September 26, 2013

How Full Is Your Bucket?

Friends' preschoolers with teacher Katelynn Regan

On Thursday afternoon, our 5th grade candidates for Student Council President and Vice-President gave passionate speeches to the elementary school.  Filled with rich campaign promises, and the occasional political cliché, the speeches were a great testament to the power of our program.  The candidates were confident and used great voice in delivering their message to the audience.

As impressive as they were, I was more moved by the short presentation that preceded the campaign speeches.  A group of fifth grade students (and one 4th grader) made a direct appeal to their peers about playground responsibility and care of the equipment.

It turns out that several items of playground equipment, shovels, wheelbarrows and the like, have been left out of the shed at the end of recess.  It has been this group of student leaders who have taken it upon themselves to make sure the equipment is stowed away, safe and dry at the end of the day.  Their message was simple:  take care of our stuff, and clean up after yourself. 

What was striking to me was that this was no prepared speech.  It was a simple message for the common good, incorporating our key values of respect and responsibility.

Mandy Stepanovsky read the book How Full Is Your Bucket? to our Kindergarten and first grade classes this week.  The preschool teachers read this book to their classes each year . I know Mary Pearsall and teachers of older students have also used the book and incorporated the language into their classroom dialogues.

Many of you know the book, but if you don’t, the message is a wonderful one. Through the story of a boy named Felix, the book explains how being kind not only helps others, it helps us too. As he goes about his day, Felix interacts with different people: some are happy, but others are grumpy or sad. Using the metaphor of a bucket and dipper, Felix’s grandfather explains why the happy people make
First grade: TC Eileen Clancy and teacher
Beth Huennekens with students
Felix feel good (filling his bucket), while the others leave him feeling bad — and how Felix himself is affecting others, whether he means to or not.

My bucket was certainly filled by listening to students at our school ask their friends to vote for them, and to help them make the school a better place.

Each week Mandy asks students and teachers to share with her what she is calling  “awesomeness”.  She is asking people around the school to tell her stories of someone helping someone else, of someone giving a compliment, or of a kind deed.  Mandy shares these tales of awesomeness at our Friday gathering – anonymously.  We think it’s important to share when our collective or individual buckets are getting filled.

Parents are also invited to share the “awesomeness” with Mandy.  Please catch her in the hallways or zip her an email.

While these stories are not the cornerstones of our social/emotional curriculum that I shared with elementary parents at Back-To-School Night (which is available on our website), they are just the small everyday things that make belonging to our community so wonderful.

I hope your bucket is filled by someone today and that you have an opportunity to help fill someone else’s.

1 comment:

Kathy N. said...

At another of my favorite schools, The Odyssey School in Denver, the Friday Community Gathering features a time for Accolades. Students and staff rise to give accolades to others who have achieved something significant in or out of school -- the best ones are simpler:
"I would like to give an accolade to Sarah for finding my flash drive under the cubbies."
"My accolade is for Jamaal who helped me clean up the milk I spilled at lunch."