Throughout my personal and professional life—my dissertation research, my high school and undergraduate teaching, my experience leading P-8 educational programs, and my counseling work with adolescent girls—I have seen firsthand hundreds of girls and young women wrestle with the challenge to thrive in a male-dominated society. Through their struggles, these young women continue to impress me with their resilience and fortitude.
Lately, I have been on an Adam Grant binge. Dr. Grant, an organizational psychology professor at the Wharton School of Business, is an expert on how we can channel motivation and meaning to live more generous and creative lives—a perfect perspective to explore as we reflect on 2019 and direct our intentions for the year ahead. If you have 15 minutes (or less!) to spare amid the busyness of the season, check out these quick links to keep your holiday spirits centered.
Our admiration for teachers at Turning Point often lingers in the abstract, so it was powerful for me to see firsthand how our teachers skillfully use reliable routines and expectations to maintain a positive, consistent learning environment. Teachers prepare for as much as they can, but lesson planning does not translate into cruise control in the classroom. Children’s moods are mercurial, so the real skill kicks in when teachers leave room for the inevitable micro-adjustments that need to be made all day long.
I am always struck by the irony of feeling frustrated and resentful at the demands surrounding holidays that are about love and appreciation. The truth is, as humans, we are really good at making flawed assumptions about our futures and are really bad at predicting what will actually make us happy. Therefore, we often don't consider opportunities that will inspire true contentment and fulfillment, like spending time with loved ones, and instead invest in things that look appealing at first but won’t move our happiness needle in an enduring way.
Children develop positive self-identity through open conversations, being valued by peers, experiencing supportive relationships and settings, and by seeing other people with similar identities be appreciated and valued. A recent study by Sesame Street and the University of Chicago demonstrated that children as young as preschool notice and talk about difference in race, class, gender, culture, and religion. Open conversations with even our youngest children can help them learn about themselves and others.
Creating a school culture where we all understand and embrace differences is ongoing work which requires us to first see and acknowledge difference. When we nullify differences in favor of likenesses, the “likeness” is often anchored in culturally dominant norms. This invites “color blindness,” a well-meaning gesture that attempts to find commonality among different groups but instead can further divide us through its use of a single lens. It is crucial that as adults we develop the self-awareness and humility necessary to have courageous conversations with our children about differences and diversity.
When we set aside time to impart to our students the powerful and compelling stories of people whose achievements are often veiled, we create opportunities to build racial and cultural understanding. We understand that we don’t want Black history to be a side issue, but one that, along with the contributions of other underrepresented people, helps us to build a richer, more accurate, and more nuanced picture of where we have come from, and more importantly, where we are going.
Research shows the more diverse a group is, the harder people in the group work to understand and solve a problem. Who we are has an effect on how we think; our experiences, training, work, social networks, and preferences contribute to our identity and therefore our cognitive approach to problem-solving. If creative people all have the same ideas, then the whole is just a reflection of the parts. If they differ in their ideas, they produce what is known as a “diversity bonus.”
The start of school is always a time of new beginnings – a new grade level, new teachers, new classmates, and for some, an entirely new school. At Turning Point, we have another “new beginning” to add to our list: the launch of our re-branding project.
Relationships are at the heart of a key strategic priority for Turning Point, articulated in an essential question: How do we continue to foster a highly engaged, inclusive community?