By Tanya Schevitz
Throughout the Jewish High Holidays, friends often found Brandeis parent Angie Dalfen standing in front of a wall papered with Post-It Notes. The hundreds of notes were reflections posted by students and teachers in response to questions posed by Reboot’s 10Q project.
The student reflections ranged from positive memories or achievements of the past year to goals like wanting to be a better friend or sibling and improving in school, to fears, hopes and despair about health and family.
“I met a new friend. It made me feel good,” said one student.
“I went to a Crohn’s camp. Crohn’s camp is a camp where kids have Crohn’s. It is nice to met other people who have it,” wrote one student.
“I was thankful when I made it in to level four in dance,” wrote a student.
“A special moment where I felt out of the ordinary this year was at Thanksgiving. I felt so special because all of my family was gathered around the table and I realized how lucky I was to have all of them there with me.”
“There has been a lot of fighting in my family this year,” one student wrote. “My parents have fought a lot, my sister and I have fought a lot. Everyone fights, everyone is responsible. This has led my parents to talk about a divorce. Obviously this has very negatively impacted all of us. I’ve felt very depressed a lot of the time, and my sister has been taking her emotions out in a physically violent way.”
Throughout the High Holidays, teachers at the Brandeis School of San Francisco discussed the 10Q questions with their students and asked them to write their reflections and post them to a wall in the hallway.
The 10 questions are about life, goals, the future, relationships, your place in the world and more. Those who sign up for the 10Q project are sent a question a day for 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. After the 10 days, their answers are shipped in to a digital vault and then returned to them the next year just before the holidays.
Some students wrote about things we otherwise may think are trivial but that for them are really important, making everyone pause to think.
“I got my ears pierced and it made me feel accepted,” wrote one student.
“In Judo when I learned how to flip people it made me feel good,” said another.
While the project started online, many people discuss the questions in person. The exercise at the Brandeis School of San Francisco helped to focus the school on the tradition of pausing to consider the year past and the year ahead.
“It definitely brought home the aspect of this period as being a period of reflecting,” said Debby Arzt-Mor, director of Judaic Studies and Hebrew, who spearheaded the partnership with Reboot. “I watched kids showing their parents (their posts), so there was definitely the kids awareness of ‘this is going on and I’m a part of it.’ My feeling is that it was cool to them that they were part of a bigger piece.”
Some students wrote about moments that were important to them:
“When I stood up for my friend.”
“My great grandmother had eye surgery and this makes me feel sad.”
“I got my ears pierced and it made me feel accepted.”
“I went to South Africa and Botswana with my dad. It really opened my eyes to the beauty of nature. It was also eye opening to the fact that lots of animals there (rhinos and elephants in particular) are in very serious danger of extinction because of the huge demand for ivory all around the world. I actually lost a lot of faith in humanity on that trip.”
“One happy moment this year was when my sister got into chorus.”
Some students talked about difficult times:
“One goal I would like to achieve this year is making my ankles more stabilized. In fourth grade, I found out that I had an extra bone in each of my ankles. I had to wear a boot for almost three months. I couldn’t play sports or run around at all. Ever since I got the boot off, I’ve been doing physical therapy and trying to prevent my ankles from getting inflamed again.”
“My grandmother’s death.”
“The moments that stands out the most are the heart problems that my aunt is having. My whole family is very close to her, even thought she hardly speaks English, and so recently as she has been going through a rough time, it has taken a toll on all of us.”
Some students set goals or wrote about ways to improve themselves:
“I want to improve my organizational skills along with my social skills. In the past year, I learned that it is OK to ask questions and make mistakes.”
“Stay calmer with my family. When I feel like getting really upset and yelling, I need to do a better job of staying calm and talking in a productive way about how I feel, and not contribute to the fighting.”
“My goal is to not call out in school because I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“My goal is to read 15 books because that will help me read faster.”
“One way that I would like to improve myself is to be nicer to people that I don’t like or that I’m not really friends with. Sometimes when I’m at school, someone who I’m not very fond of will come up to me and ask a questions that was either just answered, not even relevant, or a bad question and I get kind of snippy and annoyed. I feel bad when I do that because it is not the right thing to do.”
Some students wrote about what has held them back and how they can overcome it:
“I’m scared of step slides. I can close my eyes.”
Some talked about how events in the past year have affected them:
“My sister went to college. Lots of new expenses.”
“There has been a lot of fighting in my family this year. My parents have fought a lot, my sister and I have fought a lot. Everyone fights, everyone is responsible. This has led my parents to talk about a divorce. Obviously this has very negatively impacted all of us. I’ve felt very depressed a lot of the time, and my sister has been taking her emotions out in a physically violent way.”
“This year, my great uncle got diagnosed with cancer. It has affected me because I got to know him as I grew up and it is really hard to know that he’s dying.”
Some students shared what they could have done differently in the past year:
“Something I wish I could have done differently was at my sleep-away soccer camp with three of my teammates from my soccer team. All three of them were super good friends and I really wanted to be with them but they shut me out. I wish I could’ve used my voice to speak up for myself.”
Arzt-Mor said that Brandeis would definitely participate again.
“It is a great way to invite the community into this process,” she said. “It set a framework and allowed teachers to engage with it however they want.”
If your school is interested in participating next year, please contact Dina Mann at Dina@rebooters.net .