Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

February 8, 2016     

Good morning!  A couple of weeks ago we held two events that showcase the talents and hard work of our students and their teachers.  The 43rd annual Gerlach stock show and sale highlights the efforts of hundreds of O’Connor HS FFA and area 4-H students.  The sale raised approximately $850,000 this year!  I want to thank the buyers whose personal and corporate generosity helps raise this incredible sum of money for scholarships.  I also want to thank our dedicated agriculture teachers and the many volunteers it takes to put a show of this size and quality on for our students.

The other event was the regional Academic Decathlon competition where all NISD high schools compete with other area students in ten different academic disciplines around a central theme.  Congratulations to Marshall HS who won the large school regional championship.  They, along with Holmes and O’Connor, qualified for the state meet that will be held at the end of February.  Good luck to those three teams!

Speaking of hard work and persistence, I was recently sent a TEDx talk given by an elementary school principal who encourages students and staff to embrace failure and change our attitudes about what it means to fail.  The principal’s name is Keith Peters and he is from Florida.  He says that many of us incorrectly view failure as a reflection of who we are rather than an opportunity to rethink and improve.  Keith cites examples of famous “failures” such as Thomas Edison, Walt Disney and Abraham Lincoln. Speaking of failure, he says, “It’s not a character trait, but an event.”  He goes on to say, “Most importantly, it’s not the opposite of success…”  I think this is a great point – I catch myself defining failure as the “opposite of success.”  Indeed, how do we learn persistence without failure?

Either as an individual or an organization, if we are afraid to fail we will never innovate.  We can’t view failure as final.  I think this is important given the pressure to “reform” public education.  We all know innovation is necessary to stay relevant.  We can’t 

become so afraid to fail that we stagnate.  I believe that immobility in some public education entities gives the “reformers” fuel for their message.  I also believe that a rethink of failure fits beautifully with increased reliance on formative assessment.

Keith also speaks about his experience in school and it is one we need to be conscious of and avoid.  He says of his K-12 experience, “I hadn’t learned how to struggle with school work, or really anything at all.”  He goes on to describe the challenges he dealt with in college that caused him to temporarily drop out.  This is a key reason why we have to find ways to push all of our students when they are with us.  We have to build grit so that they are not shocked by hard work and failure after they leave us.

Keith concludes with the notion of the power of the word ‘yet’.  In other words, “I don’t know that ‘yet’” or, “I can’t do that well ‘yet.’”  Rather than “I can’t do that at all and want to give up”, ‘yet’ is a simple and important word that implies hope and persistence.  This idea of embracing failure and changing our attitudes (and our students’) about the definition of failure goes extremely well with the notions of grit and growth mindset.  People with grit fail regularly, but know that it is not terminal and make an effort to learn from the temporary setback and push to get better.  Importantly, this behavior can be trained in both students and adults.  The TEDx can be found at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyZV8Ql1PI0&feature=youtu.be

Finally, the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) mascots Apples Eddie and Annie joined community volunteers recently to surprise staff with Innovation Grant awards.  The NEF Prize Patrol visited 24 campuses and awarded $90,500 in grants.  Click here for photos.  The next Innovation Grant ($5,000) deadline is Feb. 25, and the Team Grant ($12,500) deadline is Feb. 11.  Apply here.  Funds for grants are raised at events such as the NEF 5K Run/Walk on May 7 at SeaWorld.  Sign up here to join the fun and help NEF continue championing for you and our students.  Have a great week!