Mrs. Rios and Dr. Kavanaugh in front of a mural.

 

Hello from Mrs. Rios and Dr. K! We’re working together a lot this year and thought it would be important and helpful for us to connect with the Laurence community through the Backpack News. As Laurence School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Director and School Counselor, much of our work, simply put, centers around keeping kind in mind towards ourselves and others. 

Therefore, this school year we are putting our DEI and social-emotional learning (SEL) heads together to facilitate “Kindness in Action” lessons at least once a month with every Kindergarten through 6th Grade class. Our lessons are tailored to each grade’s developmental level as well as particular situations or needs that each grade might be experiencing this year. Even as we all recalibrate and get back into a new school mode in the midst of a pandemic, it is likely that areas we cover will overlap across grade levels. As we shared with students during our first visits, we are always learning and growing, which means we might highlight or emphasize certain topics more than others within a grade or across grades.

During our first class visits last month, we reviewed our roles, discussed what our class time together will emphasize, and facilitated a connection-building activity. For this next month, and moving forward, we will share with all of you our Kindness in Action area of focus for each grade. While we will be seeing classes once a month, all teachers will work with students to use the same language and teachings to further help put this practice into action!

Kindergarten and First Grade
Students will listen to the story Milo Imagines the World, by Matt de la Peña. Our activity and discussion will focus on helping students recognize that you can't really know anyone's story just by looking at them.

Second Grade
Students will review concepts of personal space and how to kindly practice setting boundaries or asking for permission (i.e., consent) to enter someone's personal space (e.g., asking if it's okay to give someone a hug).

Third Grade
Students will participate in empathy-related exercises to practice recognizing feelings in other people and to illustrate that people can have different feelings when faced with the same situation.

Fourth Grade
Students will participate in an activity to practice recognizing one another’s feelings and perspectives, and responding in understanding ways to further enhance empathy skills.

Fifth Grade
Students will be asked to examine stereotypes and biases in visual media promoting Halloween costumes. The questions discussed will help the students understand that Halloween costumes are designed for fun, but some costumes perpetuate stereotypes or reinforce limited and/or hurtful ways of thinking about people.

Sixth Grade
We meet with sixth graders twice a month. In our first meeting, we will read the story Areli is a Dreamer, by Areli Morales, a DACA recipient, who shares her immigration story about being a child of two worlds – a Mexican citizen by birth, but raised as an American who is now living her American dream. The students will then engage in conversation about DACA, immigration, and citizenship, with a focus on the character in the story, and share their knowledge of these topics.

During our second Character Education class time, students will be asked to examine stereotypes and biases in visual media promoting Halloween costumes, and expand on the questions and considerations we will be discussing in 5th grade.