Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back-to-School Night

Thanks to all of you who came out to our back-to-school night earlier this week.  This is always one of my favorite nights of the year, when our parents get to step into the shoes of their children and spend a night as middle schoolers.  I heard a lot of positive feedback from our teachers about the great turnout we had and the positive relationships that they are starting to build with our families. 

As we mentioned in the state of the school address, Henley has a lot to be proud of—great teachers, motivated students, strong scores on state tests, and an active group of parents who provide a great deal of support wherever it’s needed.  We have worked hard to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and that allows for high levels of engagement and positive experiences for our students. 

I spoke last night about some of the goals that we have for this school year.  One is to “embrace the shake.”  A motto we have borrowed from artist Phil Hansen who has encouraged us to look at any limitations that students have as opportunities to be creative instead of as things that hold them back.  A couple of video clips that will give you an idea of why we want to “embrace the shake” can be found here and here.
I am also very interested in our staff developing an understanding of Carol Dweck’s work around growth vs. fixed mindsets.  The more I learn about this, the more important I believe it is that we work deliberately as a school to develop growth mindsets in our students.  A very brief explanation of this concept can be found here.
I know that we’re going to have another great year at Henley.  I look forward to getting to know our new students and to continuing our work with those who are returning. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Off to a great start!

I had a lot of fun this week and last, and I hope that you and your kids did too. I’m always nervous and usually up all night before the first day of school and this year was no exception. I worry about the master schedule and whether or not everyone will have a class to go to when they arrive, I worry about the school buses and whether or not they will get here on time, I worry about the cafeteria and if all of the supplies that they need have been delivered for breakfast and lunch, this year I added a new worry to my list with laptop computer distribution for our seventh graders. The list could go on and on, but there is one thing I have learned I never need to worry about at Henley, and that is whether or not our teachers will be ready for a great start. Year in and year out, the Henley faculty and staff has shown their absolute dedication to our profession, to making kids feel welcome and to starting the year off strong. As I walked through the halls last week, a common theme I saw throughout the building was that of community building. Our classes were started with teachers and students alike developing the relationships that we know are so crucial to everyone’s success. Kids were getting to know their new classmates and their teachers, they were developing norms for how the class would operate this year, and they were setting the stage for success.

The excitement of the first week of school is infectious. Our kids were ready to be back and you could just sense that they were having a positive experience upon their return. I'm making it a goal this year to keep that level of excitement going not just during the first week or the first month of school, but throughout the entire year. We all want to create an atmosphere within our classrooms that makes kids want to run off of the school bus in the morning because they know they are going to be engaged, challenged and inspired each day by the work you are doing. Let’s get ready to have some fun.