If you read our most recent article about our sixth-grade students heading off campus the first week of October for real-life, experiential learning, you might be wondering, “what about the seventh-grade students?” Despite remaining on-campus, they also explored some new adventures themselves! In an event called “October Days,” the seventh-grade faculty and administration set about teaching their students mindful and engaging lessons on one of our core values: compassion. Middle school teachers write on the week.
Seventh-grade had the entire middle school campus to themselves while the sixth-grade and eighth-grade students were away on off-campus trips, so we took the opportunity to explore the theme of compassion. Students attended their regular academic classes on a PACT day schedule, then, over three days, participated in a variety of different activities designed to inspire dialogue about Compassion for themselves and for others.
One activity was a stroll through Nogawa park with trash bags and tongs, cleaning up the streets and campus as we walked around. We also took a moment of mindfulness for ourselves under a tree. Later, students took the opportunity to choose between activities that allowed them to move, like yoga, or sit quietly, like reading, but each activity reminded them to look after themselves.
Mindfulness and reading are two powerful ways we can care for ourselves and our seventh-graders demonstrated these skills in the library with focus and serenity. We learned about Buddhist mandalas and watched a short film demonstrating how they are made. Sitting in sustained silence with friends, as they read about or colored their own mandalas, proved to be quite the challenge and the teachers were very impressed with the efforts each group of students made to remain calm, focused and mindful throughout this session.
Students interviewed non-teaching staff and developed an appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes and why these people serve ASIJ. They helped out in elementary school classrooms by editing, writing and playing math games. They also created posters to teach others about the worldwide fight against human trafficking for which this year’s community Fun Run raised money. Some students explored and reflected upon how we show compassion in the global community. For example, even though we cannot see the plastic waste floating in the oceans or the massive piles of discarded electronic devices, we can make a difference by choosing to use disposable products wisely. Knowing where our clothing is made, not replacing our electronic devices with the latest model even though our current ones work, and reducing our use of plastic bags and bottles are just some of the ways we can care for our planet.
Students expended a final burst of seventh-grade energy right before a long weekend through a culminating activity of classic relays in the gym. Not only did students get to enjoy themselves, but they did so while giving great thought to how can be compassionate to ourselves and to others.