What Are Your “Why’s?”

In Ontario, school starts on Tuesday. As educators go back to the classroom this week to get ready for the students, social media is full of posts about classroom set-up. There are beautiful photographs, amazing videos, and lots of talk about the environment. My terrific teaching partner, Paula, and I have spent most of the week setting up. Every day, we add a new update to our class blog, letting parents and students have a look into the “process” as well as the “final product.” 

I was doing some thinking on my car ride into school today. While I love seeing what rooms look like — and am often inspired by what I see — I also love hearing the thinking behind the decisions. Yesterday, a fellow Ontario Kindergarten teacher, Anamaria Ralph, published this blog post that highlights some of her thoughts around classroom environment and set-up. Her post inspired me to share our “why”: the thinking behind the classroom environment decisions that we made. I decided to try my hand at something new, and make a vlog discussing our decisions. When Paula and I set-up the room, it was our rich conversations that stayed with me, and so I wanted to add that conversing element to this post. As you’ll hear in the vlog — and I do apologize, as it’s long — some of our decisions vary from the ones that Anamaria made. That’s okay. If we were to take 20 Kindergarten educators, we’d probably have 20 different thoughts on how to design a room. It’s not about being right or wrong. What matters the most to me — and what I find the most inspirational — is the thinking behind the decisions.

So as you continue to work on your classroom design, I hope that you’ll consider sharing the “process,” and your “why’s.” Maybe that will be in a blog post. Maybe it will be in a vlog. Maybe it will be in something different altogether. But let’s engage in that risk-taking that we encourage our students to do, and put ourselves out there: not in an effort to be perfect, but in an effort to be visible and open for feedback. Then, as the weeks go on, the children come, and the environment begins to change, let’s share again and explain the reasons for the changes. Imagine how much we could learn from each other. Who’s with me? Let’s live up to the hashtag that Lisa Noble shared with me yesterday: #visiblelearning. I like the idea of starting a new school year in this “visible” way.


4 thoughts on “What Are Your “Why’s?”

  1. Aviva, as always you inspire me and others and challenge us to share our learning just as we provoke the children to do so. I don’t have a classroom environment to set up. But I will be following your vlog and the #visiblelearning to remind me to include comments about the learning environment in the work that I am doing.
    So, thank you, and thanks to Lisa Noble and all of the educators who continue to share their journeys with each other and those of us whose heart and soul are still entrenched in the early years!!

    • Thank you so much, Jill! Even though you don’t have a classroom to share, I do love the other things you share, and would love to hear more about the learning environment connected to the projects that you’re doing.

      You have been so inspirational to me, and I really appreciate the many conversations that we’ve had around programming, expectations, students, and environment. Keep sharing and pushing my thinking. I really appreciate it!


  2. Oh, Aviva! This is freaking amazing!
    The 2 sessions I presented at #pb4t in August were on #feedback and #visiblelearning – and I learned soooo much (and the two things are so tightly knitted together for me). My goal, in this reflective sabbatical year, is to make my learning as visible as I can. I’m an extrovert, which makes this easier for me than for others, so I also need to learn ways to make sharing learning accessible for my learners who don’t have that inclination.
    I’m talking about #visiblelearning at BIT, so hopefully we’ll be able to share ideas f2f there.
    Thanks so much for this. The vlog is such a great example of thoughtful reflection (and a powerful record of your thinking!)

    • Thanks for your comment, Lisa! I’m so interested in seeing how you continue to make your learning visible during your year off. I’m sorry that I missed your sessions at #pb4t in August. They sound amazing. I’m excited to being going to BIT17 for all 3 days this year, and hope we can have conversations around this when we’re there. It will be wonderful to see and talk to you in person.


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