Dear ESHA Friends,
I hope that your winter breaks were enjoyable and gave you a sizable boost for the months ahead.
As you know, ESHA's next event is on February 27th in Long Beach, California, when NAIS meets. Our cocktail party information can be found at the following link as well as in the included information section below, so please do register soon. We do need a solid number count for the gathering for planning purposes.
I'm including in the Heads Up section links to or articles about childhood, cell phones, and "headmaster hoarding," even though I realize that there's not much time in your lives for reflective reading! But give them a shot when you have time.
From ESHA President Elinor Scully
Dear ESHA Colleagues,
Happy New Year, ESHA members! I hope that everyone had a much deserved restful winter holiday and that 2019 is off to a good start in your respective schools.
Fellow ESHA board member Joe Powers (The Woods Academy, MD) and I are hosting a lunch to recruit new potential ESHA members next week here at The Langley School. Joe and I are looking forward to describing the many benefits we've realized as ESHA members. For those of you heading to Long Beach next month, I hope you will join us at our ESHA happy hour on Wednesday evening, February 27. We are trying out a new format and will welcome your attendance and feedback. In the meantime, best wishes for a great second half of the year!
This article came out in November and provides an interesting perspective on cell phones and accompanying suggestions.
The following three links are just parts of an extensive "Special Report on Childhood "in the January 5th edition of The Economist.
And finally, Carla Silver of Leadership and Design once again pushes us where we might want to go!
The Miracle of Tidying Up School
Carla Silver, Head L+Doer
I haven't read The Life-Changing Habit of Tidying Up - although I do own it. From what I have read about it, I'm pretty sure I would be a big fan. I'm also certain that it offers many more humane, kind and empathetic methods for what I do everyday - heartlessly and haphazardly get rid of crap. Or should I say, "stuff?" Whatever. It's in the eye of the beholder. At the rate I fill extra large hefty lawn bags full of art projects, broken toys, plastic souvenirs from family vacations as well as school and professional sporting events, unfinished friendship bracelets, cardboard cities, and school work, I feel like I should hold an honorary trash collector's license, much less feel capable at "tidying up." The day winter vacation ends and the kids go back to school: that is when I am at my most relentless.
One final hypothesis about this book (that I have not read) is that it isn't really about keeping a clean desk or a tidy house, it's about being able to make clear choices about what to keep and what to throw away - in life. Whether we are talking about personal and work habits, relationships, possessions, or ideas and perspectives, we all carry around a lot more than what really serves us, brings us joy, feels relevant, and really matters in the here and now.
Schools are no exception. In fact, I would actually consider schools - as an industry - to be hoarders - of curriculum, pedagogy, calendar, and mindsets about student learning. Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald - can't get rid of those guys. That Latin text book from 1989 - it has a few good translations. Keep. AP courses - how will our students ever get into *name brand college* without them? Three months of summer - our teachers and students need time to rest and recover and our families need time to take overseas vacations. Lectures and exams - our students will need to know how to do these when they go to college because that is what colleges do - especially *name brand college*. I could go on, but I think I've made my point. At what point do we keep hoarding all of these elements of education or make the choice to tidy up and make clear and intentional decisions about what is really important, relevant, joyful, and meaningful?
School leaders can get cluttered too - with the stories they tell themselves and their own personal narratives about how they need to serve their school communities, make decisions, and their strengths and weaknesses. "Nobody takes me seriously." - Better hold onto that idea. "I need to be decisive." - A little old school, but that's what leaders do. "I solve the problems - for my school and all of my direct reports." - I can be the hero. What are the stories that leaders can tell themselves that actually serve them and help them to be more capable in mobilizing change and empower others to do work that matters? What stories inhibit success and are no longer useful? Hoarders.
This month, in our year of Mad-Lib style newsletter articles, we asked our writers to complete the following prompt that we like to call the Miracle Question: A miracle has occurred and ________ problem has been magically solved overnight. We're observing ___________ as a result, and it's blowing our minds. For me, the miracle would be that we have applied the KonMari method described in The Life-Changing Habit of Tidying Up (or at least the version I have in my head) to school and to school leadership. We have systematically explored what we possess and what we store in our syllabi, our personal narratives, our curriculum and our pedagogy, and we ask ourselves,"Is this serving me and my students now?" "When was the last time I really used this?" "Where am I not making space for solutions, practices, and learning experiences that could be more elegant and relevant?" "Is this bringing me and my community joy?" The real miracle would be that we have tidied up school. There would be space for growth. My mind would be blown.
In the natural word, there are eco-cycles that organic systems go through - starting with gestation and moving through birth, maturity and finally creative destruction. Liberating Structures - a set of practices that are helpful when teams are trying to make progress through challenges uses a tool called "Ecocycle Planning" to help organizations and teams apply this natural phenomenon in their own work, helping them to identify where certain practices, products, activities and services are in their various ecological stages. Creative destruction is part of any healthy eco-cycle. To make space for new growth and allow new seeds to germinate, other plants must die or be repurposed and turned to mulch. Ecosystems depend on these cycles. It's nature's way of Tidying Up. When nature hoards, we end up with forest fires. When schools hoard, we end up with fires of a different kind.
Take a look below at the miracles our amazing writers - all L+D Fellows - have identified. Thanks Michael Ecker, Rhonda Hewer and Hannah Nelson. You are all miracle workers! Speaking of the L+D Fellowship, it's almost time to open up the applications for this year. We start taking applications February 1 and the deadline is March 15. Also coming up, Equity and Inclusion Action Lab in Seattle with NWAIS (you don't have to be a NWAIS member to attend). Wonder Women! is filling, so register soon if you want to join us - this year we are back in Oakland, CA at Head-Royce School. Lastly, we opened up registration for a new adventure last week - L+D TruthSeeking Pods. If you are interested, email me or Ryan and we can send you a registration link. We only have a couple of spaces left! Apparently there are a lot of school leaders seeking truth because those spots were snatched up lickity split.
May 2019 bring you many wonderful adventures, hopefully some with L+D!
ESHA Is Delighted to Welcome Another New Member
ESHA’s 2019 Annual “Dinner”
It’s not a dinner this year, but a cocktail reception!
NAIS will have its conference in Long Beach, California, so take the ten-minute stroll from the Convention Center and…
Join us at Parker’s Lighthouse from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.
There’s no cost to ESHA members or guests, and we highly encourage you to bring a friend who’s a head but hasn’t joined ESHA yet, or a board member, or members of your senior leadership team. Just sign them in when you register so we can have accurate numbers.
This year’s event is sponsored by McCallie School.