We wanted to share with families about how we have been taking up discussions about the Orange Shirt focus for the week.
All year long, as part of our School Development Plan, we have been focussing on empathy and respect. Our Well-being for Learning instructional actions and outcomes have included:
· Developing a common language about what respect looks like, sounds like, feels like
· Discussing effective strategies for teaching social skills
· Planning purposeful interactions with students to practice social emotional skills
· With students, staff have developed social emotional skills and vocabulary including empathy, respect, self-advocacy, and self-control
· Staff have modelled respectful communication with students
· Students can provide examples of respectful words and actions
· Students participated in school-wide story telling event and had opportunities to give and receive feedback in a respectful way
This work will be reflective in the following two ways:
1. The percentage of students who feel that students respect each other will increase (Alberta Education Assurance Survey)
2. The percentage of students who have Exemplary (EX) on the report card stem “Treats others with respect and compassion" will increase (report card data January and June 2021)
Our whole school inquiry question this year has been 'What can we learn from the land?" which has helped foster a deeper understanding of the land and developed a new found respect for nature. Learning from the land is part of our work of incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing within our teaching and learning (as part of CBE's Education Plan). We have been using the CBE's Indigenous Newsletter to guide some of our learning about plants and animals and their significance to the land. This work has been led by our Grade four French Immersion students.
We have acknowledged Orange Shirt day in September, Metis Week in November, Winter Solstice in December, and we used the Medicine Wheel for Mental Health Week in May. We will continue our work with Orange Shirt week this week as part of demonstrating empathy with residential school survivors, and we look forward to acknowledging Summer Solstice on June 21.
We have approached this learning all year by accessing age appropriate resources that are recommended for a K-4 setting. Some of the resources we have used are:
· All are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, Suzanne Kaufman
· I Am Human: A book of empathy by Susan Verde
· Say Something! By Peter H. Reynolds
· Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
· When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith
· The Sharing Circle by Theresa “Corky" Larsen-Jonasson
· Phillys's Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad
Our work this year has had an authentic approach to learning about empathy and respect. In light of the events this week, and CBE encouraging staff and students to wear an orange shirt to show solidarity with residential school survivors and help send the message that every child matters, we feel that our students are well versed in understanding what this means. All year long, and this week specifically, teachers have guided class discussions and sharing circles with a focus on the following:
· Every child matters
· School is a safe place to be
· How we can use the medicine wheel to take care of ourselves and each other
· What we can do to make everyone feel welcomed at JJ
· What we can do to make everyone feel safe and honored at school each day (a sense of belonging)
We encourage all families take up the discussion of belonging, and what it means to say that Every Child Matters at school. As adults, we recognize that the events of the Kamloops Indian Residential School Burial Site are hard to hear and even harder to understand. When students ask complex questions concerning details that are not age appropriate about what they may hear on the news, through side conversations, or possibly as playground talk, please be assured that we are encouraging them to ask you. We respect every parent's decision in how they choose to inform their children about current events. Within the walls of the classrooms, we are working very hard to help students understand only what is developmentally appropriate for their age. Teachers have done an outstanding job facilitating conversations and redirecting the more complex questions to private conversations and to talk to their parents.
We encourage you to check out the resources listed and to spend some time talking to your child(ren) about the reason why we are wearing orange this week. You'll be surprised at how empathetic and respectful children can be about such a complicated and difficult topic.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly if you have any questions, comments or concerns. Thank you for supporting us and the growth of your child(ren) as respectful and empathetic citizens of the world.