At Kathleen McNeely, We Care About ...

At Kathleen McNeely….

We care about ourselves.

We care about each other.

We care about this place.

In the context of our school community, how do you connect to this phrase?

Often when we hear a saying every day, we become disconnected from the meaning and original intent of the message. As a staff activity, we asked: What does the word ‘care’ mean in this place? In trying to determine our school story and where we need to go, it was important that we continually define the value of care in this community? More importantly, what do we notice about care in our community? How can we make care grow in this place?

We started the conversation by inviting staff to take time to respond to the school message in a quiet writing activity.

Staff Wrote:

“Caring for this is huge as a former Mustang. Building is well taken care of looks the same. You can tell students really take care of this place.”

“I look at this place like a family. We treat each other with respect, and we take of each other and treat this building as our home.”

One person stated “daily reminders of how important it is to take care of myself so I can do the best for my students. I’m reminded to show the care I feel for fellow workers, to help them quietly when I see them stressed.”

“We care about each other: Using respectful language and encouraging that often! Each class is a team with a common goal (especially in band/ music and each person’s actions affect others.”

“We care about this place, taking care of the learning environment, cleaning up, treating equipment carefully, showing respect for school and others who use it.”

“I find that I often refer and connect back to this phrase within our class community.”

“As a staff community, I feel really connected and supported by others.”

“Reading this text several times for the first time. I’m noting the order and the words used in our school message. I like that  ‘ourselves’ comes first before ‘each other.’ I like that it is ‘we’ instead of ‘me and you.’ I feel this too when I am here. I feel the care and support between the staff, students, and everyone who belongs to the school.”

“In our class, we use parts of this phrase to help guide, and reflect on our actions and decisions. Some of the students naturally connect and use this phrase to speak to me. Personally, I value this phrase as a vision statement of how I guide my practice – ‘care’ = ‘connection’ and being mindful.”

“This connects straight to my heart!”

In addition to the comments above, some staff noticed and named the stretches for our community. The areas that need further development. This is an important part of our story. As an ever-evolving school, with staff and students coming and going, the essence of belonging and care needs to live in the systems, structures, and being that happen in this place each day. Some comments made by staff were:

“I notice a stretch in caring for this place: taking care of materials, using less/ wasteless, throwing trash away, respecting garden spaces, shared spaces, knowing how to use the recycling bins properly. I’d love a school-wide demo/ video to show each year about how to use the compost bins. Assemblies help spread our message and values and reinforce good things in our community.”

Do we speak up when we see trouble? Do we walk past sad kids? Do we walk by litter? This PLACE is our classroom and our school. How do we show respect for where we spend our time every day? I guess it’s all about how we walk the walk – to be effective with students.”

“Staff members should be able to work as a whole team rather than separated. We need to support each other and understand better as a whole community.”

“We need to care for ourselves and others in terms of student interactions. This is less positive than before the pandemic, and students seem to have access to words, ideas, and videos that are not positive.”

“How can we make this more visible? How can we make sure we’re ‘living this? Our students need time to reflect on what it means to care for ourselves, others in the school.”

“We need to honour the place and the people in it even when things are hard.”

We care when we “prioritize the mental health of students and staff, and employ an anti-oppressive and trauma-informed lens.”

“I somewhat connect to the phrase. I care about myself, especially my well-being, I also care about others, especially the students and staff I work with. I am somewhat divided about caring for this place. I care about the school grounds and our environment. It’s hard to compare about everything because I would feel too drained. This place reminds of school issues. I care to protect my own well-being.”

“It’s harder to connect to this now, more than ever. Self-care is important.”


Key Themes Discovered:

It is apparent from the responses that although we demonstrate care with students and families, we may need to spend time working on the care we share for each other, ourselves and this place.

The need for ‘care’ is still a core value for the community.

  • We must be intentional about what care looks and feels like in our building.
  • People want and need to feel supported.
  • We still need help caring for each other and this place.
  • We have strong relationships with families.
  • Social Emotional Learning is a priority.
  • We need to time to think about bias, anti-oppressive lenses, and trauma-informed practice.
  • As our school changes, we need to stay connected to what it means to show care.
Updated: Thursday, July 6, 2023