2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the Institute and we now meet every summer at the Brooks School in North Andover (June 24–29) and at the Fountain Valley School in CO (Aug. 3–8). Our work still seems to be meeting a need as we have been fully enrolled over the past five years, with increasing numbers of schools training teams of teachers and deans in our model of deep listening, as well as sending individuals. We feel so grateful to have earned your sending school’s confidence and suggest you apply early to ensure you get to participate. However if you find out about us late in the spring—call so we can save you a spot if we know you hope to come.
In what has become somewhat of a wonderful tradition I will be running a workshop again at NAIS in Orlando (Feb 26–28) with Jack Creeden—our strong supporter, now the head of the NAIS Board and President of School Year Abroad. “Dare to Listen: Really Hearing our Students” is to be held Thursday the 27th at 12 noon. We will practice and reflect on how listening to and engaging our students promotes strong relationships and student growth. We hope you will join us there to learn more about the work, and we love it when our alumni stop by too!
In the half century of the Institute, much has changed in the world and in your schools. But the core of our mission and our work is the same: we focus on how to listen deeply to students, to understand what they are thinking and feeling, and to provide support during their adolescence as they navigate an increasingly complex world. Whether we are their advisors, their classroom teachers, their deans, coaches, or through the arts, learning support, technology, or health, in the library or dormitories, we find students have a thirst for real relationships with adults who care about them. Short meaningful moments of connection and understanding make all the difference.
The digital world has simultaneously increased student breadth of contact with friends and others while diminishing depth of contact. Some students feel more awkward in face-to-face relationships, both with their peers and with adults. Only experience and opportunity can change this dynamic. The work of the Institute is designed to help enhance adult confidence and competence in providing students with these experiences within the reality of the school day.
We feel what we offer is a wonderful and productive time together. Attendees give us their highest rating; consistently talking about the meaningful way the Institute has changed how they see their role and relationship with students. We encourage you to talk with Institute alumni from your school, as they will be able to share their sense of how attending might be particularly helpful to your work. We are happy to consult with you if you have any questions as well.
I am so proud to be part of this endeavor. This milestone would not have been reached if your schools didnít believe that the teacher who can really listen is the teacher who connects. And as you know, when a student feels that connection, a sense of motivation and true belonging to your school community follows. This makes the world of difference to the teacher as well.
We look forward to working together.
All my best,
Ellen Porter Honnet, Ed.D.