It's easy for schools and educators to become isolated in our day to day work, but when we reach out to one another, when we step outside of our individual classrooms and communities either virtually or in real life (a phrase that indicates just how quickly the world is changing), we not only accelerate our own learning, but we also question assumptions and habits we might otherwise not even recognize. The redoubling of Thacher's long-time commitment to professional development that is central to the current strategic plan and
is the cornerstone of our evolution as a learning community. My experience over the last three months made that very clear and made me all the more excited for the road ahead.
Our reading list over the last few months has focused largely on leadership as Brian and I consider our new roles at Thacher and the School’s mission to train “young men and women in the art of living for their own greatest good and that of their fellow citizens.” In October, Brian and I attended the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute’s symposium on the pedagogy of leadership. It was a gathering of secondary and higher education professionals committed to creating cultures that support young people in building the skills, understanding, and habits of mind to make a positive impact. The speakers and workshops provided a powerful foundation for my own thinking about Thacher’s role in this quickly expanding aspect of education. In one of the workshops, I learned of Brené Brown. She’s a research professor out of Houston whose writing on courage, belonging, and community provide great insight into the work we’re doing at Thacher. I recommend her most recent book, Braving the Wilderness
, or any of her TED talks.
What is next?
We are now in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for part two of our sabbatical adventure, to be followed by travel abroad in the spring. Winter in Steamboat Springs brings a different kind of adventure, one more aligned with our love of the outdoors. Daisy and Addie are attending Emerald Mountain, a small independent school committed to employing best practices based on current brain and developmental science (two recesses a day!). The girls want to learn to ice skate and to build snow igloos. While we’re not sure how those skills will transfer to life in Ojai, we’re happy to indulge them. Brian is serving as coach and mentor in my on-going education in backcountry and cross-country skiing, and snow camping. He’s quick to note that I need to train physically as well as mentally for the challenges of the coming school year. Those of you who've experienced a Brian Pidduck workout know that I need your best wishes for fortitude!
How are the skiing lessons going?
Yesterday, Brian gave me my first lesson in something called skate skiing. I was excited for a bucolic nordic ski tour but quickly learned that skate skiing is the evil twin of cross-country skiing. It's like ice skating on five foot long blades...uphill. I'm happy to report that my marriage and I both survived, although I'm having trouble moving anything but my fingers today. Brian reports all is going according to his plan.