Yesterday, Celina and I had the opportunity to share the message of our multiage program. Then today I took the time to catch up on all my favorite bloggers and came across the great post by Pernille Ripp, about apologies. I instantly made a connection, because while the presentation went well as we talked a full 50 minutes about our growth and philosophy, I am finding myself thinking of the things I wish I would have said. The things I wish I would have pointed out, those direct highlights that I hope everyone who was there took away from our presentation but am unsure that they were able to easily read between the lines since so much was shared. So here it is, without apology (thanks Pernille for reminding me to stand tall):
1. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE KIDS: Everything we do is to meet the needs of the students within our classroom. Whether it is an academic focus of math or reading or a social-emotional focus of empathy and mindfulness. The needs of our students are paramount. We are all about meeting them where they are and helping them to grow, not just applying some sort of prescription. It is likely to look entirely different next year, based on who is in the room. So if you wonder about our structure, the noise and movement that are generated or even the way we approach learning it is all determined by what the students need. THEY ARE THE VOICE in our room, it isn't about us. We adapt to their needs daily.
2. EMPATHY is key to what we do. We teach it, we connect to it, we continually help kids achieve it. We strive to be fair (but it may not always be equal), and we attempt to connect with each child in a way that meets their personailtiy and individual needs. Being empathetic means a better understanding of others. It means being mindful of the fact that some people you are partnered with may require you to step back and approach a problem another way. It also means having empathy for yourself. We teach our students to better understand who they are and that learning is a set of building blocks they can all achieve. We help them to be successful, whether it is with fidgets, balance boards, breaks, or retakes. They are being prepared for the next steps of their learning journey, whether that be the next school year, middle school or the real world. It is important to us that are appreciated and accepted for who they are, and that they grow into who they need to be.
3. COLLABORATION is key. We do not desire to set ourselves or our classroom apart from the rest of our building/district. It is deeply important to us to collaborate about all that we can and continue to build upon the PLC goals in place. We routinely seek out the opportunity to reflect on our process and to grow. Yes, we get excited about new ideas that we read about, but we appreciate when our thinking is challenged so we can clarify our perspective. We are building a PLN online and we constantly seek feedback from like minded individuals, YET at the same time we are open-minded to learn from everyone with whom we interact.
4. REFLECTION is essential to what we do. Within our room students are held to a high level of accountability, the accountability they have to themselves as learners....because they are in charge of the process, because they are responsible for their learning, because they are answerable to themselves for meeting the goals we help them to recognize that they need. We reflect several times a day during lessons, routinely with our Brain Breakfast and Brain Snack and help the students to think beyond what they do to WHY it matters. The reflective process whether through journaling, conversation, blogging, or exit slips has tranformed the learning within our room. And we are proud to say: They love it and so do we!
5. WE ARE LOVING THIS! Yes, it may seem like a lot of work, or maybe even impossible but for us it has translated into the best teaching and learning we have ever done. Routinely we are amazed by what our students achieve and believe they can do. That is the reason you can find us smiling in the halls while wearing our "Keep Calm and Rock On!" necklaces. That is the reason we dress like Queen Bees, Genre Genies and even monkeys, as we do not take ourselves seriously. We know that everyday is a good day, even the bad days hold the promise of challenging us to meet the needs of the kids within our rooms. We are blessed to have them in our care and we take this responsiblity seriously. So that may mean we haul home a bunch of PD books or stay late to collab with other teachers around our district, because we know that anything and everything we do has the potential to build success for students.
So again, we are not trying to start a movement (like Derek Sivers) but we do want others to know that change is possible, doable and FUN! Imagine the possibities, they are truly endless and rich. Especially when you BELIEVE.