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Hooray for Pat Bassett February 24, 2011

Filed under: General Sessions — mhaakmat @ 10:13 pm

There is something about the way Pat Bassett, head of NAIS, captures the moment and sets the tone for these annual conferences. It’s not his flashy use of technology or his clever plays on words. It is the way Pat gets to the heart of the matter to point us in the right direction for a deeper take away to bring back to our schools. I loved Pat’s phrasing of the central questions which frame this year’s theme of advancing our public purpose:
Is producing well-rounded, “globally minded” independent school graduates serving our public purpose enough to justify the privileged status of independent schools? Is graduating these young adults making a big enough difference in America?

I think that if we can truly say our graduates are educated in our schools for activism and leadership for social justice, then perhaps this is enough to make a real difference in America. How many of us can say this though? There’s the question.


Make It Or Break It Discipline

Filed under: Workshops — mhaakmat @ 10:12 pm

It felt good in this workshop to hear about what we already do well with discipline in my middle school. The speakers talked about the three areas of the brain which work together to allow for effective human to human connection and leadership skill development. Joann Deak, brain researcher, expertly laid out the importance of allowing students to learn through consequences in difficult moments, not just because this kind of practice helps learning, but because these experiences actually help the adolescent brain to grow and become more able to make good decisions. The brain of that 7th grader who plagiarizes will grow and develop more when the consequence requires some processing of what led up to her making that decision and some thinking about what she needed from her teachers, her parents or herself that she wasn’t getting.

Lingering questions for me?
What do adults in schools need to know about brain development in order to create discipline systems and consequences that work?
What do my middle schoolers need to understand about their own brain development in order to help them make sense of the ups and downs and learning in the middle school years?


Pre-Conference Thoughts February 21, 2011

Filed under: Pre-Conference Thoughts — mhaakmat @ 10:17 pm

My hopes, as I prepare to leave my school for three days next week, are:
1. to hear and share about the ways that independent schools have been successful in advancing our public purpose
2. to engage in honest dialog about the ways that independent schools must change in order to effectively do this work

I am hoping to dig deeply with other school leaders and challenge each other to resist the complacency that can grow out of self-satisfaction. I hope we ask each other some hard questions about who we are, who we serve best and if we are willing to seize this monumental opportunity to advance our public purpose.

What a privilege to have this time together! I hope we use it well.