So, as many our regular readers know, the dogs do a lot of different things at Prince Street School. This week was no different and next week, we will expand again!! If you are following our Facebook page, you know Archie is on vacation for a week so Kombat is spending some time in his place and Fling will be around a bit when Kombat is not.
This week, Charlene R-B took her Kindergarten class up to sketch the dogs as a pre-writing activity. I shared some of this on the fb page. What I did not share is what Charlene and I just could not get out of our minds. There was one student who made an electric connection with Shazam when we were letting the students a dog as part of their experience. Shazam wanted to be with L and L wanted to be with Shazam. I told the students they could hug and kiss Shazam if they wanted. Adorable does not even begin to express what we saw next- L reached out with his little hands and put his arms around Shazam and then, ever so gently, pulled Shazam’s head in to his cheek and they just sat there like that. He did this a few more times before the K kids had to go back to their classroom to continue their work. It stuck with me and I know it stuck with Charlene because she came back in to me today to ask me if I saw what she saw.
Now, many of you would think Charlene and I would talk about that right then, soon after, or later that day. Yes, most people probably would but we are not most people here at Prince Street School. We knew to not even dare make eye contact when we saw the connection between this student and the dog. Powerful things happen in our building every day- some are great and some are not but they are powerful- and we are often forced to “park it” if we can, for now, until we get a chance to mull it over. There are times when the connection to the moment is SO powerful that, if we were to linger there, right then, we would find ourselves crying. Sometimes it is okay and we do it anyway, as long as it will not upset the students. Our students watch us very carefully and are very good at reading and measuring adults.
There have been six students doing all the leadership/training for the last three weeks and I finally got another chance to check in with them today. It has been so rewarding to give them opportunity to take their skills and try to do their work with limited adult interference. It has not been without some bumps- it can be hard to share leadership with your peers!! The respect has to be mutual and you have to have confidence; that you can lead, that they will follow, and that you know what you are doing. These six students have come so far in the three weeks and I am SO proud of them!!! They even lead a few sessions for the students in the A+ Program, who are peers they do not know!! Talk about upping the ante!
Next week, we will do another session with Kindergarten. Denise MacDonald’s class will come upstairs Monday to do their research with the dogs before they do their writing assignment. They plan to come upstairs and sketch, take some notes, and do some touching. I won’t be able to be there this time but, with so much leadership capacity built within out school, I am confident we can find a couple of students from Jo-Anne Parson’s grade six class to let Shazam out for his touch, hug, and kiss experience with that class.
So, with our daily grade five training sessions, our sharing with K, our regular visits to A+, and some planned expansion of our individualized dog time (as breaks, calm-downs, and/or rewards), we sure are covering a lot of bases!!!