Community and Connection

by Interim Head of Upper School Trisha Gordon

Pike is a special place for a lot of reasons but one of the things I am most proud of is the way visitors to our school immediately pick up on our strong sense of community.

They notice how students are greeted by name as they pass in the hallway, how we open doors for one another and how our students thank their teachers at the end of a class. We know and care for one another.  We look out for each other, and we support one another when needed. Our students go to teachers when they need help and we open the door ready to listen.

I don’t think this is by accident.  At Pike, we intentionally make time and space to get to know our students, because we know it is important.  We know that when children feel known and heard, they will learn.

One of the ways we build connection in the Upper School is through our advisor program. This year, in response to the feedback that teachers wanted more time to get to know our advisees, we set aside dedicated time for just this purpose. We use this time to press pause on the stress of the academic day to check in, to connect, and make space to listen.

Sometimes we use a prompt during this time to help students share. On one particular day this fall, I peeked in on several classrooms who used the prompt, “If you had a superpower at school, what would it be?”  As I moved from room to room, I heard a student share her thoughts about how she wished she had the power to go back in time to take back something she didn’t mean to say to a friend. I heard some students say that sometimes they wished they were invisible because they needed a break. In the last room I visited, I heard a student say he wished he could read his friend’s mind.

This prompt that, on the surface, seemed like it could be silly gave students space and time to share a challenge they were trying to navigate. It gave their peers and teacher a chance to process their very real feelings about what it is like to be a pre-teen in today’s world. I heard students give gentle and thoughtful advice about how to say sorry, how to handle stress and what to do when you don’t know why a friend is acting a certain way.  It is moments like this that remind me how important it is to make sure we are pressing the pause button to let students connect and share, and it is moments like this when I am reminded that we, as teachers, can learn as much from our students as they could learn from us.

The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page

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