Socks, Jumpers, and More Socks

...One month in from our start-up, goal reaching date of September 1! And how’s it going?? Great! Even with Covid-19 and the set back of our initial building we have done it! Thanks to the trust and support of our pioneer families, students, and community we are thriving; going with the flow; and pulling our punches, carefully navigating the course with much passion and a labour of love. The days before our opening some of us were experiencing more nerves and anxiety than we expected. And it’s just because we care so much. With Covid-19 measures threatening our opening, and three of our five facilitators with colds it felt very daunting! As a public company and a school we knew we had a duty of care and responsibility to our students and families no matter how each of us felt individually about the whole pandemic. There were also things we had no choice on such as having a Covid-19 officer; an ‘isolation room’ (which we renamed the ‘Recovery Room’); courses we had to take; PPE gear; contact tracing; and more. We made the choice to opt for the more expensive, ecologically sound hand soaps, sanitizers, and cleaning sprays making it even more healthy and comfortable for our community. But we did open! And without a glitch! It seems so long ago now I can hardly remember the first day! But what I do remember is coming together in our meeting room for our first school meeting, and how all the students learned and participated in our school’s decision making process - Systemic Consensing. I remember all of the staff looking at each other out of the corners of our eyes which seemed to be saying, ‘Look at this! They’re doing it! It’s working!...’ Brings tears to my eyes just remembering. I saw students ears prick up when I said how important each and every one of their voices were; how much they mattered and counted. Students who were initially shy and wouldn’t look at anyone slowly put their hands and arms in the shape they wanted...’I object. I have no objections. I have some objections.’ This made our hearts soar. This is what we wanted. This is why we have spent two years creating this space; so children and teens could have a voice and know that they mattered. In the beginning and leading up to this last week, I have to be honest, there have been some anxieties, but each time we realise...We don’t have to overthink this. We can’t do this on our own. We don’t have to make all the decisions. In fact we can’t make all the decisions! We need the students! It is all of us. It is a community. Even as staff and founders we have to remind ourselves and reread or catch up on new Sudbury material. We have a vision and have to remember that it is ‘early days’ and the students and the community have to create this space. It is no easy task and like I said, ‘A labour of love.’ So what happens on a daily basis at WCSS? On any given day you might find activities such as gymnastics; reading; chasing and playing; drawing; crafts and art; cycling; cooking and baking; conversing; discussions and debates; maths; eating; laughing; diablo and juggling; listening to music; games; nature walks; tree planting and much more! It is a constant evolution and is up to the students and the community what happens on any given day. This Wednesday some of us are looking forward to a screening of David Attenborough's new film and popcorn in the meeting room organised by a student. (I’m coming in on my day off for this :)) We also have our weekly school meeting which is a process in the making. Last week we had our first school meeting run by students! They did it their way and seemed to be much more time efficient than we ever were as staff. It was a beautiful thing to see. Some of the students have already volunteered to take minutes a few times over the last month. Our TP is every Thursday and is my favourite day of the week as something special happens every time. I am blown away by this transformative practise and how the students engage in mediating and the skills involved! They are such naturals! And to see how individuals are able to express themselves and tell a story that nobody would have known had we not had this practise and space in place at the school. Disagreements and infractions are addressed and we find a way to move forward. Students are held accountable for their actions in the most humane way. Understandings take place; individuals are able to see their behaviour and how it affects others; new friends are made; old friends reunite; new skills are found and the community transforms. This is not an easy process but it is a beautiful process that works. Tidying up together is something we’re working on and is an opportunity for me to see that what bothers me doesn’t necessarily bother someone else. It also gives me a chance to look inside myself and see what I am trying to control and what I am able to let go of. I check myself and see how better I can communicate my needs and wishes. But for now I am beginning to have a soft spot for stray socks, jumpers, and more socks. WCSS is not a place where the adults are the teachers feeding our agenda or others’ agendas into the mouths of babes. It is a community where everyone learns together. How do we get along in this community? How do we meet everyone’s needs? How best do we communicate? The other day a nine-year old was teaching me different ways to do maths. I still didn’t get it as maths is not my strong point, but I did get a glimpse of more of an understanding; and the student was learning whilst teaching me as she was figuring it out herself. We have had wonderful feedback from our parents, grandparents, and students which is always so wonderful to hear, as we staff are only human and sometimes have to deal with self-doubt and misgivings. We care about our students so much!! We have seen some incredible turn-around in students who were having much difficulty in their former schools. Students that weren’t given the chance to show their incredible abilities that they are now showing us! Students who were in the beginning shy are now acting as mediators; friends and supports to others; making suggestions on how to improve things; taking school meeting minutes; running meetings; leading discussions; learning new instruments, and the list goes on! We feel incredibly blessed to be involved in something so positive! Especially with so much fear and negativity in the world right now. There are days when we feel exhausted, or physically unwell, or are full of doubt (glad we can take this in turn...) as we work from morning till night and have our own lives to deal with; but we come to school the next day or stay at school on the day, and we always feel transformed and assured. As we all know we are in uncertain times and sometimes don’t know what we will be dealing with from one week to the next as far as Covid-19 is concerned, but again, we will roll with the punches and will be prepared to keep this community alive and active as it is our upmost desire and love.


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