The Extra Degree

The Extra Degree
Posted on 01/25/2023
The Extra Degree

Greetings from Falcon country!

With the second marking period ending this week, we're nearly half-way through this school year.  When I sent my "welcome back" letter last summer, I mentioned that we would be focusing a lot on rigor this year.  I've been giving this a lot of thought lately and I'd like to share a few of these reflections with you.

We've been using the "extra degree" metaphor this year--the one that says "at 211 degrees, water is hot; at 212 degrees, water boils."  This message of "212" tells us that going that one extra degree makes all the difference.  One extra half hour of studying improves your test score.  Some extra practice on your clarinet contributes to a better performance.  Doing some extra research results in a better essay or paper.  This applies to all of us in the RVS community.  When a teacher spends her lunch helping a student, that's the extra degree.  There are so many ways to gain more success in our endeavors by just doing that little bit extra.

Making that extra effort teaches valuable life lessons.  We become more persistent and resilient.  The inevitable failures along the road are not permanent obstacles but opportunities to keep trying by degrees until the goal is in sight.  If our RVS students learn this important lesson, success is sure to follow.  But, more important even than that, they'll have the knowledge that whatever the outcome, they will have done their best; that they left nothing to chance; and that they learned from mistakes and any hurdles encountered for the next time. Making an extra effort is also a leadership lesson.  Leaders who go the extra mile, are successful in leading teams of people, finishing projects, meeting deadlines.

While we haven't been overtly creating lessons about this concept, it has been an underlying thread in much of what we do this year.  I hope the students have been subtly picking up this attitude as the year has rolled along.  We've emphasized the concept with faculty during professional development sessions and faculty meetings.  While learning content and subject matter are very important, learning to be resilient, making the most of opportunities and bouncing back from challenges are equally important skills to have.

In looking over the results of the strategic planning small group meetings held in the late fall, it's clear that this thread of the extra degree will be evident in the action plan that the faculty and administration are currently writing to help guide the district’s work over the next five years.  The plan will be presented at the May 17 board meeting.  I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came out to the fall meetings for their valuable discussions and input to the strategic planning process.  Even though we are still in the middle of the process of analyzing ideas and creating our plan, it is evident that our community cares a great deal about Rockaway Valley School and our students. 

Hope to see many of you at the Coffee and Conversation this Friday and the next Parent Chat hosted by Hearts and Hands on March 2.

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