Posted: January 3, 2018
Staff, I hope you all were able to create some wonderful memories with family and friends over the holiday season. This morning we welcome back our students – always a little challenging for all of us to get back into those routines.J I included the last email I sent prior to break below. There is information that might be helpful. If you haven’t had a chance to read it please take some time to do so. Thank you!
As you know, student voice is very important to what we do in Camas. This year will be our third year of doing senior exit interviews. If you’re interested in participating in the interviews this spring, please let your principal know. The interviews are powerful experiences that provide great insight into our work and the outcomes that students experience. I came across an article (Reflections of a High School Graduate – Anonymous) in the monthly Washington Educational Research Association Journal about student voice that I found myself thinking a lot about over the break. This quote from the article really stuck with me.
I remember once at Elementary, at a yearly routine parent-teacher conference, my teacher told my mother “____ is such a good student, I wish I had 25 copies of her.” What she meant by this was that I was always quiet, required minimal attention, got decent grades, I was low maintenance. It wasn’t the first time I’d received this kind of praise, but this is the only instance I remember well. Normally one would think it’s good. I didn’t realize until much later how damaging it was. Children who were loud or talked to their friends a lot were hushed, and kids that caused trouble were scolded. Teacher’s pets were looked down on by students. To have the teacher’s attention for the most part, seemed bad. As a child at school, I learned that being quiet, not drawing attention to myself, meant that I was being good and made teachers happy without conflicting with my peers. And that’s how I slowly started to suffer in silence.
Questions about our students’ experiences kept churning in my mind – questions that I’m sure churn in your mind as well:
· How do we ensure each student feels valued and connected for who they are and how do we build from that?
· How can we ensure that each student remembers a positive, inspiring event or experience when looking back on their time in Camas? AND,
· How do we know if we’re getting better at answering these questions?
With the New Year comes resolutions….this year, I’m hoping to be a little more sensible with my cookie consumption. These kinds of resolutions are easy to assess. I step on the scale and there’s the proof (or lack thereof).
It’s not as easy as stepping on a scale to assess the progress we make related to our students’ experiences. It requires deep reflection and vulnerability. We have to be comfortable enough to embrace that what we’re doing isn’t working for everyone. It’s not an indictment on us, just an acknowledgement that our work requires the challenge of thoughtful evolution in our systems and practices, BECAUSE our vision is that we WILL see and serve each of our students.
As we head into 2018, thank you for taking on this challenge. Thank you for committing to deep reflection and making yourself vulnerable to new ideas and ways of doing things. Your effort helps us move closer to ensuring each student feels valued for who they are, and leaves us inspired about who they can become.