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“Thrivival” Guide

Earlier this week I overheard students excitedly talking about writing letters and making videos for next year’s students. The plan is for the teachers to give these to their new students on day one in August both as a welcome and as a way to frontload the year and decrease anxiety. 6th grader’s were calling it a “Survival Guide,” which got me thinking about what my own survival guide might look like for the new Academic Coordinator. After reflecting some more I realized that I don’t want to pass on a survival guide at all but rather a guide to thrive, a “thrivival guide.” Writing in this way, no matter if you are a child or an adult, is such a great reflective practice of closure that allows for new beginnings and honors the beauty of school or life (whatever you want to call it) as being beyond your single self in the world.

Here is my “thrivival guide” to the next AC. While it doesn’t focus on the nitty gritty of what I do each day, it does focus on the how and the why in a such a way that builds school culture and can be applied to any what:

1. Get to know people. This takes time. Take the time.

2. Get into classrooms daily. See what is really happening. Remember what it’s like to be a classroom teacher. Remember what it’s like to be a student. Ask yourself: What are my students learning? Is there joy? Is there rigor?

3. Be a student. As an admin this especially means listening to kids, parents, and teachers.

5. There is a safety and a beauty to consistency and routine. Be steady yourself always. This will help you create systems that are sustainable.

6. Success without integrity is not success. I found this quote online but it has stayed with me as one of my biggest learnings this year. Integrity is when your heart, your thoughts, your words, and your actions all work in harmony and align. Integrity means wholeness. This is when it feels easy. When you sleep deeply. When you are present. When you are truly you.

7. Be kind. Greet people. Say please and thank you.

8. Apologize. Accept apologies.

9. Forgive. You will make mistakes. Public mistakes. Big mistakes. You will make bad decisions. So forgiveness is especially important to practice with yourself.

Being an educator, like being a parent, is a job of giving and giving and giving. That being said, here is the most important life lesson Mar Vista has taught me:

10. Giving is really a receiving.

It really has been a gift working at Mar Vista this year. I want to thank each and every one of you for this experience, for this gift. I looking forward to continuing to give it all away!

Rio parents and families, come join me this Monday, June 4th at 8am for our meet and greet coffee!

Adding College to the Discussion

“I’m going to college! I’m going to college!”

This joyful refrain came from our first graders on their walk both to and from Cabrillo College- on the way there in reference to the present moment and on the way back in reference to their future selves. Not only did our 6 and 7 year olds’ words get me thinking about the importance of adding college to the discussion in elementary schools but their confidence on returning to campus truly struck me. Worls got bigger today from this visit as new possibilities opened before our students in a very tangible and real way.

In my thinking, the end of the school year lends itself to these kinds of discussions and visits because it is a natural time of accomplishment both in terms of endings and beginnings.

Here are some resources for both teachers and parents, the first of which is specific to students in Santa Cruz County:

2, 4, 6, 8 Who Do We Appreciate?! #thankateacher

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all of our wonderful teachers.

Thank you for all that you do to keep our students at the core of our school, our community, and our practice every single day!

This week has reminded me of a short essay I wrote 14 years ago about my most influential teacher and mentor, Julia Davis. Luck would have it that I found it after a quick search in an old email account. Thank you to Julia and to all of our teachers that continue to shape our lives and the lives of our children:

Out of the many spiral notebooks I filled during my four years at Whitman College only two remain today—the two that I scribbled in during classes taught by Julia Davis. The only Whitman professor without a PhD, Julia did something that no degree guarantees: She surprised me.

“Meghan,” she said, “I want to see you in my office after class.” After nervously waiting out the class period, I took a seat.  Embarrassment turned into horror as Julia proceeded to read my paper aloud. “Please stop,” I begged. “I just can’t take this.” It wasn’t that it was a bad paper that made me cringe; rather, I had trouble listening because I heard my own voice. By listening to my emotions surrounding an experience where something was ‘not quite right,’ my paper was a re-shaping of myself. My teary-eyed reaction showed me just how much my own words meant to me. Julia simply finished reading the paper and handed it back without a grade. As I left the room, she said, “Meghan, you took a risk in writing this. Keep going with it. Keep risking.”

Today, thinking back to this specific experience and the larger context of our student/teacher relationship shows me just how long-lasting a single teacher’s influence may be. It also reminds me of the importance of having mentors even as an adult learner. Thanks to my many teachers and mentors, writing as risking continues to be one of my favorite ways to learn.