What If?

“What if I sat backward like this?” “What if I fell over this railing?” “What if I dropped my coat down there?” “What if I could jump really high and bounce off the floor, then touch the ceiling?” “What if I could fly but I didn’t know it, so I jumped down but right before I hit the bottom I swooped up?””What if I went to the moon?”

I could go on and on. This was just a tiny bit of what I overheard as I sat with my kiddos at the mall today. It’s a question I hear every day since I spend so much time with little ones, both at school and at home. The questions are different depending on the kid or the venue, but the beginning of the inquiry is the same: what if?

Usually I just roll my eyes or quickly answer or just ask why everyone is always asking that question; it seems like it’s the first thing someone says when I give a deadline or a requirement on an assignment. “What if it’s not that long?” “What if I don’t finish?”  The questions at home seem to be more “out there” and are usually related to outer space or super powers (remember I live with a 5- and 8- year-old. LOL).

But for  some reason I was less annoyed and more inspired by the question today. Instead, it got me thinking. In a new way. I had a question of my own: “What if teachers asked ‘what if’ more often? What if our go-to question was ‘why not?’ instead of always ‘why?'”

In my classroom, I try to build a culture of trying new things, of creating a place where possibilities are endless and of where kiddos see things in new and-dare I say-innovative ways. I try to make Rm. 202 a place where thinking happens, risks are taken and norms are challenged (in an appropriate way, of course–I don’t mean I want or let all of my students run wild and not follow directions!). I want to encourage my students to think for themselves and feel safe and free to tell me (and their peers) if they see things differently, or if they have an idea that they think might work better. I want my students to be willing to ask “what if we…” and then have the rest of us thoughtfully consider their suggestion. Whether that be a way to solve a problem (like during a class meeting), a way to show our thinking (like when I’m crafting an assignment or project), or when they think they have a passion or interest worthy of all of us investigating it together, I want to provide a venue where students can feel free to express their ideas and have ownership over their learning.

But even further than just providing a place for my students to ask that “what if?” I want to model it for them, as well. I want my 2nd graders (or 4th graders or 5th graders, my own kids, whomever), to see that I am a learner and a risk-taker, as well. I want them to know that I see what others are doing and ask myself “What if we do that, too?” I want them to hear my process as I work through the idea, deciding that it is worth it to try even if we don’t know what the outcome will be.  Sometimes I want them to see that my “what if” doesn’t always end the way I thought it would (or wanted it to), and that’s okay.  I want my kiddos to feel safe to say “What if I fail?  What if I don’t know the answer?  What if I have to try again? What if it’s hard?” and be okay with not knowing.  Not doing it right. Not “getting it” the first time.  Not knowing what will happen and trying anyway. We are always talking about making mistakes and how that’s the key to learning new things and I think “what if” goes hand-in-hand with that philosophy.  “What if?” without an answer can be really frightening; I want my students to know that I am often unsure when I try new things, too.

I haven’t always been willing to take risks and think outside the box.  Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons.  I “had” to do it right, but more for myself, the parents in my room and my colleagues than for my students. I was far too worried about someone asking something about it or having me justify my thinking or even worse what would happen if somebody didn’t like my ideas.  Eventually–through much soul-searching, encouragement, many years of growth and LOTS of mistakes–I have gotten to the point where I’m more concerned with my students’ growth and development and what THEY think about what we’re doing than what others think or what the outcomes will be. At this point I am much more willing to do something new or ask–and then answer!–“what if?” than I ever have been.

The concern I have is that there are so many teachers (and therefore students) who are not willing to find out what happens when they ask “what if?”  They are too concerned with pretenses or perceptions, or even worse looking like they have it all together.  They are scared of failing, scared of falling, of not knowing the answer, of not knowing more than their students, of not living up to someone’s expectations, of not being enough.

What happens when that’s where teachers stay, however, is that they miss out on many great opportunities–great learning situations, watching their students (and themselves!) do things they never thought possible.  It’s amazing to see what occurs when we step off that ledge and leap even if we don’t know what will happen!  I know from experience that it’s almost never as bad as we thought, and usually is even better than we could have imagined. 🙂

“What if” can be a really scary question, but it can also be really exciting! 

