The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) publishes resources specific to the independent school community. I rely on their magazines, publications, and conferences for best practices, and I have contributed to their knowledge base through service work in various capacities. *Record Scratch*
Hold the presses! Third-grade students and I have been entrenched in working together to create the community they want post-pandemic. And today, I played my first game of “Rafters!” at the invitation of 3A. I couldn’t have picked better partners as they patiently taught me how to play the most esteemed game on campus -- it was fabulous. To be honest, I was a bit intimidated. This is their game, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Immediately, they began to teach me the rules. They figured out during a game that they didn’t feel good when they targeted people to foul out of the game. I said, “How can we move forward?” Their answer was that moving forward, we won’t target to get anyone out. That became a new rule. All of sudden, everyone was cheering for each other. In forty minutes, they created an inclusive environment where everyone was kind and showed good sportsmanship.
I have not felt this moved and exhilarated in a long time by student agency and social action. I didn’t tell any of the students how to act. They knew how they felt, and by giving them the vocabulary as outlined in the RULER Approach, offered by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the students could identify and implement the behaviors necessary to have those feelings in school. This week, we thanked donors for helping us achieve some of Brookwood’s goals with wellness initiatives. We toured them through our yoga and dance spaces and introduced them to faculty that will guide us through social-emotional protocols, curriculum, and well-being. Because of them, we can continue to gain the best practices through professional development and by adding responsive spaces. This is a valuable working partnership. Similar to our partnership with parents on the wellness initiative, I had a working partnership with third-grade over the past week, and I cannot express how fulfilling that was at this stage of the year. I don’t expect every day to be like this. However, it reminds me that given the tools, the children are willing participants and contributors to their ecosystem. They are ready for all that being a contributing member of our community entails.