At The Mill School, we prioritize the social and emotional health of our community. We believe this emphasis will help to create a safe space for each individual to learn and thrive as a human being. We intentionally build our classroom community in a number of ways, and strive to create a community where each child feels seen, heard, and valued.
Our day begins outdoors. We gather together at the stump circle in what we call Morning Meeting. This meeting has a variety of components : greeting, singing, a fun group movement piece or group game, and sit spots.
We start each school day by greeting one another in a variety of ways as a way for each child to start the day firmly in the belief that they are part of the school community.
Throughout the year we sing many songs together. Through seasonal songs, folk songs, or songs that incorporate movement, we sing together to laugh together, to smile together, and to share our voices.
The movement component of Morning Meeting is there to honor the children's natural inclinations, as well as encourage them to work together as a whole group.
After greeting, singing, and moving together, it is time for each child to take a breath and have a moment to themselves before the end of Morning Meeting. This is the time for sit spots, when each child sits alone outside observing themselves and their surroundings. We encourage this time for the children to breathe, to notice something, or to hear something in the natural world surrounding them, and to be still before we come all together for the rest of our day.
Class Meeting is a weekly routine that supports the health and vibrancy of our class community. In the beginning of the school year, we use this time to think about our hopes, goals, and dreams for the school year. The children also work together to create classroom norms that support us in achieving those hopes and goals. In the past, Classroom Norms have included: be kind, do the most work we can, listen to each other, and include everyone. These norms help to guide our actions, and serve as a strong point of reference through the school year.
As the school year progresses, our weekly Class Meeting also allows us a forum to address issues as they emerge in the community. We talk about issues that bother us at school, and we use restorative circles to hear more about those issues. For example, we have talked through thoughts and feelings related to: when someone interrupts a teacher or child who is talking, when a classmate is in your personal space, when a group is playing a game at recess and no one wants to be "it". Class Meetings give us a structure within which to work on the issues that arise as we live, learn, and work alongside each other.
Each March, children at The Mill School prepare and perform a class play at the Dirigo Grange in Freedom Village. The play offers a unique medium for self expression, and provides a clear illustration of how true collaboration is necessary for success. It is a wonderful way to honor multiple intelligences, and presents the children with real problems to solve. Additionally, performing the play offers opportunities for memorization, as well as authentic work in the language arts of speaking and listening. The school play brings the group together as a cohesive unit, working towards a common goal. It is a tradition that we really enjoy and one we feel truly fortifies our class community.