So I ask you….”what if” you took a leap of faith?  “What if” you took a risk and tried something you weren’t sure about? “What if” you did it for yourself? “What if” you did it for your students?  “What if” you asked “what if?”  I’d love to hear what happens! Share your story, will you? 🙂

Marshmallow Challenge!

Welcome back to school!  We have been very busy already this year–hence the reason why I haven’t updated in a while–and are getting into a groove.  Forgive me if the next few posts are out of order (at least the order in which they happened); I still need pictures of certain things before I post about them.
Anyhow…we have spent much of the last 6 days getting to know each other better as learners (and people in general, really), as well as focusing on how to work well with a group.  One thing that our tribes did together early on was to take the Marshmallow Challenge.  What a great idea shared with me by my new friend and teammate Mrs. Hong! When you’re done here, you should definitely check out her class blog. 🙂

Alright, so here’s the basic idea:


We got ready, and I set the timer.  They built and taped and created, and at the end of the challenge we stepped away from our structures and….Every. Tower. Fell. Over. 😦

For a few minutes my friends wanted to claim “FAIL” on this activity and say it didn’t work.  But instead, I led them to reflect on what went right.  After a conversation, we figured out that many groups had the right idea of focusing on building a strong foundation, many had made a plan first, each group had a common goal and all groups worked well together to create a spaghetti structure.  Even if they fell over, we were successful in a lot of ways.  And so that day, we planned to do the challenge again, knowing that the next time there would  be many things we’d change–but many things we’d try again. 🙂

And so today was that day.  We planned and prepared before we went to lunch, knowing that when we returned we’d get down to business.  It was so great to watch the tribes busy, talking together about what to do this time around.  Many had plans drawn on paper, and most mentioned specific things they wanted to do differently.  Many groups decided that instead of trying to make their tower really TALL, really FAST, they’d focus instead on making it STRONG.

We got ready, and I set the timer.  They built and taped and created, and at the end of the challenge we stepped away from our structures.  This time, this happened:

WAY BETTER, RIGHT?! I was so proud of them!  And yes, granted, two of them still fell over, but sadly it was right at the last minute!  Those last two were upright and fine until the timer buzzed.  Bummer!

Like I said, we focused on what we can learn from this situation.  It wasn’t about the tallest tower, or whether or not it fell over.  It was about the team, the working together, the learning about our strengths and building on them.  And they totally rocked all of those things!  I can’t wait to see the other amazing things they are going to accomplish together this year!

Welcome to Rm. 202!

Welcome to Rm. 202!

I am so excited you’re here!

Please proceed with caution, and read carefully….

The following letter contains 2049 words that will begin to shape your fifth grade year. Be sure you have time to read them all carefully. You may like to have your parents sit and read with you so you can all be excited about fifth grade together.You should also have dancing shoes on (true story) and a video camera handy (extra credit).

Ready? Of course you are! Because you are about to become…

Fifth Grade and Fearless!

I am excited for the year ahead – but first, I need your help in knowing what next year is going to look like.

 

Yes, your help!

What next year holds, is, in large part up to you. I have my plans, my ideas, my goals….what about you?

I know some of you may have sneaked a peek at the letter I sent your parents, or may already know me, so this next part may be a bit of a review.  Too bad.  Keep reading anyway. 🙂  I have been teaching for 12 years and every one of them has been at Robinson!  I even did my student-teaching there long ago, so Robinson is definitely my home-away-from-home.  In my real home–which is in St. Peters–I have a fabulous family that I love dearly.  My husband, Grant, is a teacher, too, in Wentzville.  He is starting in 3rd grade this year, but has taught 4th and 5th grade like me, too.  Fun, right?  We have a 5YO, Riley, who will be at Robinson, too.  I am sure you’ll get to know him really well as we got through the year together.  We also have a little girl named Allison–we call her Allie–who is 19-mo-old.  We LOVE (yep, love) Disney World, and travel there often.  We also just like to hang out together at home (or anywhere, really) and spend time with each other.  So that’s me.  What about you? Can’t wait to learn more about YOUR family!

Like I said, I have been teaching for 12 years, and every year, I begin the school year as a different person. I decide on that first day and then every day thereafter, who I am as a teacher. What is important to me. What I want to accomplish. What I want my students to see when they come to school. I choose that. I don’t let other people tell me who I will be and I don’t just be who I think other people want me to be. I read, I think, I write and then I decide.

