Greetings from your New Head #WeAreCountryDay


Hello CCDS Lower School!

It is with sincere enthusiasm and joy that I join you at Cincinnati Country Day School.  I am humbled by the kind welcome and engagement of the community in my early transition to the Lower School and look forward to growing with you as we begin a new journey in 2020-2021 together.

As a lifelong learner, I am eager to learn more from you about the many reasons you have come to love Country Day. You will often hear me ask parents, faculty, students, and staff, “What are three things that you love and one thing that you wish to see?” It is a wonderful way for me to help reinforce the strength of the path we are on and build on the vision we wish to realize for the future. My office door is always open, and your conversation is most welcome! 

One thing I have quickly picked up already is the strength of the Country Day foundation that is couched in our 4 C’s:   

  • Curriculum– “Our rigorous academic curriculum inspires and challenges each student in a joyful learning environment” no more evident than in our Lower School with each of our students from 18 months to grade 4.   
  • Campus – Truly the “crown jewel of educational settings” is our extraordinary 62-acre campus, which is a key lever to the Country Day educational experience with a keen focus on the whole child. 
  • Community – There is no doubt we are stronger because of each of us who take an active part in the Country Day experience nurturing “an inclusive, diverse and accepting community that inspires students to become active and engaged citizens of the world.”  This, I have quickly come to realize, sets a Country Day experience apart from any other. 
  • Character/Competencies– “A Country Day student is provided an academically enriched experience with opportunities to explore” and discover core and co-curricular opportunities with a service orientated mentality. 

Woven into the fabric of the Lower School, I am impressed by developmentally appropriate intention to focus on the 4 C’s, whether it’s your first day at 18 months or your last day in grade 4.  I’ve learned we also take it one step further with our Virtues in Action of RespectCourageIntegrityCompassion, and Responsibility as prescient reminders on the Bortz Risers in our Niehoff Commons. It’s going to be a great year, and we will lean on the strength of our 4 C’s to find joy and challenge, inspiration, character, rigor, and adventure, all with awareness and gratitude for our human diversity. I am thrilled to lean into this exciting and important work ahead as a Lower School community. 

As we get to know each other in the coming months, please reach out, introduce yourself, or call to say hello.  To learn more about me personally from my interview with Head of School Tony Jaccaci, please click here for a link to the video: Mark Morawski/Tony Jaccaci Interview.  On a bit of a lighter note, feel free to check out this video “production” of Mr. Morawski’s First Days at Country Day.

Lastly, please watch for a community-wide communication from Tony Jaccaci on July 28 with updates on preparations for the opening of school. We are preparing for an on-campus start on Wednesday, August 19, and I would like to thank our Pre-Primary and Primary Faculty Task Forces for their tireless planning this summer adapting our health and safety protocols to meet evolving needs to keep our community safe.  You can also expect both class placement information and communication from me, specific to Lower School, on Monday, August 3.  To stay up to date with the latest on our reopening plans visit our Country Day ConnectEd 2020-21 website page.

Yes, times are uncertain as we navigate new normals. But I, along with our faculty and staff, are unwavering in our commitment to a full and robust Country Day experience for your child and excited to partner with you in providing an exemplary Curriculum with our pastoral Campus to build an even stronger Community with Character/Competency authentically integrated. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying a happy and healthy summer break.

#WeareCountryDay!

Change: A Bittersweet Constant #BCSLearns

As I have pack up the last of my personal items from the office and on this final day as the proud principal at Birmingham Covington School, I also find myself unpacking the profound memories of 7 1/2 years serving this incredible school community reflecting upon the many town hall meetings with students, classroom visits, professional learning sessions with staff, parent and family events, and lunches and recesses.  But, most of all, I find myself reflecting on the relationships. Suffice to say, BCS has been a great place to be – Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve!

