Poet, author, and literacy advocate Pat Mora sent her poem “Light” as an invitation to her friends and colleagues to “nurture justice and joy” in the new year. She also posted it to her blog. While Pat’s poem captures the heart-felt sentiments of many as 2016 draws to a close and 2017 begins, her words are also a call to action.
Last week, NPR’s Steve Inskeep published “A Finder’s Guide to Facts.” Inskeep notes: “Facts have always been hard to separate from falsehoods, and political partisans have always made it harder. It’s better to call this a post-trust era.” (Inskeep) In his article, Inskeep gives his tips for how to dig dipper to investigate, even interrogate, “facts” – some of them similar to those suggested on the blog, “Fake “News” in a “Post-truth” World.”
How can educators work in collaboration to build trust? How can we start with our immediate school community and extend our message out into the larger world?
These are just three examples of positive messages that students, educators, and organizations are sharing. As leaders, school librarians can collaborate with other members of their school learning communities to broadcast positive messages—messages of kindness, inclusion, and connectedness.
Project #1: “Kindness Counts”
2014-2015 fifth-grade students at Collier Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona raised funds and designed a “legacy mural.” It was installed in a prominent place for all learning community members to see on the front of the school building. Students chose the title and theme for the mural: “Kindness Counts.” See the YouTube video about their project.
Project #2: “Positive Messages”
In his December 10, 2016 post “On the Other Side of the Screen” former principal, author, and blogger George Couros encourages educators and young people alike “to go out of our way to make a positive impact on the lives of others” (Couros).
In his post, Couros shared a way that Pulaski Middle School in Pulaski, Washington is using their twitter account to share positive messages. Using the hashtags #positivepcms and #raiderstrong, school community members publicizing sincere praise and positive comments about individuals and concepts such as ability, motivation, and attitude.
Project #3: “Start with Hello Week”
The Sandy Hook Promise Web site is dedicated to protecting children from gun violence. In February, 2017, they are organizing a national observance of “Start with Hello Week”
During the week of February 6 – 10, 2017, participants will raise awareness and educate students and the community through “Start with Hello” trainings, advertising, activities, public proclamations, media events, contests and school scholarship awards. “Start with Hello Week” will bring attention to the growing epidemic of social isolation in our schools and communities. Their goal is to empower young people to create a culture of inclusion and connectedness within their school or youth organization.
If you are an educator who is searching for a way to make a fresh and positive start in the new year, ask yourself these questions:
• Who are my most trusted colleagues?
• How can we inspire and support each other and students in increasing the positive messages in our classrooms, libraries, schools, and communities?
• Do any of the above examples give us an idea how our school can make a commitment to kindness, inclusion and connectedness?
“Learning the truth is not a goal, but a process” (Inskeep). The process involves keeping our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds open and thinking critically. It also involves making a commitment to bring more caring, truth, and justice into the world.
If you need any further inspiration for what the world needs now, read Karim Sulayman’s sign and watch his “I Trust You” video.
Couros, George. “On the Other Side of the Screen.” The Principal of Change. 10 Dec. 2016, http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6916
Inskeep, Steve. “A Finder’s Guide To Facts.” NPR, 11 Dec. 2016, www.npr.org/2016/12/11/505154631/a-finders-guide-to-facts?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social
Sandyhook Promise. “Start with Hello Week.” Sandyhook Promise. n.d. http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/startwithhelloweek
Pat Mora’s Poem “Light” Used with Permission