Who Will You Be? (This is a big question – take your time to think about this!) Will you be the kid who has brilliant ideas? The kid who loves math? The kid who looks to help other people? The kid who……? Fresh start. Clean slate. We all get one (that includes you!) and we all get to begin fifth grade as the person we want to be.

What is important to you? (This is another big question and one I am really curious about so I will ask it twice.) What is important to you?

There are lots of things that are important to me: my husband and my kids, sharing ideas, reading, writing, being able to have a conversation, making things, discovering things, sharing what I know, sleeping in, staying up late and knowing when to say sorry.

As a teacher, there are a few more things that are important to me:

* YOU!:   You’re the reason I’m there, after all right?  It is important for me to get to know you, and know you well.  Not just as a learner, but as a kid, too.  I want to know what you like, what you don’t like, what makes you tick.  Who you are.  That’s ok, right? 🙂

* Respect: If you’ve been around Robinson for longer than 5 minutes you know that respect is a HUGE part of our culture.  It’s pretty much what we’re all about.  I expect respect to be a huge thing in our classroom.  I will respect you, and I expect you to respect me, as well as everyone else in our community.  This counts when we agree and even when we don’t.  I have a saying that I learned from my good friend Mrs. Ford years ago, that is really important with this whole respect thing.  It’s this: You are not the sun.  In other words, the world does not revolve around you, and there are lots of other people in our classroom that have needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc., that we need to take into account.  I love you, but I love everyone else, too!

* Mistakes:  I expect you to make them.  Yep, I said it.  I want things to be hard for you.  I want you to struggle.  If you need more than one try or lots more practice with a concept, you’ll get it.  If you need to show me what you know in a different way, then we’ll figure it out.  If  you need me to repeat something or explain it for you in another way, I’ll do.  If you need a big, fat challenge–watch out, you’ll get one! No, I’m not crazy, I just want you to try things that may be tricky at first.  I want you to learn to work through it when it’s hard and figure out what to do.   I want you to feel the joy and success when you learn something new and it’s because you persevered!  Not everything will be easy here. And that’s ok. We’re in it together and I’ll help you all along the way. 🙂

* Collaboration: I love to share ideas and get ideas and try new things and even when those things fail, I know I am just one step closer to finding what does work. I love to work with other teachers to figure things out and find new solutions to old problems.  But just as much as working with adults, I love to collaborate with students.  I love to hear what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling about things, what you think would be the best way to learn something.  Even when you don’t agree with me, or have a plan that is completely different than mine, I want you to share it!  It’s our classroom, and often your ideas are WAY better than mine.  I know I’ll share lots of examples with you about how that’s happened to me over the years.

Aside from collaborating with me, though, you’ll be collaborating with each other!  You will have lots of opportunities to share with your classmates, to give your ideas, ask questions, prove your reasoning and challenge each other.  I expect that we will work together to help EVERYONE in our class be the best they can be.  Together we’ll achieve much more than we would if we tried to do it on our own. 🙂

* Questions: I found a quote I love by a guy named Tony who loves learning. “No one cares what you know. What the world cares about is what you do with what you know.” Think about that. Chew it over. We can all google and find stuff out – but then what? After we know stuff, what we do with it = inquiry. And that is what the world cares about. Me too. You?

* Time is precious: So are you. I don’t like wasting time and I especially don’t like wasting your time. That means I try to come to school ready, fired up, and prepared to make a ruckus (I like to think that a ‘ruckus’ is the sound your brain makes when it is challenged to be creative, thoughtful, inquisitive and world-changing – it is a beautiful sound).  I hope–and expect–that you will come into our classroom every morning ready to learn, ready to work hard, ready to put your very best foot forward.  We only have so many days together, and we need to make the most of every single one of them.  We’ve got so much to do! 🙂

* Technology : I  love technology because it allows me to connect to new ideas. I like to think about what I want to do and look for tools to help me do it. I want to hear your ideas on technology and what works for you. We will be using technology in many new and exciting ways this year, so get ready!  You’ll be blogging, using iPads and laptops, working on the ActivBoard, making videos of your learning and trying out many new things that we may not even know about yet.  Whatever we do, though, the goal is always learning.  We will use technology in meaningful ways to better create new knowledge.  Excited?  I know I am!

