Weekly Message – We Are All Beginners

First days are done and I’ve seen some awesome things – teachers establishing relationships, not only teacher-student relationships, but developing the student to student rapport as well. Students were working together to generate world maps from memory; build the highest structure using wacky materials; develop team identities and cheers; predict and measure weights, distances, mass, and volume. I saw students taking risks in their work and put themselves out there as individuals and as writers. Students were engaged in content while building these meaningful relationships and getting a taste of your expectations. Kudos for a fantastic opening!  Don’t let up and keep the high energy flowing!

As you notice, we have a new format for our faculty bulletin. I’m just getting the hang of this blog thing, so please be patient with it’s evolving design and addition of information. Note the tabs for birthdays and kudos above.  There’s more to come.

Before you dig in to this week’s message, please take a minute to click the link below and provide your anonymous feedback regarding our opening week preparations.  As always, your input is valued.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2VBB6CN

This week’s message comes from Kevin Condon. I think you’ll find his insight both timely and appropriate. Enjoy! Kevin writes:

We Are All Beginners

I recently spent a bit of time half way around the world. It was the adventure of a lifetime. I was a stranger in a strange land and as we approach a new school year with an entire new set of expectations I am positive of one thing. Not one of you really wants to read about my adventures while you contemplate how you are going to survive all of the change being tossed your way. So I will hold back on the stories of the amazing places and sites I visited. After all the rows of terra-cotta warriors, climbing Hua Shan, and the Goose Pagoda where Indian sutras written in Sanskrit were translated into Chinese should not distract you from the task at hand. And I won’t burden you with the litany of cuisine which I, being an adventurous eater, was more than willing to indulge in. As you plan your first weeks and make all those calls home for missing assignments and missing students, who really wants to read about the barbequed squid I had at the Muslim market of Xi’an? Dumplings, noodles, kidneys, and intestines just are not going to grab your attention as we engage new students and strive to achieve a level of satisfactory, sorry, effective teaching. Maybe you might have some interest in hearing how the school we visited required uniforms and that the girls had to cut their hair short, and that being late to class just did not happen. They were also not allowed to date. That is not our world and though many things were very familiar you have enough on your plates to not bother with it at this moment.

But there is one experience I will share with you which might give you the courage, the strength, the grit to face the changes. We are all beginners. You see when I arrived in China I was about three levels below functionally illiterate. The family I stayed with, who were the most hospitable people I have ever met, included the mom and dad who spoke as much English as I did Chinese, the daughter, Tian Bai (aka Jane) who spoke English and would serve as translator, and the younger son who studied English but was still a work in progress. It wasn’t long into my adventure when I found myself alone in the spacious apartment with no one that spoke English. The most basic social need, to communicate now became the task at hand. Hand gestures only accomplished so much and I could tell that the dad and mom were at least as uneasy as I was. With considerable mispronunciation I apologized, but the uneasy silence quickly returned. There was hot tea and the sweetest watermelon I have ever tasted but not a lot in the way of verbal exchange. Then, as if he had been using the time to remember the English he had learned many years before the dad stated simply, “We are all beginners”. My response now would be Shì de, wǒmen dōu. At the time I was happy to laugh and say “yes we are”. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. The next weeks were filled with tastes, sights, scents, and sounds which I will gladly share with any of you when you have the time.

But now we begin a new year and there are new classes, new expectations, new tests, new emphasis, new evaluations, new procedures, processes, professional developments, and programs. That doesn’t mean we have to change who we are. We just need to expand our vocabulary. We are teachers. We are OM. We are all beginners.”

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