A Culture of Care and Presence

I am going to take the opportunity to use this post to shine a sliver of light on just how special and caring this Bixby community really is. Since coming back from winter break, countless moments brought me in touch with how unique the collection of people in this community are and how their highest expression of self is focused so clearly on fostering curiosity and self-esteem in children. I want to share stories from two recent events that highlight these qualities in our Bixby Community.

All the teachers gathered on Monday, January 4, with an extra pep in their step and a deeper clarity about themselves. Many of us used this darkest time of the year to sit quietly with our family members and ourselves and connect to our truest intentions for how we want to show up in our lives. I was struck by the quantity and quality of deep reflections offered by so many of the faculty members. So many of us shared stories of reflecting on the past year with courage and humility. All of us committed to specific intentions we want to continue to nurture in ourselves and bring to our interactions with the Bixby community. I was inspired by how many of us shared the commitment to nurture the part of our being that stands present with the people in front of us and listens deeply to the curiosities and inspirations of the children we see day in and day out.  By sharing our intentions with each other, we created a bond that strengthens our individual power and creates space to give and receive support. I am honored to be part of such an admirably open and heart-centered community of people.

In a display of taking immediate action on our intentions, the morning of the in-service day entirely focused on evaluating and improving our use of language in our classrooms, and ultimately in our lives. We learned about research that shows how important positively framing our language is for encouraging children to place emphasis on their effort and process over outcomes and intelligence. In the study, when children received praise for their effort and process, rather than their intelligence, they demonstrated far greater stamina and perseverance during future challenging tasks. As the faculty dive more deeply into our study and practice of Responsive Classroom techniques, we equip ourselves with practical methods of manifesting our intentions to presence children more profoundly in their learning experience.

Please explore these wonderful videos that inspired our fruitful discussion and planning during our in-service day:

–       Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck) | Alison Ledgerwood | TEDxUCDavis – YouTube

–       Carol Dweck – A Study on Praise and Mindsets – YouTube

Garrett in Bixby Kindergarten.

Finally, I want to share some reflections from the alumni reunion on Tuesday, January 5.  As Elizabeth said, not many elementary schools out there have alumni making pilgrimages to the sight of their early foundational years the way Bixby does.  There is something special about Bixby that touches the hearts and souls of many that come to know it. As an alumni, and current teacher, I feel a deep sense of pride being able to give my heart and soul to the place again in a new way. As I shared at the event, it wasn’t

Bixby Alums at our 45 Year Reunion!
Bixby Alums at our 45 Year Reunion!

until college that I realized how the foundation Bixby gave me was such a gift for my life. In my early days at Soka University of America, I experienced the feeling of learning again in a way I hadn’t since Bixby. I began having dreams about my time at Bixby. I soon realized I had bookended my educational career with two institutions that not only gave me the methodological means for manifesting my dreams, but made me feel seen for my unique gifts and passions.  So this is my attempt to pay homage to the wonderful Bixby Community for all the ways it serves its members.

I want to conclude by thanking Pat and Bart from the bottom of my heart for believing in their dream of bringing holistic education to Boulder in a way that continues beyond their direct involvement. The heart of Bixby is beating with strength and vigor. Thank you Clo, Robert, and the rest of the committee that organized a wonderful event that brought about fond nostalgia for so many people that love Bixby!

Many blessings,