* Community: our class, our families, our school, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things. I bet you can think of ten amazing people who do amazing things right now. We need to hear those people’s stories. Your mom and dad should be on that list. They are awesome. (Assignment one; email me List of Awesomeness about people in your family* -*family = people you love and are connected to even if they don’t happen to live in your house or share your last name).

* Taking risks: I like to take risks.   I hope you do too. It is scary sometimes and it fails sometimes but sometimes, more often, it is just A-MAZ-ING! Usually when you do something scary you do things you never thought you could.  You surprise yourself.  And then you want to do more! Someone smart once said “Fear and Excitement are shades of the same color”. Cool, huh?

HANG IN THERE….THE END IS NEAR!

OK…if you made it this far and are still with me, congratulations, you are a rockstar. Stop reading right now and do some kind of victory dance.  No really, go ahead.  Dance.  I’ll wait.  Better yet, have someone video tape your dance and send it to me!  I’ll even post it on our blog!

So….what now? How can you best prepare for the extreme awesomeness of fifth grade?

  1. Have a great summer! Be extraordinary.
  2. Read something.  Write something.  Wonder something.  This’ll get your learning muscles warmed up. 🙂
  3. If you have any questions you can always email me. Anytime. No question to big or too small.
  4. Think about what I said about being who you want to be. Most importantly, remember that everyone else in our class is thinking about that too. Be gracious to those who are brave enough to set lofty goals and make the effort to become an even better version of themselves.
  5. Look around your house (or your computer, maybe) for a picture of your family.  I’d love to be able to decorate our room with us–pictures of all the people who help make us who we are and who encourage us to do our best.  If you want to email it to me, that’s great (I’ll add my contact info to the end of this post), or you can print it and bring it to school on the first day.  And if you don’t have one, don’t worry!  We’ll take your picture!

Despite having now used about two thousand words, there are no words to describe how excited I am about working with you next year!

Here’s To Being Fifth Grade and Fearless!

♥ Mrs. Bearden

PS. If you didn’t get up and dance before and are now wishing you did, there is still time to do it. Anytime. Send me that video with your best moves (extra credit).

When you have had a chance to relax, digest this letter (maybe talk about it with your family or friends) and get your fifth grade brain tuned up, I would love for you to write to me to introduce yourself, ask questions, maybe respond to something you read in this letter that made you think.

I look forward to hearing from you before the end of the summer!

Mrs. Bearden: Email–jennifer.bearden@kirkwoodschools.org; Phone–314-213-6100 x4214 (after August 15); Twitter: @jbeardensclass

**Thanks to @terSonya and Mrs. Hong for help with writing this post! Like I said, I love to share ideas!**

Stray Rescue Update #1–Sewing Class!

You already know we’re working on a project to benefit Stray Rescue.    I told you I’d update you as we got into it, but it took lots of time and we were so busy that I haven’t even had a second to tell you about it until now.  And boy is there alot to tell….but like I said in an earlier post, I’ll not tell you the whole story at once.

We decided that the best way to help Stray Rescue do what they do best was to do what we do best, and that’s be creative!  We had multiple conversations about how to do that, and we settled upon the fact that we should sew and bake.  Ok, maybe I added a little to that conversation, too, since I enjoy both of those things, but everyone agreed that it would be a good idea.

We did a little bit of research, and decided that we wanted to make chew toys for doggies that were shaped like bones.  We also thought that creating bandannas for our canine friends would be a good idea.  So the fabric, templates, scissors and sewing machines came out for the next several days and we got busy!  I taught everyone who didn’t already know about the basics of the sewing machine, and then each kiddo took a turn having-a-go.

I was SO excited when the first pupils in my sewing class were BOYS!  I know, that’s a little bit sexist to say that only girls would want to sew, but for some reason I was surprised.  Anyhow, they LOVED it, and I started hearing things like “I love this!” and “I have to get a sewing machine so I can do this at home” right after we started.  Here’s a little peek into our first “class”:

Tracing a “bone” onto some fabric to make the outside shape.  The bones were then stuffed with a plastic water bottle.  Somebody had the great idea that it would be a good way to recycle our bottles left over from MAP testing, and would make a great “crinkling” sound that doggies would love!  Double great. 🙂

Love how we got so many out of one shirt! All of our materials were donated by students in the class.

Archie and Harry sewing a straight line.  That was the first lesson. 🙂

Zarion totally rocked his first try at sewing, too!  He was adding a zig-zag stitch to the edge of our bandannas so they didn’t unravel.  These turned out great!


