One of our goals is to encourage enthusiasm around learning. That happens more easily when we can follow things that are interesting and relevant to our students. That is possible because we have systems in place that allow the freedom. Sometimes that takes planning and other times it takes awareness and the flexibility of our teachers.
We had a perfect example of how all of that tied together last week.
COVID is top of mind for most everyone. Especially those of us in Pinellas County where our public schools have absolutely no mask mandate and a clear uptick in cases.
Our students do not fall into that category but they are still aware of what is happening and as most children are, aware of injustice and have a strong desire to help.
So leave it to one of our intelligent and passionate 6th graders to take the initiative to write their own letter to our local school board to speak on behalf of those that she would like to protect. She wrote an extremely heartfelt letter that expressed her concerns for her younger sister who is attending a school that is not requiring masks. That could have been enough.
But she decided to read her letter to each of our cohorts (I would have never be as brave at that age!) and ask that if they felt so compelled to write a letter of their own and that she’d take them all to the school board herself. Passion leveled up to action.
Here’s where it goes the extra mile and really compounds with an experience.
Her teacher saw how passionate she and her other students were and reached out to her families to see if they’d be open to her taking the students to the school board to try to hand deliver themselves.
*A reminder that we encourage free thought and critical thinking. Students were provided the space to write letters but were not forced to and those who were not comfortable hand delivering, stayed behind.
On the way they talked about the school board, what their jobs and roles were, and who they serve.
Did they get an impromptu lesson on local government? Yes.
Did they work on their writing? Of course.
But learning that adults see and value your thoughts, that your voice is important, and that you are capable of supporting one another, even those with different ideas, those are the teaching points of importance in that hour.