How can individuals leverage their strengths to collaborate across differences?
Artists at Maury Elementary School are always being challenged to find unique ways to visually communicate information. Thinking outside of the box and taking creative risks are our primary criteria for embarking on our artistic process.
When the Inclusive Schools Team shared their idea for a collaborative mural project that asked students across the District to creatively problem solve ways that our individual strengths and areas of challenge could serve to unify us, we looked to the animal kingdom to help us find the answers.
Ears like a rabbit for good listening
Loyal like a dog aka “mans best friend”
Brave as a lion
Students from kindergarten through 5th grade brainstormed a list of animals that embody emotional or physical characteristics that can also be applied to human traits. Rabbits with extra-large ears served to represent both students who take pride in their listening skills and those of us who could benefit from being better listeners. Dogs represented loyal friends, owls embodied our brightest learners and lions depicted the self-proclaimed brave artists from our studio. Those who identified as brave like the lion made connections with peers who wished to look within themselves and find opportunities to be more courageous. Talkative parrots admired their friends who always listen. Strong bulls made connections with gentle lambs. Independent cats sought friendship with affectionate octopi.
Through the lens of our animal friends, we were able to clearly see how we are stronger when we surround ourselves with those who are different from us. Our weaknesses are often the strengths of our friends, co-workers, and families. Keeping only those who are like-minded and physically similar to us does not expand our thinking or help teach acceptance. It is those with something new to offer who teach us the most.
Can you find an animal on our collaborative mural that fits with your strengths and an area of challenge?
Our watercolor and wax-resist painted quilt is a testament to our renewed mission of inclusion at Maury Elementary. As we approach a new year, we will look for the friendly dolphin, the clever fox, and the busy bee in all of us and embrace one another with tolerance and open-mindedness.
Want to learn more about Inclusive Schools Week? See below!
Inclusive Schools Week celebrates the progress that DCPS schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference and other factors. Inclusive Schools week is a national celebration that will take place December 5th – 9th, 2016. The Week also provides an important opportunity for educators, students, and parents to discuss what else needs to be done in order to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.