Summer is a Time of Reflection and Rejuvination

Summer is a time to reflect upon the year that has passed and plan for the future. This past year was a whirlwind of learning, growth and facing my fears of change. Jumping from a large district to a small charter school was more than just a way to work with my doctoral professors. It was a statement about what I believe students deserve in an education, and who I want to be as an educational leader. Coming to HSHMC, as part of the HSMS middle school I was attracted to the culture of the organization. Most schools identify themselves first with an optic lens, what you see sets the tone of the site. They highlight the campus structure, sprawling with play fields, locker rooms, quads, computer labs and libraries or maker spaces. When you identify the feeling of the campus at first glance it is usually the bells and whistles of appearance that students and outsiders notice. But if the campus is a just a shell, and the true culture is not based on shared ideas about learning and students, then the structures are just buildings, not symbols. They are wallpaper or a facade.

Coming to HSHMC, as part of the HSMS middle school I was attracted to the culture of the organization. Most schools identify themselves first with an optic lens, what you see sets the tone of the site. They highlight the campus structure, sprawling with play fields, locker rooms, quads, computer labs and libraries or maker spaces. When you identify the feeling of the campus at first glance it is usually the bells and whistles of appearance that students and outsiders notice. But if the campus is a just a shell, and the true culture is not based on shared ideas about learning and students, then the structures are just buildings, not symbols. They are wallpaper or a facade.

HSHMC is founded on core pillars, symbols you will see throughout the campus that are the foundation of the culture. The ideals and daily practices are seen throughout our campus not in traditional ways, but in the feeling of the campus every single day. The school is immersed in an office building, but the student created artwork, the pillars, and the mission statement all serve as visual symbols to the mission. But it is daily practices, such as morning circle highlighting the strengths and challenges faced by students, the daily positive interaction with students in the hallway, the feeling tone on campus where every person is welcomed with eye contact, their name, and if visiting, a personal walk to wherever they need to go. It is the symbol of the heartbeat, that reminds us every day it is about the students, about the aspirations and goals of those we work with and our role in providing a pathway to get there.

The middle school will soon become integrated into the high school as one charter. This summer each room is being upended, all teachers moving to new spaces, creating their own vision of what a classroom should look like to foster the growing identities and academic and social needs of middle school students. As I think about how I want to begin to create the space, I think differently now. The space is not mine, it is theirs.  I am just one of many that will facilitate the learning in that space. The space is about highlighting humanities instruction, and what tools and symbols represent that. After working with these scholars for a year, what type of set ups do they need to be successful? What inspires student debate and discussion? What symbols will be put on the wall that creates a culture of restoration, inquiry, social justice and civic action? It is about the learner and the learning, and every image and quote we post must be carefully thought about. When people come into our room next year, what will they see through the symbolic lens? More importantly, what will they feel as they wander in and out of our space? What I hope that lens highlights are my hopes and aspirations for them, and more importantly a view into the thoughts, dreams, hopes, and aspirations of the students themselves.

What do you dream for your next year?

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