If I had some wishes I could grant to each student leaving grade 8, I would want my students to leave middle school being confident that they are able to learn, it might look different from someone else, but they can learn. I want them to leave being an advocate for themselves. I want them to trust that their ideas have value and should be shared with others, that their contributions to our class, and society at large, make a difference. I want my students to believe they have a right to take up space, to question in a respectful way and to be confident in knowing that they are able to change their minds as they learn and grow. I want my students to respect differences in opinions, ideas and cultures and be open to learning why someone might do something differently. I want my students to spread kindness. It would be nice if they remembered a thing or two about rearranging algebraic formulae too.
What would you wish for your students?
How might we build community amongst grade 7 students as a way to create spaces where these students can take academic and social risks in any classroom space?
These past few weeks have been exciting with the end of the year (2019, not the academic year) wrap up. We committed to a few events as a class and found success with them. One event was supporting a family in our community through a Christmas basket program. As a class, we donated towards a larger school goal and created cards for our families.
We also held a hot chocolate and candy cane party where students were able to bring in their favourite mugs and tell stories about these mugs as we filled them with hot chocolate and chatted about anticipated plans for the holidays.
Today, we returned and in the spirit of building community we spent a lot of time listening to each other describe highlights, and memorable moments. Fear not, those of you reading who are worried about kids who did not have a great holiday. I sent emails, checked in with kids over the break, and before returning and knew what safe questions we could ask in our space without making it uncomfortable for anyone, but in a way that let everyone share something and be involved.
We then took some time to complete a “more of….less of….. in 2020” and we spent some time independently looking at what we want more of in 2020 and what we want less of in 2020. We then collated the lists and created a class list of 6 “more of….less of” ideas to focus on this year.
When this was done, we spent some time reviewing our agreements from September that hang on our wall regarding class norms and discussed/reviewed what each norm might look like over the next few weeks.
The curriculum can wait a day or two, routines need to be established and students need to know that I’ve missed them and am cheering for their next success.