Please “See” What I “See!”

My classroom is the middle room in a pod. It’s usually very quiet. I don’t get too many visitors that I don’t expect, and sometimes, even when I expect visitors, they don’t come. Today was different though. This morning, there were lots of people — some that work at the school and some that work at outside agencies — that came by for different reasons. At the various times that they arrived, we were working through a Math/Science (Structures)/Visual Arts problem. Students were inspired by the work of George Hart, and they used a variety of different materials to create structures, three-dimensional figures, and/or abstract art in much of Hart’s style. This morning was about problem solving, persevering, and applying learning from Math, Science, and Visual Arts in new ways.

When people walked into the classroom this morning, their eyes were drawn to the mess. I can’t blame them! It looked like all of the craft materials from The Dollar Store threw up on our carpet and floor (and I’m not exaggerating). I ignored the mess because I knew that the students would clean it all up (and they did, in only 10 minutes), and because I heard and saw all of the thinking that was shared during this exploration (like that which is shared below).

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But what about the people that didn’t hear this thinking, see the curriculum links, and understand this learning? What did they see?

I know that I do things differently. I tell myself that we don’t all have to be the same, that others aren’t judging me, and that what I’m doing makes the biggest impact on the people that matter the most: the students. But then as I set-up for the afternoon on my prep time or reflect on my day after school or on the way home, I can’t help but wonder, do people see what I see in this “messy learning?” If not, how could I change perceptions?  We don’t all have to be the same, but sometimes it’s hard to be “different.”

Aviva

Learning From Today; Looking Ahead To “Tomorrow”

Today, I had the pleasure of visiting Nancy and Debra‘s Kindergarten Class at Earl Kitchener School. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m thrilled to be going back to Kindergarten next year, and I was really glad that I could visit this classroom today with my amazing partner. Nancy and Debra run an incredible program that truly honours the developmental needs, the learning needs, and the voice of the child. Today’s visit, followed up by the conversation with my partner, really has me thinking tonight.

Here’s my thinking and learning after today:

  • Students need large blocks of time to learn. This is not the first time that I’ve thought this, and this is something that I’ve tried to work on even in Grade 1 this year. But this time needs to come with less “teacher talk time” and more “kid talk time.” This morning, the Kindergarten students came into the classroom around 9:00. They were playing and interacting with each other until almost 10:30. There was a 2 minute instruction given at the beginning of the day, and the students came together for about 3 minutes to read and talk about a note at the end. Something amazing happened when the students did meet though: all 30 of them were quiet, focused, engaged, ready to contribute, and ready to learn. Maybe the open-ended “play time” helps with self-regulation.
  • The classroom environment needs to change to meet the needs of the students. Today, we saw students beginning their day with writing their “play plans” and then going off to play. Nancy mentioned though that at the beginning of the year, students started by meeting on the carpet, talking, engaging with puzzles, books, or other materials, and then starting to play. The play plans started when students were ready to write them. I never asked today, but I wonder if this starting time may have been different for different students. Then again though, I saw students completing their plans with sentences only, pictures and sentences, and pictures and individual words. That’s differentiation. 

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  • We can all learn something from Kindergarten. Over the years, there are many things that I’ve learned from watching and listening to Kindergarten teachers. Today’s “play plan” has me thinking of something that I’d like to try in Grade 1 as well. I really like the idea of students planning out their time and committing to something that they want to do. This would also allow them to think about what they’d like to learn. A play plan is an authentic reason to write and/or communicate ideas. Why wait until next year to give this a try? Look out for my modified version coming next week.
  • School can, and should, feel like home. Maybe it was the colour choices in the room. Maybe it was the furnishings. Maybe it was the excited buzz of discussion in the air. Maybe it was the pieces of home (from dolls to small toys) that made it into the classroom. Whatever it was, the room felt warm, cozy, safe, and like a place that I would want to be … and want to stay. I appreciate this as an adult. I can only imagine how the children feel.
  • Students benefit from authentic reasons to learn. Sometimes these are bigger real world reasons, and sometimes they’re reasons that are important to their world. All learning that happens in Nancy and Debra’s class has a purpose. The students understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. They’re learning important skills (e.g., subtraction), but in a context (e.g., figuring out the number of students in the class today). Students are constantly challenged to think, to communicate, to problem solve, and to move beyond the, “I don’t know,” to the “I can try.” 

That should have read, "Yes, flatten it down more."

