Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Student leadership sold Candy-Grams during lunch today and will place them in mailboxes tomorrow morning. We anticipate the normal adolescent flirting to tick up just a bit on this day of love, and there will probably be at least a few deliveries of flowers by secret admirers before the end of the day tomorrow. This post may have been triggered by Valentine's Day, but the focus is far from the Hallmark holiday before us. Instead, I want to dig into an aspect of “love” that I believe every school should nurture with more intentionality. So bear with me as we take a circuitous route through Valentine’s Day, hugs, love, academics, and institutional evolution.
Every day, Proctor students are called to indulge in their curiosities, challenge themselves, and try something new. This same ‘trying something new’ mantra has guided the World Languages Department over the past few years as instructors have been experimenting with different pedagogical approaches to classroom structure. As Ross, Ale, Erik, Jon and Scott discover creative ways to teach timeless lessons, we are reminded that a culture of learning is hinged on educational exploration for all community members, where individuals evolve with each passing season.
Campus is quiet as students, faculty, and staff spend time with family and friends over the week of Thanksgiving. This time of transition between seasons affords the opportunity to reflect on past ten weeks of the Fall Term, while looking ahead to all that is possible this winter. Today's blog features a few photos our photographer, Lindsey Allenby, took over the past few weeks from the quiet corners of campus. Each captures the balance we seek during school vacations between reflection, rejuvenation, and planning for the future as we press pause for a few days on the various projects in our lives.
As students settle into a rhythm within their academic classes, our hope is they become increasingly willing to take risks, to speak out, pursue a line of thinking, and embrace failure as a step in the right direction. This desired academic vulnerability take times to emerge as its foundation rests in a mutual trust among students and teacher, but as we approach the mid-point in the Fall Term, we look to the collaborative work being done within our English and Social Science departments as an example of what risk taking should look like in the classroom.
The start of each academic term affords the opportunity for faculty to gather for designated in-service professional development. Past professional development days have welcomed guest speakers to campus, while other days rely on internal expertise to share innovative teaching practices and project based learning. Today, faculty gathered in academic departments to further refine our approach to fulfilling our mission as a school.
The notion of project based learning was the catalyst for Proctor’s revitalization in the early 1970's when newly appointed Head of School David Fowler, Assistant Head of School Chris Norris, and many others drove the school in a new and exciting direction. For the past forty years, Proctor has led the educational world in experimenting with student-centered, project-based learning, and has developed rich school culture that intuitively embraces the core principals of student-centered learning. We understand, however, that we must never become complacent with our teaching practices, and must continue to identify new and exciting ways to bring real world problem solving into the daily life of of our students. In order to do this, we must spend intentional time BEING students.
Proctor welcomed Dr. Derrick Gay to campus Tuesday to help us explore the double-edged sword of diversity at independent schools. Through interactive conversations, faculty investigated the challenges around diversity efforts at Proctor, including how we understand our own identities, the power of the words we use on a regular basis within the cultural context of our varied student experiences, and how to develop tangible strategies to better integrate diversity efforts into our educational mission.