At some point in 2020, I discovered the show “Ted Lasso.” Like many, I fell in love with Ted Lasso’s optimism and determination, especially when it was clear the odds were against him. His wisdom and outlook have been referenced in leadership articles, graduation speeches, and talking points in both workplace and school settings. As I think about the newest Strategic Plan, Graland’s framework to build character and community, and how to bring them to life, one of Ted Lasso’s witticisms, “Be curious, not judgmental,”
resonates with me. It is the theme in the Middle School this year, is imprinted on the first page of our academic planners, and will be a constant reminder to inspire students. When we’re curious, we ask questions, and the answers to those questions have so much potential. Throughout the year, two particular spaces where students will intentionally explore this curiosity are through the Middle School advisory and service learning programs.
Be Curious, Not Judgmental: In Advisory
As you will read in the article on the next page, several Graland Middle School educators dedicated their summer to cultivating a common vision for advisory. This work emphasized the importance of holding an intentional space for students to join daily that promotes care, connection, balance, and belonging. By being part of this smaller, curated community, students have the opportunity to explore being curious and not judgmental organically through various activities and conversations. For example, each advisory group works together to create group norms and make their advisory meeting spaces their own with decorations. In addition, regardless of grade level, all students participate in advisory activities that are based on stories. Your story. My story. Our story. Ultimately, these exercises not only help students to understand themselves better but their classmates as well. This idea relates to Graland’s character framework of honoring individuality and teaches students that each of us is better from knowing someone who is different than us.
Be Curious, Not Judgmental: In Service Learning
We endeavor to expose Graland students to opportunities and experiences that inspire them to dig a bit deeper. Although service learning looks different at each grade, cultivating compassion is at its core. In class, students are exposed to and study the various elements that create job insecurity, homelessness, food insecurity, and inequities in education. This foundation provides important learning that fosters a healthy curiosity in our students as they look to contribute to our greater community in meaningful ways. Working alongside our nonprofit organization partners and as well those experiencing a tough time, students are able to do so free of judgment because, similar to the work that occurs in advisory, they are connecting with another’s story. Working in partnership with these nonprofit organizations provides a powerful and engaging learning experience that reflects our mission and guiding principles.
As educators, it is important we are mindful of the ever-changing landscape our students will inherit as they grow up. In our efforts to forecast what lies ahead for them, we want them to be curious, not judgmental. When we engage with genuine curiosity, we are given an opportunity to make authentic connections with others. Showing up in the world with curiosity brings out the best in humanity. Finally, if you haven’t watched “Ted Lasso,” I highly recommend it.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.