“Interesting to see, when a kid walks in the room – your child or anybody’s child – does your face light up? That’s what they’re looking for! When my children used to walk in the room, when they were little, I would look at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed. You think your affection and deep love is on display because you are caring for them. But when they see you, they see the critical face. “What’s wrong now?” But then, if you let your face speak what’s in your heart, as I tried to do from then on…when they walk in the room they know you are just glad to see them.” – Toni Morrison
This is such a powerful clip to listen to and think on for teachers and parents alike. What does each child sense of their value from my face, tone of voice, and body language? What does each child learn about how they matter as a result of the quality of my presence? In the hustle and bustle (and sometimes chaos and pressure) of the holiday season (traveling! gifts! dinners! special events!)…who in your life (child or adult) needs to see your face light up? Who needs to see on your face that they matter to you?
“Let’s remember that the most important thing we do as teachers is create a compassionate community for meaningful connection with students. It is our cultivated awareness, engagement, and authenticity that allow us to do this in our work with young people. Mr. Keating, and Mr. Williams, can live on in our classrooms.” – Sarah Ruddell Beach
First graders at TPS are collaborating together to build a three-dimensional community in their classroom…and deepening their own classroom community in the process. Check out their brief story here on NAIS Inspiration Lab: http://inspirationlab.org/story/5324
“Big ideas deserve and require big discussion…Let’s have the grit to NOT swallow a great-sounding idea without beating it up a bit, and let’s be thankful that we have the slack in our lives to be thoughtful educators.” – Grant Lichtman
The call for fostering children who are resilient and approach real-world challenges in their learning and in their lives with “grit” has been charging through the worlds of educational leadership, parenting, and child development. Read Does ‘Grit’ Need Deeper Discussion? by author Grant Lichtman, as well as the valuable resources linked within his post, for some additional thought-provoking fodder on the topic. His reflections remind us to pursue reflection, innovation, and reform – but not without doing the hard and important work of examining closely and inquisitively multiple perspectives.
If we are concerned that students today are too quick to allow their attention to be yanked to the brightest object (or to willfully redirect it once their very low threshold of boredom is surpassed), we need to consider ways that we can bring home to them the potential reward of sustained attention.
Willingham argues that attention disorders may not be on the rise, rather…the need for and valuation of sustained attention in our culture may be on a dramatic decline. As digital natives (a term coined by Marc Prensky) – students can largely avoid the experience of even mild boredom in their daily lives…but also miss out on some of the rewards of patience, perseverance, and waiting it out.
How do we, instead of trying to wrest attention from the disengaged, inspire it through a little healthy boredom that has powerful rewards?
Surely you’ve seen the Ford Focus commercials where two people are driving in the car and talking about how “and” is better than “or” (for example: sweet OR sour chick, black OR white, protect OR serve, going to a bed OR breakfast). They have a point.
“Educators are realizing that we need not dichotomize or choose between teaching skills and teaching students to be caring and responsible human beings. We need not sacrifice reading to teach sharing or abandon math goals in favor of teaching mutual support and help. Rather, the classroom community can be structure so that students learn reading through sharing, and work on math goals with teacher and peer support.”
We strive for excellence of skills AND excellence of heart because, as with the Ford Focus, AND is better.