The year closed unlike any other, though this community takes care of each other, and the students, parents, and staff still found a way to wish me farewell through heartwarming parades, a socially distant staff gathering, and thoughtfully-crafted gifts including a video and memory book.  I am excited about this new professional adventure at Cincinnati Country Day School and, as I reflect, I come to realize a simple truth:  I am a true beneficiary of the exemplary learning experiences that the BCS community affords the people who find themselves fortunate enough to be part of this special place.  It is not only the students who benefit from the learning, passion and interest garnered from the BCS culture, it is us adults who benefit as well.  We are all voracious learners, and these 7 1/2 years have had a profound impact on who I am and have become both personally and professionally.  This impact has helped reinforce who I am and want to continue to be, and for that I am forever grateful.  My social and intellectual growth as an educator has grown markedly due to this community’s expectation of excellence.  I will miss BCS dearly, though I will continue to espouse the core values at the heart of BCS.  Through my experiences in this great community, I will continue to embrace the values and skills that have been both expected of and nurtured in me – The BCS Moral Compass and the 3E’s.  Wherever I lead, I will continue to take care of my Education, the Environment and Each other (powerful E’s indeed) while focusing on a positive attitude, respect & kindness, honesty & integrity, and responsibility & accountability.

While I embark on this exciting new endeavor, please know the positive and powerful influence the BCS community and the entire Birmingham Public Schools’ community has had on me.  Thank you for allowing me to learn, lead and loveThank you for the support, the partnerships, the solution-finding, as well as the smiles, hugs and high-fives.  I remain incredibly proud of what this community represents and will never forget how great this place is for each of us who has the privilege to experience it.  As I transition, there is no doubt BCS is in great hands with the leadership of our new principal Omar Hakim and returning assistant principal Jason Hill, both of whom lead with a wonderful blend of head and heart.

I will be forever a Cobra and proud champion of the BCS mission, vision, values and beliefs.  These experiences over the years have been nurtured in me and allowed me to stand ready to serve a new community with the same levels of enthusiasm, passion, empathy, integrity and service that have been ingrained in me.

I wish our BCS community and each of you well!

Sadness, Excitement, Joy and Hope – A Final Week, A Final Address #BCSLearns

This week marked the final week of school for our BCS students and my final week “with” them as their principal.  From the gift bag drop off to our 8th graders by big yellow schools buses on Monday, to the 8th grade ceremony on Tuesday,  to the surprise parade on Wednesday, to the end-of-year staff gathering on Thursday, ending with the material pickup/drop off on Friday, the final week was historically different and abundantly emotional for me in my final year as the leader of this amazing, internationally-recognized school.  To showcase some of the emotions I felt this week, I share my comments to the 8th graders during the virtual ceremony this week.  I include my heartfelt and hopeful remarks below…

It is now time for the Introduction of the BCS Class of 2020!

The theme for this year’s 8th grade Farewell Celebration for the BCS Class of 2020 (high school class of 2024) is “Tik Tok to 2020: make every second count.”  Let’s reflect together on these extraordinary times and what my hopes are for what you have learned about life in your years at BCS and during this unprecedented school closure.  Some would say that times of great uncertainty, times of great disruption and times of great stress are the exact times that the true character in each of us is revealed.  While I know, academically, you are ready for high school and your high school is ready for you, though what I hope you learned these past few months as well as your years at BCS is this…

  1. I hope that you learned that times of “boredom” such as those times during the stay home, stay safe order, provide amazing opportunities to nurture creativity and innovation.
  2. I hope you have learned to fail forward. That the word FAIL can be an acronym standing for a number of positive things like “First Attempt In Learning.”
  3. I hope you have learned that relationships matter – the people in your life matter and that taking care of your education, environment and each other through a positive attitude, respect & kindness, honesty & integrity, and responsibility and accountability matter and will result in amazing outcomes for you by any definition of success.
  4. I hope you have learned that in times of deep uncertainty, to focus on those things you can control, not those you can’t. In the famous words of Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychologist, as well as a Holocaust survivor, who stated in a book he wrote after surviving Auschwitz realized “The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom.”
  5. Congratulations on your recognition tonight – you should be proud, I know I am! Let me close by stating my final hope for you.  I hope you remember your time here at BCS as a launch pad for the next great things to come in your life and, as the theme suggests, making them count.  I know I will as I move on to a new school as well.  Congratulations, 8th graders!

