I am really excited that we will be starting up next week. Faculty members have been back on campus for the last two weeks, and we have had some wonderful meetings in preparation for the year. Each year, I am amazed at the wealth of talent and enthusiasm in our faculty. They are raring to go and eager to have your children in their classrooms!
One of my favorite days of the opening faculty meetings is always the day of the division retreat. In the past, I took the Middle School faculty to Eldorado Canyon State Park for some teambuilding, goal setting, and general fun. This year with the larger K-8 group, I decided to mix it up, and we headed to a conference room in the Boulder Public Library. It was a wonderful setting, and we took advantage of the location on Boulder Creek by doing some individual and paired activities that gave folks the freedom to explore.
We had a wonderful day, learning new things about each other and making connections that we will continue to build on over the course of the year. Teachers were paired up randomly to go on walks and eat lunch together, and some new friendships were formed while longstanding relationships were deepened.
We also spent some time practicing mindfulness since this is a school-wide initiative. After reading The Way of Mindfulness Education this summer, we understand even better than we have in the past that practicing mindfulness can help our students develop life skills such as emotional regulation, awareness of others, and positivity. We are excited to begin implementing mindfulness practices throughout the school.
The theme of the day was story – something I talk about frequently with faculty, parents, and students. It is crucial that we always remember that everyone has a story, and it is very likely not the story we assign to them initially. If we can take the time to dig deeper and try to view the world through one another’s lenses, we can understand more deeply our differing perspectives and hopefully approach problems with a more empathic point of view.
In an effort to explore our own stories, I asked faculty to draw their own life stories, illustrating how they got to where they are today. After sharing our stories with each other, teachers looked back at their drawings and developed personal mission statements focusing on their missions as educators. Because surely our own experiences shape who we are and also what we aspire to do. I loved walking around the room and hearing the rich conversations that folks were having while discussing their stories and their missions.
We finished the day by discussing our mission as a K-8 faculty. We discussed ideal outcomes – what do we want a student who’s been through the program to embody as they finish eighth grade? We discussed wanting students who bring joy to learning, students who embrace diversity, students who think deeply, and students who feel confident about who they are (about their stories, really!). From these conversations, we will develop a mission statement that is specific to our K-8 division.
As we move through the year, we will keep coming back to both our personal mission statements and our K-8 mission statement because the more mission-driven we are, the more authentic we are with our students and the clearer our vision will be each day.
I look forward to a wonderful year with you!