Dear Middle Campus Families,
It’s great to have the students back in the building after Thanksgiving Break. There were certainly some sleepy students getting back into their routines on Monday, but it’s always great to have the students back. As we’ve returned to school, safety has been a theme in our building this week. During morning meeting on Monday we did a “Quizzizz” quiz about coronavirus. One student per advisory controlled the keyboard for their group as the rest of the advisory shouted out answers to questions in a competitive format. The students enjoyed the quiz, but this also gave us an opportunity to give the students some reminders about mask wearing. Whereas the vast majority of our students consistently wear their masks, there are a few that bring them down from time to time or who don’t keep their masks over their nose. When you get a chance please check in with your student with a reminder about the right way to wear a mask, as well as the importance of accepting redirection when adults at school remind them about their masks. The middle school years can certainly be a time of rebellion. However, mask wearing is one situation where we hope students are NOT pushing back.
Continuing with the theme of safety we had planned to do an intruder drill this week, and while we are continuing with a version of this plan, we also made some adjustments on the back of the school shooting that took place at Oxford High School in Michigan yesterday. We are mandated by the school district to do intruder drills twice a year. We always do the first one of the year in advisory, because it is a safe space for students to share and connect with their peers and their advisors. One of the roles of an advisor is to serve as a safe person/adult for their advisees. We also spend the morning in advisory on the day prior to the drill focused on connection. Specifically, advisors facilitated a lesson this morning designed to reconnect our students to the importance of school family and inconclusivity. The original Daily Message (the note that is written on the whiteboard as a jumping off point for advisory each morning) for Wednesday’s advisory lesson is below:
¡Bienvenidos! “Studies show that social rejection at school is associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, aggression and antisocial behavior in children.” We do a lot of work as a school community to build inclusivity – it contributes to positive mental health outcomes and helps us create a safe school community for everyone. Today we will spend some time thinking about creating a safe community. Write what comes to your mind when you think of “safe” then join our circle.
We decided that it was important for us to provide space today for students to share any thoughts or feelings about the school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan – knowing that some students would have knowledge of this event and would potentially be talking about it at school today. As such, we made a minor addendum to the Daily Message to acknowledge the event.
This morning there were a couple of advisories that had rich discussions about the school shooting yesterday, but for the most part students did not express a high level of nervousness. Most advisories focused more on the elements of our lesson that were centered around “creat[ing] a safe school community for everyone.” The amended Daily Message offered students an opportunity to wish well or draw a hopeful message on the white board, and lots of kind messages were written. Because students handled this lesson well, and in order to make sure our students are prepared in the unlikely event of a school shooting, we will still conduct our intruder drill tomorrow. It can be comforting for students to know that they are aware of what to do in a dangerous situation. It’s an announced drill, and we will also spend time talking to students about what to expect before the drill occurs to make sure that we are handling this drill with care.
While we as adults understand that the chances of being involved in school shootings are quite low, it’s important that we take the time to take these topics seriously. The topic of school shootings definitely hits this generation of students in a different way than it does adults, so taking the time to help our students feel safe is of the utmost importance. If you are so inclined, check in with your student on this topic and in anticipation of our intruder drill tomorrow.
We also stress the importance of speaking up if you see something (about ANYTHING that is unsafe), and that goes for all members of our community – including parents. So please keep the lines of communication open with us; we will do the same. As always if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your week.