At Redford Service Learning Academy students appreciate the community that is forged through service to others. What they also learn to value is the importance of listening actively to develop compassion. This atmosphere of understanding "the other" leads to an ethic of understanding, which promotes a healthy learning environment for all.
As a guest in Math Specialist Kevin O'Brien's middle school classroom, I had a conversation with students about the challenges that occur when people engage in prejudice. After playing the game "Two Truths and a Lie" - where students pair up and offer one fact that is false and two that are true while their partner has to guess the lie - students realized how little they really know about the people they go to school with every day. After role-playing a scenario of potential conflict with students, one 8th grader remarked, "If I knew that fact about him, I would see the situation differently." Students reflected on the power of asking questions to learn about their peers before presuming that an individual's actions are intended as a personal affront.
In an elementary classroom, I shared the wisdom of Patricia Polacco's message through a read-aloud of The Junkyard Wonders. Students realized that all children are born geniuses and that we all have strengths. They saw the benefit of adopting an attitude of inclusion, in which all people's unique gifts are nurtured and used to contribute to the improvement of the whole community.
Math Specialist Kevin O'Brien listens as his students consider strengths and challenges of student life at Redford Service Learning Academy
Can you guess the lie? How well do you really know your classmates?
Teacher Kevin O'Brien cultivates an atmosphere of trust and respect among his students, which fosters creativity and risk-taking
Reading aloud The Junkyard Wonders helps students internalize the value that they are geniuses
Students at RSLA work to overcome our deepest fear