Dear Families,

Know what it feels like to have one of those glorious days when things click into place, your vision for something is fulfilled, and the world around you feels like a happy place in which to be?  For me, that happened last Friday in our school building!  With a focus on the steady building of a positive school culture and the social emotional well-being of our students, we’ve been working to provide time for students to empathize and socialize.  As previously shared regarding the Danish approach to this known as “klassens tid”, every teacher has now set aside weekly time for Eagle Community Building (ECB).  We debuted this last Friday with a rousing “Freeze Dance” activity in all grades and captured some great video and photos of students’ spending time together simply having fun!  Going forward, we have a structure and cadence for what ECB will look like each week.

As a principal, I’ve also been working to spend time with classes on a more individual basis to get to know the students and their class dynamics.  To do this, I’ve been joining classes casually at lunch to talk with them or read to them.  Last Friday, while eating with the 4th graders, one of the students said, “Mrs. Dolan, why are we getting to do so many fun things at school?”  I answered that part of caring for each other is taking time to listen to one another and enjoy fun activities together!  I asked the class what it means to be a community and they answered perfectly when cued:  1) we are part of God’s family, 2) we are St. John’s Eagles together as a school family, 3) each class is a family, and 4) many of us have family members throughout the building with whom we live!  In all of these family scenarios, it is important that we pray, learn, and play!

I had the privilege of watching this come to life with the 8th grade class as I led them through ECB.  Our “freeze dance” activity became a full dance party with break dancing, line dancing, and acrobatics.  Students let loose and cheered for each other!  I felt joy watching them pause their daily schedule for 15 minutes to simply enjoy the company of one another and let go of worrying about what someone else was thinking of them.

As shared from an online blog, when we spend time in the week with “everyone together, welcoming each person, sharing news, listening to individual voices, and communicating as a caring group, we make several powerful statements.  We say that every person counts.  We say that the way we interact individually and as a group is significant.  We say that our classroom culture is one of friendliness and thoughtfulness.  We say that we can accomplish hard work and make important discoveries together.  We say that teachers hold authority, even though they are part of the circle.  We say that this is a place where courtesy and warmth and safety reign — a place of respect for all.”  Last week it began with something light-hearted and fun, and it will grow and develop as we carry it forward within our classrooms and school.

In the coming weeks, I will share about each component of Eagle Community Building (ECB) and unpack the thinking behind the methodology.  Ask your students at the end of the week about this time together because tomorrow may just be another fun day!

In joyful service,

Mrs. Dolan


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