This is a guest post by Ruth Thomas, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist in Lower School

This week our first Tree Talk focused on collaboration, one of our Lead from Here competencies. In Lower School, we define collaboration as “working with others so we can do more, better”.  We will spend a lot of time learning about and practicing this competency throughout the year in Lower School.  In the Tree Talk we introduced our Buddy Benches as one way we can collaborate with others for the benefit of all.  Once the initial excitement of a new place to sit wanes, we will use the benches as  spots where children can “signal” their temporary discomfort and their request for inclusion, problem-solving, or assistance.  It’s a big idea.  Whenever I think of ways to provide student explanations for big ideas, I turn to the examples of famous people as well as children’s literature.


Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” This quote reminds me that I don’t have to do everything on my own. Successful collaboration, around a common goal, makes a task easier and it also makes us better people. As we work together, we are able to appreciate the gifts and talents of other people. We can be more forgiving of our own shortcomings. We can rely on the strengths of our partners. What we “can’t do” by ourselves becomes less important than what we “can do” with the help of others.


It is never too early to enlist the strength and examples of book characters to explain this idea to our youngest citizen leaders. Please click the link, children’s literature, to explore the list of books that share the values of working with others. Within the link itself, you can click on “order the book,” and read the book’s summary. Read and reread these books with your children. Have conversations about the book’s content as it relates to collaboration. In the spirit of Miss Keller may I suggest that, “Together, we can learn and do so much.”

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