Our Lower School Character Education class has a new name, Pillars. Pillars represents the emphasis placed on the four Calvert Pillars of Respect, Compassion, Honor, and Responsibility. These words, like real pillars or columns, ground us as well as hold us up. While they are "big" words, our Lower School students know responsibility as recycling, respect as welcoming new students in the classroom, honor as apologizing when one says something hurtful, and compassion as being a caring friend. We break these words down and then open them up to our young learners.
In the first Tenth Age class of the year, a leadership puzzle was introduced to the students. Ten of the puzzle pieces had leadership words such as role model, empathy, and a good listener written on them; the other pieces were blank. The students worked with a partner and decided what other traits should be added to the puzzle. Boys in 10-2 picked peaceful, helpful, caring, and giving as words that were needed to complete the puzzle. As the emerging leaders of the Lower School, the boys and girls were able to express their goals and envision activities to help achieve those goals, as they make their mark in the 2019-2020 school year.
Fifth and Sixth Ages began a unit about social thinking and it, too, puts our pillars into action as we focus on perspective taking, self-regulation, social skills, and problem solving. If students can think about others before they say something or do something, the outcome is usually positive. For instance, if a student sees a classmate playing with blocks and the classmate is smiling, he will think about this other student, and consider joining the game with a friendly approach and tone of voice. In contrast, when he observes a classmate who is reading a book in the quiet corner, he may decide to let the student continue reading alone. Here we have respect and compassion at play!
Beth Nichols, Lower School Counselor, shares “As part of this unit we use thought bubbles. Students know what I am thinking about, I know what they are thinking about, and we have a compassionate class. As one Fifth Age girl said to me, ‘Mrs. Nichols, I am thinking about you and wondering if you are thinking about me. I am thinking that we will have a good class!’ The Calvert pillars are at work in Pillars class.”