It’s a Sunday in the middle of summer. I have hung out laundry on the line. Stood with my coffee on the back deck and watched hawks swoop and swerve into our huge pine tree. Thought about when to wake my children who stayed up to the wee hours reading many chaptered novels. The day promises to be easy. Relaxed. Low stress.
I think of school days ahead this fall. The mornings are not so slow and calm. There is rushing. Wake up time is not negotiable. And while the birds may be out there doing their thing, it is the people in the house swooping and swerving as we get ready for the day. No matter how much we try, we can never replicate summer ease and insert it into the hectic pace of everyday school schedules.
But we can carry forward perspective. We can look back on what we know we know on these calm mornings, take a breath in the middle of the busy and know it then. When we need it most.
So while I know that I will be worried about curriculum and schedules and conflicts not even imagined come fall, I also know that I need to remember what I know to be most true.
Our classroom is its own community. What we build is ours. The learning environment is a safe haven and that is powerful and necessary for many children.
What we learn is absolutely important. The skills we will build are vital. The learning how to be learners is key. But the biggest thing that is all pervasive and impacts us most of all? That we are learning together. We are community.
When I think back over my year last year, what stands out? What were the moments when I felt the room quietly vibrate with power.
It was the silent sound of waiting for a child to share during gratitude circle. Twenty two children being present and quiet and ready to listen to a classmate.
It was the conversations that happened without any words. When a child would look up and I could see in their eyes that something someone else said resonated. That wonderful “learning between” children that can happen when community exists.
It was when I would be reading a story after lunch at the carpet. One child would be quietly crying shedding the upset of social dramas gone wrong during play time. Nobody was tattling or complaining or staring. But little hands were patting backs. Everybody was breathing deep.
It was when one child would gush with pride over what somebody else achieved.
It was coming across my most quiet child teaching a group of friends how to play a new board game. All eyes on her and a confident voice speaking out.
It was the moments of forgiveness.
It was the admitting of mistakes.
It was the apology whispers.
It was the fall right over contagious giggles.
I will plan and rethink and organize this summer. But I know that the most important thing I will do come September will be to welcome a new group of children and work, with them, to build our community.
You have named what I am trying but haven’t fully succeed yet in building – that community where ALL feel safe, where all forgive and ask for forgiveness as we all learn together.
I returned to being a classroom teacher after being a Reading Specialist for 10 years. And I was so confident in knowing the content I wanted my students to explore. But I forgot how without us being a strong community, the exploration is halted.
I plan to use this summer to read up on community building. Your post gives me hope and I plan to hang it up in my room as a reminder. If you have any recommendations for what I might read, please share resources that worked for you with me. My #1 priority is going to be to build my classroom community!
Thank you for your comment Sally. A lot of the community building I find is trusting the power of relationships and letting good instinct come before curriculum and mandates. The children in front of me are my absolute priority. A wonderful blog to read if you don’t already follow it is http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.ca/ Katherine often blogs about community. Good luck.
Beautifully written! I know this feeling. . . of wanting to remember how summer feels so it can carry over into the hectic school year. I love how you’ve written about the importance of creating community in a classroom.
Community and relationships really are what it is all about!
In a word, Ahhhhh!
You are, as always, an inspiration.
I am printing this post off to hang above my desk at school. Relish the calm, Carrie!
And you Stephanie are always the kindest. I am glad these words spoke to you. After a good strong cup of coffee, I can sometimes make sense!
So beautifully written, Carrie. This post really speaks to my heart.
Thank you Julie. I am happy it had an impact.