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That should have read, “Yes, flatten it down more.”

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  • Oral language has to come first. Students need talking time. They need opportunities to play with language. They need to have the vocabulary to understand words, to predict words, and to read words. Reading and writing are important, but the skills won’t develop without this oral language time first. Depending on students, this may mean that some students are ready to read and write before others. I think students need to be immersed in language. I think they need to see print wherever they go. I think that a paper and a pencil — even at the blocks or with the dolls — can maybe invite writing, but we can’t force writing. We don’t want to cause frustration. We don’t want students to shut down. We want to build success. 
  • Academics don’t need to be separate from play. Play time is learning time. I was only in Nancy and Debra’s class for a couple of hours this morning, but here’s just some of what I saw (all of which are curriculum expectations): listening to and communicating with others, using resources to help write, writing simple messages, understanding of letter-names and sounds, one-to-one correspondence, counting (and subitizing), non-standard units of measure, understanding of two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures, knowledge of living things, exploring tools (e.g., dolls) to create drama, using different tools (e.g., paint, paper, clay) to create works of art, and more social language skills than I can list. To plan for our students, we don’t need a program guide. We don’t need blackline masters or photocopied sheets. We need to know our students, know the expectations, invite learning, and listen enough to move kids forward. All of this can happen through play.
  • Assessment is valuable. Documenting student learning, and using this documentation to plan ahead, is even more valuable. Today, I saw Nancy and Debra talking to students. I saw them writing down what students shared. I even noticed that they tweeted out a PicCollage sharing one of the discussions. I also saw Nancy doing a more formalized assessment: DRA. I think there’s value in collecting all of this data, and using it to help plan for students. At our school, we use Dibels as well, and I actually think it has some overlapping purposes. Just like DRA, Dibels can be an assessment tool. Yes, there are blackline masters that can be used to review the skills, but do we need to use them? Why not teach these skills in context? Oral language does not require a printed paper follow-up activity. Reading does not always mean a book: poems, songs, maps, Pokemon cards, comic strips, and posters can all be read. Writing doesn’t need to happen on photocopied lines, separate from play time: students can write lists, write reminder notes, create signs, write plans, and write stories, all while playing. I’m convinced that all of this integrated, meaningful learning will help students develop their skills, whether seen through observation and documentation or standardized assessments.

I don’t know what awaits me next year. Just like this year, maybe our initial plans will have to change based on our students. But also, just like this year, as the students grow and their skills change, our program can adapt to meet their needs. Our visit today showed me what play-based learning can look like. I love the possibilities, and I certainly learned a lot from the opportunity to see a program in action. Regardless of grade, how do you make play-based learning work in your classroom? What have you learned from this approach to teaching and learning? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Aviva

Hallway Noise

The students are very excited about maps and using them to explore our community. On Friday morning, they quickly congregated around the paper maps, Google Earth on the iPads, and Google Maps on the computers to start checking out favourite locations and directions to different places. There were lots of great conversations all captured in our Daily Shoot Blog Post.  While students were pointing out lots of landmarks in the community, they were not consistently using directional language to explain how to get from one place to another. Why? Meeting back with the class as a group helped me figure out the problem: many of them were confusing left and right. I taught the children the little hand trick to help them with this (an “L” versus a “backwards L”), but then I wanted them to apply what they learned. We decided to go on a quick walk through the school in search of different locations (e.g., the library, the gym, the office), while also looking at the locations of various landmarks along the way. Students know that I struggle with directions, so I often ask for help, and today they were going to help me out. They were so excited! I grabbed the iPad, and they directed me around the school.

The only problem? It was loud! I tried to encourage whisper voices, but the students were thrilled to show me around, and that excitement resulted in some noise. You can hear me shushing constantly — way more than I wanted — but as we were walking, all I could think about was that teachers were going to start to close their doors. We were interrupting classes. People were going to be mad at us. We passed the first door with our loud voices, and as you can hear in the video below, a teacher did come out, but she wasn’t mad. She wanted to know more about what we were doing, and in fact, even spoke to me later about how engaged the children sounded. 

I think that we always need to be respectful of learning that’s happening, but for my class on Friday, that learning was happening in the hallway. Students weren’t yelling to be disruptive: their discussions were on-task, and they were all actively involved in the activity. Their words were also the perfect diagnostic assessment on directional language and landmark identification.  

