Christopher Andrews began in his new role as a Full-Circle Learning teacher in the fall of 2018. He chose the Habits-of-Oneness module and planned a highly effective first unit on Awareness.
A habit-of-heart sensory step launches the 13-S Steps of an FCL learning unit, which then flows through processes that integrate the kinesthetic, visual, audio and interpersonal learning modalities, as the students apply academic content toward local and global service-learning goals. The habit-of-heart, in this case Awareness, would lead the learners toward a greater sense of the universal need for home, shelter and comfort.
Holding their hands in the shape of an A for Awareness, the children developed a code language to symbolize tepees or rooftops, to remind one another to stay aware of ways to fill this great need. They learned about homes of various animals such as nesting birds. They explored the context of feathers, whether in a nest or in a down mattress or pillow, and the ways in which parents of all species use feathers to create a comfortable resting place for their children.
Mr. Andrews’ science and social studies lessons led to discussions of the causes of homelessness and an ultimate outcome in which the class would gather materials for homeless Central American refugee children crossing the border. They engaged the whole school in collecting baby carriers, school supplies, and other needed items. They made pillow cases with messages showing their awareness of the needs of the homeless children and offering personal messages of comfort. After identifying a collaborative agency to receive and send the items, they celebrated the success of their project only briefly before moving on.
By the end of October, the class had begun their next unit, on the habit of Leadership. The Story-tell It and Share It steps of the unit would encourage literacy, with the motto, Readers are Leaders. Mr. Andrews described the project’s main features:
…The older children read books to our younger ones…who are still learning
to become good readers. We have created personal pocket books with their names
as the titles of the book, since LEADERS ARE READERS. This gives them a connection with that message. On the first page, we have input what we have learned from our Awareness unit and have included many blank pages for them to input more as we learn.
We dedicated the last page to good deeds, so the children are able to add leadership actions.
Principal Lee described the growing enthusiasm for the program among children, parents and the entire school community. The greatest challenge will be to balance scholarship availability and classroom space, due to the increasing number of children who want to become role models and humanitarians for a society that needs their skills, their understanding, their awareness, their leadership, and their love.
Students Teach Understanding to Improve Diabetes Awareness
Spring 2018: Habits-of-Heart Club teacher Michele Tal had the benefit of working with a Full-Circle Learning alumnus to craft a Diabetes Awareness project as a key part of her learning unit. Kathy Rosales, who participated in Full-Circle Learning from second grade through high school in inner-city Los Angeles, is now completing a master’s degree in Nursing with an emphasis on Public Health. She was granted a fellowship from the National Diabetes Foundation to work on a prevention project. She chose to do so at Tarzana Elementary School.
Ms. Tal and Kathy Rosales worked to help students practice the habit of Understanding. The class integrated science and health practices into their understanding of the needs and perspectives of family members, learning new exercises, eating habits and physiology along the way. They introduced new lifestyle approaches at home. They talked about how to extend the lives of those they loved and how to add to their health and well-being.
In a culminating project, the class staged a public health fair to serve parents of all classes who pick up their children after school. At the fair, the students helped conduct health checks for Body Mass Index (BMI) and blood pressure. They operated booths to teach exercise, to explain charts and to present “healthy plate” drawings. The learners reflected on their success in reaching out to a broader sector of society while also improving the health of their own families. Kathy Rosales presented the project at a national Diabetes Foundation conference. Michele went on to practice a new career in psychology at the end of the school year.