Dear ESHA Friends,
During the last two tumultuous months, I’ve had the opportunity to touch base with many of you, both through our regular connecting flight calls and particularly on the three panel discussions we hosted in April and May. Throughout these weeks, when it has been so easy to become discombobulated, your leadership skills have continued to impress and inspire me. While the paths ahead for your schools are varied and uncertain, you should know that your skills and effectiveness as Heads validate you in your vocations as captains of our all-important industry. Congratulations on your superb work.
Here are a couple of important announcements.
First, as you might have anticipated, we will be rolling over our Annual October Retreat for a year because of the uncertainty surrounding school openings and state and national protocols. We still plan to be in Seattle for this important yearly event, but in 2021 instead of 2020. HOWEVER, our planning committee is scheduling an online virtual retreat for you on the morning of Monday, October 26. More details will follow.
Second, as I have long planned, after five years as your Executive Director, I will be retiring from my post at the end of June. This has been scheduled with the board for well over a year, and I’m delighted to announce that Mary Beth Noel, known to most of you through her outstanding work on our annual retreats, will take over from me. She is superbly equipped to lead ESHA (see below), having been a long-term Head’s Assistant at The Lexington School (KY) and a part-time, behind-the-scenes administrator for ESHA. Please welcome Mary Beth when you have the opportunity!
When I was a Head of School, I always loved ESHA; it was my favorite educational organization, and I couldn’t wait to find out when and where the next conference would be. For me, it was the best possible professional development opportunity. How lucky I have been to have taken that passion for the association and to have merged it into my role as ESHA’s director. My hope is that all of you will continue to benefit – as I certainly have – from your ESHA membership in these challenging times.
Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive of me over the years. ESHA is indeed a special organization. For the next year, I’ll try to be a good support and consultant for Mary Beth. And I still can’t wait to get to our retreats! GO, ESHA!
From ESHA President
As the weather turns warmer and we begin to see more sunshine in our future, I wish for all of you to see some light at the end of this very long tunnel. I hope many of you have tuned into the ESHA panels. I know I have found them to be not only filled with helpful information, but also a source of comfort that I am not navigating these muddy waters alone. Thank you to all the Heads of School who have shared your knowledge with the rest of us.
With no COVID-19 vaccine in sight, I know that many of you, like me are beginning to think of how we might be able to open our schools in the fall. There is no easy answer to this question of when or how to open but I hope you will turn to some of your ESHA colleagues for support and advice.
Take care and may all your communities stay safe and strong!
MARY BETH NOEL
Mary Beth Noel will begin serving as our Executive Director on July 1, 2020. Having been ESHA’s annual retreat planner for the past 7 years, her transition into the role will be a familiar one. She has come to know and love our members and firmly believes in ESHA’s role in independent schools.
She has been with The Lexington School in Lexington, Kentucky, for the past 13 years, serving as the Executive Administrative Assistant to Chuck Baldecchi, a past ESHA president. Prior to moving back to her home state of Kentucky, she was involved in the cosmetics and fragrance industry in sales and management for 30 years.
Mary Beth attended Bridgewater College in Virginia and plans on taking classes at The University of Kentucky upon her retirement from TLS in June 2020. She has decided not to take up guitar on the advice of Chris Abell.
GIVEN THE UNCERTAINTY THAT OUR SCHOOLS FACE, ESHA IS INTERESTED IN HOUSING ARTICLES AND RESOURCES THAT YOU, OUR MEMBERS, FIND EXTREMELY HELPFUL, THOUGHTFUL, AND CREATIVE, SO PLEASE FORWARD ANYTHING YOU FIND PARTICULARLY STELLAR TO INFO@ELEMENTARYSCHOOLHEADS.ORG
What Is the Most Popular Language in the World?
The most common language in the world is English, with the majority of speakers knowing English as their second language. How many people in the world speak English? In total, English has more than 1.13 billion speakers, with more than 379 million speaking it as their native language. English is a part of the Indo-European language tree, which also contains some of the other top languages in the world, like Spanish and French. English has split off into pidgin and creole languages itself as a result of colonialism, like the Jamaican Patois, Nigerian Pidgin, and Singlish. English also happens to be the top language used on websites by a vast majority of users (56.1%).
The Top 5 Languages in the World by Total Speakers
While English has the highest total number of speakers, Mandarin Chinese has the highest number of native speakers. How many people speak Mandarin? As a first language, roughly 918 million people speak Mandarin, with more than 1.11 billion total speakers worldwide. Mandarin Chinese includes a multitude of dialects, such as Standard Chinese, which is the official state language of the Chinese government, and the Beijing dialect. This may seem like a lot of people, but 30% of the country’s population does not speak Mandarin. Many other languages are also commonly used in the Sino-Tibetan world language tree. Map out the Sino-Tibetan language family tree and one can see the rich variety of Chinese languages. It might be upsetting to find out, however, that dozens of them are in danger of extinction.
The Top 5 Languages in the World by Native Speakers
FROM THE MARSHALL MEMO
(Something you're keenly aware of...)