  • Maybe I needed to worry less about the noise.
  • Maybe I didn’t need to view doors closing as a bad thing, but as an option that classes could use to reduce the noise if necessary.
  • Maybe if we take our learning to the hallway sometimes, we’ll learn about new approaches from each other, and this learning will impact on our teaching practices as well as benefit our students.

I don’t think we want to encourage students to scream in the halls or have loud personal discussions when other students are learning, but maybe we need to reconsider “learning space.” How can we help students learn during “travel time?” Is it okay to sometimes make a little noise? What do you think? I know that my pointing option helped stop the noise, but it also stopped what I was learning about student needs. I didn’t gain as much information from a finger as I did from a conversation. I wish I could go back and tell my class that the talking time was okay. I think that if I had the choice, I would do just that.

Aviva

What If We Responded Differently?

Twice a week, I do indoor lunch duty. I supervise four classrooms of students while they eat their lunch. Every time I do this duty, I promise myself that I’m going to blog about it, and up until this point, I haven’t, but today I am writing this post. I should mention here that I supervise young students — often those in Grades 1 and 2. I also only supervise during the second nutrition break, so it’s getting later in the day, and many of the children are getting tired. But my interactions with all students make me wonder if we — as educators and parents — could try a different approach.

Here’s a sample of just some of the many requests, questions, and “big, big problems, Miss Dunsiger,” that I am regularly asked to address.

  • ________ touched my lunch bag.
  • Can I move to sit beside _________? There’s nobody sitting there.
  • Can I throw out my garbage?
  • _________ is humming/singing/talking. Please make him/her stop.
  • _________ put his/her lunch away … and the bell hasn’t gone yet.
  • _________ ate his/her candy first.
  • _________ is sitting beside me. I want to sit beside __________ instead though.
  • _________ said a bad word. (After further investigation, not once has this word actually been a bad one.)
  • _________ has a toy. Is he/she allowed a toy? What if I have a toy that I want to play with too?
  • _________’s face looks mean. I don’t like that face. 
  • _________ didn’t stand beside me in line, but he/she is my friend. Why didn’t _________ stand beside me then?

I will admit that none of these problems take long to solve, and without a doubt, in the minds of six-year-olds, they are all problems that matter. But are they problems that adults have to solve? What if, instead of solving them, we asked the children: how would you solve themUp until now, I’ll admit that I’ve addressed all of these problems and more, but I can’t help but wonder, if we aren’t teaching children how to solve small problems, how will they solve bigger ones? Is “waiting until they’re older” the solution, or is it better to start now? As June approaches and we begin our last month of school, I’m thinking that I want to address these small problems differently than before: I want to give children ownership over them. Who’s with me?

Aviva

Down Just A Little Bit More

I started teaching 14 years ago. At the time, I taught Kindergarten … and I loved it. I ended up teaching Kindergarten for 8 years. I taught combinations of JK only, JK/SK, and SK only classes. I even team-taught for a couple of years, where we had up to 40 Kindergarten students in our classroom … and it was Full-Day, Alternate Day Kindergarten, so we taught almost 80 students that year. All of these teaching experiences were incredible ones, and I totally loved my time in Kindergarten. In my eighth year though, I started to hear about the introduction of the Full-Day, Everyday Kindergarten program model, and I had reservations about the play-based approach. I ran a very structured Kindergarten program with a large focus on academics, and I questioned the value in play-based learning. It was then that I decided to leave Kindergarten. After leaving, I taught everything from Grade 1 to Grade 6 in one form or another: either as a homeroom teacher or as a prep coverage teacher. I really enjoyed all of these experiences, but it was over these years, that I started to better understand play-based and inquiry-based learning. Then, what made me leave Kindergarten, made me want to go back to it.

I’m thrilled to share the news that next year, I’m going to be teaching Senior Kindergarten (all of the Kindergarten classes in Ontario are Full-Day now). My goal for this year was to get uncomfortable. Even though my grade change makes me beyond excited, I know that it’s really going to force me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  • I’m going back to a grade that I haven’t taught in six years. Uncomfortable.
  • I’m working with a whole new team of teachers and DECEs at a school that I’ve only been at for one year. The team is incredible, and they have all been so welcoming to me, but change can be hard, or at least, uncomfortable.
  • I’m sharing a classroom: I’m teaming with a DECE. She’s amazing! We have already had such great conversations and exchanged so many different ideas. But before we could get to this planning stage, we had to connect, and connections are difficult for me. I honestly though couldn’t be happier with this partnership. This has definitely been, comfortably uncomfortable.

