One of the bonuses (some might call it a side-effect) of working in a Learning Community that has a positive living systems framework (Lauman, 2011) is the spillage of kindness and caring. We have an LC where staff works together because we know that as a community we can be greater than our own selves and we know that in supporting one another we can harness the positive thoughts and energies of all towards our goal of making our school a great place to learn and be.
Further to this, we know that learning is much more likely to take place in a community in which people’s social and emotional well-being are nurtured. (Hymel, 2013)
We recently had a surprise fire-drill. While this is not an unusual occurrence in a grade K to 7 school, there were a couple of circumstances that made it stand out in my mind. Firstly, our grade 5s had gone to camp, so our grade 6/7 teacher (I’ll call her teacher A) had taken on some extra grade 6s (from the grade 5/6 class) so her colleague could go to camp. Secondly, we had a teacher (I’ll call her teacher B) working at the food bank with a group of students, so teacher A had her grade 7 students working with teacher Bs grade 2/3 students down the hall on a reading project using ipads. When the fire bell went off, teacher A headed down the hall to teacher Bs class. When she arrived, the grade 7s said they were ready, and they were. They had lined up the grade 2/3 group, closed the windows and doors, turned off the lights and had placed themselves at the front and back of the line in order to keep the grade 2/3s safe. How do I know this?…because teacher A shared this story with me, obviously touched by what her grade 7s had done.
It has been a tradition for the past 30 years or so at the school for grade 5s to attend camp in the spring. This year we had two male teachers teaching grade 5 and we needed two females to attend as well (for nightly cabin groups). One mom volunteered and one of our female learning support teachers also volunteered to go, even though she knew it would make more work for her and would have her working with students not usually assigned to her case load. When visiting with the grade 5s it was evident that they were having a great time, and that they would talk about this experience for years to come. This is in great part due to the gift of time given by our three teachers and one parent.
The common thread here is leadership that is enacted in order to help others. It is part of the culture at our school to step up and help others, and it bodes well for the continued positive development of both the adults and the children in the community.