This week while I was observing in Amy’s art class, she talked with her middle schoolers about how artists practice, play, and process. I found the students’ observations and reflections (both a part of processing) to be really interesting and insightful. I also found these three Ps to be compelling to my own thinking about our community at Crossroads.
Our practice at Crossroads includes all of the ways we study and learn. My expectation is that learning is our work and that, because we are school, we are all responsible for learning. Practice also refers to how we engage with and hone any skill, so it includes athletic practices, music rehearsals, theater rehearsals, and the like. Our relationships and how we communicate take practice as well. Practicing is aspirational. It is a hopeful. And it requires us to be diligent, to persevere, and to be willing to make mistakes. We practice because learning, showing what we know and can do, and being in relationship is rigorous and challenges us.
At Crossroads, we make time for play, whether that be formal or informal, spontaneous or planned. Some of our best traditions, like Double Rainbow and Turducken, are examples of Crossroads at play. Play is part of the everyday experience of Crossroads; you can see this in between classes and at lunch, for example. Play is also a part of our learning; it makes classroom discussions and discoveries joyful. Play benefits our relationships, as well, because it builds common experiences and creates a kind of synergy among us. Practice isn’t always fun, but I think that play always should be. We play because learning, showing what we know and can do, and being in relationship is vigorous and brings us joy.
Processing allows us to think about both practice and play. It requires us to observe and reflect. It requires us to think about how we might practice and play better or differently. Processing ensures that we will repeat what works and let go of what doesn’t. It helps us make meaning of our successes and our difficulties and builds our maturity and our humanity. We make time to process at Crossroads as well. This includes how we reflect on our learning, how we recall why we do Good Work, and how we apply our community values to our lives.
So much is on my mind this week. The minute-to-minute work of teaching and learning, giving, gathering, and using feedback, supporting students, faculty, staff, and parents, honoring the work of our volunteers and the gifts of our donors, aligning our work to our mission, attracting and retaining students, supporting our Board, and more. I am glad that I have the space to practice, play, and process as part of my work. It makes these things worthy and joyful and meaningful.
My heart, though, is a bit heavy as I read the news and think about the impact of the events and protests in Tulsa and Charlotte. My work does not keep me up at night, but the world’s impact on our students and their safety and their and their ability to move through the world with dignity sometimes does. The work of a just and equitable school also takes practice and requires a great deal of processing as well. There is still room for play, though, as we seek one another across our differences and as we build capacity for holding on even when it seems that some in the world have let go.
With great expectations,