Closing remarks…

And finally, BCS class of 2020, in reflecting upon the theme Tik Tok to 2020: make every second count” one last time tonight, here’s to a successful next phase of your life making every second count. In my remarks earlier, I mentioned this word “success” as it relates to my hopes for you.  But, what does success mean?  What does it look like?    As each of you 8th graders and I are moving on to the next phases of our lives, let me leave you this evening with a quote on success that I feel perfectly embodies its meaning and one that personally I have aspired to live into.  It is a quote by American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson and is my ultimate hope for each of you in ensuring each phase of your life can count, as this year’s theme states.  Indeed, you will make every second count if you put yourself in a position, as Emerson states…

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,  a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

This is success and in the words of your theme – making every second count!

Congratulations BCS Class of 2020

And Thank you BCS!

Approaching Antiracism #BCSLearns

In the wake of the recent and tragic injustices and racist acts nationally, our BCS Diversity committee is hosting a webinar with the focus on being an antiracist.  Join us for the webinar Approaching Antiracism on Monday June 8th from 7:00-8:00 PM.  The event will explicitly explore…

How are you approaching antiracism? Consider what it means to be an antiracist in our local and larger communities. Listen as Arthur Jack, president of the Birmingham African American Family Network (and former BCS parent); Embekka Roberson, Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning and Inclusion; Jay S, BCS graduate and student at Seaholm High School and Joe Leibson, BCS Spanish Teacher address questions around antiracism in Birmingham Public Schools and beyond.

This exclusive live webinar is sponsored by the BCS Diversity Committee and will be moderated by BCS teacher, Rick Joseph.

It is limited to 100 attendees, so please register now at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_tMHZazLnRkKyiZ3vbBXIdQ

We hope you will join us for this important work!

Empathy + Listening = Love and Action #BCSLearns

There are times in our lives that we listen well and deeply while there are other times we don’t, even pretend to listen.  Note a previous post of mine on Covey’s levels of listening.  With what is going on in the world right now, I can help but think about another powerful quote of Dr. Martin King, “A riot is the language of the unheard” (see full quote in above image). I cannot help but think that if we rise up and truly, deeply empathically listen, are leaders, legislators, and communities would be able to take action from listening to understand.  Perhaps we can learn from our neighbors in Flint during the protest in their community.  When those protesting reached the police station, the officers lined up up and everyone took a knee.  The sheriff asked one question stating, “We are mad too! What can we do?”  The crowd replied with two simple, yet powerful words, “Join us!”

Our communities and the places within them need to be places of wonder, discovery, joy, reflection, growth, and inclusion for all people within them. Because of this this, I find the past week’s events in Georgia, New York and Minnesota unsettling and enraging. We must keep the victims, as well as their families and the communities, in our thoughts and prayers.  Along with other educators and citizens whose first focus in on the wellbeing of those we serve, we must condemn these acts of injustice and racism that are spurring the events around the country this weekend.  Our leaders must listen and act.  Let’s heed the advice of Dr. Charles Fay’s Love and Logic approach and realize that “listening means love.  It means that we sincerely care about others’ opinions and emotions.  Here’s the problem, “ Fay continues, [we] have a hard time listening when someone around us is emotional or is disagreeing with us.”  That is why the statement by the sheriff in Flint is so poignant and powerful, yet simple in that he empathizes and asks “What can we do?”  It is these simple, yet powerful questions we can ask, AND listen to, that can result in our growth and development as communities.  Questions like the sheriff’s.

