Building New Understandings
A New Year’s Wish: Building New Understandings
As we begin the New Year, I have found myself reflecting on issues of race in our country. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner and NYPD officers Wenjian Lui and Rafael Ramos in New York have led to a renewed national conversation about race. My personal reflection includes an awareness of my own “white privilege,” a concept described in a 1987 essay by Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Women, entitled, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” For a more current version, see her 2012 TEDx Talk.
In an end-of-year letter to staff, I expressed my appreciation for work that teachers do to make Lawrence School a place that embraces diversity and inclusiveness. I also offered a reminder – that we keep the conversation going and continue working to be actively anti-racist, anti-bias educators. As we tell the students, we all need to “say or do something.”
A recent article in the journal Educational Leadership suggested,“The health of our society depends on our ability to engage others’ perspectives and come to new understandings through dialogue.”(Tyson, Hintz & Hernandez November 2014). One of the reasons I chose a career in education was a belief that educators have an opportunity and a responsibility to make the world a better place – by teaching respect, promoting understanding and working to change inequities in our society. I begin 2015 with a renewed commitment to this work. It is my hope that through conversations, we will come to new understandings – and help our students to do the same.
Best Wishes for a year filled with new understandings!
A New Year’s Resolution: Be on Time
On a much more quotidian note, I would also like to urge families to start the new year right and help your children be on time. If this topic sounds familiar, it’s because I last wrote about it in April. (Aside: Thank you to the 80% of families who do arrive on time each day. You don’t need to read any further!).
Here are some current statistics. Each day, approximately 25-40 students are late to school. Through December break, there were 74 days of school. 109 students were tardy 7 or more times (10% of days). Of these students, 41 were tardy 14 or more times (20% of days) – basically at least once a week.
Many of the tardies fall between 8:00-8:10. One might ask, “What’s the big deal?” First, even arriving a few minutes late can leave children feeling rushed and flustered. Early morning work and routines help students ease smoothly into their day. Second, when students are tardy, they disrupt the learning environment of the students who are present and ready to learn. Finally, being on time is a life skill. How often are you permitted to be late to work?
Students are welcome in the cafeteria or main lobby beginning at 7:30. Hallways open at 7:50 and classrooms open at 7:55. School begins at 8:00. I understand that traffic is challenging and inclement weather contributes to delays. On days with particularly inclement weather, we sometimes extend the arrival time by a few minutes.
So, as we head into the New Year, aim to arrive, not at 8:00 am, but at 7:50 am when the first chime rings. That way your children will have plenty of time to hang up their coats, unpack their backpacks and be in class, ready to learn at 8:00. Being on time for school is an important part of being successful in school.