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We Are...

Being observers, as I wrote about in the last post, leads us to be a part of some amazing moments here at school and beyond. It also tends to lead us to a bunch of questions, too. Because we can’t just observe, we need to be curious about what we’re seeing and experiencing.

Or, we can start with a question and observe from there.



A Big Question


On the first day of our faculty work week in August, we started with a big question: who are we? It’s the same question Jennifer and Kathleen asked us a few years ago on my first day here at DGS. I really enjoyed the exercise then and how it connects us with a common vision, and I wanted to make it a part of that first day again.

Together, we came up with over a hundred “we are” statements, all on individual index cards. We are adventurous. We are curious. We are kind. As we shared, we worked together to compile common ideas together, making categories as they came about. Some cards were identical. Some were similar, but each teacher expressed the ideas differently in their own unique way and in their own wording.

Over the last couple of months, I worked to compile all those ideas, those words and phrases, to put them onto a one-page document that says who we are. It took some time, but I got there. I love how it turned out, and I enjoyed being the connector of these ideas, pulling them together, with the words of all our teachers being present.

Then, this last week, I “commandeered” each class’s peace circle time on different days to read this document to the students. I gave them the short backstory behind the creation of it, and then, with the same energy and drama I read stories with, I read…



We Are…


We are curious.

We are wonderers and wanderers; experimenters and seekers.

We are self-directed explorers of knowledge and experiences, always learning, evolving, and growing.


We are thinkers—deep thinkers, and out-of-the-box thinkers.

We are problem solvers, dreamers and innovators.

We believe in ourselves and in our power to individually and collectively make a difference.

We are makers and do-it-yourselfers.

We’d rather fix something, tweak something, re-use and re-purpose something before simply replacing it.

We are adventurers.

We take risks, and enjoy testing our abilities, knowing that here it is safe to fall and to make mistakes.


We are inclusive.

We are a kaleidoscope of personalities, ideas, and stories, and we welcome all and all are welcomed.


We are a village

We work together, collaborate and support one another.

We are connected to our local and global community.

We are mindful.

We are aware of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and we respect the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of others.


We are peaceful.

We love nature and the outdoors, getting our hands dirty, our feet muddy, and our lungs filled with fresh air.


We honor our planet and all that live here.



Reflections


After reading this to each class––actually receiving applause from the students (gotta love these kids)––I shared a couple of thoughts.

First, is that it all comes down to how we personally act to create these “we are” statements. We can’t be considered curious until I am, and you are, and everyone around us is. We aren’t supportive until I support others, and you do, too, and everyone else in our community does.

Second, we can’t be all these things, all of us, all the time. Since we’re just never going to be perfect, it is up to us as a community to help each other. If I’m not feeling particularly adventurous today, a friend can encourage me, and suddenly we are adventurous. If I’m struggling with being mindful, a friend can remind me to pause, move slow, and breathe, and again, now we are mindful.



Parting Challenge


I left each class with a “challenge.” I gave each class a copy of the document for students to “interact” with. That could mean anything––journal prompts, personal goals, or class goals to focus on. Each cohort will decide how they want to connect with this, and they shared some great ideas.


“Can we make our own document?” You bet! You know we missed a lot and could never put everything that we are onto one sheet. We missed “playful” and “respectful” and a number of other great things.


“Can we make art inspired by it?” Oh yea!


As always, leave it to DGS students to take an idea and make it theirs. I loved all their ideas and said I would check back in with each class in January sometime to see what they all came up with. However, I didn’t have to wait long to see some of these ideas begin to take shape.

Just yesterday, in Lower Elementary, I’m filling up my water bottle at the water fountain, and something catches my eye. I see familiar words on some tracing paper. Reading them upside down, they say, “We Are.” I look closer, and it’s clear that one of the students has chosen to trace the entire document (see picture above). Wow. I needed to take a moment there to feel that.

The whole idea of this was to get us all to reflect on who we are individually and who we are as a community. From that moment, I’d say our reflections are off to a pretty good start, and I can’t wait to see what they share with me in January.



So, how about you? What would you add to this list? Or, what are some elements already on there that you would highlight? Please share some ideas in the comments. I’d love to read them. I think we all would.


With Gratitude for our whole community, Happy Thanksgiving!


Derek

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