December 2019 Newsletter

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"It's Your Call"

The other day I was approached by a senior facing a difficult decision. Intuitively, I settled into wise old sage mode, sifting through all of my possible pieces of advice to offer up, which I could then congratulate myself on later. Then--and this is what I love about reading good books--I remembered what I had read a few nights earlier in my latest favorite for parents and educators, The Self-Driven Child. I then uttered these three simple words:


"It's your call."


He looked back at me a little puzzled, as if to say: "You, this balding parent of two, veteran educator and self-proclaimed mentor for young adults, is telling me that I, an impulsive, undeveloped, narcissistic, close-minded teenager, have the capacity to make this tough decision?"


Turns out my reaction has been scientifically proven to be the right one, and in fact is also what I should say to my 4-year-old when he asks if he should jump off a snowbank.


As noted in the aforementioned book:


"The brain develops according to how it's used. This means that by encouraging our kids--and requiring our adolescents--to make their own decisions, we are giving them invaluable experience in assessing their own needs honestly, paying attention to their feelings and motivations, weighing pros and cons, and trying to make the best possible decisions for themselves. We help them develop a brain that's used to making hard choices and owning them. This is huge and will pay big future dividends."


The book recounts a number of examples in which parents allow their children to make tough calls, and while there were often major challenges in the short run, ultimately it turns out positively for the child.


Last week, I ran into a student from my first year of teaching (I was 26, he was 16) who had been the thorn in my side--one of those kids who almost drove me out of the classroom. He'd failed out of high school and I figured he was at best sleeping on his parents' couch and at worse, well, much worse than that.


Turns out he was happily married with a family and a great job as a machinist. He even agreed to come back and talk to some of our students about his experience. After apologizing for his classroom antics, he said, "I just didn't get it yet. School made no sense to me, my parents were going through an awful divorce, and I just took it out on everybody else. But eventually, I figured it out. I had to learn the hard way."


And that's part of the message in the book: if we allow kids to make their own decisions, even in high stakes situations, they will stumble but for the most part, they eventually figure it out.


The book does stress that if there are mental health and/or substance abuse concerns, the "It's Your Call' approach does not apply. And of course, there are other times when it would be negligent to just let kids make poor choices.


So perhaps when a child comes to us for guidance, instead of the knee-jerk reaction of "Let me tell you what you should do," let's consider "You know yourself well. You know what's best for you. It's your call." They might just surprise us.


--Mr. Hughes


Sources

Stixrud, William R., et al. The Self-Driven Child: the Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control over Their Lives. Penguin Books, 2019.

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Thurston - Important Dates

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December 5th: Entrance Exam (4:30 - 6:00 pm)

December 10th: Informational Meeting for anyone interested in joining the Eagle Scholar program next school year (5:30-6:30 pm)

December 12th: Michigan Student Caucus Hearing in Lansing

December 24th: U of M Ann Arbor Early Decision notifications sent

January 31st: U of M Ann Arbor Visit

March 19th: Albion Visit

College Acceptance Letters are rolling in!

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Michigan State Visit - 11/14/19 (as of this posting, several seniors have already been accepted!!!)

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Pierce - Important Dates

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December 3rd: PTO meeting (6:30 pm)

December 4th: a 7th-grade field trip to see A Christmas Carol

December 5th: Activity Night (6-8 pm)

December 10th: Informational Meeting for anyone interested in joining the Eagle Scholar program next school year (5:30-6:30 pm)

December 12th: No Eagle Study Session (band concert grades 6-8)

Teacher Feature: Ms. Trost

I am part of an amazing family that we lovingly call the #trosttribe.

The trosttribe has a membership of 4: my husband of 19 years, Keith; Kellen - 10 yrs old, Eden - 6 yrs old and always #extra and myself.

Our family enjoys spending time together; we love watching Kellen play soccer, Eden do gymnastics, bowling and roller skating. We also like to travel - our favorite places have sand, water and sun!!

I have been an EAGLE for a very long time; having graduated from THS in 1995 and have been working in South Redford for 20 years. I have spent the majority of my time is SRSD teaching middle school science and I wouldn't have it any other way...SCIENCE ROCKS!!!


"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." --Mark Twain

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