To begin the year students, along with their teachers, collaborate to develop Class Charters which are living documents that describe how we want to feel at school, what actions to take to achieve that, and what we do when we make a mistake or misstep.
This year, our student artists had the opportunity to ground themselves in the new space through a collaborative Visual Charter activity based on concepts from the RULER program.
Each class began by reflecting on the question, “how do we want to feel at school?”. They came up with some amazing and thoughtful answers including happy, challenged, excited, included, and ‘like myself!’ Keeping these emotions in mind, the students were asked to visualize what makes them feel that specific way: a certain person, place, pet, activity. This was the jumping off point for our explorations. The older classes also began exploring the subject of mandalas, reflecting on the concepts of impermanence (chalk washes away, things change), grounding themselves within the “universe” (new campus), and “meditating on” (consciously considering) their emotions as they worked to cultivate a sense of positivity.
Students utilized symbols, images, and words to express how they would like to feel at school this year and how they wanted to represent the school to others. This process required a lot of compromise, collaboration, and personal reflection as students shared space and materials, worked together on their imagery, and experimented with and investigated the material. Together, each class utilized their section of “canvas” (blacktop) to express their hopes, emotions, and personalities.
Through this process, students had the opportunity to ‘make their mark’ and bring what makes them comfortable to this new site, while providing valuable social-emotional study opportunities and self reflection: How do I want to feel? What makes me feel that way? Does thinking about that thing make me feel good?