September 30, 2020 | Melissa McCallihan
Community, or the big C as I refer to it, is one of the best parts of being a person connected to Mustard Seed School. We value people. We make sure to know people’s names and build relationship with people. So therefore, building community is a major component of the first six weeks of learning at Mustard Seed School. Virtual or hybrid classrooms do not change the fact that at Mustard Seed we are intentional about building community.
Typically, community is built with morning greetings, enjoying a shared story and a shared read aloud. Also, it is built on game play and class meeting topics that ask students to think deeply and share their opinions and feelings. Last year my cohort became very involved with the plight of refugees as a result of a book I read aloud.
The sixth grade community wanted to build an identity and community that was their own from the very first day. They didn’t want the fact that their community was a hybrid of two cohorts meeting in school on different days, to effect their ability to be one sixth grade community. So shared Zoom times became vital for building this type of community. Game play is still a big part of that. In a recent meeting we had a virtual scavenger hunt and laughter abounded.
Another way we are building community is through a recent request from students. They asked if our small group time could become a cross-cohort time and that during that time there could be opportunity for play as well as work. Students start the meeting all together, and then break up into small groups of 3-5 people that are a blend of folks who are in school and who are at home. The conversations I overhear are about their everyday lives as well as whatever assignment I’ve given them.
We’ve been working on our class covenant based on the fruit of the Spirit. We’ve also been rewriting the technology agreement to reflect the changing times.
And sometimes students just decide on their own to use something as simple as wearing the same shirt to school to unite their group.
Feeling like you belong is important. Feeling like you are known is important. Have a strong community is vital. I think the sixth grade is well on their way.