We are all alike AND different. That is what makes our community special and wonderful. No matter who you are, where you come from, where you live, who you admire, what you eat, what games you play, how you learn, what church or temple you attend, or even if you don’t attend one at all, no matter what color your skin is, what language you speak at home, how much or how little you have, you are an important part of our community– and we are glad you are. You are welcome here!
3rd grader, Ashleigh Colantoni, acting Head of Lower School for the day, opened our last Tree Talk with the awesome statement above.
Within the context of our Citizen Leader framework, we define being culturally inclusive as– building positive relationships with others by learning about, respecting, and celebrating how we are all alike and different.
The idea for Identity Day was a result of many conversations within our Lower School Diversity and Inclusion committee where we were discussing how we could provide our youngest students with concrete ways to grow in this competency.
The day was a huge success!
Students began the day in their classrooms where teachers prepared them for the experience by asking questions and establishing specific learning objectives for the students to consider throughout the day. We then gathered as an entire community for our Tree Talk where we sang our Character Tree Song, and Dr. Harper and a group of students shared stories that illustrated what it means to be culturally inclusive and why it is an important competency to understand and apply in our lives. After the Tree Talk, we all traveled around the Lower School on a Gallery Walk, and students got to see Identity Day projects from all different members of the community (students and faculty). The day ended back in individual classrooms with students and teachers debriefing the experience and reflecting on what they learned from it.
- What surprised you about today?
- What did you learn about other students or teachers?
- What is something new you learned about yourself?
- What kinds of similarities did you find among yourself and others?
- How did this Gallery Walk impact you?
- Do you think it is important that we learn about each other’s similarities and differences? If so, why?
- Has this changed your opinions of others in a positive way? How?
- So, why do you think we did these projects, had this Walk?
- We are all similar and dissimilar from one another. Why (and how) does that matter?
- How might this experience help you be more inclusive in the future?
- Will you act differently as a result of what you learned today? When? How?
- What will you do differently as a result of what you learned today?
- How can you relate this experience to experiences outside of school?
Students and faculty also designed individual puzzle pieces that have been assembled into one large puzzle to illustrate the concept that each person is unique and special, and that everyone is important and needed to complete the larger picture. (The puzzle is on display in the hallway outside of the faculty workroom and you can also see a picture in the link at the end of this post.)
Two Kindergarten students reflected on the day in writing and said the following:
I saw that people weren’t the same but we can all be friends.
I learned that some people have different ways to be special.
These simple, yet profound statements, make me hopeful for the future of our world. When young people learn at an early age that differences do not have to separate us, but instead, can unite us and make us better, the possibilities are endless for what we can accomplish.
You can view pictures from Identity Day on this Storify link
Identify Day logo created by 5th graders Jessie Zhou, Carter Anderson, and Delaney Washington