This week’s (and the year’s final) article summary is Mantras and Mottoes.
While this blog (from the Head of Laurel School in Cleveland) was about New Year’s resolutions, it fits for me as the final article summary of the school year as summer is the time when I reflect and make resolutions for the next school year.
As I went right from college to a teaching, I have 'never never had' a summer break.
Even though I come to Trinity most days over the summer, the months of June and July afford me the opportunity to think and reflect.
If you’re like me, my first year of teaching was more about survival. Over the summer after my first year of teaching I thought a lot about what went well and what didn’t and committed to myself to begin my second year trying some different techniques in the classroom.
Every year since, I devote time in the summer to evaluating who I am as a professional (good, bad, and ugly) and what goals I plan to set for myself for the coming school year.
The blog below highlights some important mantras and mottoes the Head of Laurel School lives by as a professional. Some of the mantras and mottoes she came up with herself, others she borrowed from mentors.
As we get ready to scatter for summer break, try to make some time over the next few months to think of the mantras/mottoes that influence and define you as an educator.
I also want to thank all of you for another wonderful and special year. Your dedication, energy, and creativity are what set Trinity apart from other schools!
Some mantras and mottoes — phrases I come back to over and over to help me remember that which is most important at school.
Heart, Head, and Hand: D.L. Moody, founder of Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts, believed in heart, head, and hand — encouraging a child’s spirit, intellect, and ability to make meaning through purposeful work.
Put the child at the center and all the adults will do the right thing. This one goes back to my days as a young teacher under the brilliant leadership of Mildred Berendsen at The Chapin School (New York). It’s true. First cousin to this mantra is, “We’re all on the same side, and it’s your child’s side.”
Dare to fail gloriously. This motto is attributed to the legendary acting teacher Michael Chekhov. If you’re going to take a risk, don’t hold back. Be bold. This is a particularly good motto for high-achieving, potentially risk-averse girls.
Whole child, whole time. This one reminds us that we, in schools, are wise to consider a child’s social and emotional well-being all the way through her years at school; that even older girls need to know they are cared for; and that we are interested in every aspect of their social and emotional well-being.
Don’t give away your power. Girls—and boys too--need to grow up knowing they have power. Sometimes they forget that as they seek to please parents, teachers, friends. Not giving away your power remains an important concept to continue to put in front of girls. At Laurel School, we empower girls to claim their voices and change the world. To achieve that lofty goal, it’s vital for them to know that each one of them has personal power to put to use for good.
You’re a Laurel Girl 24 hours a day — in school, out of school, and on the Internet. Our middle and upper school girls know this one by heart. If social media is the Wild West for girls, then it’s particularly important that the school hold the envelope and be clear about what behavior is and is not acceptable. Empathy and kindness are virtues to care about beyond the boundaries of the school day. Actions have consequences. Does the knowledge of this mantra prevent every unkind post or tweet or text? Of course not. However, does it help girls who are trying to respect one another? We think so.
Feel free to blame Laurel for your good behavior. Forging a strong moral compass, an intrinsic understanding of right and wrong, is work all children and young people must do. Ultimately, I want every girl to have the proverbial courage of her convictions, but as she is getting stronger and braver, she may find it helpful to lean on the school’s expectations as an excuse not to choose to participate in particular activities.
It’s not the mistake but how you move forward from the mistake that matters. This is such a sensible, growth-mindset approach. In a school that encourages risk-taking and growth mindset, we know we cannot all be our best selves every minute of every day. Mistakes are powerful teachers; we must let our ambitious, high-powered girls know that we all make mistakes and that we all have the opportunity to learn from them.
If you believe 50 percent of what they say about us, we’ll believe 50 percent of what they say about you From Joyce Evans, who was head of The Town School (New York). I use this phrase at many parents’ gatherings. We all want to trust our children to be faithful reporters, but feelings sometimes color the way in which any of us present the facts.