Watching this video helped me to change my perspective and think about this in a different way. In my classroom, I like to start the school year by writing out a list of my students names and next to each name write something I enjoy about them (their quirky personality, how hard they work, how creative they are) and something that they really enjoy. As the school year goes on, I like to refer back to this list to remind myself of what each student brings to our class dynamic and how I can incorporate what they enjoy so they can share and learn from that student. I am also constantly trying to help students build relationships with each other through daily play times, or simply noticing when they are comfortable with their group and then mixing them up. As the year goes on, the whole class becomes a team. They look out for each other and help each other in their learning as well as in life. Here is a video I LOVE that I have of students working together to practice reading words:
Encouraging math fluency:
And even something as simple as helping each other to zip their coats or tie their shoes.
Or if a student is having a rough day, they will go to give them a hug. It is amazing to watch these little guys, just 5 or 6 years-old, communicate, work together and become a team.
I said this video has changed my perspective. I help to promote this atmosphere in my class with students and they become a great team! Why am I not doing everything I can with my co-workers to be just like what I see in my students? “Everyone has value”. It is important for me as a life long learner and as a team member to take the time to think about each of my co-workers. What are their strengths? How can I build trust with them? Who can I turn to for help? Do people feel comfortable coming to me for help? Am I taking the time I should be to connect with the people I work with?
With the pressure as an educator from evaluations, performance scores and standardized testing, it is often easy to fall into the trap of trying to improve your own classroom. This video reminds me that it is even more important to collaborate with my team, ask for help and to always be learning. Everyone has a value and I can learn from anyone. When I shut my door and try to keep to myself I am only hindering my own learning and my students growth. I need to have a “social connectedness” with my coworkers so we can grow together as a team and be successful as a group, improving our skills and knowledge as educators.
I am lucky to work in a school where this is possible. I am able to have lunch with my grade level team daily. We also get to meet as a staff every other Friday for what we call “Early Release Fridays” where they students will go home early and teachers will collaborate with our grade level teams, as a building or sometimes across buildings. We also go out afterwards to the B.A.R. (for our Bi-weekly Academic Review). The BARs are our way of getting out of the building and just talking, no pressure of school, venting, sharing, connecting (plus the food and drinks). We are lucky to have this community built within our school.
We can sometimes forget the importance of these things as our days get busy and life is happening, but this video reminds me of how making these connections with my coworkers is just as important as the teaching I am doing in my classroom. I should make sure to attend these events and meetings if I want to continue making connections, learning, improving and growing as an educator. Everyone has value and it is up to us to help motivate and learn from each other.