We are Family

peer circle

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's delights
High hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
No we don't get depressed
Here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won't go wrong, oh no
This is our family Jewel, yeah

Great inclusive schools promote respectful and supportive relationships between students and staff. My school makes it a priority to make our learning communities (teams) feel like families.  Our school motto is a “True Learning Community” and my students and fellow teachers pride themselves in constantly learning. We gain new knowledge each and every day from each other and our curriculum. Our students know that we are living life together and we share in our joys and our trials. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we create a learning community (LC) social contract at the beginning of the year. This helps everyone to know what is expected of the students and teachers in our LC. When we create this contract we are agreeing to hold each other accountable just like a family holds each of its members accountable.  Everyone makes mistakes and experiences struggles along the journey. When a rapport has been successfully established, the guidance comes out of love not pity.

A few weeks ago, one of my students was struggling to complete her schoolwork. She had missing assignments in every class and did not know where to start. I asked her class if anyone would be willing to be her buddy over the next few weeks to get her back on track. The response was overwhelming. Two sweet young ladies took on the challenge of organizing all of her belongings including her messy locker. They helped her to sticky note items according priority. The ladies also checked in with her at the end and at the beginning of every day to ensure she went home with the correct materials and assignments and to make sure she had completed her assignments. After about a week of peer monitoring, the girl arrived with everything completed. The outpouring of love from her helpers and classmates was overwhelming. Everyone clapped and told her how proud they were of her. She was beaming. The class had made her feel like a sister and she knew that everyone was there for her through it all.

When anyone enters our hallway the first thing they will see is our affirmation pockets. Our affirmation pockets are library card pockets that the students can place index cards in to the pockets providing affirmations to their classmates. We discuss at the beginning of the year that an affirmation compliments the person's character. Affirmations do not mention the person's looks, style, or athletic ability. The affirmation should make the person feel really good about themself after reading it. The students take the time each week to write to their classmates. The faces of the students after reading what their affirmations are all smiles. Having people in our family that support and love you for whom you are is an incredible thing. We encourage our students to take the time to notice the good in each other.

NICOLE GALLAGHER, M.ED.

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