A Postcard from Providence Day School: From Crisis to Creation; life after the pandemic
Posted: 16 June 2021
Providence Day School hosted a Round Square Postcard, with the title ‘From Crisis to Creation: Life after the Pandemic’ for students aged 15 to 18. We split the online event by creating two breakout rooms on a Zoom call; one focusing on environment during the pandemic and one about school life. We had participants from 11 different schools from across the Round Square network and more than 80 participants. Each breakout session was facilitated by a Providence Day School student and the ‘rooms’ were no more than eight delegates to ensure good conversations.
There were five girls on the planning committee. One of the committee members had attended another Round Square event. During our event debrief she shared that she had a good experience and would like to be more involved, so was asked if she would like to be a part of planning another (bigger) Round Square event at our school. She enthusiastically agreed, and sent an email to members of our Global Studies Diploma program asking for additional volunteers. We had one 9th grade, two tenth grade, and two eleventh grade girls on the committee. While they did not all know each other beforehand, they all listened to one another and found ways to incorporate each others’ ideas so everyone’s voice was included. They also were creative in determining ways to keep everyone included when meeting conflicts arose. They modeled the power of female leadership.
We first met to plan the event four months before it was due to take place, and met weekly over Google Meet to brainstorm ideas and plan specifics. During the meetings we made sure that everyone had a chance to contribute to the conversation and add their ideas. We did a good job of including aspects of everyone’s ideas in our final postcard event.
During the 60-minute call participants explored the theme “From Crisis to Creation: Life after the Pandemic” through Barraza breakout discussions focusing on the environment and school life. We started with a five minute introduction that told participants how the event would be set up and general guidelines, such as ‘turn on your cameras’ and ‘mute yourself’. We transitioned into the first breakout room for 25 minutes which was about the environmental impact of the pandemic. After 25 minutes we had a five minute break to allow for time to remix old breakout rooms. During the five minute break we had people type something interesting from their first breakout session in the chat so that people would stay engaged. We then moved into a 20 minute breakout session about school during COVID. At the end we had five minutes to thank everyone and give our last few thoughts.
We experienced some logistical issues in getting everyone together to plan the event. Since it was a busy time for everyone, we had multiple meetings where only half of the planning committee could make it. We resolved this issue by making sure to send out detailed emails of what we covered. Once we were getting closer to the event we also asked people to do things outside of meetings, like coming up with break out room questions. Using this system we didn’t have to allocate time coming up with ideas during the meeting but could instead talk about higher priority topics or simply review what we had worked on.
I think we, the planning committee, learned a lot about working together. Obviously I think we all came into the first meeting about the postcard with very different ideas about how to run it, etc. But I think we were able to take little bits of everyone’s ideas and make sure no one felt forgotten during the meetings. Everyone was always given a chance to speak and share and then in turn was listened to respectfully by other members of the planning committee. As for the actual event, I think that it was a really good chance to meet with people from countries all around the world, an opportunity that not many get and that we likely wouldn’t have gotten if it weren’t for the Postcard. Everyone at the event had very different backgrounds yet we were all being impacted by the pandemic. It was cool to see how there were so many similarities but also differences between the different people from different countries and schools.
Our students on the planning committee learned a lot about teamwork during the entire time we were planning the event. On reflection the students said “We think that having this kind of experience will help later in life at a job for instance where I will be working with people from different backgrounds and with people who I might disagree with and yet still be able to work respectfully with them.”
- regular communication while planning the event is very important. For instance we started meeting early on over google meet and made sure to schedule meetings regularly so that we could continue moving forward with our planning.
- be clear as to what everyone’s responsibilities are. This includes responsibilities of the planning committee to the facilitators to student participants at the actual event.
- keep in mind students age while planning; it ensures that you plan an event that you would enjoy coming to without feeling burdened by a ton of prep work for example or hours of conversation. The idea of planning an event that you would really enjoy but also get something valuable out of it is important to keep in mind.
Author: Mia Streitberger, Student and Jessica Williams, RS Rep – Providence Day School