Life in the Woods: Principal's Blog

The Walls Speak/Teach

I love the kindness and THINKing on display in our middle school hall this morning!



Deep Reading

Deep Reading

Last week I attended the Burnett Seminar at UNC, which featured Dr. Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University. Her keynote was titled “The Mystery, Challenges and Beauty of Dyslexia: Insights from the Reading Brain."

The final slides of her 104-slide presentation were particularly provocative to me.  I'll include my best hurried transcription:

"Every medium has its costs and weaknesses; every medium develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others. . . . the Internet may develop impressive visual intelligence; the cost seems to be to deep processing: mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination and reflection."

"The real question is whether the affordances of reading on screen lead us to a new normal, one in which length and complexity . . . and memory and especially concentration are proving more challenging."

"Will so much information reduce our capacity to process it?  Will triaging this glut lead to narrowing ourselves to silos of information that require less processing and conform to what we already thought?"

"Humans will work just as hard to obtain a novel experience as they will to get a meal or a mate."

"Never before in history have the decisions of a handful of designers (mostly men, white, living in San Francisco, aged 25-35) working at three companies" --Google, Apple, and Facebook -- "had so much impact on how millions of people around the world spend their attention. . . . We should feel an enormous responsibility to get this right."

"Will changes in attention and the expectation for constant, immediate information from external platforms of knowledge threaten the formation of deep reading in young digital readers?"

"Ensuring the formation and use of deep reading is our best inoculation against their vulnerability (and ours) to false information and demagoguery."

October Board Packet

Board PacketFor one packet that contains the Principal's Report, Student Report, and Directors' Reports click here.

(Potentially) Nourishing Morsels for Parents & Educators

Morsel"Sleep is of the brain, by the brain, and for the brain."
Patrick Fuller, quoted in Arianna Huffington's The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time

Huffington's book confirms the message of other sleep studies of the past five years: we may not want to believe it, but our brains depend on sleep -- and not just to keep us alert during waking hours.  Sleep is the brain's best chance to grow and tend to its "ongoing maintenance."

For our parental brains and our growing student brains, we almost all need more hours than we allow.  

And (nothing particularly new here) the quality of our sleep is greatly enhanced by . . . 

  1. Making our rooms very dark, with little to no ambient light.
  2. No blue-light-radiating devices (phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) in bed.  No blue-light-radiating devices close to bedtime.
  3. No caffeine after 2 PM.  No food 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  4. Regular exercise during the day but not close to bedtime. 
  5. Keeping bedroom temperatures cool.  (The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees.)

Faculty Retreat 2017

Faculty Retreat 2017There's a different kind of thinking that takes place when you are . . .
1) not rushed, and
2) away from your normal routine and space. 
With these truths in mind, we have held an off-campus fall retreat for the whole faculty for the past five years.

This year we were lucky enough to hold the retreat at Kara and Chris Brewer's (a school family) farm and event space that is in the country about fifteen minutes from Chapel Hill.  They have beautifully restored a 19th century hand-hewn timber frame barn that the faculty found both comfortable and inspiring.

In the weeks prior to the retreat, teachers gathered to identify priorities and leading edges for the retreat workshops.  Then the admin team devised a schedule to reflect what teachers hoped to study and discuss.  If you're interested in our schedule and discussion prompts, you can have a look here.

Recent Posts

The Walls Speak/Teach
Deep Reading
October Board Packet
Faculty Retreat 2017
Safe Homes for Teens
September Board Report
Principal's Goals for 2017-18
Principal's Report - August
New Faculty Are Here . . . and They Are Ready!