Educators. Students. Community members. Much more unites us than divides us, particularly knowing we all wear multiple hats. Building relationships. Thinking BIG.
Challenging and supporting one another. Developing engaged, empathetic citizens. Please join me in pondering how best to nurture these common ground connections.

Friday, August 14, 2015

College Readiness...With a Twist

This post provides no answers. Fair warning.

In the last 12 months, I have been inundated with, challenged by, and learned from conversations regarding "college readiness." In all honesty, that label has never been used as much in all my years in education combined as it has in the last year. That's both a good and disconcerting reality.

The dialogue can become suffocating when the focus is simply on numbers and what we baptize as "core content." BUT, happily, all of my conversations at Niles North are with colleagues who embrace and understand the nuances of that label. They reach for, and many times find, creative and loving ways to nurture our students on their high school journey so that they are ready for college in ways far surpassing simply being prepared for the rigors of post-secondary coursework.

The people I've been privileged to work with focus on the entire spectrum when it comes to helping prepare our students. We aren't perfect. But I've never seen a faculty so dedicated to reaching every child's needs and helping them grow and be ready for life outside our building. The commitment demonstrated by the educators here reflects an ability to think about the following...all at once...and how to get the kids to recognize where they are, where they can be, and how to get there. Areas they focus on include:

  1. Knowledge base
  2. Academic skills
  3. Maturity
  4. Emotional intelligence and flexibility
  5. Relationships
  6. Time Management
  7. Independence
  8. Reflection and Growth
  9. Citizenry
  10. Cultural competence

    I'm sure I'm missing many.

    But this week, as we've started school, I've had a conversation about each of these at some point. And it's made me think about my daughters and how they had/have varying degrees of "college readiness" in those categories. But in any sense of the definition, they were/are both quite ready. I had/have no hesitation that heading off to school was a constructive and appropriate next step for them. And I thank my family, friends and their teachers for helping to raise them and get them there.

      But here's the thing. We focus so much on the kids, which makes sense, of course, because that's our job. But recently, I've been thinking about our Niles North parents. I'm curious. Do we have anyone on staff for parents to speak with if they aren't ready for their kid to go to college? And if they're not (I'm not), can we keep our child in high school a little bit longer? Just a little bit?

      Please? Even if it's just for another week...

      Saturday, August 8, 2015

      What I Learned at Lolla

      This was my first time at Lollapalooza since it moved to Grant Park. Yup. I'm that hip (read, "old.") I was at the fest when it was hosted at Poplar Creek! Jane's Addiction's very own Perry Farrell was one of the founders. And many bands coined as "alternative" got their original recognition from being a part of this touring festival. (One of my all time favorites is Violent Femmes. :)

      So being there with my daughters—and 300,000+ others—this past weekend was an electrifying experience. I know that it might seem cliché to speak/write about experiences related to music festivals, but since it's new to me, I'm gonna give it a go. Here are my thoughts:

      1. Chicago rocks. Period.
      2. Alabama Shakes rocks. Double period.
      3. Alabama Shakes w/ Paul McCartney is a once in a life-time experience. If you left, it's your fault. It was magical!
      4. Walk the Moon's guitarist split his jeans. Still played. Had a ball. A man after my own heart.
      5. Sam Smith can captivate any audience. And make them believe they can sing. Even if they can't, they still sound wonderful.
      6. Coin. An up-and-coming-band who deserves our support. So humble. And talented. And passionate. Hoping they "make it."
      7. Being a teacher is the worst kind of celebrity at these occasions. Trust me. 
      8. I can eat pizza. And cheese fries. Under any circumstance.
      9. Being short is the best bonus. People block the sun, don't notice you, help you through crowds, and provide assistance. I love being "little."
      10. The stupidest thing I did at Lolla? Ran home from the train station in a lightning storm. Ignoring my science background, I was worried about my pup. Seriously, I should be fired for stupidity. Or dead. 
      11. My daughters both have incredible taste in music. Unique, but wonderful. I'll follow them each. Learning new things along the way, any time, any place.
      12. I'm the luckiest woman in the world. Although Lolla didn't teach me that, it reinforced it. :)
      Getting tix for next year. With my girls. Perhaps VIPs. :)