This morning, I started off my Monday as I often do: reading Diana Maliszewski‘s recent blog post. Diana publishes a new post every Monday morning, and I really enjoy starting my school week with her views. There’s a lot that I enjoyed about today’s post, but it was a couple of sentences in particular that stuck with me and led to this tweet.
.@MzMollyTL, I think your recent post is going to inspire a post of my own. Formulating it now. Thanks Diana! https://t.co/vVcIXfnY0m
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) June 5, 2017
This is the post that I promised to write.
It was these two sentences that I could not get out of my head.
Now that (hopefully) all the curriculum requirements have been covered, evaluated and reported, we still have a few weeks left with our students. Instead of playing DVDs for them to watch, why not try some activities that you’ve heard about but never had the time or inclination to try before?
I am not a fan of full-length movies, and I definitely believe in the value of routine. I know that the students crave it as much as we do. I also know that this is the time of the year when risks seem that much safer, and easier, to take.
- Students are older.
- They are often more mature and independent.
- Report cards and/or communications of learning are done (or almost done), and there is less pressure now around assessment and evaluation.
I think it’s this last point that has me wondering. Would we view the end of the year differently if we didn’t view expectations as things to cover/meet/report on, but instead, as a lens to view the learning that is continuously happening in the classroom? In this case, does the learning ever really slow down or stop?
This makes me think of a conversation that I had months ago with an educator from another school. She said, “I still have so much to teach. How will I ever finish? How will the children be ready for Grade 1?” Her questions really got me thinking because for the first time ever, I wasn’t worried about this. Our new Kindergarten Program Document really emphasizes the importance of viewing the whole child, observing their actions, understanding their interests, and constantly making links to program expectations. If we’re doing this, I wonder …
- Will we be more apt to make changes at any time of the year?
- Will our excitement, and our students’ excitement, about learning continue to exist no matter what month it may be?
- Will it be easier to view “the child” (versus “the expectations”) first?
Yes, the school year is coming to an end. Classroom routines are more regularly interrupted by field trips and special events. Completed report cards and/or communications of learning make us feel more relaxed. And in many ways, this is the ideal time to try something new! But, I wonder, in a play-based and inquiry-based learning environment, does the “year-end slow down” not slow down quite as much? Is any day a good day for a change? As we once again transformed our classroom today, I started to think this might be true.
Ordering sushi at the restaurant. Told that she needs to order an "appetizer" first. Love this! https://t.co/raFpgvS7vk
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) June 5, 2017
For the first time, students took COMPLETE ownership over this change, and maybe this shows just how ready they are for next year. Could letting students have this much ownership be our latest risk?
Wow! This is really inspiring! Isn’t the beauty of letting go as a teacher and really getting to see the fruit of the year really rewarding. I saw this in my first graders this year on the last day of school when we did a teach the teacher Day. Students who wouldn’t make eye contact in the beginning of the year were now teaching a friend how to make origami, build a Lego car, and draw an owl with gradient colors. They took ownership and felt secure intheir abilities. I look now and say well maybe this can happen once a month next year. Thanks for sharing with this newbie teacher 😉
Thanks Natalia! I think that a lot of amazing things can happen when we let go. Looking at your examples too, I think that a lot also comes down to believing that learning can happen without us … and that can sometimes be challenging to remember. I would love to know how you end up changing your approaches for next year, and the impact that this has on kids.