What an exciting couple weeks I had visiting ALL classrooms, PreK – 8! The students and I kicked off the school year discussing how important it is to treat others with kindness, respect and empathy. This lesson was imparted to PreK – 4thgrade students through the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today. The students learned that they can fill someone’s bucket through simple acts of kindness, appreciation and love. The students enthusiastically identified ways they can fill the buckets of their friends, classmates and parents. Conversely, the “Bucket Book,” as the students refer to it, also outlines that one can dip into someone’s bucket and make them feel sad or lonely through actions that are hurtful, discouraging or rude. As you might imagine, the book illustrates children holding invisible buckets that are either filled with rainbows and stars or empty. I love these books as they provide young children with very concrete imagery of how their actions impact others. I have already had students stop me in the hall to provide examples of when someone “filled their bucket” (which incidentally filled my bucket!); hopefully you will begin to hear these terms at home as well!
Students in 5th– 8thgrade received a different type of lesson aimed to impress the same message. With our older students the content was framed as an anti-bullying lesson and students were prompted to discuss the differences between bullying and a conflict, examine the potential motivating factors that drive bullying behavior and ultimately provide suggestions as to how we can ensure St. John Fisher is a place where every student feels a sense of safety and belonging and, most importantly, feels as though they can explore, learn and take academic risks. The lesson was supported by a reflection in which students were prompted to think about a time they were mistreated, bullied or deeply embarrassed. Students recorded some of their thoughts and feelings and reflected upon their experiences; how they felt physically, what they were thinking during the event, how long they thought about the event after it occurred, etc.. Most importantly, students were asked to evaluate if these events and experiences are still hurtful memories. We processed how important it is to treat others with kindness, dignity and respect as memories and experiences, especially negative ones, are lasting and can be seriously damaging to our self-esteem and confidence.
The capstone to this lesson was our visit from Mr. Roy Petifilis, a renowned author and speaker. Mr. Petifilis echoed many concepts from our classroom lessons and, in addition, discussed how unique and difficult it can be to be an adolescent in today’s society. Hopefully you were able to attend the parent version of this presentation which delved deeper into topics plaguing todays children and adolescents such as depression, anxiety and unhealthy relationships with social media. If you were not able to attend I would encourage you to read Mr. Petifilis’ book Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: A Field Guide for Catholic Parents, Pastors, and Youth Leaders.
I am so grateful for a strong start to the school year; it was wonderful meeting all your children and I look forward to meeting you, the parents, in the coming weeks. If you have any questions as to how you can best support your child(ren) or would like your child to meet with me for academic or social-emotional reasons please do not hesitate to contact me.