This is a story too good not to share from one of my favorite people, McKenna Tooke, an art teacher from Dodd Elementary.
A few weeks ago, one of my fourth graders who struggles with getting her brain “stuck” persevered in the face of frustration and continued working through her artwork even though she was feeling discouraged. I was very proud of her (we’ve been working on this since she moved to Dodd last year) but also knew drawing too much attention to it would freak her out. I quickly wrote “proud of you” on a post-it note and placed it on her desk without saying anything. A couple of weeks later, my heart became super warm when I happened to see that she had put it up on the inside of her locker to see everyday.
Today, my heart exploded, and I wanted to cry when something else happened entirely. A different student was struggling today- one who doesn’t normally struggle, I think something else was going on. I was quietly talking to Student 2 at her desk when I saw Student 1 jump from her desk and run to her locker. As I walked away, I saw Student 1 place my “proud of you” note on the other student’s desk. The social-emotional intelligence required from this sweet girl to see that her friend was struggling with something the same way she often does and she thought, “well, what makes me feel better when I feel that way?” and that she went to go get the encouragement that was given to her, that she treasured, and literally gave it away.
I know that everything can be really discouraging right now (COVID, politics, remote learning), but this interaction I watched gave me soooo much hope in the next group of mini people who are going to be adults in charge some day. The way it encouraged me, I thought it could encourage you. 🌟💖
This nine weeks, our Wylie Way focus on values included discussions about respect and responsibility. This story is an amazing example of an educator living the responsibility of the academic/artistic and social and emotional aspects of teaching and learning.
Responsibility means helping others and working to solve problems. It is an active value. It is more than just respect; it tells us what we should do. When we are responsible, we reach out. We do our part. We take care of ourselves, other people, and our environment.
We all know that trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets. A foundation of trust is being responsible and a critical value everyone must have to live a life with hope, well-being, and engagement. Responsibility is often used in a negative way with our kids, and sometimes with adults. Mrs. Tooke’s story provides a different approach that encourages us and reflects just how great our kids can be with caring and loving educators and parents who are focused on helping them learn and grow the Wylie Way.
If we take a moment to look around, we will find many examples of amazing acts of responsibility. When I visit campuses, this is what I experience. Kids and educators, wearing masks, and observing social distancing rules. I am so proud of them and of our entire community. This is responsibility. Everyone doing their part to take care of themselves and others.
During our Wylie Way Day a few weeks ago, we asked students to craft their own Personal Mission Statements based on their roles and responsibilities in a value-driven way. We were blown away by their responses.
From watching a student encourage a friend by what he/she learned from a teacher to reading the importance of helping others in personal mission statements, we see hope.
A common concern from folks is that our kids lack the responsibility to thrive as adults someday. Not here. Our kids are amazing, and we are doing our part to help them learn and grow to show the kind of responsibility that makes me feel so encouraged about the future. From parents, to educators, and everyone else who influences our kids, we make a difference in the lives of our children. They reflect the values they see in our actions and from the words we speak…or post on social media. +_)
Thank you for helping us grow our kids in responsibility. Thank you for helping us grow our kids the Wylie Way!
To check out your child’s Personal Mission Statement (in grades 5-12), have him/her log-in with his/her district username and password at web.wylieisd.net/dashboard.