Our schools closed mid March,
for what we thought would be a two week shut down to protect against the spread of Covid 19.
Here we are almost three months later.
As with all things in life, every situation no matter how bleak should provide us with an opportunity for growth.
For the past three months I've been cleaning and organizing the classrooms (10 in total) and refreshing the environments. When you undertake such a large task you become reflective of the practices in your school and you begin to develop a plan for improvement on many fronts.
As an educator, with a career that spans 40 years, I've come to know that the best teachers are the ones that have
a deep and abiding respect for children and childhood.
Respect can be measured in many ways. The most observable is the way in which teachers engage with children on a daily basis in conversations and behaviours.
Beyond this there are many telltale signs which can be found in
the smallest of details.
The care for children's
personal effects in their cubbies; shoes together, hats and scarves tucked into coat sleeves; items hanging on their hooks; cubby pictures printed properly; photos up to date; extra clothing in clear bags properly labeled and replenished; beds labeled with old tape removed and blankets folded; children's portfolios neat and organized; books kept in good repairs; broken toys removed from the room.
The list is endless.
On a larger scale, I turn my attention to the environment because it is here that children negotiate learning.
How a teacher cares for her classroom speaks greatly of her respect for her children.
The environment cannot simply be about making things look aesthetically pleasing, it has to be much more.
Materials should be organized, sorted, and available.
Beyond looking nice this is an important element in the children's abilities to negotiate experiences.
Think of it this way, if you decide to bake a cake and you're half way through the ingredient list only to discover you have no baking powder, how frustrated do you feel?
The same can be applied to a child who begins his work only to have to shift through a mountain of items to find what he needs, to run out of parts to complete a pattern, to have to spend most of his time hunting instead of thinking.
Some may argue that the hunting, shifting and looking is part of the learning journey. Perhaps, but only to a small extent.
A teacher who is invested ensures the classroom is ready for her students.
Rushing is a teacher's greatest folly; it is what hinders her from meaningful relationships with her children and the environment.
Ask yourself what you are rushing toward?
A teacher who repects children and childhood has no cause to rush; she savours every moment and draws from it, looking for meaning and joy.
Before she leaves at the end of her school day, she pauses to reflect and then plan for tomorrow.
She takes the time to say goodbye to the children, to prepare, to unright a toppled picture frame, to staple a piece of loose documentation, to dry water from the bathroom sink so children don't soak their sleeves.
She is unhurried and this is a sign of the respect she has for the children who are entrusted to her and the art of learning in a negotiated setting.
If a teacher cannot commit to this type of practice then she is in the wrong profession.
There cannot be a 50 percent teacher.
She is all in or out.
Three months at home?
How many webnars have teachers watched?
As with all things in life, the greatest rewards come when we live our passion.