Yesterday evening, I read a recent blog post by Kristi Keery-Bishop that had me thinking. In her post, Kristi talks about some conversations she overheard in the office, where educators discussed past practices and why they wouldn’t do these things again. The post though, evolves from there, and ultimately discusses changes in the classroom and the importance of listening and responding to students. Kristi’s post came at the perfect time, as it helped me connect to a conversation that I had with a fellow educator and dear friend at breakfast yesterday. It was for this reason that I left Kristi this comment.
It was shortly afterwards, the Kristi replied to me with the comment shared below.
It was actually Kristi’s reply that inspired this blog post. Sometimes I think that as educators, we can be very hard on ourselves. With all of the sharing that happens through social media (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, blog posts, Pinterest, and Twitter), we see lots of exemplary classrooms, and we strive to create these environments for our students.
- We try similar activities.
- We use similar provocations.
- We attempt to listen to our students, uncover their interests, and create projects that align with them.
- We observe student strengths and needs, and we try to program with these needs in mind.
- We attempt to include lots of choice, and open-ended activities (and/or provocations) that allow all of our students to succeed.
- We care about engagement, and we try to create this engaging learning space.
Sometimes we succeed in doing this, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, if we really look closely at our students and their needs, we have to try things that we may don’t want to do.
- Maybe we need to add more structure.
- Maybe we need to re-look at our routines.
- Maybe we need to scaffold the social language as well as the academic skills.
- Maybe we need to be okay with taking a step back and trying something that we’ve done in the past ten years because, no matter what we may hope for or want right now, this is what our kids need.
I am definitely not digging up these boxes that I happily got rid of a couple of years ago …
but I am working with my partner, and together, we’re making some changes. These won’t be permanent changes, and we’ll continue to change more based on our observations of our students. Even our new structure will include choice, but maybe more within the realm of where the children are at right now. This matters.
Kristi’s post was a good reminder for me that sometimes a challenging change is not just about going forward, but the willingness to go back. If we’re really listening and responding to our students, are willing to head in either direction to help ensure that they succeed? As hard as it is, I am. What about you?