Here are the various roles that I will need you to play over the course of the year. Sometimes, our day’s path will require you play one specific role; most times, our path will require that you play many simultaneously. Either way, I promise I will not ask you to stretch yourself beyond your limits. You got this.
Role #1: Yourself. This is your most important role. I need you to be who you are. I realize that the setting in which we find ourselves sometimes impacts our ability to be ourselves, but my hope is that the classroom community and culture we create during our time together will give each of us the comfort and confidence to be who we are. This is the role that matters most to me as I join you in your journey this year. I am excited to know YOU.
Role #2: Valued Community Member. This is your second most important role. At present, many of us are not well-acquainted, but we are in this together either way. And as we will spend a lot of time together both struggling and celebrating over the days to come, my hope is that we establish a community that is rich in relationships and in excess of empathy. We are a community.
Role #3: Reader. This will be one of your worker roles. Lots to read as we explore various texts along numerous paths, discovering the power in others’ words. I need you to be a reader. I need you to believe you are a reader. We are readers.
Role #4: Writer. This is also a worker role. My hope is that you write more this year than you have in all your other years combined. I believe this is perhaps one of the most important skills you can develop for life now and later. I need you to be a writer. I want you to believe you are a writer. We are writers.
Role #5: Mistake Maker. Another worker role. By now, you know there are no penalties for mistakes in our room. In fact, mistakes are enthusiastically encouraged as they are launching points into learning. Mistakes lead to learning. We will travel down many mistake paths this year, which means we’ll find lots of learning. We are mistake makers.
Role #6: Reflector. Last role but no less an important one. By now you also know that I will expect you to add to your learning story each day in your Journey Journal. Each day we will end our time together, reflecting on and sharing from our day’s experiences. Reflection is such an important part of learning. I really need you to become reflectors.
“I don’t know about all of recorded history repeating itself, but there are certainly aspects of my life that tend to repeat themselves. In particular and of the moment is my inability to plan effectively for the first few days of school. I always fall into the I-think-I-have-more-time-than-I-really-do trap, and this year, rushing headlong down the trail, I fell victim once again. Same trap for twenty-two years now. Old dog. Same old tricks.”
This is one of my five (keeping a journal in each class) Journey Journal reflections from Friday. I always underestimate the out-of-my-control variables that impede progress on the first few days, and we are already behind, but I am not completely without wisdom from my past adventures. Yes, we are behind, but rushing ahead will not necessarily catch us up, so I will keep the pace I planned: seven days to set the stage. I may, indeed, have to change a few of the props, but the show will go on as planned.
Along today’s trail we will…
…check in with Smiles and Frowns.
…discuss our approach to learning (grading policies). Finally getting to this today. Really, it’s introducing a new language, and as such, the kids will have lots of questions, and the unfamiliar will be uncomfortable for them for awhile. I have to remember that they have been speaking “grades” for ten years now, so I cannot expect them to pick it up immediately. It will take time, and it will take patience. But my earnest hope is that kids leave me “fluent in feedback” come June.
…establish roles (Roles, Routines, Rights, Respsonsibilities). Over the next four days, I will roll out the 4 R’s. Today, I will focus on the roles that I would like the kids to fill over the course of our journey. Again, my goal here, with all of these, is to create a year-long experience, not a fill-your-seat, do-your-time, episodic approach to learning.
…continue considering, character, community, and conflict with Seedfolks.
…capture the day in or Journey Journals
And that’s what’s on the menu today. I know I am taking the slow approach. But I am asking kids to do things that they have never done before, to follow new trails so they may discover new possibilities. And with that, I have the responsibility to make sure that they are ready for what lies ahead.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.