The Power of Your Belonging Story

Whole School

Belonging is more than just a good intention- it is a basic human need, and yet we find it hard to conceptualize. So much of our work is doing- without taking time to pause and reflect on the individual journeys that got us here. At one point in time, we have all felt different. Like we did not belong. That alone brings us together, Yet, we don’t talk about it. We don’t honor those shared experiences. Finding power in that collective means that we are able to not only empathize with one another but also find a genuine starting point toward belonging. In this session, participants will uncover their own belonging story by reflecting on their journey. The intention is for participants to walk away with a powerful connection tool they can use, and hopefully teach to others.

Session Goals:

  • Participants will understand that belonging starts from within- determining first how to belong to themselves and how that knowing translates to their work within their school communities.
  • Participants will uncover their personal belonging stories through a journey of self-discovery, resulting in a deeper understanding of how their identity and prior personal experiences shape their ability to authentically connect with others.
  • Participants will appreciate their stories, recognizing that the stories that we choose to tell can become powerful catalysts toward belonging.

Session Outcomes:

  • Create their “belonging story”
  • Develop a version of the “belonging story” activity to be used within their school community

Rachel George:

Originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, Rachel George has served in schools as a teacher, behavior specialist, principal, and counselor for the past 21 years, 6 of them as an expat. In her current role as IDEAS lead and Head of MS Counseling at Western Academy of Beijing, Rachel is leading staff, students, and community members on the journey towards creating spaces where belonging is more than an intention, but a living, breathing action through her work facilitating workshops and professional developments for parents and teachers and diversifying the Social Emotional Learning curriculum for students. In her spare time, she continues to be a lifelong learner and is a Certified Chopra Meditation teacher, Ayurveda teacher, and Wellness coach; a Kessler Certified Grief Educator and a doctoral candidate in Diversity and Equity in Education at the University of Illinois.