I feel fortunate indeed to be a part of the BCS community who places caring for others at the top of its priorities – may we continue to take care of Each Other.  After all, as Dr. King also famously quoted in his loud and powerful, but peaceful protests, “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  Let us listen and join in!

Simply Powerful! #BCSLearns

simply_powerful

As I walk though my neighborhood listening to my current audio book (The Social Animal by David Brooks (but that’s for another week’s blog), I have been noticing all the creative messages artfully crafted by the kids and parents who are now learning and working from home.  The most prominent, “We’re All in this Together,” rings true to be sure and sparked my thinking to share 12 Easy Phrases to Massively Improve Your Leadership from Inc.com.  Why you ask?  Note number 8.  As I read the article and thought about these messages, they are hardly only for leaders with respect to business and industry; they are message for each of us wherever we lead.  They are important for me to note as I lead in all the roles in which I find myself – my role as a principal, a parent, a sibling, a mentor, a mentee, a son, an uncle, and so on.  As we continue to find ourselves at home working, learning, teaching with all of these responsibilities and more colliding, let’s remember to infuse the following messages in all we do.

  1. Please
  2. Thank you
  3. Tell me more
  4. I’m proud of you
  5. What do you think?
  6. It’s your call
  7. You’re doing great
  8. We’re all in this together
  9. I trust you
  10. I’m sorry
  11. I don’t know
  12. How can I serve you?

This phrases are simple, but powerful.  For the individuals or groups who receive these messages, the messages inspire a growth mindset.  They are empowering and encouraging words that show genuine care, love and support.  Give them a try during these challenging times.  You will be thrilled with the outcome.  Additionally, come up with your own go-to leadership phrases that inspire and encourage and see how they work for you – the time is now!

 

Uncertainty is for Certain #BCSLearns

I have always been interested in making predictions.  Which team is going to win?  What’s going to happen when…?  What’s next in a book?  But after the events that unfolded on March 12 with COVID-19 effectively shutting down schools for a few weeks, then months, then the rest of the year, I have given up predicting what I think will happen next regarding opening businesses, states and schools.  As Dr. Fauci has stated, “we’re not in charge of the timeline, the virus is in charge.”  This certainty leaves me uncertain.  That said, while I may stop predicting the future, I will not stop planning for it!

John F. Kennedy Quote: “There is nothing more certain and ...

In his post titled In The Midst of Uncertainty, educator David Culberhouse shares that  “we need to find our compass in the chaos,” regardless of the chaos, crisis and/or problem in which we find ourselves. While this article was written in early February, the uncertainty we are facing now with the public health crisis requires us to heed Culberhouse’s advice detailed in the bullets below.  I highlight his bullets, reflect on them in my own words, quote the article in places, and provide links to previous posts of mine that I feel align with Culberhouse’s advice.  Take a look!

