Head of School's Blog

Learning in the natural world
arvind grover

Our seventh graders have been busy studying trees. I once took a botany class (Woody Plants I) in college where I had to memorize two dozen different leaves, seeds, and twigs, and had to match them up in an assessment. That was not joyful learning.

Our seventh graders and their teachers, Ms. Shuler and Ms. Orr, took another route. They jumped into our woods armed with measuring devices and drills. They took key measurements, and practiced drilling working in a team. They are practicing for our upcoming tree tap, where they will remove sap, and create Meadowbrook maple syrup. This is what hands-on learning can look like.

Enjoy the photos.

  • Middle School
  • science
Marshmallow Day Building Challenge
arvind grover

The first graders continued their Marshmallow Day challenges with Mr. Scafati and Mr. Molyneux in the Innovation Center. Their task was to hoist a marshmallow as high as possible off the table. Their only provisions were a few pieces of spaghetti, a little tape, and a piece of string.

Some groups were over 12", and a few broke 15" or more!

What stood out to me most was how many things the students were doing at once - they were battling gravity, making decisions in a team, brainstorming ideas, building prototypes, and finally, erecting a final structure.

You can see the pride and hard work on their faces! Physics meets fun, that's a winning combination.

 

  • design thinking
  • Lower School
School closed, teachers learning
arvind grover

Please don't bring your child to school today.

Yes, you read that correctly. Today, students are staying home with their families and teachers are gathering in school for a day of learning. As educators, we know that if we are not actively getting better, we're actively falling behind, despite our initial training.

This year, we're fortunate to have Tim Fish, Chief Innovation Officer at the National Association of Independent Schools leading us in dialog and work into sustaining school innovation. Meadowbrook is renown for its innovation and yet we strive to be better. I marvel at how many visitors we host each month. On Friday as I was saying Happy Thanksgiving to people on their way out I stumbled into a delegation from China who had come to visit. I am getting pretty used to visitors, and it is easy to see why they want to visit - we see a possible enhancement to the program, study it, and implement it.

Schools want to see what the secret sauce is, at Meadowbrook it is doing what's in the best interest of students. Our students, faculty, trustees, and families are all aligned in that vision - I'm grateful to be part of a community that knows that excellence requires striving to be better.

Giving thanks together
arvind grover

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. I always surround myself with family and loved ones, and usually oodles of great food. I am hopeful that this Thanksgiving you and yours find ways to practice gratitude. I am of the mind that gratitude is a practice and not an act. Like a muscle, it is something we can build up by exercising. And as we build up our gratitude muscle, it is a virtuous cycle of feeling better and making others feel better. It helps steel us for times that are challenging and helps make each day a little better.

Here are some of the practices I am fond of in case you are trying to add some ideas to your family's toolkit:

  • write a thank you note together. At the last meeting of the administrative team, I handed each administrator a thank you note, envelope, and a stamp, and had them write a thank you note to someone in their life that they cared about. It was a boost to all of us who wrote, and we hope a boost on all of those who received.
  • At the start and end of most days, I write in my 5-minute journal. The prompt I answer in the evening is simple: List 3 amazing things that happened today.
  • rose and thorn - this is an around-the-dinner table activity where you can each go around and share a rose (something great that happened today) and a thorn (something that pinched a bit). This one improves a great deal as you repeat it, it also gives families a way to be grateful for and relish in each other's triumphs and support each other during challenges.
  • read together during Thanksgiving. Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors, collected a series of short readings about giving thanks and compiled them for free in the Thanksgiving Reader. The idea of the reader is to print it out and give a page to each member at the table, then go around and read aloud. 

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving break. I can't wait to see you all back.

Hit a home run every day
arvind grover

One of the great privileges of being a head of school is that I get to be out at car line each day greeting students and their families. I know that on any given day the drive to school can range from wonderful to trying.

A practice I learned a number of years ago was to give myself a way to start each day with a simple and guaranteed "win." I share it with you as something to consider for yourself and for your children. A "win" is something that is in your full control and that you can achieve easily each day. It's also something near the start of your day. For me, that win is making my wife and myself a cup of coffee. I wake up 20 minutes earlier than I need to each day so that it can happen. What it means in the end is that we both get a great cup (happy to exchange my favorite sources of beans with you), and before my day has even begun, I have a winning record, a home run even.

For many of you adults I bet this is making the bed, or taking a hot shower, or working out, or eating breakfast. What I would encourage is to find something with your children that they can win (making the bed is my favorite example), and recognizing it as a win. What it means for your children is that before they even get to school, they are already down the path of winning. It seems simple, perhaps even unimportant, but the research from positive psychology is clear (some helpful links below), it makes a strong, positive difference, and lays down a path for more successes to follow during the rest of the day.

Experiment with it, have fun, and give your child the chance to hit a home run every day.

Some links to get you thinking:

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being - By Martin E. P. Seligman

video: The happy secret to better work - Shawn Achor

 

 

 

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