Reflection

By Meredith Monk Ford
Executive Director

During our collective “shelter in place” adventure, I have had the pleasure of observing my 3 year-old attempting to manage his strong impulses, while also learning to articulate his needs, wants, and feelings.  Whenever we debrief an altercation he had with his 16 month-old brother or a poor decision related to the use of bathwater, I’m amazed by his observations about himself and his feelings.  In the moment, when the bathroom has become a lake or his brother is screaming, it’s a challenge to find the patience to respond and not react to what is happening.  But, that’s where the learning is occurring for us both – and so, I try (“try” being the operative word) to take a deep breath, give him a moment to collect himself again, and then we have a conversation to reflect on his actions and what he could do differently next time.

For the past few months, we’ve all been in “survival mode,” reacting and adjusting on-the-fly. Understandably, the intentionality of reflection has taken a backseat.  As educators, we can recognize the importance of reflection. But, who has time to reflect when you’re trying to help teachers figure out online assessments, honor your seniors, and manage parent expectations all before lunch?!

Like many of you, my mind is swirling on a daily basis. Each day brings new challenges and new decisions to make. In one moment, I’m marveling at our team’s grit, determination, and ingenuity; in the next, I’m worried they seem tired, frustrated, or anxious about an uncertain future.  Just when I start to question things, I’m inspired by a conversation with one of the independent school leaders I talk with every week.

When I think about this moment in time with all of its ups and downs, I try to remember one of my favorite quotations from FDR that I used to use with my 7th and 8th graders, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”  In the past few months, everyone has been put to the test.  As a result, we are going to end this school year with some very skilled sailors.  So, how can we acknowledge, validate, and celebrate all that they have learned on the turbulent COVID seas?  My gut says, we need to take a deep breath, take a minute to collect ourselves and debrief all that we have learned and what we will do differently in the future.

Well, as the number of school days dwindles, now is the time. We know that without reflection, there is no learning.  Let’s help our faculty pause and realize how much they are learning – right now. Let’s help them move from an emotional headspace into a rational one…from the unknown onto a path forward.

Folio is here to support you in this work, because we believe the professional growth process is grounded in self-reflection.  For the next few weeks, our programming will be built around this topic. We’ll be sharing content, experiences, and tools as you lead your faculty and staff to close out their year with the optimism and encouragement that comes with self-recognition and growth, including:

  • Member Workshops: We will be leading two workshops helping participants to strategize and design end-of-year professional development experiences to maximize reflective practices with the help of the Folio platform and new features.
  • Experiences from Folio members: We will be adding new Insights and blog posts on our website, as well as hosting a Member Spotlight, where you can see the innovative work your peers are doing.
  • A Member Podcast: In our new weekly podcast, we’ll be sharing conversations and reflections from member school leaders.
  • A Town Hall: Mindfulness coach Dave Mochel will lead a discussion about “Trusting Your Wise Self.”  (Date TBD)
  • New platform features: We will be introducing a self-reflection note for faculty and a tool for daily or weekly check-ins.
The first of these programs is listed on our events page. Please look for more notices and invitations from Folio going forward. We look forward to collaborating, innovating, and celebrating with you in the coming weeks.

Be well,
Meredith Monk Ford

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