One of the things I've always been proud of myself for is not succumbing to giving mundane tasks to kids just to prove I was covering the curriculum. If there's a way I can make lessons real for the children, I like to dive in. It gets messy sometimes and I make a tonne of mistakes, I may have a few more grey hairs because of it but I wouldn't have it any other way. I teach my kids that we should learn from our mistakes so I better be able to put my money where my mouth is. As I was interacting with my class on Friday afternoon, I had a moment of reflection as I looked around my room and listened to the buzz of activity.
This year has been one of the best start ups ever, and I've been at this awhile! I planned less, put nothing on the walls and left the bulletin boards stripped. I want the kids to create their environment, build the classroom and take ownership of it. My grand plan for the first week was to make a music video, play math games and get the kids logging into their Google Classroom account. Doesn't seem like much but I didn't get through it all AND had the best week ever!
Since then, we have been working on building the room and making it their own with meaningful things on the walls. We've started a bulletin board about "reading stuff". (Love kid language.) The kids are making the posters.....and they refer to them.....never had that happen before! Here's how they've started the bulletin board:
I was in a gift shop recently and found this wall hanging. I immediately thought that would be an excellent sign for my classroom so I hung it up the following day. The kids noticed it as soon as they sat down and they loved it. I told them it made me think of our class already and it's funny how when stuff happens, they point to the sign and say things like, "We do mistakes!"
In my quest to build confidence and independence, I decided not to set my classroom up for a painting activity. I was going to get them to do the set up and get materials, show them where I stored things and how we put things back. It went so well! That's when that moment of reflection hit me.
In this video, I am sitting between 2 children. One has asked me to play a math game with her and the other wants to read his story to me and have me record him reading it. I had to laugh at this, he is so sweet. The class has finished their painting project but because they were all finishing at different times, I gave them 3 choices of what they could do until everyone was finished. Many chose to play math games with each other, some chose to write in their blank booklets and then 2 found the globe and were making up their own game of travelling to different parts of the world. As I listened to the buzz and the conversations, I smiled to myself, if anyone walked in, I'm sure they would think it was far too loud and chaotic. Me...I was embracing it!
• build relationships
• play games
• release control, build independence (in other words, stop taking yourself so seriously!)
• stop wasting your money on store bought stuff to decorate with
• let the kids take ownership over their learning space