Ted Talks: Focusing on Three Things

Ted Graf, Head of School
Check out the newest Ted Talks, a Video Message from Head of School Ted Graf!

Text Version:
Well, another week has passed for all of us as we shelter-in-place and practice social distancing. I hope there were moments of joy and maybe discovery for your family, even as we navigate the increasingly unsettling reports about the economy and about the impact of the virus on people we know.

In our house, Amy is making masks by the dozen and sending them to family and friends. Here’s my favorite mask! David is playing an occasional lunch time interlude on the cello, and I’m journaling more and trying a haiku per day between Zoom meetings. Truth be told, I prefer the phone so I can work on a puzzle. 

Like all of you, especially the seniors and parents of seniors, we did NOT imagine Spring 2020 to be mediated by Zoom. It’s like a strange, multi-day version of the old game show, Hollywood Squares. But Zoom(ing) is what we have and what we need to remain Connected. I’m getting used to Zoom, and I am grateful to the company for their support of schools. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it; I’m just Accepting it and Acceptance of things I don’t control is an important concept for me these days.

But, let’s be honest, Zoom is a poor substitute for hugs or high fives, for the dancing excitement upon seeing a friend or teacher in the morning. It’s a poor substitute for looking someone in the eye and wondering -- how are they today? I wonder what they need? 

Given our current reality, here are three things I’m asking the Guides and all of us to emphasize and focus on as we navigate this crisis.
  1. Connection and Care -- wellness and especially mental health need to be our top priority right now. Without maintenance and care, relationships decay. Let’s share resources and tools for all members of our school community -- students, guides and parents.
  1. Access, Equity, and Empathy -- Our families hold different attitudes, and approaches about technology AND some of our families, those with multiple children at the school, do not have adequate wi-fi and/or enough devices for each of them to do the work we’re asking of them. We need to be our most EMPATHIC and patient selves when we connect online, and we must explore ways to be supportive and flexible around their needs.
  1. Less is More -- the Guides, as they design, tinker, and experiment with lessons and Zoom, have my support and encouragement to think in terms of depth of experience and depth of Connection for the students. Notions of curricular coverage need to be checked at the virtual door. And, as Sumati Morris of Austin Family Counseling reminded us last week during a parent meeting, “We’re in the middle of a global pandemic of historic proportions, now is the time to create some routine (if we can) and to help ourselves and our kids name what they’re feeling. If we can name it, we can tame it.”
When Headwaters was created nearly 20 years ago (as Primavera Montessori and Khabele), it was built for more and deeper human connection, not less. It was built to reduce emotional distance and bring us closer to each other, so this way of being is hard for us, AND we are finding our way AND we will learn what elements we want to carry forward.

In order to get through, we need to continue to be our most Resourceful and Inventive selves-- whether it’s a senior imploring us to make masks, or a family creating a nightly YouTube variety show, or a Primary child showing her newest bead creation (that spells her name) during Show & Share, or IB Art Students converting their analog journals into digital versions or all of us experimenting with virtual coffees and support meetings for parents.

Thanks for watching. We are grateful to all of you who have given feedback, shared stories, attended parent meetings, and more, all while co-creating Headwaters at Home with us. And please join me in sending love and support to the Class of 2020!
Ted Graf
Head of School

Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Menchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278