| Vicki Whisenhunt

New Vista High School Students Learn the Power of Attunement

New Vista High School Students Learn the Power of AttunementOne of the hallmarks of a Community Adventure Program (CAP) classroom with Cottonwood Institute is the use of attunements. What is an attunement? It’s any activity that helps students transition from their outside life to being able to focus in the classroom. Attunements also help students get to know each other and build camaraderie, setting the stage for working together on their Action Project.

In the case of two students in the CAP class at New Vista High School, it has been a way to connect in challenging circumstances.

Our CAP class has two exchange students, one from France and one from Taiwan. Both of these students are very interested to learn English yet neither has a strong background. They are both very quiet during class and unable to really contribute to class discussions.

On our backpacking trip to White Ranch Open Space, they both opened up in a way they have not been able to in the classroom.

New Vista High School Students Learn the Power of AttunementIt may seem silly, but games like “Who Stole My Dead Red Monkey” and “Ninja” played under a canopy of trees in the warm late summer air, allowed these two students, in particular, to feel like part of the community. They smiled more, and for the first time all quarter, we got to see their real personalities. Participating in attunements that did not require a command of English to be successful allowed these students to really relax for the first time this year.

During the trip, we also learned how to start fires using bow drills and flint and steel. We also learned about leave no trace principles. But as instructors, Cottonwood Institute gives us the freedom to figure out what our students need and to meet them where they are. So while many trips are heavy on connecting with environmental principles and the natural world, we used this time to help students deepen their connection to each other. Being outside, away from the rigidity of walls and schedules, all of our students could let go of their own rigidity of not fitting in and of not speaking the language. Sometimes that’s what backpacking trips are all about.

Thank you to White Ranch Open Space!

Written by CAP Instructor Amy Kopkin Atkins

See more photos from our trip here!


Categories: Community Adventure Program, New Vista High School, Program News

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