Next year, I’m off to do what I seem to do regularly, and make a change. I’ve had a wonderful year in Grade 1 with an incredible group of students, and I know that I can use what I’ve learned from this year to help me in my new grade. What advice would you offer me as I look ahead to next year? I wasn’t ready six years ago, but now, Full-Day Kindergarten, here I come! 

Aviva

Learning Life Skills

This has been the first year in a very long time that I have not taught a student with autism. Life skills are an important part of the classroom program for students with autism. Life skills provide lots of opportunities for socialization, independence, and responsibility. As I’ve looked closer at our Grade 1 Social Studies expectations linked to roles and responsibility, I can’t help but wonder if these skills are important ones to teach all students … not just those with alternative expectations on an IEP. 

This year, I’ve made a concerted effort to help the children in my class develop important life skills.

  • This might be sweeping up the mess on the floor after lunch.
  • This might be wiping down the tables after eating, gluing, or painting on them.
  • This might be washing the towels each week that we use for our snacks and lunchtime.
  • This might be learning how to make a sandwich or chopping up vegetables for a snack.
  • This might be writing me reminder notes about my responsibilities (e.g., to bring home something to wash or something to remember to bring in).
  • This might be handing out leftover snacks, to ensure that everybody has something to eat.
  • This might be learning to tie shoelaces, tie bows, or wrap presents. 
  • This might be learning to do up zippers, put on running shoes, or pack up backpacks.

These skills do not need to be taught in isolation. For example, I noticed the other day that many students now have running shoes with laces, but they don’t know how to tie them up. Some parents have tried using lacing books at home, which help, but it’s very different doing up a real shoe on the ground versus a lacing book on the table. Many students were still struggling with perfecting this skill, even though they were eager to learn it. It was with this in mind, that I set up this provocation.

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Yes, students spent time this morning learning to tie. They also,

  • lined up ropes to measure them, and ensure that they were the same size (non-standard measurement).
  • wrote down steps for how to tie shoes, make bows, or create rope dog toys (numerous writing expectations).
  • read directions for various tying activities using different decoding strategies, including the use of picture cues (reading expectations).
  • worked collaboratively to tie the bows and help out struggling students (Learning Skills connected to collaboration, independent work, and responsibility).

I told the students this morning that learning to tie laces would be a challenge. I also explained that it is an important life skill. As an adult, nobody ties up my shoes when I want to wear them out. Learning this skill might be hard, but it was something they could all learn to do! 

It was about half-an-hour later that I observed a student tying the bows on the hats. She also shared shared some important words that show the power in perseverance.

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I know that not all learning has to happen in the classroom. I know that students could learn these skills at home, and I often suggest to parents that they practice these skills there. But I think that it’s when we teach students life skills that learning becomes meaningful to them and they see the value behind the expectations.

How do you give students the opportunity to develop life skills in the classroom? What value do you see in doing so? How do you address curriculum expectations as part of these learning experiences? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Aviva

Summer Learning

Last night, I read this great blog post by my previous vice principal, Kristi. She spoke about “summer plans,” and not just vacation choices, but also professional development plans that would make her “two months off,” not just “off time.” As Kristi mentions in her post, teaching can be hard work, and this vacation time is definitely enjoyed, but many educators do more than just rest.

While I love the chance to meet up with friends and go on some fun summer adventures, I also have “learning plans” for July and August.

