I.S. 281 Respect For All Week

Our culminating reflection focuses on how being comfortable in one’s own identity/self-expression fosters connections with others, which directly inspires acts of kindness within the community. This will serve as the seeds of healing, fostering inclusiveness and acceptance, preventing bullying and generating compassion and empathy within our school community and beyond.

The following information has been compiled as a summary for the week of February 82021, with specific lessons being shared through our SEL platform.

Preparation- Thursday February 4th

  • Ms. Bender will host a virtual “kickoff” for students by grade. Each grade will have two sessions, divided by odd/even classes. Guidance will be forthcoming about what time classes will be asked to attend. During this kickoff, Ms. Bender will explain the intent and purpose of Respect for All week and model Day 1 with her own “identity artifacts.”

Day 1- Self Expression & Identity: Show and Tell (Connecting to Self)

  • On this day, students will come prepared to their SEL class with an item that relates to their identity, personality, culture, or self-expression. Each student will share their item, explaining why this item is special and reflective of who they are. (value of self) *Teachers are also encouraged to participate in this activity as a model for students.
 Day 2- Making Connections & Fostering Inclusion: break-out rooms (Connecting to Others)
  • On this day, students will be presented with a variety of “break out rooms” to join on Zoom, making a selection based on their interest. Sample break-out rooms (but are not limited to): Tiktok, Sports, Art, Music, Among Us etc. During break out, they will be greeted by students who share in a common interest and guided questions will be provided as they get to know each other through discussion. Communicating and interacting with their peers will reduce bullying, nurturing empathy and compassion, leading to inclusion and acceptance. (value of others)

Day 3- Gratitude, Empathy, Compassion: Acts of Kindness (Connecting to Community)

  • On this day, students will be presented with the opportunity to put kindness outward into their local community, by choosing to either record a short video or write a letter of gratitude to someone who they feel is deserving. Examples of this could include but are not limited to: First responders, essential workers, teachers, nursing home residents, etc. (value of community) *Information will be provided on how teachers can assist students in fulfilling their acts of kindness.

Day 4- Respect for Self/Others/Community leads to Acceptance, Connection, Drive for Change: Chat and Chew (Reflection)

  • At this point, students have participated in a variety of character building experiences and need time to self-reflect. Students can have breakfast, lunch or snack along with their SEL teacher, discussing the course of events from the week, with a focus around Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb.” The purpose is to guide students in understanding that having respect for self and others flows into the community, thus reducing bullying and increasing levels of empathy and compassion. Respect opens the door for inclusion, which shines a light towards acceptance.

***As an extension, families will be provided with resources to continue this message, as well as book/movie lists to watch and discuss at home.


“The Hill We Climb”

by Amanda Gorman


When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we

find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.

We've braved the belly of the beast,

We've learned that quiet isn't always peace, and the norms and notions of what just is isn't always just-ice.

And yet the dawn is ours before

we knew it. Somehow we do it.

Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished.

We the successors of a country and a time

where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can

dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes we are far from polished.

Far from pristine.