. Knowledge is no longer power. Our students need to be able to do more with information than just regurgitate it. If I consider the skills I use on a daily basis that help me be successful at work, none of those skills came from a book. They came from doing! Saying I want my kids to learn means I want my kids to do, to be part of, to understand the why, the what for, and the how so, in relation to the content they are learning.
If these are the things I want for my own kids, then these must be the things I want for ALL kids. I must endeavor to put first things first and strive to create this type of school environment in my work every day.
Ask yourself these same questions. Decide what you really want your kids to get out of school. Then see if what you want for your kids aligns with what happens in your school or your classroom everyday.
If these ideals align, awesome! If they do not align, ask yourself: What am I going to do differently tomorrow?
Keep learning, keep growing, and keep sharing!
This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog
- Thank you to Mariah Beal who is finishing her long term substitute position for Meghan Sefton today. We appreciate Mariah's dedication to SMS and our students over the past six weeks!
- Thank you to Mrs. Mendel and the Cardinal Cafe for delivering drinks to teachers each morning. This a a great service to SMS and a wonderful experience for our CIP students.
- Thank you to our science and math teachers who hosted Woodrow Wilson Fellows from UIndy this week.
Teacher of the Month
GRATEFUL FRIDAY CHALLENGE
Week 6 Grateful Friday Challenge
We saw the power of the post-it last week. To continue to show that kindness is our strength, go out of your way to show at least one random act of kindness to a student or staff member today.