Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Finish.

At Weaver Middle School in Hilliard, OH, we truly believe that relationships are at the core of what we do. We also know that relationships alone will not make our students or our teachers successful. As educators we also must build skill, have trust in one another and be open to feedback of instructional best practices.

Below is a letter I wrote to my staff to share the importance of finishing the year strong. The events are precisely as they occurred. The facts, the names and the situation are 100% authentic. Our own lives and the events that happen are often times the most impactful vehicle to help us grow as leaders and learners. Here is an open letter to my teachers at WMS. 


Teachers -

This morning I was dropping Aidan off for school (7th grader at HMS) and he asked me a rather random, and what I thought was an odd question to say the least.

He asked, “Do I have to go to school the last week?” (Meaning the final four days. Keep in mind it is only May 9th.)

I paused. I thought of my reply. I simply said what any parent would say to that question and replied, “Yes, yes you do.”

In the final moments of the drive I went ahead and braved the question I somewhat dreaded to ask, “Why don’t you want to go?”

He simply said, “We don’t do anything. The teachers show us movies and just keep us busy. We don’t learn anything.”

Wow. I thought to myself. That is pretty straight-forward answer from a 13 year-old 7th grader.

There is some back story that adds to this. For those that don’t know Aidan, here you go:
  • When he was in third grade we made the tough decision of treating his ADD through medicine. 
  • With that we have experienced all that comes with it. Appetite, mood-swings and more.
  • What we gained in return though was a clinical case of a focused kid. He went from dreading school to having a new found love for it.
  • He is a straight “A” student. Not one single B the entire year. Impressive, I know. 
  • And, we never saw a lick of homework, ever. (Not because he didn’t have it because he sure did. Instead, he had a sense of time-management. He knew that in order to get the videos he would have to work first.)
  • He is a kid (as awkward has he might be) who found his way to enjoy school instead of avoiding it.
So, why do I share all this with you? Well, I challenge you to this:

First, I strongly suggest that you set aside time to celebrate the year. Celebrating is a must! It gives us a chance to throw our hands up in knowing we have worked hard. And, because we worked hard, we get to play hard. So again remember, work hard, play hard! We have a few events planned for that:
  • 8th grade goes to the park on the 31st.
  • 7th grade teams have their team activity (also on Tuesday).
  • Honors Nights! (Yes, TWO of them!)
  • Author visit on the 18th with Candice Fleming
  • Student-staff basketball game on the 27th
And secondly, and equally important:
  • Stay focused on learning.
  • Avoid the movie trap. Don’t show them. Not even if you can connect it to content. (They watch enough as it is.)
  • Avoid yearbook signing time. (That is our generation more than theirs.)
  • And teach (and learn) until the #lastbell.
I know you need to get grades in and you are excited to start your summer. Me too. But the reality is that kids will come to us until June 3rd. And, we need to teach them up until the final bell, on the final day of the year.

Remember we have lots of other great activities too that you can help promote and be a part of. This year we will be collecting donations for the student-staff basketball game, 8th Grade Leadership Academy kids will be participating in an activity on Wednesday, June 1st  and more. So, on those days, plan accordingly. Suggestions for that final day(s) may include: a goal reflection activity, encourage kids to think about their summer growth, create and play Kahoot review games, and more.

I am truly excited for all that has been accomplished this year and I look forward to an amazingly strong finish!

For Aidan’s sake, and all of the others out there, please continue to share your amazing abilities to connect with kids and teach them all of the lessons you have yet to do so.

With gratitude,

Craig