I’m not sure why this quote (mine and a 5th grade boy long forgotten) keeps ruminating in my head. In elementary school a long time ago I partnered up with a boy in my class to write and illustrate a slogan about saving our environment. How could that even be? It was the late 1950s. He and I won or at least placed (memory being tricky as it were) and we met the mayor of Montreal, Mayor Jean Drapeau (how I remember his name could only be how significant this whole incident remains in my life to this day. And I looked it up to verify a certainty!) Students from different schools met the Mayor, shook his hand and received a certificate for their school. I came home and told my parents I would never wash my right hand again. That’s how proud I was. I didn’t want to wash away this stupendous honor! Needless to say I did wash my hands but the memory has stayed forever. In some ways this was a highlight for this young girl who ended up navigating some pretty challenging years. It reinforced the idea for me, that yes there are so many obstacles we face, but somewhere, in time, we have that moment that shines through and we hold on to it when it’s most needed. And I segue to this post because whenever we interact with our students, we may be the catalyst for them to cherish “a moment in time.”
I subbed in two kindergarten classes and one first grade this week. If I say I loved every moment of it, you might cynically be thinking, sure that’s just it, you’re subbing. I know so well the difference between inherent responsibility of a classroom teacher and the luxury of laid back interactions of the substitute teacher! But that’s just not me. I jump in ready to support the co-teachers and the students in any way I can. One kinder boy walked around with his wipe off board proclaiming and sharing his love of school. His joy was contagious.
another kinder boy said, “I think I’ll call you ‘caramel.’ Surprised I asked him why, since it didn’t sound anything like ‘Fay.’ He replied, “Because you’re sweet like caramel.” The teachers in the room all smiled with delight! What an interesting comment from this child. We talked about Giving Thanks and #worldkindnessday. They made the connections. And they got it! Another day in kinder, the students were so excited about doing a podcast related to Thanksgiving and then learning how to use PicCollage. They also tried adding “loose parts” to create their self portraits. There was so much excitement after the initial “how do I do it?” They tried different materials and were eager to share with me and each other the materials they used and their purpose.
And then a day in 1st grade. A day where we all learned to go with the flow. An upside down day of letting go of schedule and being flexible to meet the needs of the kids in the moments of situations. We were reminded about Kindness, in fact and deed, not just a word on an anchor chart. We talked about Thanksgiving and recognized that not all felt the same way, reflecting about Native Americans at this time. We worked on our “listening to stories and answering questions skills,” we had math activities and tech time with iPads and laptops. A busy day, a time to celebrate November birthdays.
So where am I with all this. A little bit all over the place, I know. But really looking at all the tweets from people at #ncte2017 especially those about “stories” and listening, hearing and encouraging people to share their stories. It’s really about making “room” for our students to know their stories are important to us. How do we make room for our students stories? What does this say about our classroom and who we are as teachers? What are our values and what is our culture in promoting a place for all of our students?
Thinking, “If a tree is a life, save it” go from there with a “a kid in our classroom..what can we do?”