Yesterday, we had a snow day! For me, that was the first snow day since the pandemic where students were allowed to be home and play with snow without the burden of online assignments or Zoom classes. Last year, my former school environment was focused on providing every opportunity for students to experience academic enrichment. Our Head of School promised the community that traditional snow days would one day make a return. That recollection for me was gloomy. Giving an encumbered snow day to students felt like everything was correct with the world again. We allowed kids to enjoy the snow, and hopefully, they built snow forts and I hope being home with your children was joyful and an opportunity to create new memories of jumping in the snow, sledding, and making snow angels. I took the opportunity to build community using the best tool that has come out of the pandemic: Zoom. As a child, I watched The Jetsons and wished for the day when video calling would be a real possibility. So I zoomed in with colleagues, parents, and friends. Also, I had some quiet time to reflect on strategies for building community at Brookwood and in New England. With students, it is essential not to get into power struggles. So I use a strategy that you can use at home. I use curiosity to diffuse any chance of igniting a power struggle. I ask questions such as “What are you doing?” or “Tell me more.” By asking a question, I create space for the children to share with me. I am genuinely interested in what they are doing, so these two questions lead to building community by showing empathy and trust. Also, later, the students and I can expand on that shared experience, and their answers spark student-centered ideas. When I ask, “Tell me more, " I manage my assumptions and ensure that I have the same understanding as the child. By asking for more information, I am reminded that their realities, although valuable and rich, don’t have the same level of gravitas as I was carrying in my assumption. It is a great way to value a child’s system of knowledge and not overburden them with unnecessary information. These two questions aid with my relationships with adults too.
I am starting to put roots down in New England, figuring out where to sign my son up for skiing, piano, and riding lessons. Also, we are examining communities to which we would like to volunteer our time. I am taking suggestions, so feel free to stop me if you have recommendations.