Friday, January 17, 2014

The Environment I Create

Someone asked me recently, "What makes the students in your classroom love school as much as they do?" 

Thinking that was an easy question I gave a quick response, "The environment I create."

"Yes, but what kind of environment specifically is that?" she asked.

My reply was mostly out of sorts, but it consisted of sharing how I treat them. I shared that I listened to their heart and ultimately paid attention to what they had to say.  

"Ah, so you treat them like people."

That conversation got my thinking and has been on my mind a lot while teaching. I've been observing my own teaching habits to determine what it is exactly that I do that makes my classroom environment a happy one.

The first, I've noticed, is I implement their ideas. Now that it is a new year, my students realized that we no longer have the "2013" date above the calendar. Truth be told, they noticed we don't have any year up there yet.

"Why don't we have a 2014 card yet?" they asked.

"Because I haven't had time to make a new one on my computer and print it."

"Why don't you write it on one of those sentence strips you use?" one clever sprout mentioned.

"That's a great idea," I said as I got up right then, walked over to my sentence strip box, wrote 2014 on a new one and stapled it up on the wall.

I realized I do this quite often. When my sprouts share with me an idea that comes to them regarding our class, I do my best to implement it right away. Even if it's off the lesson plan and changing what I had expected, I value the input they have to give. I believe that it is important to share that reciprocal respect. If I expect of them to listen to my ideas and implement them, I feel that it is only fair to listen to their ideas, no matter how small or insignificant they are.

It could be as simple as changing the color of the paper used for an art project or singing a song someone had an idea for. Whatever it is, they feel important when they are contributing members of the classroom.

I'll never forget the smile on his face when he saw I used his idea. With the biggest grin you'll ever see and the comment of "Teacher you liked my idea? That's because I have good ideas, huh!" I feel certain that contributes to his effort to feel good about school.