Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

It has been such a long time since I have blogged with my usual frequency and fervor. Quite incredible how much time and energy a learning curve needs. My reading pace has slipped. Time runs away from me. I seem to wok constantly and not complete much. I am in full fledged learner mode while tasked with the important role of helping a learning community grow.

New everything – school, grade levels, community and students – after twenty-one years in another position, it’s a lot. I am trying to find my rhythm. Figuring it out step by step. Observing closely. Messing up. Deeply learning even if I don’t have the time to sit and reflect on what exactly feels new and right. This need to reflect – to figure it out word by word- has lured me back to this blog. On the page is where my thinking often happens best.

I have collected what I need on this Saturday morning: a second cup of coffee, a set of photos, some samples of student work and some quiet time. And of course this important question: What needs to be celebrated?

Some simple things that mean a lot as we build a community together of learning, thinking and doing.

Students bring their siblings into our room in the morning and read to them. Literacy matters here.

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

In Writer’s Workshop, some of our best writing happens gathered together – we talk, we write, we think and then we share. The enthusiasm for writing becomes contagious.

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

Learning does not have to be solitary. When we discover things together, the learning is deeper. We are all teachers for each other.

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

 Learning to listen and share in a group takes time. All of our voices matter.

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

When we have to persevere through challenging tasks, the struggle feels exciting as we work through it together. 

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

Math teams are a bonus. We learn a lot from listening to someone else reason. Noticing patterns and solving problems is effective as a social process.

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

When we learn how to do something amazing and get practice time to create and explore . . . 

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

We make beautiful things. And . . . 

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

We learn skills to teach others. Even adults!

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

Note: The art pictures above are taken in the Art and Discovery studio at my school. Every 3 weeks we get to work with Maggie, our amazing Artist in Residence. My students shine during the activities Maggie sets up for us and they love to share what they learn with others. In the photo above they are teaching another teacher about print making with gelatin.

Getting outside when we learn and reason things through is always amazing! Our classroom should extend into our community.

*Here we are figuring out how far 360 meters is and how long it would take to walk on the ice and in the cold of Antarctic waters. We are learning about the Shackleton Expedition and that when the Endurance got stuck in the pack ice, open water was only 400 yards (360 m. away). The crew had to set up winter camp and wait for improved conditions.

Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

Later we came inside and wrote in the role of a crew member stranded on the ice.

Samples of student writing:

Dear Home:

I am sorry to say but I may not make it back home. Shackleton has said that we are stuck and going to set up for winter camp. From here, I can see the open ocean – just 365 meters (a ten minute walk) away.

I hope our family is doing well. I hope that you get this letter. Oh how I wish I could be sitting with you by the warm fire at home.

Every day when I go to the edge of the ice, I think of you. I think of how much I miss you. I even think of you when I am working.

We’ve seen humpback whales, crab eater seals and many types of seabirds. Even ringed penguins! In my spare time, I sometimes go fishing.

And this one:


Dear home:

I miss you so so much!! Shackleton said we must stay and put up a winter camp. The Endurance is stuck in the pack ice. I wish I were home with you right now. Open water is 365 meters away. Everyday I go to the edge of the water and look in. It’s really, really cold here. I wish you were all here with me. I am really scared we might not make it. I want the Endurace to become unstuck. The animals are really cool. Today I did a cartwheel. Everybody laughed really hard. Love to you all.

Aren’t these powerful? The students wrote these in 15 minutes after our discussion and excursion outside.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


22 thoughts on “Celebration: Building a Community of Learners

  1. Obviously, everyone is having fun! Classrooms have changed so much over the decades. I particularly liked the writing samples. The second one put so much of herself (his self?) into the piece…I could see the cartwheel and hear the laughter! Good work.

  2. Carrie, Your posts are well worth waiting for as you make your way along that new learning curve. You’re a remarkably gifted educator and the school community is fortunate to have you among them! Your children’s writing truly reflects a composite of all the hands-on, literary, and sensory learning experiences you have framed for them.


    • What a lovely comment – thank you! I really feel like I am only slowly figuring it all out. But, trying to muddle through and it was time to shine some light on some of the successes!

  3. So glad to hear from you during this new time to learn and grow. Love seeing the pics of all the collaborative learning taking place in your classroom. Congrats to your community of learners, thinkers, and doers!

  4. What a treat to get a glimpse into the world of learners that are developing under your guidance! Starting over in a new school and grade is so, so difficult. I moved after twenty years in one place, so I understand. Love the kids writing! Truly, this school is blessed to have you on staff.

  5. I know that you must have a huge learning curve, Carrie, but also know that your “new” school, and students, are so fortunate to have you there. They will learn from you. And “We are all teachers for each other.” I so agree. I enjoyed seeing all the activities: the art piece is fabulous and the Endurance story is fascinating to me. How wonderful that you are all studying it. Have a terrific week ahead! Glad to hear from you!

  6. It is so, so clear that what you are doing in your new school home matters in so many ways, Carrie! They are lucky to have you. Even though the days are a bit overwhelming now, I know you will find your “flow” soon. Have a great week and glad to see your words here today.

  7. So many lovely moments of learning to celebrate. I especially loved your comment that all of the voices matter. There’s so much value in learning from each other.

  8. The new position makes even an experienced teacher feel like a novice. Learning is great. Your celebration and pictures show that your values are alive and strong. You have built a community that learns and thinks together and appreciates each other.

  9. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how things were going. Sounds like you are figuring it out and growing kiddos all the while. You always bring in the light!

  10. Carrie,
    This is a beautiful post, and I’m blessed by your words and your determination. I think the hardest step is to put words on the page when we feel like it’s been too long. You are a testament that it is never too-long and your words are always welcomed. Sometimes it is hardest to extend grace to ourselves. Here’s to finding ourselves in the middle of a new-everything!

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