I continue to sub and learn so much from my day to day experiences in the different classrooms as I work with various grades in early childhood and lower elementary classes. But I think I’ve discovered a throughline in my interactions with teachers, students and administrators: we’ve gotta get out of the ME/Mine/I mindset and look towards and embrace the WE/US/OURS mindset. I wonder if we perpetuate some of the “I” over the “We?” Does asking their opinions, their concerns which comes from their perspective, give students time to reflect and think of “others” as well? Do conflict discussions allow for a give and take that goes beyond “I” and “you done me wrong?” Does pushing for excellence and mastery, allow for students’ to notice their growth and space for the now? Do we over think, over question, over talk in our attempt to connect to our students and thus take away an important step in learning: “the not knowing?” When I sub, I am part of a team (unless I sub for the science or music teacher, then I rely on their lesson plans), and my role is to help the teachers and students. I also have a chance to observe and then reflect here, on my blog and hopefully engage in conversation with you. In the school culture that “raised” me, working together and thinking about the children we teach, encouraged conversation, communication and brainstorming. And that continues even in my role as a substitute teacher. I ask questions because I truly want to know about the thinking behind an action, a conversation, or decision made. It’s about me learning, not being critical, but understanding or really just listening to what “you” have to say. Then you ask me what I see, my POV and the conversation continues. How the “me/mine/l” plays out often varies with the age groups I work with and the developmentally appropriate responses for the children’s wants and needs. Slowly as we move into the kinder years and lower elementary grades where the “me/mine/I” is seen in a different light, the expectations change as we work towards a “we/us/our” mindset. I have seen this as students help their classmates with math problems, during their writing workshop lessons, with iPads and sharing stories they’re reading. I see this as they navigate answers to science questions and eagerly ask if they can work with partners. I see this as they wonder about a read aloud and bounce ideas off each other. I see this in their collaborative work whether in geniushour projects, in service learning/outreach activities or holding a friend’s hand who is having a hard day. And I see this, as a sub, when they let me know they will help me if I have any questions.
Sometimes school work gets in the way of what is really important. Instead of “How do you feel about.. ?” asking, “How do think he/she feels…?” If we value a “we” mindset, how do we support and pave the way for our students to think beyond themselves?