“We are creators of culture, and the choices we make give life to the environment that we share with our kids.”
“I forgot to share the grading policies with my parents last night. When is it due?”
“When you get it to me.”
(Deep exhale) “That’s why I love this class. No stress.”
Katarina panicked a bit as her peers were handing me their signed grading policies. I had distributed and explained them only the day before, asking kids to take them home to share with parents, returning them to me with a signature by week’s end. Many kids returned them the next day. Katarina didn’t, nor did some of the other kids. I didn’t expect them the next day. And I didn’t expect her to panic, but I wasn’t surprised either. In the compliance-based realities of their school experiences, kids have been conditioned to respond as such, fearing at least that they have disappointed the teacher, fearing at most that they would be penalized for missing a deadline. And from that place of fear, they panic. They stress.
I am trying to change that. I am not suggesting that deadlines are not important. I am certainly not suggesting that helping kids develop responsibility isn’t of value–remember, I am giving them ownership over their learning. But I am suggesting that we don’t need to create panic, stress-inducing situations to hold kids accountable. And, as I believe with much that transpires in the classroom, in that there is a choice. Our choice. We are creators of culture, and the choices we make give life to the environment that we share with our kids. I choose not to scare my kids down the path of responsibility. I choose to guide my kids in that direction, lending a hand when I can. And that hand doesn’t have to be heavy to help them discover the freedom and power of accountability.
Katarina will have the signed paper for me today; I have no doubt. I trust that being responsible matters to her. And I am willing to give her the freedom, the room to show me that. I don’t need to play the stress card to create that situation. I have better cards in my hand. And while some may think that kids love my class because “it’s easy,” they misinterpret what they see. Katarina did not say that she loved my class because it was easy. She said she loved it because there’s no stress. I believe we can create challenging experiences for kids in ways that minimize unnecessary stress. And it starts with a choice, and that’s in our hands.
On a separate note, Open House went really well last night. Parents seemed receptive to my approach to learning. Of course, ten minutes is not nearly enough time to do it justice, but I think I managed to plot the course for the year.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…continue considering character, community, and conflict with Seedfolks.
…finish and share “Twitterviews” for reading and writing stories.
…capture the day in or Journey Journals.
Not much new today. Looking forward to wrapping up the “stage setting days,” and diving into the work of the journey next week. Happy Thursday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.