  • Engage Wonder, Curiosity and Creativity – It is interesting to note that the characters in the Chinese word “crisis” signify “danger” and “opportunity” respectively (危機).  The crisis with COVID-19 in which we find ourselves nestled includes incredible uncertainty for the future.  In his post, Culberhouse shares the powerful quote of Tim Brown, previous CEO of IDEO, who suggests that “One of the greatest weapons that we have against uncertainty is creativity.  It’s how we forge something new out of it.” With our situation now in schools, we do have great opportunity to advance in each of us wonder, curiosity and creativity.
  • Build Up A Greater Sense Of Tolerance For Uncertainty, Ambiguity And Not-Knowing – As the Culberhouse article points out, “unless you agree on the question, it’s very hard to get people to come up with solutions.”  This is why the design thinking* process is such a great one.  Feel free to check out a previous post of mine called Hey Leaders – Be Comfortable with Ambiguity.*
  • Seek Out Opportunities For New Narratives And Possibility Framing – With all the “automation, augmentation, and the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence…” the article warns, “We must never forget that we have the ability to design our future, for better or worse, and it is up to us to design that future in a way that is to be more equitable, ethical and human-centered.”  At BCS, we strive to be equitable, ethical and human-center with our Moral Compass and valuing our 3E’s: Education, Environment and Each Other.  
  • Openness To Emerging Patterns And Sensemaking –  this is all about empathic listening*, deep learning,* and, as the article frames for us, “Our ability to learn and continue to learn allows us to continue to see the emerging interaction of that knowledge within our own context and how that knowledge interacts with the world around us.”
  • Move From Control To Emergence – This notion has never been more clear than in these times of this global health crisis.  So much is out of our control and with too much focus on control we have to caution not to stifle creativity* and innovation.*  As the article states, “in a world of advancing adaptive challenges and dilemmas, far too often the outcomes, especially in the midst of dynamic organizational complexity, are found to be neither predictable nor linear.”
  • Cultivate Agility, Adaptability And Learnability – This advice begs the question:  Do we have the capacity to unlearn?  In this age of distance learning,  we will need to be cautious, as the article suggests, that our current “mental models” do not “impede future progress, both at speed and scale. Allowing new and ongoing learning to infiltrate those mental models allows us to stay both agile and adaptive in our thinking and doing, both as individuals and as organizations.”
  • Assessing Risk, Experimentation And Discovery Learning – Allowing for experimentation and mistake-making,* as the Culberhouse article highlights, “allows individuals and organizations to generate a diversity of ideas and perspectives, as well as craft and create a variety of solutions towards change and the adaptive challenges and dilemmas being faced.”  This is where we can make miracles happen.*
  • Clarity, Coherence And Communication – To be clear, clarity is not certainty.  Clarity, by dictionary definition, is “the quality of being coherent and intelligible.”  Whereas certainty is “firm conviction that something is the case.”  And, as this final bullet point from the article argues, “The future will reward clarity – but punish certainty.”  Thus, I for one, will be cautious that predictions are not certainty.

Ultimately, it is important to note that ambiguity, for me, lives deeply woven within clarity, as well as each of these points highlighted by Culberhouse.  In these unprecedented times, we have to be comfortable with ambiguity* and uncertainty, while also being clear and coherent.  In other words, we need to be clear with our why and flexible with our how as we realize how uncertainty is indeed for certain.

* Denotes reference to previous post from my blog.

Let’s Not Forget: Emotions Drive Cognition #BCSLearns

To say that educators, particularly teachers, have been on an highly-accelerated learning pace based on the distance learning expectations that have been foisted upon them during this extended school closure is an understatement to be sure.  Take managing video conferences as one example.  Teachers take pride in classroom management and creating a positive and productive classroom culture with a keen focus on nurturing the social emotional needs of the students they serve while also nurturing their academic progress.  After all, our awesome teachers at BCS, in fact all teachers, know, emphatically, that All Learning Is Social Emotional (to borrow the title of the Frey, Fisher, and Smith book).  They do not forget that affect (feeling) and cognition (thinking) are undeniably inseparable.  I deeply admire our teachers for their tremendous efforts to achieve the amazing growth of the students they serve through the paradoxical blend of social emotional and academic learning.  Teachers know, as the book mentioned highlights, that each of the bullets below, that focus on social-emotional well-being,  are critical to students’ academic progress:

  • “Building students’ sense of identity and confidence in their ability to learn, overcome challenge, and influence the world around them.
  • Helping students identify, describe, and regulate their emotional responses.
  • Promoting the cognitive regulation skills critical to decision making and problem solving.
  • Fostering students’ social skills, including teamwork and sharing, and their ability to establish and repair relationships.
  • Equipping students to becoming informed and involved citizens.”

