We are a team of twenty-four Year 1 and 2 students, one teacher, a crew of student support officers and one green dinosaur. You read right—we have the kindest little herbivore named Steggy!
On day one Steggy was introduced to our team in a way that would allow others to engage with each other with empathy and kindness. Steggy hid cautiously in a travel case on day one and came out when the nerves in his belly settled and he felt that he could trust the space he came into. Our team took turns introducing themselves to Steggy before we were able to talk about how what we might be feeling was similar to how Steggy was feeling. We soon learnt that so many of our team were anxious, apprehensive or worried about their first day of school. This helped us to acknowledge how each one of us felt and gave greater reasons as to why we should treat each other with kindness and respect.
Steggy is so much more than a soft toy to our team though, he is a
- Cuddle buddy when things feel tough
- A safe thing to apply pressure to when we are frustrated or challenged
- A way for students to support one another, handing Steggy to one another when they can sense or empathise with team mates feelings
Our team are always building on reasons to love Steggy, but on Friday afternoons, Steggy travels home for a weekend adventure with a team member and that is what Team O adore the most so much so that one student event described it as “it feels like Santa is coming”. This encourages deeper relationships within our space, and brings an additional alternative to oral presentations and recount writing. It is a team expectation that Steggy is returned to our space with a journal recounting of his weekend adventures, which is then presented to our team. Steggy’s role in our classroom is not only precious but in ways is also powerful and has been from the moment he was introduced into our space.
Settling into our first day, we then read the book ‘Kevin The Koala’ by Rachel Bright. The text creatively narrates how sometimes things that are new can appear to be scary and a little unsettling, but when we are brave and try new things that we have a greater opportunity to grow. This book is a delightful segway into how we, as students and teachers can often feel in those first few days of a new school year. As a team, we discussed what we have experienced before that has allowed us to grow, even if it made us feel a little nervous. This then allowed us to discuss the definitions of trust and what it is to be able to keep ourselves safe, to find trust in knowing the difference between the right thing and the wrong thing. I was in awe of the discussion we shared and learnt that our team are a bunch of active listeners when it comes to team discussions. This session helped us form one of our team mottos, ‘we are brave and can do hard things’. This not only set our team up for success as we fronted week one nerves, but it allowed us to share discussions about growth mindsets, empathy and team work throughout the duration of term one thus far.
Our first day together set the tone for what we trust is going to be a year of sound growth and raw happiness. Our goal is to achieve our own goals, growing within ourselves and as a team. We have recorded some strategies and done some collective brainstorming so that our learning can have an impact on the way a challenge is perceived, something new is viewed or on how you immerse yourself within a community.
What advice would you give to someone just starting school?
“Be kind because it is the right thing to treat others as you would like them to treat you”-Alize
“Be brave and trust your teacher” -Aurora
“Our big buddies are like our family, they look out for us!” -Bodhi
“Be friendly to everyone because then you make new friends” -Cassie
“I can show you around if you would like?” or “at school you get to read, write and learn which means your brain gets bigger every time you learn something new” -Chase
What have you learnt for next year when you come back to school for day one?
“There are things at school that can help me” –Daisy
“Teddies can help me feel brave” -Indy
“Be brave because that can really help you” -Jack
“That I should be honest with all of my teachers and show respect because it’s the right thing to do and will help you” -Jade
What is something that makes you feel brave when you come to school?
“Steggy makes me feel brave because he helps me with my learning and I find it easier to listen when he is in my lap” -Kayla
“Teachers make me feel safe and brave when I feel sad and nervous” -Laylah
“People helping me at school helps me feel brave because it makes me feel loved” -Matilda
What does it mean to trust someone, how can you build trust?
“We should trust people we know and who know me” -Memphis
“If people show you trust, you can trust them” -Oliver
“You can trust an adult if you feel sad or angry”. “Can you build trust by listening” – Pia
“People can trust you when you look after someone is hurt” -Savannah
What is your favourite thing to do for someone else?
“I like playing with someone when they feel sad” -Sebastian
“I like making gifts or presents for people because I want them to be happy” -Siena
“I like being nice to others because if they feel upset or angry they have someone to talk to” -Skyla
“I like helping others because if they are sad I can be there for them and then they have someone to play with” -Zac