While walking through Foster School the other day, I stopped in my tracks as I viewed a recently-posted student bulletin board display. It struck me, that with a little guidance and ample opportunity to think through complex issues, our students can actually teach the adults around them a whole lot about life. As a part of our Social Emotional Learning program, Second Step, being taught in Kindergarten through 8th Grade here in Forest Ridge School District 142, we discuss character, making good decisions, leading a healthy balanced life, and more. The display at Foster was a summary of our students’ reflections on some of the subjects discussed in Second Step. I hope you come away from our students’ thoughts and feelings as moved as I was.
Students were offered relevant prompts; just a sampling of their amazing responses are below.
To become a more ethical person, my goal is:
> “To be nice, respect, and listen”
> “To help people that are sad”
> “Be sad if my friends are sad”
To become an effective learner, my goal is to:
> “Listen, be organized.”
> “Listen to my teacher when she is talking”
> “Work together with people”
To help create a better school, my goal is to:
> “Give kindness and help kindness grow”
> “I have to be safe”
> “Face fear or danger”
I don’t know about you, but any workplace, any home, really anywhere where people gather could be improved by following the advice of a few 10-year-old students. Their list included being nice, demonstrating empathy, working hard, gathering knowledge from others, and stepping outside of their comfort zone to ensure that they, their learning environment, and their school community moves towards being a better place. The question that surfaced in my mind was, for us as adults to answer, when was the last time we approached our jobs, or family life, while thinking of the concepts of being better as a person and a better member of that group?
As an exercise, and showing that our students can really help us evolve in our thinking, I offer the following challenge. Please take a moment to consider your own response to the prompts below.
- To become a more ethical person, a goal for myself is_________________________.
- To advance my learning/growth for myself or my job, one goal is ______________________________.
- To help create a better work place/home life for myself and those around me, one goal is _____________________________.
By putting these simple reflective exercise into regular action, we, collectively, can help create a better environment for all. Thanks kids, we are listening J
Dr. Paul McDermott