Safe. Happy. Healthy. At Ease.

In my role as one of my school’s Diversity Coordinators, I have the privilege of working with a group of students who are interested in growing diversity, equity, and inclusion work on our campus. These student leaders—seven junior girls who are fired up about making positive change—met with me and a couple of other teachers to talk about leadership yesterday.

Since they are all juniors, we wanted them to cast a vision for what their work might look like after two years. We wanted them to begin with the end in mind; we wanted them to envision a safer, happier, and healthier school community.

To begin this leadership training session, I leaned on my experience as a chaplain and led them in a form of metta meditation that I learned from Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (definitely an affiliate link).

I was surprised at how well this worked over Zoom. I asked the nine participants in the training to close their eyes, find a posture that they could hold for several minutes, and then to take a few deep, clearing breaths. Then, I asked them to repeat these phrases silently to themselves:

May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I live at ease.

For several minutes, we sat in silence while we sent ourselves good vibes.

Then, I asked them to bring to mind someone else in the session, whoever comes to mind first. Now, send that person those same well-wishes:

May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live at ease.

After doing this for several minutes, we took a few deep breaths and then came back to the Zoom. I looked at each of their faces and felt a sense of calm and peace. These kids are ready to do the work, I thought. Little did I know that they were about to blow my mind.

My friend and colleague Ashley led the group through a visioning exercise in which they had to articulate how they imagined themselves as student leaders. The girls jumped in, talking about the issues that they saw on campus and the ways that they imagined themselves working to make change.

As I listened to them speak, I felt so encouraged.

For all the doom and gloom in the mediascape, for all the sadness brought by COVID-19, wildfires in the west, and hurricanes in the Gulf, I listened to these girls talk, and those words kept coming back to me:

Safe. Happy. Healthy. At ease.
Happy. Healthy. At ease. Safe.
Healthy. At ease. Safe. Happy.
At ease. Safe. Happy. Healthy.

As educators, we have an amazing opportunity to help shape the future. But listening to these girls do their thing, I was reminded that, more often than not, the future also shapes us.

It’s Saturday, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. A time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live at ease.

This Week on ROOTED

Thinking about writing lately: How do we teach it? This piece features some ideas that will be controversial in certain circles. But it also has an excellent student anecdote.

Templates, Recipes, and Formulas: Tasks That LOOK Like Writing
When a student asks how many paragraphs or how many pages or how many quotes their piece needs, then you know that student isn’t writing...yet.

From Around the Web

Each week, we look for the best of what's around. (Yes, that was definitely a DMB reference.) This week's crop includes a mixture of practical thoughts about asynchronous learning, a treatise on the importance of care, and a look at why we shouldn't look at this school year as a time to "catch up."

Need to get hit over the head? Check out this from Paul Thomas's "No Need to Catch Up":

Putting efficiency and management first often ignores and even works against individual student needs and the corrosive impact of inequity that is embodied by individual and groups of students.
No Need to Catch Up: Teaching without a Deficit Lens
Some jokes work only when spoken aloud, and possibly especially when spoken aloud in certain regions of the country, but this one came to mind recently in the context of the impact of Covid-19 on s…
» Practitioner Perspectives: OER and a Call for Equity
The Art of Teaching Writing
Pirette McKamey on helping students believe that what they write really matters
Care Is a Practice; Care Is Pedagogical | AAUP
How can we be together online?
Don’t dismiss asynchronous learning, experts say. Improve it.
Experts argue that asynchronous learning is a valuable tool, especially now. But it needs to be done in a thoughtful way to help students succeed.

Favorite Tweet This Week

The following tweet from @braycrowell shares a poem written by a student who was using Eve L. Ewings "I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store" as a model text. Sofia's work is amazing! Make sure you click the link to open her draft.