I thought I would write this week on two principles that are very important to me. We use these a lot as important language and “rules” for the students and staff at our school – “Be Kind” and “Do no harm”.
This is coming from my recent experience provided by the Board’s Equity contact, Colinda Clyne ([email protected]) and some events that have happened during the last week. On October 20th, about 30 other board administrators and staff and I had the experience of visiting the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford. (You can visit their website www.woodland-centre.on.ca, or better still, take a family trip to go see the site). It was an experience that changed my perspective.
We were toured of the former “Indian” residential school by a survivor who had spent 11 years of his life there. It was officially closed in 1970, during our lifetime. He was dropped off there at the age of 5 by his mother and “graduated” when he was 16. He did not see his mom for 11 years. His head was shaved and he was given a new name – “42”. He was removed from his culture and family, and stripped of his appearance and name; all essential contributors to an individual’s identity and well being. Hearing his story, I came to a better understanding of him as a person and and what he went through.
Ms. Carrie took our “Me to We” group to We Day on Wednesday. This is another forum in which peoples’ stories are shared so that “we” may come to a better understanding of people around the world and how we can all contribute to the betterment of others.
Big themes, but they apply to our school and community too. We have a Safe Schools Plan to support students, parents and teachers in feeling safe at school and home (https://www.ugdsb.ca/johngalt/about-us/bullying-prevention-plan/). At school, as in life, we help solve conflicts on a daily basis. Sometimes these conflicts can be defined as “bullying” if there is a power imbalance or if a hurtful behaviour continues for a period of time ( a more comprehensive definition of bullying can be found in the aforementioned document).
One of the most important things I have come to know about dealing with conflict is the importance of hearing the other person’s story. This is the process we try to use at school. It is only when we listen to each other that we can begin to truly understand. Then, we can solve problems and conflicts.
When we understand a person’s story, other and support people. So take the time to listen to your children and others. By listening to another person’s story, we give them essential feedback that we recognize them and “see” them. Be kind, do no harm, listen and share your story.