Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bias or Ignorance ...

Almost on a daily basis, I come across situations where I find myself wondering if the people involved in the situation truly can't understand more than one perspective. One of the hot topics in education today is the concept of bias and social justice. Taking social justice out of the conversation, for today, bias is simply put the viewpoints that one holds regarding others or other things. We all have them and some are worse than others. For instance, I am bias toward Titleist ProV-1 #8 golf balls. I am convinced that is the only golf ball that I can play well with and no one can tell me different. Okay, that example is a little out there but they exist. In our schools, philosophy on homework, grades, discipline, and much more are all subject to our biases. The nice thing about bias is that we are able to admit and recognize that they exist which means that we can have growth producing conversations about those topics. The problem with bias is when ignorance enters the picture.

Ignorance is all of our worst enemy because it is a barrier to learning and growth. When ignorance shows up, people shut down and refuse to see more than one perspective. I have found in my experience that while it is not easy to recognize and admit bias, it can be done and generally makes someone a better, more well rounded citizen when they can recognize and admit that their viewpoint may not be the only viewpoint. I'm not sure that I've ever met someone that is willing to admit that they are ignorant. The "my way or the highway" attitude needs to be a thing of the past in our schools. Compassion, understanding, and collaboration are what it takes to be successful in the real world. I recognize that in the real world we still have deadlines, schedules, and mandates... but we can still teach accountability without being as rigid as a stone age razor. It is my hope that before I retire we all live in a society where we are able to acknowledge our biases and confront ignorance in a productive, growth producing way.

Black Knight Kudos ...

Congratulations to our VEX Robotics team on winning the Best Design award at the New York State Championships qualifying them for the World Championships again this year!!

Congratulations to the members of our A Cappella and Select Choirs for being invited to perform with Barry Manilow on 3/18 at Turning Stone!! Read 96.1 The Eagle's local blog about this here.

Congratulations to the members of our Girls Volleyball team who were selected for Tri-Valley League Awards!!
Congratulations to Mr. Agen for being the winner of Travel Club's 'Kiss a Pig' fundraising competition!! A video of the wonderful moment can be seen here.
Thank you to the Mrs. Nisiewicz and the English department for bringing A Midsummer's Night Dream to RFA live for all students to see. What a great experience!!

"PAIR"ents Partnership ...

Just a reminder that third marking period progress reports will be coming home soon. Upon receiving your student's report, have a conversation with them regarding concerns you may have. Also, contacting your student's teacher with questions about progress is never a bad tactic. We look forward to continuing to build a collaborative culture with all stakeholders at the high school.  

There are discussions being had about offering some parent professional development on technology and personal devices. Stay tuned for dates and times of these events tentatively scheduled to happen in April.

Finally, parents of students in 11th grade, our counselors have secured an ACT prep opportunity for our students free of charge. Through a grant, we are able to provide all 11th grade students in taking an online ACT prep course free of charge. Please have your student see their counselor for more information.

This Week at RFA...

3/7 - District Parent Advisory Committee Meeting
3/8 - DASA Task Force Meeting
3/9 - BOCES Open House
3/9 - Panasci Memorial Art Show Opening
3/10 - Community Schools Conference
3/11 - Faculty Art and Music Recital
3/12 - RFA Science Fair
3/12 - Winterguard Competition at Johnstown
3/12 - Indoor Drumline Competition at CNS

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

For the remainder of the school year, pay careful attention to the conversations you are having with colleagues, students, and parents. Listen carefully and seek to understand the opposing point of view from your personal opinion. This strategy will help to recognize bias and differentiate it from ignorance. When we listen with our biases in check, great things happen for all people involved in the situation!