Setting the stage for students to be confident, emotionally intelligent, critical thinkers, collaborative, and altruistic, as the above points highlight, is the foundation to cognition.  For this reason specifically, teachers, though their distance learning delivery, have a heavy emphasis on their students well-being during their video conference touch points and “office hours.”   They know full well of the importance of this and Elizabeth Weingarten, managing editor of Behavioral Scientist magazine, wholeheartedly agrees.  In her Quartz at Work article, 20 questions to ask instead of “How are you doing right now?”she suggest some question prompts that will elicit deeper, more specific and more profound responses from students as teachers check in on their students during these online conversations. Weingarten offers a selection of suggested alternatives.  She notes “Eleven questions for making a true connection or maintaining team cohesion” beyond “How are you?”  As listed in the article, they are:

  1. How are you taking care of yourself today?
  2. What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
  3. What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
  4. What’s a story – from a book, a movie, an article, a conversation – that you’ve been gripped by recently? Why did it capture you?
  5. What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
  6. Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
  7. What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
  8. What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
  9. What’s something you own that feels useful?
  10. What is your Covid-19 nickname/alter-ego?
  11. What problem – either yours, or something more global – do you wish you could solve?

Furthering the list, she shares “Nine questions for taking things a step further” that include:

  1. What’s something that you miss that surprises you? What’s something that you don’t miss that surprises you?
  2. Which member of your family/ friend group have you been thinking about the most during this time? Why?
  3. What’s the most generous act you’ve seen recently?
  4. What’s the last thing you experienced that made you laugh, or cry?
  5. What times of the day or the week are hardest?
  6. What’s giving you hope right now?
  7. What’s the best thing that happened to you today?
  8. How do you want this experience to change you? How do you think it will?
  9. What do you hope we all learn or take away from this experience?

Educators, and parents as well, can and do come up with so many more questions.  So artful are we can be when questioning others to promote reflection, metacognition, and encourage positivity to support the well-being of the person with whom we are connecting – one-on-one or in groups.

Thank you teachers and educators for all you’re during during this historic global health crisis.  And for you teachers who have learning the master the management of your classroom video conferences with the power of the “Mute All” button, following is a video that will ring true for each of you.  Said by every teacher and parent everywhere, “Wish I had a mute all button in my real world.”  And to all our moms out there, may your Mother’s Day be calm, peaceful, and all muted when most needed.  Happy Mother’s Day! 

Now More than Ever! #BCSLearns

As we are about to enter this next week, Staff Appreciation Week, it seems fitting, if not a perfect time, to celebrate nationally, our teachers.  I often liken the education profession to the medical profession in the paradoxical blend between science and art required in each.  There clearly is a science to teaching with researched-based best practices, but there is also, much like the medical field, an undeniable art.  And now, with stay home, stay safe orders around the country and world, teachers have had to take on, unexpectedly, the monumental task of shifting this science and their craft to a remote/distance learning format.  The “surgery” they artfully and scientifically perform daily within their classrooms has shifted to a remote delivery model.  I hope this portrait properly paints what our teachers at BCS are doing so incredibly successfully and impressively.  So, as we enter Staff Appreciation Week, let me be among the first to thank them.

  • Thank you for taking your learning to a whole other level by shifting your essential curricular standards to a distance learning format.
  • Thank you for collaborating 24/7 (quite literally) with each other, and supporting each other with grace and a focus on well-being.
  • Thank you for your shout-outs of one another and lifting each other up.
  • Thank you for your unparalleled creativity in crafting lessons and managing video conferences.
  • Thank you for your empathy as you have reached out to students and parents from whom you have not heard.
  • Thank you for your persistence in providing meaning feedback to your students.
  • Thank you for your relentless focus on continually improving the distance learning experience for your students and parents.
  • Thank you for your patience with me when I “step in it” helping me clean up.
  • And most importantly, thank you for the care, compassion, and kindness you have demonstrated in what, for many of us, has been the most unnerving and stressful time of their lives.

