Peaches, lounging in our yard. The small, white flags in the background aid her in learning where the boundaries are.
My husband and I recently adopted Peaches, a 2-year old dog, from a rescue group. Her story isn’t as sad as some animals that end up losing their home – there was no abuse or abandonment. Nonetheless, transferring her from her interim foster home to her forever home, requires some retraining. The retraining, however, isn’t just on her end; retraining occurs on our end as well. We have habits that need to be reexamined and we have routines that need to be reestablished.
The biggest challenge we have right now is retraining Peaches on Invisible Fence. A technician was at our home this morning to help us with this, and he said over and over again, it will take a little time, but if you keep at it, she will learn the boundaries and be able to feel comfortable and safe in the yard. Teaching and learning is much like that – retraining, reexamining, and reestablishing to accommodate others so that everyone can feel comfortable and safe in a classroom.
My intern and I will be meeting our new group of third graders in a few weeks. Third grade is a big year for growing socially and academically. Kids are expected to do more with greater independence. In order to be independent, we have to figure out how we can establish a classroom learning environment that will support and embrace the challenges that come our way. This will require us to think about relationships, routines, and boundaries that will be a bit different from they were in years past. Since my school has used a workshop approach K-5 for several years, some routines will be predictable, but with a new math program to implement, math workshop will require us to reexamine our past actions and beliefs and then establish new routines.
I have a vision for how I would like our classroom community to look, sound, and feel, and I am very aware that our students come with ideas of their own. As we get acquainted in our new space, we will work together to establish new relationships, new routines, and new boundaries. Some of this work will be rather easy, but other parts will take more time, care and attention. If we are respectful of where each person is in their learning journey – children as well as adults – I know we will find a way to support each other as we create a nurturing and safe learning environment. One where we celebrate successes and embrace mistakes as a way to learn more.
Each year, I reflect on what worked well in the past and what I would like to change. In the weeks to come, there will be some missteps and corrections to be made by everyone – that’s just how life is. Classrooms don’t come with small, white flags and beeps to correct us or warn us if we go astray. I believe, though, that if we stay the course and remain patient, respectful and dedicated to each other, we will have a classroom learning environment that is comfortable and safe for all.