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This blog explores, from multiple perspectives, gifted education in general and The Avery Coonley School experience in particular. Welcome to the conversation!

 

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Notes from the Head of School: On Supporting vs Micromanaging

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 1, 2017

As we begin the year I want to share some thoughts and offer further insights into my vision for ACS, and my hopes and dreams for our community. My goals for all aspects of our program is simple and clear: ACS stands as a premier school for gifted students, and my aim is to not only to ensure we deliver on our missionto provide a learning environment that is appropriate both for academically bright and gifted children,” but that we lead the way towards an even stronger and better understanding of what our students need as well. We want and have excellence—in our curriculum, our teachers, our facilities. We strive to be at the forefront of educational innovation, ensuring that everything from our language arts to our math programs represent the most current and creative thinking in education. We should be a beacon and magnet for gifted education, gifted students, and gifted educators who want to be at our institution. Our strategic planning process will help shape the next few years and give us a road map for building on what we do well, and making greater improvements to the ACS experience. We are an excellent school—but we can and must do more to ensure the needs of our students are met!

I have another vision that I want to share that is focused more on the social-emotional needs of all students, but in this case, particularly relevant to our gifted students; it is one I share both as a fellow parent and as a head of school. I know you have heard some of this before, but one of the greatest gifts we can teach our children is resiliency and independence, which is part of ACS’s greater philosophy: not only do we “assist our students in realizing their intellectual, emotional, social, creative, and physical potential,” we must also “recognize and [be] sensitive to the unique needs of gifted children.” In the pressurized world of schools and academics, it can be difficult to know how to help our children when not everything is perfect. Children will have teachers they don’t like, disappointing grades, friends who fight, lost athletic contests, not placing as highly as hoped in math or science competitions, and times when life truly does treat them unfairly. The best possible approach parents can take is to “tone down the temperature” rather than try to fix the problem immediately, and instead talk to them about how to handle life when something is not perfect. Particularly as many of our students have perfectionist tendencies, feeding into those tendencies, even unintentionally, can create even more anxiety and inner turmoil. We tend to measure life these days on a minute-by-minute basis. Life in general—specifically life at ACS—is the sum total of a child’s elementary school experience. Children need ups and downs, good things and struggles.

With rare exception, checking the parent portal every day for grades and assignments is simply unhealthy. I am sure you have read about the struggles current college students are having now in part because of parental micromanaging. These 18-year-olds are struggling when they leave home, in great part due to growing up without having to learn anything about disappointment or resiliency.

My dream for our community is that we allow our children the space and room to grow up, and not try to protect them from every possible struggle. My promise to you is that we will continue to improve, and address and respond to legitimate concerns. My hope is that we can partner together so that a disappointment does not become a problem, and a bad grade doesn’t become a crisis. This article in The New York Times about parent portals, especially the last couple of paragraphs, gives some excellent advice, and while no article is perfect, I hope you will all take the time to read it. Let’s all look through the portal of life, which is large and vast, and not the nano-second portal snapshot!

Here’s to another great year on Maple Avenue!

Warm regards,

Paul Druzinksy
Head of School

Tags:  gifted students  Head of School  micromanaging  support 

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