There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Loving on Children
One of the things that my school really cares about is that all children feel loved. We don’t just talk about it, but we truly stand by this through our actions and words. The children come first.
Our principal reinforces, “Do what is best for the children.” Whether that means trying something new in the classroom, purchasing a new learning tool, allowing a student to carry around a stuffed animal, if it is good for the students, she is supportive.
Our school cares about individuals, families, and relationships. Because of this, we are able to make changes on the outside as well as within our school community. One example of this is through the implementation of Conscious Discipline. Last year, our principal introduced Conscious Discipline to our elementary teachers. This approach to social and emotional learning has a strong foundation in safety, connection, and problem-solving. This was something she felt passionate about, and she wanted to learn alongside the teachers to implement the practices of Conscious Discipline in our school.
Don’t change individuals, change groups.
We have now spent over a year learning about Conscious Discipline. We’ve moved from learning about it to teaching our students how to use the foundational skills in their own lives. Slowly we are starting to see changes. We see changes in the way students communicate with each other, how they work together to solve a problem, and how they care for each other and the world. This is the perfect example of what Fullan says, “if you want to change the group, use the group to change the group.” Change doesn’t happen quickly, but when people work together the work continues on. It doesn’t stop when the principal for example that taught us about Conscious Discipline leaves. We will continue to LOVE ON ALL CHILDREN because this is what the group (the school) stands for.
When children feel loved, safe, and connected, they can learn. They can also collaborate and communicate more effectively, which will lead to deeper learning.
Fostering Learning Partnerships
Another way my school fosters deep learning is through community service. Early on, children are shown what it means to be change agents and to care about the community and the world around them. We do this by getting students involved in helping humanity. For example, our 5th graders are leading a fundraiser for Movember to raise awareness about cancer; especially those affected in Vietnam. The school is also launching a whole school community service project this year that will transform a local community center for the local people. Parents, teachers, and students will be involved in this work. These are just a few examples of how my school truly demonstrates character education, citizenship, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.
In my classroom, I work to develop relationships with my students from day one. I believe I am a partner in their learning. I want them to feel supported, safe to make mistakes, and listened to. I want the learning experience in my classroom to feel like an equal partnership with me. To me this means:
- Students and teachers work together to make students’ learning a contribution to their community.
- Students work actively with problems, ideas, materials, and people as they learn skills and content.
In working to achieve these goals, I learn alongside my students. At the same time, students take more responsibility for their learning, while learning how to become more independent, self-regulating learners.
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