  • For three weeks in July, I’m going to teach a multi-age summer school program. I’ve worked at the same place for over 20 years, and I love the opportunity to work with amazing students, parents, and staff. Many of these students have a variety of academic and social needs, and this teaching experience always helps me get better at differentiating, trying new approaches, and truly tailoring a program to each individual student. 
  • Reading and learning more about the Maker Movement and Coding. This has been my first year dabbling in “making” and “coding,” and in many ways, I think that these experiences have led to more questions than answers. I need to do some more thinking. I need to do some more playing (with the online programs and apps, as well as with tools such as Sphero and the Makey Makey — I hope to connect with a teacher in our Board, Enzo, for “playing time” with these). I need to do some more reading. I just downloaded Invent To Learn by Silvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, and I’m excited to read this book over the holidays. Come the end of August, I really hope to have a better understanding of what “making” and “coding” can look like in a primary classroom, and why these options may be beneficial to students.
  • Learning more about play-based and inquiry-based learning. Inquiry has been a real passion of mine for the past couple of years, and this year, thanks to educators that tweet under the #ReggioPLC hashtag as well as a fellow Grade 1 teacher, Lori St. Amand, I’ve been thinking more about the role that “play” plays in inquiry. I’ve had a few recent a-ha moments, and these experiences have really made me think about the benefits of small group instruction over full class instruction and what full class instruction should look like. I’d like to use this summer to read back over the #ReggioPLC tweets, look at some resources listed, and connect with people that share different ideas (both face-to-face and online). I think that these connections could really lead to some positive changes for next year. 
  • Planning for next year. While there are always opportunities to connect at school, especially during the last week in August, the summer also provides a nice stress-free time to plan. I love being able to sit outside, or even go out, walk around, and chat and plan at the same time. Plans don’t always need to be written down. Sometimes it’s just nice to connect with teaching partners, exchange ideas, talk about student needs and curriculum expectations, and think ahead to a new school year. This planning time is also nice to do with some colleagues that teach at different schools, but teach the same grade and/or embrace the same philosophy. It’s also nice to hear about how others plan on making things work, and I definitely intend to do this over the summer.

What are your summer learning plans? Maybe the best way to help the public see that the summer is not just “time off” is to blog, tweet, or talk about these learning plans. Thanks to Andrew Campbell, many Ontario educators are currently taking to Twitter to share how we use our prep time (#mypreptime) and what we do for our students (#4MyStudents). In many ways, our summer learning ultimately benefits our students, so maybe we could continue to use the #4MyStudents hashtag to share this learning all summer long. Let’s change perception by sharing what we do for kids! What do you think?

Aviva

Food Revolution; School Revolution

Yesterday, our school participated in Jamie Oliver‘s Food Revolution Day. One of our fantastic EAs, Kristy Ellis, worked at coordinating this special cooking activity for over 450 students.

  • Food was purchased and divided per class.
  • Cooking materials were collected and distributed to each class.
  • Older students were paired with younger ones to help with cooking.
  • All we needed to do was follow the schedule, have some fun, and cook.
Our Terrific EAs Hard At Work In The Morning Prepping Materials For Food Revolution Day!

Our Terrific EAs Hard At Work In The Morning Prepping Materials For Food Revolution Day!

When I first found out about the day, I thought that the students would love it, but I couldn’t really figure out its purpose. Yesterday, I did.

  • Students that usually only eat unhealthy foods were excited about the taste of these healthy ones. As parents were picking their children up after school yesterday afternoon, students were chatting non-stop about the Squash It Sandwich, and how they wanted to make it at home. Some even saved a taste of it for their parents to try. Yesterday was truly about spreading the word of the value in healthy eating!
  • Students experienced many “firsts.” For some students, yesterday was the first time that they tried certain vegetables (e.g., cauliflower) or other healthy, vegetarian foods (e.g., humus). For some students, it was the first time that they learned how to chop with a knife (including one of the Intermediate students that worked with our class and is new to Canada) or spread items on bread. This sandwich making activity taught independence.
  • Students learned how to work well together. They had to share supplies. They had to figure out alternate items to use when certain materials were not available (e.g., some groups didn’t have a rolling pin to squash their vegetables, so they used everything from their hands to a plastic bowl). They had to divide the food and wait their turn when creating their sandwiches. This activity, taught students the value in collaboration and problem solving.
  • Students experienced real world learning. Sometimes we teach skills in isolation. Our students learn concepts (e.g., how to count), but they don’t understand why they matter. Cooking is one way that they can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom. While we didn’t have much time to talk before home time yesterday, it was interesting to hear what my Grade 1’s learned from this activity. I’d love to know what others learned too. Maybe all of our students need more opportunities to make learning meaningful.

As I look now at the calendar and realize how few weeks there are until the end of the school year, I think about opportunities like the one we had yesterday. What other real world learning can we do? How else can students apply what they learned in ways that matter? When the weather gets warmer and students realize that the year is coming to an end, it’s nice to have some fun … but linking fun and learning sounds even better! Even as I look ahead to next year, I can’t help but think about more meaningful learning opportunities for my new group of students. What impact might “meaningful learning” have on engaging students? How might this make our more reluctant learners think about school differently? Thanks to Jamie’s Food Revolution for giving me so much to think about! 

