Thriving

Thriving………….

thrive

verb

\ ˈthrīv  \

thrived or throve\ ˈthrōv  \; thrived also thriven\ ˈthri-​vən  \; thriving\ˈthrī-​viŋ  \

Definition of thrive

intransitive verb

1: to grow vigorously : FLOURISH

2: to gain in wealth or possessions : PROSPER

3: to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on thrives on conflict

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thrive. , 1.27.19)

Thriving. At this moment and in this age, the words thrive and thriving have become a new focus. They were always there and present, but now more than ever, I think the Rio School District and other Districts like it might benefit from this solitary focus. Thriving. Are the children in our sphere of influence thriving? Are our employees thriving? Are the families and the community we are part of thriving? What are we doing to promote this thriving? What are we doing to hinder it? If we set aside, and I suggest we do for many reasons, the definition to gain wealth and possessions, we are left with growing vigorously and making progress towards our goals despite and/or because of our circumstances.

Rio’s children need to thrive in every sense as whole, developing human beings. They need to flourish physically, socially, emotionally, creatively, intellectually, academically, and civically. In recent years we have joined and contributed to the now two decades old movement to help children develop what have come to be known as 21st century skills. We preferred the word  “practices,” for various ethnographic and pedagogical reasons. We jumped on board networks of educational institutions that seek to amplify the need for schools to break from old conventions and learn to teach for skills/practices such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. We embraced this movement, contributed to it in the last few years and raised by both modeling, rhetoric, and action issues of equity and asked questions and took actions aimed at who the 21st century should and could transform in schools.

This age of renovation and renewal is recycling many progressive concepts and the work of many progressive thinkers. Many of which I was engrossed in pondering and engaging with when I entered public professional education work more than thirty years ago. These much needed schooling changes are clearly moving in a better direction for all children, for all communities and families and for the American democracy which is so intertwined and driven like an engine by our schools and the development of the next generation of citizens, people, workers.

Here in the Rio school District, where many and most children grow up in homes and contexts with little economic means, with little immersion in academic language experience, and many with little experience with English as a language, I believe it is time to focus on this word THRIVE, and to ask ourselves as their caretakers, questions that inquire into every aspect of their thriving. I am particularly interested in and focused in on three major elements of their thriving, though every aspect of their thriving is likely important. It is hard to tell what every child will need to become who they should be and to find the promise this country suggests we offer; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I am focused on;

  1. Their happiness, safety, and feelings of well-being and nourishment when they are at school and in their homes.
  2. Their interest, fluency, and meaning making when it comes to the most valued literacies in academic institutions: reading, writing, speaking and maths.
  3. Their creativity and interest in learning and pursuing things they want to learn about which is directly connected to their freedom in the schools context.

 

Rio School District

“Educating Learners to Thrive

What we ought to be doing, and what I hope we are doing, is helping, guiding, contributing to, create contexts, environments, ecosystems, where and for children to thrive. In the coming weeks and months I will be working with others to ponder and take action guided by this focus and these words and to renew our assessment of ourselves along these lines. We are a little/big system with nine schools, more than 5,000 students, 500 employees, and a $60,000,000 dollar budget. I will be asking all our employees to begin by thinking about themselves and their own thriving as well as the children around them they come in most close daily contact with. Are they thriving? How can we tell? Can we measure this? Observe this? How will we know if we have prepared them to thrive when they leave us to go to high school and beyond? I can think of no better group of people to do this work with, there is much love and commitment here in the Rio School District community and a developing appetite for system wide learning and excellence.  

Martin Luther King Jr. Remembered

On this day, 1.21.19, I have taken a look at the “I have a dream speech” again and selected some quotes from it. The speech, of course, should be taken in its entirety and full context. Still, I thought this selection might serve a purpose. I took the time, as I do each year, to revisit MLK’s texts and to reflect on where we are as a nation in relation to them in time and space. Some 51 years after his death. and some 56 years after the speech, there is no doubt we have come far in many aspects of the evolution of our society in terms of laws and the general views about race and gender and civil rights that the younger generation commonly uphold. Still, it is also obvious that these past decades have done little to alter the deep injustices in our society that were born from slavery and other elements of our nation’s origin.

These quotes are among the ideas I will reflect on today. I work to keep MLK and other pillars of our dreams alive in me and my work every day, though this auspicious day marks an opportunity to stop and reflect. There is probably no greater or more potent opportunity to contribute to MLK’s dream of the world as being an educator and working with children in one form or another. Thanks to all who have taken up this ” teaching” work in the past, the present, and who will do so in the spirit of guiding the next generation to construct a better world.

Here are the parts of the speech I have been reflecting on.. I was going to provide my thoughts.. but for the purpose of this post thought it better to let them speak for themselves.

Looking at quotes from the I have a dream speech (8.28.63) on 1.21.19 MLK Day

source: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom

“greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”

“…But one hundred years later (All right), the Negro still is not free.”

“…sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

“One hundred years later (All right), the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

“…This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men (My Lord), would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“…We have also come to this hallowed spot (My Lord) to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. (Mhm) This is no time (My Lord) to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” “ ….Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

“…I have a dream (Mhm) that one day (Yes) this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed (Hah): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (Yeah, Uh-huh, Hear hear) [applause]..”

“ … (Yes) we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation (Yes) into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. (Talk about it)”

“ … “Free at last! (Yes) Free at last! ”

S.T.E.A.M. : What’s it all about?

S.T.E.A.M. : What’s it all about?

 

S.T.E.A.M. learning focuses on science, technology, engineering,arts, and math. These disciplines and practices have become more prominent focal points for school  curriculum and learning activities in recent times. The Rio School District has been engaged in developing S.T.E.A.M. learning for the last six years. S.T.E.M. learning has long been valued due to its connection to our modern society’s emphasis on these content areas in the world economy. Rio makes sure to include the Arts in our learning activities for its various important connections to human development.

 

The Rio School District is charged with two basic aims; protecting the children in our supervision and educating them in preparation for their academic experiences and future life. In educating children we are tasked with guiding student literacy such that they can read, write, speak and do math at the levels that California standards based curriculum demands. In addition, we are charged with helping children develop as full human beings and citizens of the United States of America. The arts serve both literacy and human development in a multitude of ways. There are many fully developed reasons to support arts in schools. The following links provide some easy reading on the subject;

 

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-importance-of-art-in-child-development/

 

https://artinaction.org/resource/arts-education-important-21st-century-learning-5-reasons-go-stem-steam/

 

https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-topic/arts-education

 

https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/nea_arts/neaARTS_2013_v1.pdf

 

https://www.giarts.org/article/elliot-w-eisner-role-arts-educating-whole-child

 

For many Rio students, S.T.E.A.M. learning helps to engage and motivate them to develop their basic literacy skills. Many Rio students depend on their schools to provide  opportunities that more affluent families can afford to support outside school. Rio children continue to have opportunities to experience and learn from a great variety of S.T.E.A.M. activities including visual arts, music, drama, dance, robotics, coding, drones, video production, animation, gardening, environmental science, maker activities, and the list goes on and expands each year. These opportunities support their learning and interest in reading, writing, speaking and math while developing their skills and practices in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and caring.

 

S.T.E.A.M. learning is also an attempt to un-silo student learning and break down the walls and divisions between school subject areas so they can be more authentic and real world. The Rio School District’s aims to provide each child the opportunity to develop their academic literacies and grow as a full and whole human being and citizen is also anchored in providing children a variety of experiences that they can personalize and pursue as their interests.