Historically, from my experience, this stretch (January 1 until February break) of school is the most stressful of the year. I believe it's a combination of the weather, cabin fever and the longest amount of time between breaks. Whatever it is, it is hard for both students and teachers. In my tenure, IAA has often been described in terms of its warm and social emotional intelligent climate and culture. That is a direct result of these kinds of retreats and there importance for the entire community. I recently read an article, Teaching Is as Stressful as an ER. These Calming Strategies Can Help. I don't contend that what we do at school on a daily basis is on par with a Hospital or Emergency Room. However, this article does speak well to why we need days like this. Retreats are really a vital day for staff cohesion and school climate, two things that directly impact the environment we set and nurture for out students.
I recently lead a 90 minute Restorative Practice session with the Hunt Middle School Staff. I used the Meg Wheatley Poem below, as I have many time before in my career. It wholly reminds me of the work IAA consistently does as a community, the real purpose of our retreats, and how we strive to reflect and connect with each other, families and students. I hope you enjoy it.
Turning to One Another
There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask: “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don’t know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear. Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness.
Artfully and with Love,