A Lesson in Perspective (Happy Holidays)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10th, 2017 by dkerr

 

So it’s a busy time of the year as we speed toward the holiday break, and it can seem a little overwhelming at times I know. With comment writing and reports, holiday concerts and performances, final summative assessments and feedback, end of semester parent and student meetings, recruiting conversations, and all the rest…it’s sometimes hard to keep the right perspective with regards to what’s really, truly important at this time of the year. When there is so much on our plates these days, it’s very easy to lose sight of how magical the month of December can be, and sometimes it takes something small to snap you back to the absolute beauty of this holiday season.

 

For me, that little something small came walking into my office on Thursday morning of this past week, and delivered to me a much needed lesson in perspective. I was standing at my desk, hammering through email, and lamenting the fact that there was no way that I was going to get through my to-do list for the rest of the week, when a smiley and spirited little girl came bouncing in through the door and asked, “Hey, Mr. Kerr, what are you doing, writing your list to Santa? I already wrote mine but my Mom says it’s too long but I don’t think so because I’ve been really good to my brothers and I sometimes clean my room and make my own breakfast…what are YOU asking for?” Well, the cuteness of that moment stopped me in my tracks, and literally made me laugh out loud with the quick realization that my perceived troubles and anxiety over work, and how seriously I was taking life and myself in the moment right before she walked in was borderline ridiculous. So I stepped out from behind my desk, and sat down at the conference table with her to go through my Santa list…it was the best 10 minutes that I have spent all semester.

 

As we were talking (mostly about her list as it turned out) I came to realize that what she was most excited about were the gifts and cards that she had made for her family. She very maturely told me that, “you know what Mr. Kerr, I love getting presents but I think that I like giving presents more…it makes me feel really good, like how Santa must feel when he gives presents, but his job must be so hard because there are a lot of people in the world who are good you know”. I agreed that Santa’s job must be hard, and yes, there are lots of good people in the world, and all the while I felt like my heart was about to burst out of my chest. Anyway, she bounded away just as quickly as she arrived, and she left me there smiling and happy and very much re-calibrated for the day. A must needed lesson in perspective from one of our world’s greatest teachers…a child.

 

She reminded me of what I love most about this time of the year…the opportunities that we all have to give of ourselves to others, to reconnect with the people that we love, to reflect on the year that was, and to recharge and refocus for the upcoming year ahead. We also get a chance over the next couple of weeks to share a little holiday cheer with others, and to spread some of that holiday magic around to everyone we come in contact with, especially our students! I want to casually remind you all of the beauty of this time of the year, and with less than two weeks to go, I’m asking that you take some time over the next several days to slow down and to take a breath, and soak up all the positive energy that is spilling out from our students, and from each other…..let’s smile a bit more, give out a few more hugs, and spread that holiday magic around!

 

Remember as well to keep your perspective everyone…it’s busy I know, and with what’s coming up it can feel a little overwhelming, but ultimately, we’ll get there together. Just like my little friend told me, there are a lot of good people out there you know, and over the next few weeks they all deserve a little bit extra joy and love and happiness. Please also remember that the holidays can be difficult for some people, so our extra joy and love and kindness is the best gift that we can give. Have a fantastic week everyone and remember to be great for our students and magical for each other.

 

Holiday Videos – Take a break and watch these!

The Greatest Gift

The Fox and Mouse

The Wish Writer

Lily and the Snowman

The Snow Globe


My Favorite Holiday Poem – 

Holidays –
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;–
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;–a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

What a Beautiful Noise

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3rd, 2017 by dkerr

So this week I want to talk about one of my favorite things about school…maybe my most, most favorite thing of all the things that I love about coming to work each and every day. It’s something that many of us fail to pay regular attention to I think, or even embrace, and maybe something that may be a little annoying or aggravating for some educators…something that traditionally we have tried to suppress, and something that kids sometimes get in trouble for. But if you take a step back, and drink in what it ultimately represents, then it might just become one of your favorite things too…I’m talking about the noise of a school. The beautiful noise that is the soundtrack to learning and of happiness and joy, and what a child’s life should really be all about. Creative, imaginative, messy, curious, and beautiful noise.

When is the last time that you took a few minutes and really listened to the noise of a school? Walking down the halls, or when doing recess duty, or being in a classroom when kids are working collaboratively, or just standing outside the gym when kids are at PE, or outside the music or art room…or even when they are simply spilling off of the buses ready to tackle another day with their friends…it’s something that will make your heart want to burst if you just take the time to listen. It’s not lost on me how fortunate I am to be in a position to walk from one end of the Lower School to the other several times each day…visiting classrooms, discussing issues with teachers, catching up with specific students, and being a fly on the wall watching when kids don’t think I’m paying attention. Lately I’ve been soaking it up, this noise, and it fuels my soul everyday…the singing in French rooms, the songs from the early childhood kids as they transition down the corridors, the wild excitement in the discovery labs as kids work on experiments, the math talk lessons and the read alouds and the book clubs and the students sharing their writing…it’s so beautiful to listen to the learning that is everywhere, in every classroom and school space all the time.

I have to confess that the first thing that I do after a tough meeting, or a hard conversation, or an issue that I have to deal with that takes me away from being around kids, is to pop into the library to listen to a story, or head out to the playground or the cafeteria just to hear the noise of kids…it centers me and it snaps me back to what is the most important part of my job…the kids. Nothing is more joyful than the sound of a playground, with kids playing and making friends and taking risks and finding out about themselves and others…so good. It doesn’t stop there though, I also love the sound of teachers collaborating together around what’s best for kids and their learning…the creative ideas about how to extend students, and the concerns about how to intervene with struggling students…the sound of educators caring about kids is also music to my ears, and it blares loud at full volume every day…the beautiful sound of a school…how can you not love it?

This week, as we speed toward the holiday break, and with comments and concerts coming up, and with our lives getting busier and busier, I’m asking you…no, I’m begging you, to take a few minutes to slow down and listen to the noise of a school. Take a second to listen to the kids at play, or just stand back in your classes and listen to the sounds of learning, or come down by my office in the morning and listen to the kids as they come in ready for another day with their teachers and friends…there is nothing more joyful or energizing and beautiful than the sound of a school in action. Take the time to listen everyone and it will fill your hearts like it does mine. It might just be the best thing that you can do with your days. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students, good to each other, and open to the beautiful noise of the school day.

 

Quote of the Week….

I think my happy is too loud  – 1st Grade student at ASP

 

Interesting Articles –

Because I’m Happy

Laughter and Learning

Happiness and Learning

Better Learners

Let them Talk

 

TED Talks –

Raising Brave Girls

Dangerous Things for Kids

Should School Start Later?

 

Inspiring Videos –

Traditional Schools

The Science of Empathy

5 minutes to Affect Learning

Design Your Own School (4 years old but still relevant)

Thinking About our new EC Playground