Known, Loved and Challenged

Today, I am at the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools’ annual heads conference along with 60 other heads of school from our state. The conference began last night with an address from the former President of the National Association of Independent Schools Pat Bassett, a legendary educational leader, who will retire this year after 48 years in the independent school world.   Continue reading

A Fresh Perspective on Social Media

IMG_4018Yesterday, I attended a workshop on “The Future of Social Media Education” hosted by the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), organized by our own Director of Academic Technology and Innovation Aron Back. It was an uplifting experience for a topic that can be challenging and anxiety-provoking. Much of the day focused on changing our mindset from negative to positive, shifting our perspectives from ‘don’t’ to ‘do’s,’ and emphasizing values over digital citizenship. I had the chance to speak on a panel that ended the day, fielding questions from guest speaker Laura Tierney of The Social Institute. This topic has many implications for both education and parenting, and is a topic that is surely not going away. I look forward to many future conversations among the Country School faculty and staff, as well as with parents. In this post, I want to share a few practical pieces of advice specifically for parents. Continue reading

Don’t Chase the Bus

One of our salient duties as parents – and educators – is to instill in our children the confidence, skills and vision to become independent adults who pursue their passions. Two moments from Spring Break brought the topic of independence in our children back to top of mind for me. The first involved seeing a high school friend and his family – in Rome, no less – for a day of visiting together. They told us the story of their son’s fourth grade teacher’s words of advice at the beginning of the school year: “Don’t chase the bus.”  In other words, if your child forgets something at home, the value of their discomfort in not having something, of learning that life still goes on even with the mistake, and of knowing that their responsibilities are, in fact, theirs, far outweighs the negatives of a missed homework assignment or sitting out a PE class because they forgot their sneakers. So, if your child forgets something, don’t chase the bus to bring it to them.  The second instance was the concurrent bribery scandal involving college admissions, where in addition to the illegality and immorality steeped throughout those involved, the parents of the students were doing anything but cultivating independence in their children.  Those parents were the so-called ‘snowplow’ parents I wrote about this winter, attempting to clear away all obstacles for their children and in the meantime causing their children significant long-term harm. Continue reading

Setting Goals with Children

Welcome back to school!  I hope that you all enjoyed a restorative break, whether you stayed close to home or traveled far afield. Tomorrow, we begin the busiest time of year with its myriad gatherings, events and, later, celebrations. It is an exciting time but one that can also distract from the best intentions of our children. Given that we also received progress reports before we left for break and have conferences in about two weeks, I have been thinking about the concept of goals with my children and how best to help them set themselves up for success this spring. Continue reading

Make Time to Play

NCCS_NCCares_DigAd_600x450_2-28-19Happy Spring Break! As we approach all breaks, I take time both to reflect on lessons learned and growth experienced in the prior weeks and months, and to wish us all the time and space to rest, rejuvenate and reinvigorate just as we look forward to goals we set for the next time we reconvene.

Over this break, I wish you time to play with your children — and, more importantly, time for them to play. Play is important for us all, and it is most important for children of all ages. Play makes humans smarter. It opens up new neural pathways, leads to new ideas and inventions, lowers stress and strengthens human connections. Play is highly undervalued in our society and yet is an important part of our approach for all these reasons. Continue reading

Innovation and Opportunity

Screen Shot 2019-03-01 at 12.54.22 PMI am writing to you this week from the National Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) Annual Conference, where I have been immersed in my own learning alongside about 5,000 fellow Heads and senior administrators from schools from across the country. It has been energizing to hear from thought leaders and colleagues on a wide spectrum of topics related to school leadership. Continue reading

The Power of Thank You

fish printI was sitting in a meeting in my office one afternoon recently when I heard a knock at my door. I could not see who was there through the top half of the door, which is glass, so I got up and opened the door and looked down. Standing there beaming at me, was an entire Beginners class (4- and 5-year-olds) holding a rolled up piece of construction paper. Continue reading

Public Component of Student Projects

In between interviewing candidates and welcoming several finalists to campus this week, I have had the opportunity to spend time with three separate classes working on long-standing Country School projects: a 5th grade class discussing the validity of school dress codes/uniforms, a 6th grade class preparing for its speeches, and 8th graders practicing telling stories from various cultures around the world. Each of these is a highlight of the year for the grade because it has a public component; it involves performance of some sort and younger students see and look forward to partaking in these activities themselves one day.    Continue reading

Parenting Styles

Helicopter parenting. It is such a common term. What does it mean exactly? As an educator, helicopter parenting – and its newer, even more challenging cousin, snowplow parenting – are problematic. Helicopter parenting, hovering over one’s child and directing the child’s decisions, undermines the child’s path towards independence, which is a salient component of childhood and of our role as educators. Snowplow parenting is a style that pushes all obstacles out of the way of the child, thereby compromising the child’s ability to experience adversity, to learn resilience and also to gain independence. The truths behind helicopter and snowplow parenting are well known and roundly believed by educators.   Continue reading

Candidates Attracted to Country School

Over the course of the last month, I have had some incredible one-on-one conversations with more than 35 of the 200+ candidates for our open administrative positions. The experience, knowledge and mindsets of the candidates for these positions is impressive, and the list of their accomplishments is long. Perhaps the best part of the hiring process is hearing and reflecting on Country School through their eyes. Continue reading