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Sharing Music & Emotional Contagion
By Chrissy Khachane, Head of Lower School

One of the things I have witnessed since arriving at Foote is the beauty of learning from other individuals on campus. I have observed students learning from teachers, students learning from students, teachers learning from students, and teachers learning from teachers. On a personal level, this played out as I participated in our opening faculty meetings where I had the opportunity to learn from colleagues who spent part of their summer in professional development around the notion of emotional literacy. A number of the ideas resonated strongly with me as I thought about the upcoming school year and I chose to share some of what I learned with students during our first Friday Morning Meetings together.

As I thought about our Lower School community I was struck by the notion that one person's emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behavior in other people. The idea that our own emotions and behavior can influence the emotions and behavior of those around is a simple yet powerful concept known as emotional contagion. As educators we are typically drawn to spread positivity and enthusiasm. Yet how do we help our students understand the power they have to influence the emotions and behavior of their peers? With the help of Kossouth Bradford, our school counselor, a group of ninth graders was enlisted to help illustrate this concept during our Friday Morning Meeting with grades 3–5. Through a short skit these members of our student body provided a context for how basic interactions with peers can significantly impact the emotions and behaviors of others. This initial conversation was a starting point for what will be an ongoing focus on developing our emotional literacy as a community.

Another concept connected to emotional literacy shared in our first Friday morning meetings was the idea that music can influence how we feel. In reflecting on this notion I thought about the ways music is interconnected with so much of what we do in the Lower School. Music is not only found in our incredible music classrooms, but in rooms across campus as students work on writing, learn new concepts and build community. I introduced our Lower School song at each of the opening Friday Morning Meetings of the school year and I am excited to share it with the broader parent community as well. "What I am" (by, Will.I.Am) is a song that exudes the energy of Foote and I look forward to sharing it with the students each week when we gather for morning meeting as we gather to celebrate learning and the work unfolding in our classrooms. I have included the lyrics below and you can also listen to the song here.

If what I am is what's in me
Then I'll stay strong – that's who I'll be
And I will always be the best
"me" that I can be.

There's only one me, I am it
Have a dream I'll follow it
It's up to me to try.

Oh! I'm a keep my head up high
Keep on reaching high
Never gonna quit
I'll be getting stronger.

And nothing's gonna bring me down (no!)
Never gonna stop, gotta go.
Because I know
I'll keep getting stronger.

And what I am is thoughtful
What I am is musical
What I am is smart
And what I am is brave
What I am is helpful
What I am is special
There's nothing I can't achieve.
Because in myself I believe in oh...

Gonna keep our heads up high
Keep on reaching high
Never gonna quit
Just keep getting stronger.

And nothing's gonna bring us down (no!)
Never give it up, gotta go.
Because I know
I'll keep getting stronger.

What I am is super
What I am is proud
What I am is friendly
What I am is grouchy
What you are is magical
What you are is special

There's nothing I can't achieve.
Because in myself I believe in oh...

Gonna hold my head up high
Keep on reaching high
Never gonna stop
I'll be getting stronger.

Nothing's gonna bring me down (no!)
Never give it up gotta go, oh... yeah...
I'll keep getting strong-er.


This weeks questions to ask your Lower School child include:

  • What do you notice about your feelings throughout the day at school?
  • What do you notice happening when you listen to music?
  • Tell me about a favorite song?

I encourage you to find a moment to share music with your child in the days ahead (whether in the car or with a dance party in the kitchen after dinner) and I hope you and your family enjoy a wonder-filled week!

Since 1916, The Foote School has provided child-centered education that nurtures creativity, excellence and joy in learning.

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