What Is Pastoral Care Time?
This past fall, we implemented Pastoral Care Time (PCT), which takes place during the first 15 minutes of each school day. Preschool through 8th grade homeroom and advisory teachers lead this time with their students. In the high school, all four grades participate in PCT as a morning meeting together. Parents are invited to join an adult PCT held at the Gazebo each morning from 8:15 to 8:30. If you choose to join us, we ask you to arrive on time and enter the Gazebo in silence.
The intention of Pastoral Care Time is to honor the start of a new day, to mark the transition from home to school. This is an opportunity to root or ground in the present moment; to slow down and connect with our current state, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; an opportunity to be in touch with what’s happening for each of us as we begin the day, and to more fully engage in the rest of what the day may bring.
This non-academic time can also set the stage for exploring sensitive topics (e.g. fire in the area, pandemic concerns, etc.) that are emerging within the larger community or world and can be discussed in a developmentally appropriate setting. This might be a time to look at emergent topics within class or school dynamics (e.g. social conflicts). It is a time to practice and interact with different modalities of mindfulness, meditation, somatics, breathwork, etc. It is also a time to share poetry, music, and to quietly reflect (e.g. journaling).
Why do we call it “Pastoral Care?” Pastoral care is an ancient model of emotional, social, and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions. The term is considered inclusive of distinctly non-religious forms of support, as well as support for people from religious communities. This terminology is in alignment with what is used in the other Krishnamurti schools. The etymology of the word “pastor” comes from Latin, which means “to shepherd” and is derived from the verb “pascere” – “to lead to pasture.”
Although PCT is considered “non-academic” time, as educators, we understand that the intersection between learning and well-being offers a wellspring of growth opportunities. The conditions required for high cognitive functioning mirror the conditions embedded in the concept of well-being. When a student is physically, emotionally, and psychologically well, they are in prime condition for maximum learning. In short, well-being has a deep reciprocal relationship with learning – well-being positively influences student learning outcomes, and success in learning enhances student well-being.
In the words of our Pastoral Care Coordinator and School Counselor, Ali Danch, “Think of this time as a morning work-out routine for our hearts and brains, building new muscles around wellness and presence, that will help to guide us and our students through all of what life holds.”