Our building blocks to success have replaced our traditional "rules." Our focus is now directed to acting responsible as a learner, making personal choices to be courageous and engaged, and taking the time to focus on and celebrate the growth that is being made in our community (and selves). We begin the conversation with our students by stacking building blocks as a visual model, also relating this concept to SYSTEMS. What happens if one of these 3 is not present? The blocks will not be stable; the system will fall a part.
So why is WORK HARD on the bottom? Because it is the foundation of our system. We must choose to make responsible choices on a daily basis to be a focused learner. A learner who comes to the learning community with a purpose. A learner who has the mindset of participating and choosing to be engaged each and every moment.
BE COURAGEOUS is our middle block because it is what truly makes the difference for us as successful learners. It holds the hard work and celebration together, as without having a growth mindset to endure challenges it is easy to give up.
CELEBRATE GROWTH is the top block, as it represents the goals we are trying to reach. It reminds us that moments of celebration are necessary and should be a part of our community. We must take the time to recognize the success of each other through the learning process. And as one of our students mentioned, "By taking the time to celebrate the goals we accomplish we just want to learn more and more and more!"
This year our students recognized PERSEVERANCE as the overall theme of these building blocks, as well. As we focus directly on the 8 Mathematical Practices, Capacities of a Learner, and Habits of the Mind, we are currently making genuine connections to where perseverance applies in our daily life. Our students instantly noticed that perseverance was a key ingredient deep within each of the blocks.
Our shift in thinking from such an intent focus on "following the rules" to "being an engaged/dedicated learner" has truly made all the difference. We have had a higher rate of focus, participation, and excitement. Through this perspective we are able to build a community within our classroom more quickly, establish a solid foundation for our learning environment, and offer challenges more readily. But more than anything, these blocks provide our students with a clear purpose when they walk into their learning space. They know the expectations are high, but we offer them an environment for individuality to shine, and a safe space for risks and challenges to exist because we will celebrate each other every step of the way together.