It has been so great to see so many of you here today. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to experience every day what you did today. I get to see the ways our teachers inspire our children and instill the joy of lifelong learning. Inspiration comes from being exposed to engaging information in an environment that is psychologically safe. The way that we create such an environment involves knowing every student well, caring for their individual development, and challenging them to be their best in myriad ways. Put another way, students learn best in a culture of high expectations coupled with high levels of support. Our teachers cultivate such an environment in every class at every level here.
I am reminded every year of my first-ever parent visiting day my first year of teaching. The day before the visiting day, my eighth grade geometry students informed me that they would all be raising their hands to every question in order to impress their parents regarding their class participation. At the same time, they implored me to only call on those whose raised hands contained a pencil, as that would be the way they would signal me that they actually knew the answer! I loved the ingenious skewing of reality that they attempted to orchestrate through this pencil-in-hand signal, and the way that the practice actually strengthened the relationships I had with those students.
Rest assured that what you saw in the classrooms today is very similar to what our students experience every day. I know it is not exact, as neither teacher nor students are used to having a dozen or more adults in class, but I know it was close. I hope that what you saw today was teachers who really know your children and how to best encourage them, children who love coming to school, and a community that works together to make sure that challenge and joy coexist in every activity.