Reflections from Katie: June 19, 2017

As the days extend longer and longer, as sunlight keeps us out and about late into the evening, as the smell of grills and sunscreen waft by on every corner, many are looking forward to June 22nd, the last day of the 2016-2017 school year. In our culture, we have so many iconic images holding up summer vacation as beautiful and idyllic. To be sure, summer will bring much good. And at the same time, the transition into summer can be hard for our children. It may seem counter-intuitive. But any time routines are disrupted, no matter how much we may dislike these routines, we can be left feeling unsettled. If you find your child a little bit more cranky than usual, a little more on edge, or closer to tears, this is likely because of the change that is coming later this week. There isn’t really anything to DO about these feelings, but I do find that when the adults in a child’s life can have some space for these feelings, and understand that they are a natural part of development, it can lighten the mood a bit.

In many schools, the coming of the end of a year is celebrated with parties and ice cream and other festivities. At Cambridgeport we have festivities, too -- we celebrate learning. We celebrate reflection and growth. Our annual Portfolio Day celebration, on Tuesday, June 20th, is our opportunity to celebrate how much our children have grown. All children have been putting together portfolios of learning. The portfolio itself is an exciting artifact, but the process is really where the magic lives. When children look at what they were able to do in September, and what they are able to do now, they tend to surprise themselves! Looking at their work from across the year gives children a concrete experience that leads to powerful reflection. One of our core values, be reflective, is particularly evident at this time of year. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us on the morning of June 20th. You can talk with your own child, but also be sure to talk with some other students in the class, and perhaps even visit a different grade level and talk with students there about their work and their growth.

Some food for summertime reading and thinking can be found in the new CPSD district plan, created with Superintendent Salim along with a robust planning team (Angie Uyham and I were both on the planning team). You can read the whole plan by going to: I would like to share my personal favorite objective (if one can have a favorite) -- Number 2. Provide Engaging Learning for Students and Staff -- Provide rigorous, joyful, and culturally responsive learning for students and educators that are based in high expectations and a growth mindset, build on existing knowledge and strengths, incorporate real world applications, reflect a willingness to innovate, and foster ownership, reflection and intellectual risk-taking. The idea that, as a district, we are committed to our children experiencing joy in rigor, and not seeing those two in opposition, is a thrilling challenge that I look forward to actualizing in the coming years.

I look forward to seeing you at Portfolio Day tomorrow, and celebrating our 5th graders at the Moving on Ceremony on June 21st. I should also let you know that I am launching into my second year in my Heinemann Fellowship on the last day of school, so I will not be there to send your children off into the summer. I will be sure to celebrate with them before I go! Have a wonderful summer, and I can’t wait to see your smiling faces in September!