Our school community is lifting up “sense of belonging” as a focus for the next few years. Some staff members questioned this as a need at our school because they feel their students already have this and they shared examples from their classrooms. I agree the actions and statements from their students express feelings of safety and acceptance but I think there is more to really knowing one belongs to a community.
I think the difference was expressed today by one of our church members who is serving as a mentor to a middle school boy going through confirmation class. This man shared that for him being in this community is being “in-family” with everyone in it and by this he means he was committed to offering, growing, supporting and sustaining whatever it took for anyone in that community to be loved and looked after.
My opinion about establishing a real “sense of belonging” is that for me to create it for someone else, I have to accept that I belong to that person – fully. So in the case of my students I can’t pass up or pass on opportunities to support them personally, their families, other teachers who work with them, other agencies who may come into contact with them, and future systems they may move on to. I need to commit to the well being of our community as a whole and belong to it as much as I want it to belong to me.