Aviva

#AvivasAdventures In Learning

I’m a creature of habit. I get to school at 7:00 every morning: from the first day to the last day, including all PA Days. I’m productive in the morning, and I like the solitude before a busy day. So it was as part of my regular routine that I used my entry card to get into the school at 7:00 this morning. Perfect … until it wasn’t. The alarm was going off: not a fire alarm, but an “ee-oo-ee-oo” alarm. Oh no!

It was then that I realized that there was no caretaker in the building, which meant that my entry triggered the alarm. I emailed my principal and vice principal right away, and in case they didn’t check, I texted my vice principal too. Gosh, I adore administrators that get back to me within minutes, despite the early hour of the day. I kept envisioning the police officers arriving, and just finding a teacher that wants to get some school work done. :)

When I heard that the alarm company knew of the problem, I thought, I might as well get upstairs to my classroom. I climbed the stairs to find the door locked. No problem. I came back down the stairs and thought, I’ll just take the elevator to the second floor. Maybe this was one time that it was okay not to take the stairs. :) I knew that I could get to the elevator through the stage in the gym, and good news: the gym doors were open! The stage door wasn’t though. Okay. I’d just go out the other gym doors, and get to the elevator through the Kindergarten area. Oh no! The double doors that separated me from the elevator were closed, and the gym doors locked behind me. I was trapped in the hallway (or so I thought).

This is when I took a deep breath, and tried the double doors. They opened. They also triggered another alarm. More Aviva fun! :) I figured that since I got this far, I might as well take the elevator up … and this is what I did. But then there was another set of closed double doors outside of the elevator. If they were locked, I was stuck. Thank goodness they opened, even though they triggered another alarm bell as well. It was now 7:20 in the morning, and I’d set off multiple alarms all in an effort to get to my classroom. Good news though: I made it!

My Early Morning Tweet

My Early Morning Tweet

It was in the midst of this comical (at least in retrospect), action-packed morning, that I thought about teaching, students, thinking, inquiry, and problem solving. Why? Every conversation that I’ve ever had about the inquiry approach includes reference to “direct instruction.” How much should we give? When should we give it? What do students really need to know? Without a doubt, there is content that we need to teach students, or at least ensure that they understand, but even more than that, we need to teach them to think and problem solve. 

I can’t help but wonder, if a similar situation happened to me even a couple of years ago, what would I have done? 

  • Would I have gone back out to the car and waited for somebody else to come, or would I have thought about whom to contact and how to do so?
  • Would I have given up if the top of the stairs were locked, or would I have looked for another way?
  • Would I have sat down in the hallway when the gym doors locked behind me, or would I have tried to open up the next set of doors?
  • Would the different alarms have stopped me, or would I have realized that once the alarm company knew, I might as well continue on?

My teaching and learning has changed a lot in the past couple of years, and today, I really thought about those changes and what they mean for me and for my students. 

When I told my class about my morning adventures, one student said, “Wow Miss Dunsiger! You did a lot in 20 minutes.” I couldn’t help but giggle, but also realize, she was right. I hope to never have this experience happen again, and I hope that it doesn’t happen to any of my students either, but if faced with a challenge, have I helped them think logically and problem solve or only wait for adult support? Hopefully it’s the latter. You never know when an alarm might sound. :)

Aviva

A Few Words

They were just a few words. Probably no more than a sentence. Really just a brief statement by a very kind person in a very innocent way. These words stuck with me though.

  • They made me think.
  • They made me question.
  • They made me wonder.
  • And at the time, they made me walk away.

My goal for this year has been to get uncomfortable. I thought that meant to have challenging discussions, and maybe sometimes it does. It’s one of the things that I’ve done this yearBut sometimes, I think that we can get just as uncomfortable by listening, by hearing another perspective, by taking the time to think, and then by doing what we feel is right … even if it’s not popular.

Maybe I’ll get another chance to speak up. Maybe next time I will, or maybe I’ll stay quiet again. Maybe sometimes our most challenging choices involve knowing when to find our voices, when not to, when to change, and when to stay the same. I know that I’m being evasive here, and for that I’m sorry, but the topic itself doesn’t really matter. The conversation could have been about anything. The experience though reminded me that …

  • life isn’t simple.
  • there are always multiple points of view.
  • sometimes we have to make hard choices.
  • and words can be powerful: both positively and negatively.

I can’t help but think back to the childhood rhyme that I heard: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Are we sure about that? Knowing the power of words, what impact does this have on how we choose them? How do we help our children see just how much words matter? 

Aviva