Teaching Social-Emotional Skills At a Distance
In this article in Education Week, Arianna Prothero says homebound students “now more than ever need strong coping skills to adjust to this new reality that will likely, for many, extend through the end of the school year and beyond.” The uncertainty and lack of control over the future makes social-emotional learning especially important – but how can educators accomplish that at a distance? Prothero interviewed several SEL experts for their ideas:
• Psychological distancing – Ask students to think about helping another young person: “Well, what would I do to support my best friend who was telling me they were really worried about the coronavirus? What would I say to them?” suggests Marc Bracket (Yale University). This gets students out of their own heads, being empathetic and compassionate with another person – which might surface ideas they could apply to themselves. Students could also be asked to examine their own self-talk and think about whether it’s helpful.
• Literature – For younger students, reading stories aloud (synchronously or asynchronously) and discussing the feelings and motivations of characters can be helpful.
• Current events – Older students might be asked to reflect on the social-emotional attributes on display among political leaders – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making – and discussing how and whether these are helping the U.S. through this crisis.
• Rituals – It’s a good idea to maintain cherished traditions like spirit week – for example, having students wear crazy socks and sending in photos of them. Journaling is another ritual, with teachers sending prompts to get students reflecting and writing about their feelings. For students without Internet access, cell phones can be the medium.
• Setting limits – It’s important to talk about what’s going on in the world, but teachers and families need to avoid overwhelming young people with too much about the pandemic. One step: suggesting to parents that they not have cable news on all the time.
“Teaching SEL When Students Are Home” by Arianna Prothero in Education Week, April 8, 2020 (Vol. 39, #29, pp. 14-15), https://bit.ly/34xNkXX
(And something that will always be a challenge...)
Dealing with Rational and Irrational Resistance to Change
In this All Things PLC article, Luis Cruz says that in his 30 years as a public school teacher, administrator, and consultant, the vast majority of colleagues have been dedicated, caring professionals. And yet when he’s seen resistance to positive initiatives, it’s come from adults, not students. “Why would hardworking educators who care deeply for the welfare of their students resist the changes needed to help more students be successful?” asks Cruz. He’s found there are two reasons:
• Rational or logical resistance – This is when educators don’t understand why a particular initiative is needed, lack important implementation details, and/or don’t trust the leader. Here are some possible manifestations:
- I’ve been grading essays this way for years; why should I change now?
- You are the fourth principal in five years. Why should we invest time in changing our schedule when there will probably be another principal next year with a different idea?
- I don’t know how to use this new software for analyzing interim test results, so I choose not to use it.
Effective leaders address concerns like these by (a) using relevant data to explain the rationale; (b) treating those responsible for carrying out the initiative in an empathetic and supportive manner to develop credibility and trust; and (c) involving colleagues in the problem-solving process and creating a culture of adult learning.
• Irrational or illogical resistance – Educators in this camp aren’t motivated by concerns about rationale or implementation details but by “the intrinsic desire to refute change for the sake of refuting change,” says Cruz. He believes it’s a big mistake for leaders to ignore or avoid dealing with such recalcitrance, and suggests the following steps (acronym RESIST):
- Recognize that not confronting these individuals “communicates to other adults in schools a lack of urgency or priority to follow through.”
- Evaluate whether you as a leader have provided sufficient explanation and support.
- Select the language and location where the “tactful confrontation” will take place.
- Initiate the confrontation and ask whether the person has received enough support to accept the change.
- Select your response: Should you provide more support? Identify and name an unwillingness to comply?
- Tell the person that you are invoking positional authority to require compliance with a legitimate initiative that better serves students and their families, and will monitor the person’s actions until monitoring is no longer necessary.
“Leadership in schools,” concludes Cruz, “must be evaluated not only on the merits of promoting collective problem-solving, but also on the merits of how effectively we support others to embrace the uncomfortableness associated with implementation of necessary change.”
“The Unfamiliar Truth About Resistance to Change in Schools” by Luis Cruz in All Things PLC Magazine, Winter 2020, no e-link available
From ESHA member Dane Peters:
The pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on our schools and the way that we teach. Since the Spring 2020 issue of Independent Teacher was largely being put together as these changes took place, we were not able to adequately respond to them in the upcoming issue. Therefore, we are inviting classroom teachers and administrators to submit articles for our fall issue detailing their experiences with online learning. Tell us about your adventures with Zoom or Skype, how is it teaching from home, and how are students reacting. You can respond in one of two ways:
· Write a full-length article (roughly 1500-2500 words) about your experience with online learning - the good, the bad, and the ugly!
· If a regular article seems out of reach, consider sending us a short (1 or 2 paragraphs) piece on how online learning has gone in your classroom, highlighting just one or two points. Student responses are also invited. We will compile all of these into a "Covid-19 Chronicle."
You have plenty of time to process your thoughts; the deadline for submissions for the fall 2020 issue is Sept. 15. The fall issue does not have a theme so we will consider other articles as well.
Send queries and submissions to email@example.com.
As noted above, we will be rolling over our Annual October Retreat for a year because of the uncertainty surrounding school openings and state and national protocols. We still plan to be in Seattle for this important yearly event, but in 2021 instead of 2020. HOWEVER, our planning committee is scheduling an online virtual retreat for you on the morning of Monday, October 26. More details will follow.