For: Faculty, Lower, Middle, Upper School
Pathmaps Points: Values and Beliefs, Intentional Action
Summary: This activity is about organically developing a list of ten words, mottos, catch phrases or precepts that will serve as focus points or goals for the year.
This activity can be done as a class, as a school, as a faculty, as a club or a team. A faculty/group can secretly develop its list of words as an intentional hidden curriculum to deepen a school's ambiance as a place where spirituality can develop. In other words, without telling students ahead of time, teachers would use these words throughout the year, building a natural awareness of the words and concepts. These words can be for the entire school or for each individual teacher or student.
To arrive at a set of meaningful terms, faculty members (or each student in the class) will write down three words that they want to be a touchstone for the year. These can be compiled and narrowed for the school, or developed more individually based on a department's philosophy. One way to do this would be to collect the words or phrases (without names), pull them out one at a time and have everyone vote on keeping them (or not). This will allow a process of re-writing similar ideas into one phrase and of eliminating ones that do not resonate with others. (Individuals might want to keep a list of words for themselves out of this process.)
One of the ways to visualize using these, is to follow the example of some coaches who are known for specific catch phrases or cheers that are often metaphoric.
A track coach might be known for the following -
"You gotta have grit"
"Lean hard across the finish"
What are your catch phrases that you would be known for in your classroom last year?
What would you like to be known for this year?
Another aspect of this is the intentional hidden words that can ground us. These are the kinds of words that we can focus on individually and develop authentically. As teachers we can seek out opportunities to employ these words.
Each member of the group can then make a goal for how they want to incorporate the word and the concept it embodies.
Ideas: use one of the words authentically each day, or focus on a different word each week
This activity can be adapted for any age level, depending on the intentions. For lower school, students might develop a list of three words that they write down and tape to the inside of their desks. If it is done as a class motto exercise, then the motto might be placed on a poster in the room. Upper school students may not appreciate the poster approach and prefer to accept the individual motto concept.