Friday, March 17, 2017

The Influence We Have

Living in a Global Community 


Dear Readers,

I feel like I currently live in three worlds. 

Our Classroom

The first being my classroom. It truly is my second home. Every day is filled with teaching, learning, smiles, fun, discussions, informal conversations, reading, writing, painting, etc. You never know what might be happening at any given moment when you come through the door. It is a bright, warm, music filled, joy filled, environment my students and I have created together.

Together we have built relationships, made connections and created an agreed upon anchor chart of expectations. It consists of 3 components: What Should Our Learning Environment Look Like, What Should it Sound Like and What Things Are Better Kept in Your head. I refer to these frequently. Students have started to speak up when others are not following the expectations. It is wonderful that they hold each other accountable.

My students do not naturally know how to respectfully disagree with each other. It is something I teach, they practice, they teach, they practice, etc. I give them language to use and talk about perspective. We also talk about being open-minded and consider other ideas. 

Most importantly, we have recently been starting to dig into out argument writing unit which includes research, formulating a claim, research, writing a thesis statement, research to support that statement and analysis to support our evidence.

Every opportunity I have, I use it to teach my 7th graders there is "more than one side to the story". They do not have to agree, but I ask them to consider the other points. At times, students will look at me and ask, "May I change my answer?" My response is, "Of course! Sometimes the more research we have, we find out something that will cause us to reflect and reconsider our position."

They are at an extremely vulnerable age where they are learning how to collaborate and work with many different personalities. Some that are similar to them and those that are not. We use Covey's Habits and I often refer to, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. We must listen, process, reflect and make informed decisions. Another favorite is Find Your Voice which includes finding their own voices as well as helping others find theirs. My students consistently hear the message from me that they can do anything they put their minds to, if they believe in something they should stand up for their beliefs. There is power in being empathetic, reflective, resilient and a communicator.

We have such an amazing opportunity and responsibility to immerse our students in these social and collaborative situations under our guidance and coaching before they independently go out into the world.

Home

The second being my home. I absolutely adore my apartment and everything about it. It is a place that I feel comfortable, safe and can relax. I am surrounded by my books, my cozy blankets, my pictures and everything else that makes it home to me. 

Walking is a huge love of mine and I never hesitate to pop the earbuds in and take a stroll through my neighborhood. I am literally 10 minutes from any place I need to go. Even Wegmans is within walking distance of me. 

I am truly fortunate to have two "homes" that I love.

Outside Reality

Being the news addict I am, CNN is my "go-to" in the evenings. That is when I enter the world I will refer to as "outside reality". I feel like I am in a constant state of worry. I think about:

  • My cousin and his partner who are raising two adorable boys and have a beautiful family.
  • Programs my grandparents, who I loved dearly, benefited from as they grew older and needed more care.
  • My future as an educator and how providing the best instruction possible could be comprised.
  • People I know who have come to the US for different reasons, under different circumstances and are now raising beautiful families and are significant contributors to our society.
  • Students whose families are in distress about whether they will be uprooted from their current lives.
  • The messages my students are attempting to make sense of that they are confronted with on a daily basis from social media, news media, people in powerful positions, etc.
  • The safety of our country. 

Reflection

What messages are being sent to our young people? Are they being encouraged to be collaborative, open-minded, innovative thinkers who possess empathy for those around them? 

My hope is by teaching these skills and strategies early, they will become a part of them. As they head out into the world, they will take them with them and live in what is now a global community.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Warmly,
Teresa