On Friday morning, I received this lovely tweet from Marialice B.F.X. Curran: an educator from the States, who I first had the pleasure of connecting with online many years ago.
— Marialice B.F.X. Curran, Ph.D. (@mbfxc) June 8, 2018
When I clicked on the link to Marialice’s blog post, I realized some different things.
- I’ve been teaching for a really long time. 🙂
- My classroom set-up and core belief systems have really evolved over the years.
- No matter how many different grades I’ve taught, at no matter how many different schools, this “welcome to our classroom” video tradition has remained the same.
Our Kindergarten classroom now certainly doesn’t reflect the same spaces, pedagogy, and technology focus that my Grade 1/2 classroom of six years ago did, but there are some things that remain constant.
- The classroom is ours. While my teaching partner and I may spend hours setting up the room at the end of August, we know that the space will evolve once the students enter. We’re excited to see the changes that they make, and the changes that they inspire in us. Back in 2012, I didn’t have a teaching partner, but I still had this desire to share the learning space with kids.
- The bulletin boards are still empty. We want students to own this space. Now though, we often use the bulletin boards as a way to share pedagogical documentation, and an evolution of a bigger classroom inquiry. While student work still exists in these spaces, so does the documentation that shows the process of this learning and indicates where we’re going next.
I’m kind of loving our letter inquiry board that we put up today. Especially love when students took notice of it, started talking about what they saw, and even adding to the materials on the board. They are making this space their own, which will likely have them using the materials here more for further learning. Excited to see what happens next. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #teachersofinstagram #iteachk
- Technology is used to share thinking and learning. Six years ago, I was much more focused on student technology use than I am now. When people come to visit our classroom now, they’re often surprised about the absence of devices. We do have some children that create PicCollages to document their learning or use an iPad to record their thinking, but the focus is even less on the tool than it was back then. We now use technology to document learning, and while we almost always have an iPad with us, kids spend a limited amount of time on these devices.
- Connections between home and school are still paramount. It’s for this very reason that we continue to record a welcome video each year. We want to open up our classroom to families, both in a low-tech and a high-tech way. This first video shared with parents and students is an important part of that.
- We want kids to love school! Starting back at school in September can be stressful for students of all ages. A quick video can help alleviate this stress, showing students what they can expect on the first day. The hope is that this will make them excited to come back. I love school, and my hope is that kids will have this same positive feeling towards our classroom space. Fast forward to a time that I now get to share a classroom with an amazing teaching partner, and it’s our love of school that also propels the recording of these videos.
So while these welcome messages might not sound exactly the same as they did six years ago, and may include a new face or two, they are a tradition that I plan on keeping for many more years to come.
A Look At Just Some Of These Video Tours
A few years ago, I worked with a principal, Gerry Smith, who used to always say, “Change is the only constant.” I agree with this quote, and as someone that embraces change, I’m constantly trying to reflect and consider what we might want to change to better support kids. That said, I think we also need to consider what we want to remain the same. These videos fall into this second category for me. They may vary in length and message each year, but I still see the value in recording them.
- What about you: year after year, what’s something that you want to keep as part of your program?
- How might this something still change slightly?
- What are your reasons for these changes?
As the school year comes to an end, this becomes the perfect time for reflection. I hope that others share some of their tweaked traditions as part of this reflective process.