Playing with Expectations

More often than not clarity is the goal of all communication with parents, students, and teachers. As a principal I strive to provide information that gives my audience what they need, and opportunities to ask questions and engage in conversation about what’s happening on campus. To this end I use Twitter and our school’s Facebook page, I’m diligent about keeping up with a monthly principal’s message on our school website, and I keep this blog (for those times I’m feeling a little more poetic than a more official memorandum would allow). In addition, short web videos have become an increasingly welcome way for me to reach parents, who get to see a face with the message, as opposed to a disembodied voice on the other end of a phone message (I use those too) that interrupts dinnertime.

In a playful mood, however, I jostled that expectation of clarity first, and engaged in a touch of subterfuge for my “Costumes on Campus” message.

halloweenvideothumb

The student who was kind enough to stand in for me had gotten my attention when I subbed for a drama class earlier in the year and he offered to get the students started on a drama warm up while I took role. A real leader and talented actor, he had the pluck I wanted to fill the suit and mask. My AP stood behind the camera, and told me when we finished: “This was your best one!” Because I wasn’t in it, I answered. “You said it, not me!” He laughed.

Using humor to support a message and embracing the unexpected are hallmarks of great teachers. To work with pre-teens and teenagers means an ongoing adventure into the world of anything can happen, and to be an administrator at a middle school means multiplying that by 40 or so classrooms.

I’m very fortunate to share this adventure with a team of gifted educators who see the good in the unexpected. As we learn, both students and adults, understanding is preceded by a moment of not knowing what will happen next. It could be the anticipation of hearing a student presentation, engaging in a lab in science, or wrestling for a solution in math. It’s the notion that we don’t have the answer …yet. And it’s iphoto 2 (9)n that “yet” that we cultivate the growth mindset that believes we all have the capacity to grow, to learn, and (to crib a line from Sartre) to be what we are becoming.

I heard once that one measure of progress in a laboratory was laughter, because it meant that something had happened that was positive and surprising. It’s a lot like that in middle school.

Learning should be fun. As we dance with the unknown and finish a little closer to understanding than when we started, students build the habits of curiosity that will lead them in exciting and uncharted directions.

Without masks.

 

 

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