Teaching truly is a most selfless act.  Teachers support and nurture the growth of their students never fully knowing where their positive influence lies nor how the ultimate outcomes of their efforts play out — unless we tell them similar to the video below.  For all of this and more – I say, “Thank you teachers!” Now More than Ever!

If All Else Fails, Laugh Hysterically! #BCSLearns

Have you and your family figured out your work from home, learn from home routine yet?  Our family is still working at it.  My wife and I, personally, have tried to figure out why we are working so much more.  In searching for the answer, I came across two articles.  The CNBC article “Coronavirus Lockdowns are Making the Working Day Longer for Many,” cites an that  “an analysis of server activity on its network, NordVPN found that the average working day has increased by three hours in the U.S. since mid-March, and a Bloomburg post suggests The Pandemic Workday Has Obliterated Work-Life Balance.”  Thus, those of us working from home find our work days stretch longer and fit that “plus 3 hour” rule.  With parents working from home longer, which may not be the best of things (while still being employed is), we have to be thoughtful about and take intentional care of how we support our children who are in this unprecedented distance learning mode.   The Washington Post provides some provocative strategies in an article interestingly titled “A Home School Plan That’s Realistic, not Sadistic” where Ned Johnson, president and founder of PrepMatters, has a message:  To all parents out there, my main piece of advice is to practice self-compassion and lower your expectations of yourself.”  Johnson cautions being careful with homeschooling schedules and all you hear on social media as, while schedules and routines are important, but “instead of cramming in” all subjects, consider “a broader, saner approach.”  In the articles, Johnson share a few tips for you and your family.  Tips, in my mind, that will not just help you get through these extraordinary times, but grow through them.  He suggests:

  • Make the plan together – Have your kids take some ownership in building the schedule.
  • Create consequences now, so you’re not creating them in the heat of the moment – Johnson encourages that consequences are restorative in nature where your children (or maybe you yourself) make efforts to repair the harm they (or you) have caused. 
  • Plan for time apart“At summer camp, everyone gets rest hour,” and Johnson contends that “we all benefit from time alone.”
  • Eat meals together – In many of our homes, we have a captive audience and the benefits of breaking bread together are well founded as well all know.
  • Build in enough time for sleep and keep it consistent – Personally, I have a Fitbit that monitors my sleep patterns and gives me feedback.  I make efforts to get to that recommended 8 hours, not often successfully, but it is my goal.  That said, our students need 10 hours! 
  • With input from your kids, plan for some chores – Please know the power of what can be learned academically by some common help around the house including cooking, baking, and even home improvement.
  • Plan virtual time with friends – Adults are engaging in virtual happy hours, so get your kids involved in hangouts (minus the spirits of course).  “And, for every parent riled by hours spent by their kids on Fortnite,” citing another Post article, Johnson reassures us, “there are many [parents] grateful for the connection found in online gaming.”
  • Plan “radical digital downtime.” Determine times of day or night or weekend that will be technology free, though see the first bullet.  And, join in yourself!
  • Have a medium- or long-term goal – Read the article to reference all Johnson’s ideas most of which are connected to personal interests, unrelated to school.  The “why” is powerful!
  • Acknowledge that this new normal is hard — for them and for you – all the parts of our worlds are colliding together, home, work, school, and it can be hard.  As I shared in previous posts, focus on what you are gaining, not on what you are losing.
  • Ease up on the academics – Perhaps most poignantly (if not counterintuitively), Johnson reminds us that a huge part of kids’ academic development is fueled by brain development. A fifth-grade kid could work on writing six hours a day, and he wouldn’t be much better at it than if he worked for 45 minutes a day, because the brain can’t change that fast. Use this time for your kids to get enough sleep, play and spend time with their families. They won’t lose anything academically that can’t be made up quickly with a slightly more mature brain.”   

And if these tips don’t help and all else fails, just be sure to remember to laugh hysterically!  After all, “at the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities” (Jean Houston).  To get you started, below are two videos.