Persistent, Resilient and Safe
One Sunday afternoon this summer, I watched my 3-year-old granddaughter try to reach a glass of iced tea on the kitchen counter. While her first attempt missed the mark, she persisted. Even when she was frustrated and tripped on her toddler-sized step stool and cried, she would try again. After observing her efforts for a few minutes, her mom (my daughter) intervened to ensure she stayed safe (and had something to drink).
Children and adolescents must be allowed and encouraged to explore, and to develop resilience and persistence. At the same time, they need care and protection as they take risks and test boundaries. It is not easy to find the right balance between protecting our children, helping them and encouraging discovery. Such is the nature of our work.
As I visit schools, I am always amazed at the opportunities for students to explore ideas and take intellectual risks. From the Ulysses program at Northwest High School to the Outdoor Environmental Education programs to kindergarten classrooms across the county, our students are encouraged to challenge themselves with the knowledge that their teachers have their backs.
But as we allow students the freedom to explore, we must be vigilant in our care and oversight. We do this by teaching personal safety in our health curriculum because it is important to our students’ well-being. We have cameras, guided access systems, identification systems and other safety procedures in our schools because they increase school security. None of these, however, replace our professional duty to do all we can to keep students safe and secure in our classrooms, hallways, school common areas, and on buses and athletic fields. As we provide this care, we must have appropriate and positive relationships with students.
These principles should always inform our curriculum and instruction, our student relationships and interactions, and the way we organize learning environments so students thrive.
This week, I have been thinking about those individuals who have been adversely affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as the events of September 11, 2001. These natural and man-made disasters underscore the fact that life carries with it a degree of risk and uncertainty.
We cannot safeguard everyone from every possible occurrence, but working together with students, families and community leaders, we must do our part in helping our children grow up to be persistent, resilient, and, to the greatest degree possible, safe.
This is our professional responsibility. We can do no less.
Thank you for all you do on behalf of the students of MCPS each day.
Good Read/Good Listen
As we all know, learning doesn’t stop when you become an adult. I am constantly learning about new ideas and exploring new perspectives. I do this through books, articles and podcasts. Each blog, I will share a few of the most interesting ones with you. Some have made me ask questions, some have irritated me; others have made me smile or frown. I hope they make you think critically and open doors to new information and ideas.
Safeguarding: Maintaining professional boundaries by Sarah Morgan in HeadTeacher Update
Most teachers believe that kids have different ‘learning styles.’ Here’s why they are wrong, by Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead? Morning Edition, NPR