To kick off the year, Graland students, faculty and parents learned cultural competency skills from Rosetta Lee, a middle school teacher in Seattle and nationally acclaimed diversity expert. As Josh Cobb introduced Ms. Lee, he described her ability to discuss topics with both levity and gravity, making her the ideal person to work with our community on diversity and inclusivity efforts.
FACULTY/STAFF: Professional Development
Ms. Lee spoke to her peers at Graland as all faculty and staff returned from fall break. With natural disasters, polarizing politics and civil rights issues in the news every day, teachers were equipped to create safe spaces where kids can feel courageous and empowered to live Graland’s mission authentically in modern times.
“This work is complicated and messy; sometimes we get to the best answer for now,” she admits. “Think about how you can use the school’s mission and values to get through a sticky moment.”
Throughout the day, Ms. Lee also worked with specific groups of faculty/staff to advise and instruct the Diversity and Equity Cohort, the Lower School’s Social Studies Professional Learning Community (PLC) and the Administrative Team.
STUDENTS: Social Responsibility
Two assemblies were also planned where Ms. Lee shared additional age-appropriate topics. In the morning, 7/8 students heard her speak on “The Social Lives of Adolescents.” She described the eight stages of social development, a model designed by Joanne Deak, and shared information about healthy conflict resolution.
“What you do in these critical ages of brain development affects your adult life,” she said. “Learning conflict resolution skills now will allow you to develop into an adult who can engage in healthy friendships and healthy conflicts. Practice working through conflicts and it will become habitual so you won’t have to fix unhealthy patterns later in life.”
In the afternoon, Ms. Lee talked to 5/6 students about “no joke zones” and “pump ups,” a presentation about setting and respecting boundaries.
“Laughing together connects people,” she began, “but have you ever made a joke that you meant to be funny and it made someone feel bad? Everybody has different boundaries around what they find funny. Poking fun at someone can backfire and make them sad or upset.”
On the other hand, “pump ups” are the ways that other people can make you feel good about yourself. Using Gary Smalley’s five love languages, Ms. Lee described how words of encouragement (compliments, etc.), physical touch (hugs, a pat on the back), spending time together, gifts and acts of service are important to our mental health and well-being.
"I encourage you not to follow the golden rule of treat others the way you want to be treated,” she told students, “but rather the platinum rule of treat others the way they want to be treated."
PARENTS/GUARDIANS: Courageous Conversations
To end her visit to Graland, Ms. Lee was the featured speaker at an evening event where she presented “Safe to Brave: Creating Courageous Conversations” to Graland parents/guardians.
She discussed the importance of sharing our mistakes with our children, and how we can develop competence through humble curiosity, effort and practice. She emphasized that the key to growth is building authentic relationships with people different from us. When interacting with others, it is critical to understand the difference between the intent of your words and the impact on your listener.
The topic resonated with many parents in attendance; one said, "Rosetta Lee was such a dynamic speaker who really challenged us to think about different ways to frame our conversations."