The last two weeks of the term were a whirlwind of excitement and pride as we took part in two Brookwood traditions that celebrate the very best of performing arts and courageous risk taking. Congratulations to every student for their performance – whether it was in the Lower School Play, “All Shook Up” or at Revels. Our fourth graders had starring roles in both performances, and we could not be more enamored with their efforts and talents.
Given the Winter Break, travel is on my mind. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a conference in Texas. When my Lyft arrived, the driver announced, “We are going to get to know each other very well because there is a lot of traffic.” I was reminded of so much in that short interaction. First, don’t make assumptions about anyone. When talking to people, naturally, I listen through a lens developed and grown through my lived experiences. I may think I know what a person is saying, but I might have a different point of reference or definition for the terms being expressed. Am I listening through those points of reference or my definitions and not understanding what the person is sharing?
Active listening is a critical skill we work with children on starting in their very first years at Brookwood. Active Listening is when we do more than listen by seeking to understand the meaning and intent behind the words we are hearing. To do that, we reflect on our position in the conversation and ask clarifying questions to make meaningful connections and truly understand what is being communicated to us. In these moments, we remind ourselves to withhold judgments and advice to develop empathy for the speaker, freeing our minds from thinking about what we should say next.
During the winter break, I’ve had many new conversations with people in New York as a guest in many homes. I have enjoyed reaching across the table and listening to the stories shared with me. It has strengthened my practice of active listening and coming back with many new friends. I am returning renewed and cannot wait to bring that energy back to Brookwood School in January!
I hope you’ve had a joyous Winter Break and a Happy New Year!