In January I’m focusing on our mission through TFS “mantras” — phrases we use or you might hear that represent our mission in an informal way.
Last week I wrote about being a forest rather than an orchard. This is not an easy feat; it is an art rather than a science and it is counter-cultural. Even when we want the forest with our rational minds, most of our habits and cultural pressure are orchard-related.
The primary way we resist this pressure is by focusing on the process of learning and growing rather than focusing on the product of our education. This does not mean that the product (college admissions, character, content mastery, success) is not important. In fact, we believe the product will actually improve if we have an extremely solid process for the student.
So we focus on the process every step of the way, whether it’s showing math work instead of just the final answer, developing preschool finger strength before writing, allowing the 6th grade store or Chicken Middle to make mistakes, or grading high school students on whether they brought their books and pens to class.
Practicing each of these steps along the way forms the content of our character (work ethic, perseverance, resilience, mastery, self advocacy, communication skills, self-discipline) and so we take the time to reflect on and attend to every step with the long view in mind, even if it includes some risks and failures and messiness along the way.