This is a guest post by Lower School Counselor, Mary Ripple

What is joy?

Why is it important to know what brings us joy?

How will we lead with joy individually and collectively this year in Lower School?

These were the essential questions TEAM Lower School explored together as citizen-leaders in our first Tree Talk of the 2017-2018 school year.

Tree Talks provide our community with an opportunity to learn more about the competencies in our Lead From Here framework and grow in our capacity to live those competencies out in our daily lives.

As we think about how we will lead ourselves this year in Lower School, we believe it is important to begin by discussing self-awareness as our first competency for growth:

Know one’s own values, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. Seek feedback. Compensate for own weaknesses, capitalize on own strengths, learn from own experiences and make needed adjustments in own behavior, take care of self and be aware of his/her feelings.

Our Lower School defines self-awareness as:

I know what I do well and what I need to work on.  

I know who I am, what I like, and how I feel.

When it comes to feelings, self-aware individuals can answer the question, “How do I feel about this?”  

With our youngest Ravens, the answer to this question can often be limited to “sad, mad, or happy.” While starting with these basic emotions is a great foundation for early childhood, it is important for us all to learn and recognize many different feelings and emotions beyond sad, mad, or happy.

Increasing our vocabulary and understanding of emotions helps us recognize and name feelings in a way that gives us greater insight into our inner and outer environments, and ultimately enhances our ability to be self-aware.

To find out more about joy, Coach Meyers started our Tree Talk by sharing that the beach and water bring him joy–when he is at the beach he feels peaceful and tranquil.

Then, Coach Meyers helped us think of a place that brings us peace and tranquility and we learned we can feel joy just by closing our eyes and imagining we are in that place!

The rest of the Tree Talk included entertaining skits, teacher and student sharings, and a performance by our Spirit Team to help us learn:

  • Joy comes in many different forms and can be found in many different situations (even sad ones!).
  • People can share in what brings them joy or not (what brings me joy may not bring someone else joy).
  • It is important to notice and name what we are feeling–both so we know for ourselves and so we can share with others
  • As citizen-leaders, we need to notice and name when joy exists, individually and collectively, so that we can intentionally choose to Lead with Joy!

Our Tree Talk concluded with an important call to action:

“Choose to Prioritize the Positive”

We can “Prioritize the Positive” by working actively to incorporate activities in our daily lives that bring us enjoyment.

When we increase our self-awareness around how we feel–our ability to name our feelings and our capacity to identify what it is that causes those emotions–we can adjust our daily routines so that we intentionally include activities that naturally inspire wonder, help us find peace, bring a sense of contentment, or spark excitement within us.

As citizen-leaders, we recognize that the ability to “Prioritize the Positive” on a daily basis helps us:

  • pursue important goals and find genuine motivation;
  • connect with other people and form vital bonds;
  • better focus our attention and broaden our scope of attention;
  • overcome obstacles and protects us from some effects of stress;
  • and, increases our overall well-being including physical and psychological health.

A resource that may help support conversations at home as parents look to partner in this work with us is from the movie Inside Out: 4 Important Lessons from ‘Inside Out’ to Discuss With Kids

And, because music is something that brings great joy to TEAM Lower School, we danced!



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