In second grade at Waldorf schools, students study the lives and good deeds of heroes, saints and helpers of humanity throughout history. As the children learn about these people who devoted their lives to helping others, they often feel inspired to emulate these good deeds. And just a few weeks into the school year, this year’s second grade has already begun their good work inside their own classroom community.
It began with an unexpected gift from our eighth grade teacher, Ms. Berg. On Rosh Hashanah: Ms. Berg left a bowl of birdseed in the second grade classroom with a note that said, “for Tashlich”. Tashlich is a tradition in which you go to a river or stream, tear off a piece of bread (or in this case, a pinch of birdseed) and think of something you did over the past year that you feel bad about (maybe you were unkind, you hurt someone’s feelings, etc). You don’t tell anyone else about it, it is just between you and the birdseed. Then you cast it off and let it go, by tossing it into the flowing water.
The second grade went as a class to one of the streams on campus to take part in this tradition and Ms. Hibbard, their class teacher, shared, “It was beautiful to see the reverence the children brought to this activity as they quietly and earnestly, one-by-one stepped up to the stream, whispered their regret into the birdseed and then tossed it into the stream.”
The students then returned to the classroom to work with the question that Ms. Hibbard had posed to them. She asked the children to think about what the rules of their classroom should be.
The children started out with many good ideas: don’t hit, don’t push, don’t run in the hallways, etc. Ms. Hibbard asked them to take those ideas and put them into “Do’s” – Do be kind, do treat the school with respect, etc. As they continued to refine, the class discovered that many of the rules could be covered under one bigger rule, in the way that “be kind” encompasses “don’t push, don’t hit”. Ms. Hibbard then asked them if they could come up with just three rules for the classroom.
Here are the rules the second grade created:
1)Treat the school like a friend.
2)Treat everyone like a friend.
3)Treat yourself like a friend.
What a beautiful beginning to the year.