I thought the title might get your attention! There are weekly moments at the MS that we sometimes take for granted because there is just so much going on that it’s easy to forget the breadth and depth of our students’ experiences. For me, one such moment occurred during last week’s chapel that I immediately thought would be a slice of MS life that needed to be told.
Our chaplain, Reverend Fletcher, is well known for telling stories during our Tuesday morning time together as a MS. This is not nearly as easy as it sounds. I tried once last year when he was unable to be here and was very glad it was only once! We have deliberately asked him to address the theme of friendships as this is a topic close to the heart of many students at this age. In particular, students can struggle with the concept of ‘what is right is not always popular; and what is popular is not always right’. As we guide our students through the inevitable social issues during adolescence, it’s important to find ways to raise subjects in various formats. In my opinion, last week, Reverend Fletcher hit it out of the park.
Last week’s story was really three stories. He took three tales, allowed himself some creative licence to adapt the main characters to better suit our times (i.e. to be more politically correct), and weaved them all into an extraordinary lesson on the importance of true friendships.
The stories centered on the following groups of words: 1) Wise Women, Princes, Dolls; 2) Monkeys, Kings; 3) Old Men, Girls, Donkeys. Each story illustrated an aspect of friendship that we believe to be important in the development of character at the MS. But then I thought, how can I find out if students really understood, really took something – even one thing – from any of those stories?
Later that week, I put that challenge to the test during two of my Health & Career Education (HCE) classes that I teach to grade 6 students. We are just completing a unit on healthy relationships that includes the importance of healthy friendships. So in one class I divided the class into three, gave each group the two or three words that goes with one of the stories, and put them to task. Without any additional information, each group took those few words, quickly summarized the story, shared it with the rest of the class, and told us all the key lesson from their story. The next day, a full three days after chapel, I did a similar exercise with a different group of students. However, this time we did it a bit differently as we had more time. Rather than each group summarizing the story, they acted it out. We laughed quite hard (especially with the student portraying the donkey) but it was clear how much those students remembered from Reverend Fletcher’s stories and, more importantly, could describe why those stories were relevant to their lives and what connections they made to our HCE classes. Wow. I can’t wait to hear what Reverend Fletcher has up his sleeve for next time.