I’ve come to learn that there is little else in life that matters more than relationships. I’ve also come to learn that this is no less true in the classroom. When I think back on any success or failure I’ve experienced in teaching, it has had everything to do with relationships. Importantly, in school, as in life, relationships–even our best ones–are work. They are not accidents. They are not magical things born of fairy dust. They are intentional constructs created and sustained by commitment to those with whom we choose to experience life. And while I only have the honor to experience a small fraction of my students’ lives, I like to think it’s an important slice of the pie, and I have a responsibility to “learn their lives” while I can, in hopes that what I learn can guide me in helping them prepare for the next stages in their lives. So, I work. I work hard to learn their lives. I do this with intention. I do this with conviction. I do this with the knowledge that there are many important academic things to get to this year, but those things can wait. They will be there when we get there. My job is to make sure the kiddos are with me when we arrive. And, relationships, I find, best satisfy this prerequisite.
Today, when the kids walk into 211, they will find the desks pushed to one side of the room, creating an open space on the floor for us to sit and engage in an activity called “Community Circle.” For the entire period, we will spend intentional time learning the lives of our community as each shares bits of him/herself. I have done this activity for years, and I have found that it may be the most important thing I do. It builds and fortifies the foundation of learning for the entire year. Indeed, relationships first. Nothing is more important.
So, this ends, then, the first short week of Project 180. I haven’t been fired yet, and the kids shared with me yesterday that their parents generally responded favorably to their gifted A’s. Thank you, all, for the support this week. Can’t do it without you. Have a great Labor Day weekend.