When the United States launched airstrikes that killed General Qasem Soleimani and others shortly before we returned to classes from winter break, I was pretty sure the students in my seventh grade Humanities class would want to talk about it. As I sifted through posts and articles, verifying facts, weighing opinions, I kept in mind these important precepts:
- My kids would want clarity. What were the facts of what had happened?
- My kids would want to feel safe. I can’t control world events, but I can help create a classroom atmosphere where my students could honestly say what they were thinking and feeling, knowing there would be things on which they’d all agree and other areas where they would have a range of opinions.
- My kids would want hope. Here, I often turn to Mr. Rogers’s famous dictum to “look to the helpers.” I’m also well aware that any concrete action kids can take can also be helpful.
- My kids would need the comfort of familiar routines.
In a recent meeting, the Middle School Team discussed how technology in general and social media in particular affects middle schoolers, kicking off what we envision will be a series of deep dive discussions. As always, we will rely on a mix of what experts and the research tell us, and how our day-to-day experience with the students - and conversations with families - further shapes our practice.
There are typically thousands of people who participate in the annual Hot Chocolate Run in Northampton, Massachusetts. The event raises money for Safe Passage, which serves survivors of domestic violence; this year, the run raised $632,000. Each year, our Community Service Club organizes a group of supporters to volunteer to cheer people on.
Last night on Twitter, Sara Truebridge (author of Resilience Begins with Beliefs: Building on Student Strengths for Success in School) hosted a #ResilienceChat focused on giving thanks. As always, her questions are well thought-out, and I want to share them here in case y’all would enjoy thinking through your own answers:
Recently, the windows of Jesser have been covered with brightly colored stickies. Not only is it a good way to draw attention to our science building on a cloudy day, it's also the result of a recent computer science project. Students in the Computer Science Principals class learned about a lossless image compression technique called Run-Length Encoding (RLE for short). A lossless image compression is where the original image can be perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data, stored as a string of bits in the form of 0s and 1s. This project was in color (as opposed to black and white), so each row of data had two sets of numbers to tell you the color and how many pixels (the run length) that color consists of in a row. Students used their new RLE skills to make an image on a 16x16 pixel grid, then write the code needed to transfer the image in the correct format.
Most every night, I sign off social media with the following post:
Good night, everyone. / #EverydayKindness / #Coexist
Many of my online friends are teachers, active or retired, and many of them have recently been sharing advice urging people to give teenagers a smile and some candy if they come trick-or-treating. I love the posts, thinking, of course, of my own students but also of teenagers everywhere, every one of them somebody’s kid.
On October 24, 2019, I attended the 2019 AISNE Diversity-Equity-Inclusion conference. A recurring theme through the day (as articulated by keynote speaker Dr. Philip McAdoo) was transitioning schools from head to heart.
Welcome and Morning Keynote
As we were waiting for the 2019 AISNE Diversity-Equity-Inclusion conference to start, the person sitting to my right leaned over to introduce himself. I recognized his name immediately, since Clyfe Beckwith is the Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning at Andover, from which my son graduated. I knew about some of the school’s more recent initiatives through newsletters and, as we got to talking about Andover’s firm and ongoing commitment to looking honestly at how they are supporting their kids and taking concrete steps to grow continually, one of the themes became (as morning keynote speaker Dr. Philip McAdoo would put it) how to transition a school from head to heart. The perfect introduction to the day!