Sharing with Your Neighbors
BY MADISYN TAYLOR
If you are craving community look to your own neighbors to forge new relationships and build something new together.
Many of our relationships can be fleeting or do not deepen past a superficial level, yet these connections, as trivial as they can seem, often have the potential to grow into something much more essential. When we crave community, we should focus our attention on these casual acquaintances. To forge a bond with neighbors, we need to work together with them so that we have a context from which to begin a more mature relationship. Sharing tasks that are part of living can be a wonderful way to become a part of a larger community, make new friends, and lighten the workloads of everyone involved.
Creating a network of neighbors who agree to pool certain resources and share daily duties can be as easy as taking the initiative. If you are willing to take the first step by reaching out to the individuals and families who share your building or your street, you will likely find that others are receptive to the notion. Starting small, with just a few people, can help you orchestrate a smoothly running system. Together, you will need to decide what chores you want to do communally and what resources can be shared. Ideas for community sharing are child care, errands, housework, keeping a joint garden, cooking for the group, and carpooling. For instance, if you cook large meals for four neighbors once a week, you take off four nights after that. As you grow to trust one another, you can begin adding new members to your evolving network or introducing new tasks to your shared roster of duties.
Actions speak louder than words, so working closely with neighbors to ensure the well-being of the group can be a wonderful way to build a sense of community in your locale. Not everyone you approach will be open to the idea of becoming a part of a network of sharing. As you connect with those who do appreciate the merits of such a system, you will discover that others are just as eager as you are to create interpersonal connections that are defined by substance.
I took the above article from The Daily Om, a site that often shares short, but insightful, articles about various topics.
Today's topic had me thinking a lot about the community around me and how actions - big and small - impact my world, which in turn impacts the world of those around me.
Being in the classroom every day, I may not be asking students to perform assigned duties, but I am asking them to behave in a certain way: be respectful, be kind, be honest, etc. These requests can be shown in a number of different ways - picking up the space around a desk, saying hi to fellow students, raising hands to speak instead of interrupting, offering assistance, etc.
It also means helping to turn a negative into positive.
When students fail at their initial attempt to accomplish something, many react with feeling defeated. They may be overwhelmed or lose confidence. Sharing the journey with your neighbors means that you are supported and encouraged to try again. It means that we all learn from the mistake. It means we grow individually and as a community.
Maybe I am interpreting this article in a way that is far from the intended meaning. But when a middle school student can sense another person's stress, give that person a pat on the back to give reassurance, and continue with the project without judgment, then I am pretty sure that middle school student is well his/her way to being an essential person in the community. That student is helping to turn a stressful, and potentially negative, situation into a positive so the community - our classroom - can be productive.
It is hard to believe that we are already 8 days into the new school year. Yet at the same time it feels like we have been here for-ev-er.
I don't know about you, but I am exhausted at the end of the day as we transition from summer schedules to the more structured (and possibly more chaotic) schedule of the school year.
For my 7th graders this year is particularly exhausting as they work their way into finding a balance with juggling school, extra curricular activities, and home. This may also be a big transition year for parents as well. The important thing to remember is to take a step back and know that mistakes will happen, but they are great learning opportunities. Communication to ensure that staff, students, and parents are all on the same page is a great way to reduce stress for everyone involved.
The year is already old hat for a lot of my 8th graders. Their mentality is more-or-less "been there, done that". However, it is still really important to maintain communications levels and not let students become complacent. It is very easy for students to let the organization slip and then anxiety may increase as they may not have a solid handle on deadlines and/or assignments.
As we continue with the year, I want to stress communication on all levels. Phone calls home are already being made and students are already receiving feedback on assignments. Without communication there are misunderstandings and frustration. The goal is to work together to create the best possible community for students and to help them take ownership of their learning experience.
Have a great Wednesday!