Afternoons in my room are . . . never dull. All of our on task energy is long gone. Many of us are absolutely done for the day and would probably happily nap away those last 2 hours. When I am getting “Is it lunch yet?” questions at 9:30 a.m. you can imagine what the afternoons might look like!
I teach 7 and 8 year olds. Many need more sleep, more routine, more consistency and less of a lot of things. Less stress, less upset, less worry.
Spending the afternoon immersed in curriculum racing would be an absolute guaranteed disaster. We often spend the first 20 minutes of the afternoon on location and recovery operations. Where are all of the children who haven’t made it back to the room after lunch? Who needs a quiet area? Is it general lights out and heads down for everyone? The basic questions we need to know quickly – who did what to who and are we ready to move on?
And so we try to gather back. Calm and soothe. Respond to the energy, the mood, the big emotions. We try to find a way to be together and find some happy, some joy, and meet some basic needs.
Our current recipe? Some stories, a walk outside, play time, healthy snacks and maybe . . . if we manage it, some structured activities that we know and expect: art on Tuesdays, buddy reading on Wednesdays, music on Thursdays, gratitude circle on Fridays. Some days, like yesterday, we abandon the plans and respond to the mood. We had 30 minutes of quiet drawing and colouring and played the song “Tomorrow” from Annie multiple times on the iPad because one little one needed to sing it. Over and over. And over.
When we can let these things be enough, more than enough really, and absolutely what we need and can manage, we can celebrate them.
They happen, each day, along with some other things that we know to anticipate. Like someone sleeping on the bean bag chair, someone storming out, storming back in and eventually settling, Lego wars, and the occasional throwing of things that really shouldn’t be thrown.
This is who we are and what we are ready for. And, quite wonderfully, it is often the place where we find the most beautiful and kind moments.
This is what I celebrate this week. Who we are and what we need and what it looks like each afternoon.
One child’s arranging completed at a quiet area space. A valentine cookie baked my one of our wonderful volunteers sits in the center of this piece.
Sharing, thinking and listening as we pass the gratitude stone.
A buddy reading moment.
Searching for colours during art.
And the green? It’s all about our snacks – the arranging, the serving, the eating. Sometimes we sit and eat while we play or listen to a story. Sometimes, we dim the lights and eat in silence and enjoy the much needed quiet and calm.
Helping set up the plates is a coveted job.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!
Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.
You’re so wonderful, Carrie! What an amazing space of caring, learning, and playing you’ve created. Such lucky kids!
They aren’t really lucky kids, which is the difficult thing. But they are amazing kids and we try and find ways to make their school days meet their needs.
I wish it could be like that in my room, but we have Listen and Learn from 1:30-2:00 and math from 2-3. Painful. I try to adjust to their needs though. When they get back from recess at 1:15–we have 5 min of quiet–they read, draw, doodle, rest, write. Listen and Learn is mostly me reading to them–so depending on their energy level I add lots of Turn and Talks and “Teach-Okay” opportunities. We have a break break before math. Then I do a whole group math teach–while they are on the rug with white boards–and I keep the practice problems to a number they can handle. Then each gets a page to work on independently–they can work alone or with me or the interventionist who comes in at 2:35. Once their work has been okayed, they play bump or other math games. Not what I’d prefer, but it must be done. After many adjustments, it’s working.
It sounds like you are finding ways to respond to the energy, the need for breaks and movement. We do a disservice to our children when we put must follow schedules before who they are. Too much pressure to cover curriculum! We can’t just open up them up and pour it in. We need to talk readiness, needs of children, social emotional learning . . . And remember, my room is not just a calm, joyful place. We work towards that but we must navigate many, many challenges daily! Hang in.
I’m glad you have the freedom to adjust. You are that ‘rock’ in their lives, I suspect, & make the best judgments you can (I’m hearing) on any given day. Your deliberate choice of things fills me with joy: the inviting bins of pastels, the green plates (for green snacks), throwing plans away when they don’t work is awesome, Carrie. Love seeing the kids, & wish I could visit in real classroom life. Thanks for the celebration!
I don’t even know if I completely have that freedom but I take it because it’s what we have to do. Thank you for this comment Linda and for spotting that there are some deliberate choices in here!
It is challenging to meet all the diverse emotional needs of young learners. Many needs have to be met before learning can happen. Friday afternoon is mentally challenging even for adults. For years I tried teaching third graders during the last lesson on Friday. Now we have some reading time and free play. We are all happier.
You are so right Terje – it is all about meeting children where they are and organizing activities to let them be successful.
I love that your students have the opportunity to be KIDS. School should be about building and creating and caring for each other. So often it’s not.
Exactly. So often it’s not.
Community seems to be what this is all about. You have a community that is working to meet the needs of each person in the room. 🙂
Yes! Community is who we are. Where we begin and where we end each week.
I love the community you have built in your classroom. Your students are lucky to have someone who responds to their emotional needs as well as their academic learning needs.
It’s absolutely not possible to deal with anything academic if we aren’t connecting on the social emotional level with these kids. Thanks for reading and commenting Aly.
For me what glowed in this post is your undying passion for being the best you can be for the little ones in your care. You SEE them! That is a gift!
Thank you for such a lovely comment! I do see them and they always push me to figure out more and more.
I am super impressed with those snack plates!!!