Did you know that many of our weekly faculty meetings include a round of Student Spotlights? Yesterday afternoon, as we often do, we went around the room and shared positive anecdotes about our students. Here are some of the stories that came up:
- A 6th grader, often pretty quiet, who seamlessly took on a leadership role in a small group discussion in Science;
- Another 6th grader who had never played an instrument before this year but who is rocking music class, practicing diligently and helping classmates;
- A 7th grader who clearly took some parental and teacher conference feedback to heart got past a “stuck” place and has been writing productively in English class ever since;
- 8th graders who are keeping each other on track and organized in different classes, showing pride in themselves and each other, and encouraging each other to do their best work!
I love hearing our teachers share these stories. I love celebrating student growth and community. Yesterday, listening to the faculty, I was reminded of the question we often get from prospective families at tours and Open Houses: “What kind of student does well at Explorer West? What are you looking for?” I used to be a little uncomfortable with this question – we value diversity so highly and believe our program suits so many different kinds of students!! But these days, I feel confident sharing that Explorer West thrives because we attract and invite students who have a track record of kindness and who have shown a willingness to work hard, even in areas that they don’t see as strengths or passions yet, and even when asked to step outside their comfort zone.
But I think it bears emphasizing that both kindness and diligence are not fixed attributes that people either have or they don’t have – they are practices! They are muscles to build and tone. And, that we have a responsibility as a school to create an environment that encourages and fosters kindness and hard work. I imagine you saw evidence of that environment in conferences last month. I see it every day in our classrooms and hallways.