I hope you each had a productive week. I want to thank Sandy Trach and the Teaching and Learning Team for planning and leading our Professional Learning Day on Monday. Brandon Fleming provided such a powerful keynote address, in which he highlighted the power of teachers to change lives. The core of his message is elegantly simple: We must connect with students at a human level before we can connect with them academically. When students feel seen, valued, and loved, they are far more likely to succeed at school. He talked about integrating the stories of our students—and ourselves—into our work, as a powerful means to make these connections. As I was listening to Mr. Fleming’s talk, I couldn’t help but also think this message is so timely following the pandemic. We know that many of our students come to school with social and emotional challenges that developed during the periods of isolation and stress we all experienced. With this in mind, the connections to which Mr. Fleming referred have likely never been more important in supporting our students’ recovery.
I also want to thank Dr. Jorge Allen and our Equity Facilitators for participating with Mr. Fleming in the panel Q&A following the keynote and for their work each day to support our students and staff throughout the district. Mr. Fleming described “equity” as meeting people where they are. Whether we consider our students, staff, or families, we know members of our school community don’t all show up to WPS feeling fully included with a strong sense of belonging. Our work to reverse these trends belongs to everyone, not just those with equity in their title.
So how can we take Mr. Fleming’s message and incorporate these ideas into our work? One approach is to start small. If you are a teacher, think about a student who may be struggling the most in your class and consider your level of connection. Spend time engaging with that student to ensure you know what may be challenging them and ensure the student knows you are committed to their success. It’s unlikely that a single conversation will become a panacea and kids have a pretty strong radar for conversations that seem performative, rather than authentic. Stick with it and don’t be afraid to share your personal stories as well.
Our work rises and falls through the power of relationships and I hope that we will all continue to reflect on Mr. Fleming’s words as we engage our students and each other this year in WPS.
Have a great weekend!
December 11th (Monday) Staff Budget Presentation – Middle School Auditorium 3:30 PM
December 25th – January 1st December Break – Schools Closed
January 2 – School Reopens
January 15 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Schools and Offices Closed
February 19 – 23 – February Break
Human Relation Services
The Human Relation Services (HRS) can help. Wellesley Public Schools has contracted with HRS to provide up to ten free counseling visits for you and/or your family members. This program is designed to help you deal with stresses of life and work –including personal and family issues, drug or alcohol problems, and job related tension. It offers prevention and intervention to reduce these stresses and improve coping skills.
HRS is located at 11 Chapel Place in Wellesley and can be reached at 781-235-4950. This is a confidential service. Wellesley Public Schools is not aware of the names of employees or their family members who utilize this service.