I like to think of my classroom as a garden. I used to work at a garden store and although I am not a particularly skilled gardener I picked up a few things about keeping plants alive. Each plant needs to be noticed and cared for and each plan has very different needs. They will flourish when they have exactly the right conditions and if you are even slightly off, the plant will feel the consequences and in the worst-case scenarios, they may even die. A master gardener will pay attention, read the instructions and understand what each plant needs.
Like plants, students need a specific environment in order to grow and flourish. A safe environment where students feel able to be themselves, ask questions and make mistakes are all necessary for healthy flourishing learning. But also like plants, each plant has specific needs that need to be filled in order to grow. Some kids need structure, some kids need change, some kids need visuals and some kids need to do things hands on. Teacher needs to know the needs of the individual students so that their ability to grow and to love learning is not stunted (2017). If it is continuously ignored or treated harshly, children may close off, wilt or their love for learning could die.
In My Classroom We Will:
- Engage in constant learning
- Encourage positive learning
- Encourage talking about feelings even when it is hard
- Challenge the normative behaviour
- Explore “why”
- Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
- Use a mixture of approaches to learn like: hands-on learning, play-based learning, place-based learning and inquiry-based learning to make education explorative and fun
Some More Specific Examples:
Strength-Based Marking : In my classroom I will be marking based off of the strength-based approach. I will be looking for the things that the students do right in their assessment. I will also choose one or two improvement areas so that there is a balance of acknowledgment and challenge.
Authority: In my classroom, I believe that the teachers have a responsibility to create a safe environment for all students. That means that sometimes teachers need to create consequences for inappropriate and disruptive class behaviour. However, I also believe that students need to learn how to do it for themselves and that they need a voice in the process and discipline. In my classroom, we will co-create a list of classroom “beliefs” (I choose the word “beliefs” instead of rules because it implies intrinsic motivation). I also believe in using the 5-Bump model which was taught to me by Christine Klaussen St. Pierre and adapted from Bennet and Smilanich’s works. It incorporates communication-based boundaries that draw from restorative justice practices. It gives the student 3 opportunities to choose alternative behaviour before resorting to consequences and if the student still refuses it puts the responsibility on them to communicate through their behaviour.
Create a Positive Environment: I believe the physical space of the environment is an important teacher. I will fill my classroom with positive affirmations, their own works and their own spaces, home-like elements and invitations to learn. This is so that they feel excited and welcomed into their learning environment.
Start The Day Off Well: Along with the “Positive Environment” I want to greet my students every morning so that they start their day off well. I want them to see a smile and know that I a glad to see them every day.
Fill Student’s Needs First: I know that students cannot learn until their basic needs are met. If a student comes into my classroom I want them to be rested, fed and supported. If those needs are not met I will put teaching curriculum aside and care for my students in whatever way is professionally appropriate first. This might mean snack in a drawer or a space for students to take quick naps when they are supervised or a journal where they can confide.
The Ministry of Education. (2017). The Adaptive Dimension. https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/2296842/mod_resource/content/0/The%20Adaptive%20Dimension%202017.pdf