Rethinking, Rebuilding and Redecorating Rm. 201

Remember this?  Since then we’ve done several other math warmups about geometry and decimals.  But we’ve also been doing some other things–things that started out with math and quickly spread to other areas of our life together in Rm. 201.

Let me explain…

The other day I asked my kiddos a question, and after I did, I realized–by listening to the crickets and seeing their confused faces–that they didn’t get it.  So I rephrased it, and also took them on a little tour to help explain what I meant.

One of the things I’m working on is making our room look and feel like it’s as much a place for mathematicians as it is for readers, writers, and scientists.  So I took them to a place that I knew would help them get a feel for what that looks like–our neighbor next door, Mrs. LeSeure’s 5th grade class.

We sneaked in very quietly and looked around.  The directions  were to pay attention to what they saw that told them that math happened in that room, things that maybe they didn’t see in our own classroom.  We then came back and brainstormed what we noticed.

Here’s what our list looked like:

Ok, I know–you’re distracted by the messy handwriting.  I promise, it’s not usually that bad.  I was writing fast. 🙂

What was really great about what they put on the list was that they noticed things that I know that Pam specifically did for her math environment, but they also caught on to the things about how the room felt, the subliminal messages that were being sent in that space.

As you can see on our chart, Mrs. LeSeure’s class has things that help her students in math, like anchor charts from things they’ve just learned about, like area/perimeter and the difference between similar and congruent, both from our recent 2D geometry unit.  But my students also talked about how her classroom felt.  They said that it felt relaxed.  It was clean and neat and colorful.  This was where I had to be brave.  I had to remember that just because they said her room was like that didn’t mean that ours wasn’t, or that I am a bad teacher, or that her class is better than ours.  It just meant that Rm. 202 had some things that ours doesn’t have, different things.  Things that we want to add to our own room.

Most of what they were saying actually went way beyond the original math-related question I asked.  They went deep.  And they made me nervous.  But like I said, I had to be brave.  Their statements dug deep to the reasons why some things happen in our room, the reasons why we sometimes struggle with paying attention and why it seems like we don’t know what to do next, or why we waste our learning time.  They were really great comments, actually, and come down to the fact that our room just really isn’t working for us anymore.  That was the part I had to be brave about–I am, after all, the one who designed that room, and created the environment in the first place.

Remember when I showed you what it looked like the first time I came in during the summer?  And then how it started to change as I put it together?  Well, even since then, many things have changed since we first started together in August.  But on Wednesday we were talking again about how more change needed to be made.  I loved how Evan put it when he said, “I don’t mean to be mean, but you arranged the room without us, and we’re the ones who spend the most time here.”  And you know what? He’s totally right!  It’s really funny how that whole thing works, really, with the teacher planning and arranging and setting up the room for a group of kiddos she doesn’t even know yet, without their input.  I know it’s just what has to be done, but it would make sense that the people spend all that time and energy there every day should have some say in how it looks.  And feels.

So that’s when it happened.  I gave them a chance to suggest changes they thought should be made.  I asked them to tell me, and to even draw a map if they wanted to, what they thought about what we could take out and what we needed to move.  Everyone got busy, some by themselves and some in pairs or small groups, making lists and floor plans to help us all see the vision of what we could do.

It was so very cool to “see” the classroom through so many new sets of eyes.  I obviously look at and pay attention to different things than my students do as I go through the learning day.  It was also really cool how similar their maps were when we sat down to look at them.  For example, there at least 3 different groups who suggested that our classroom library move to another part of our room (a place where I originally was going to put it, actually, but then changed my mind about) and how everyone agreed that the cubbies as a divider between the carpet and Table 3 just didn’t work.  Most of them had the same idea for how “my” area could change, by turning my desk 90 degrees and putting my computer in a different place.  And I appreciated how they used their new geometry vocabulary to explain it to me!

So I began that very afternoon to make some of the changes that they suggested.  And you know what?  IT LOOKS AMAZING! These kiddos are so darn smart about what they need and what works for them as learners.  They teach me every day, in a respectful and appropriate way, that I don’t know everything! The room has taken on a new and different feel, and most people who have come in have commented on how they like what’s happening.  We’re not quite done yet, but believe me, I’ll definitely show it to you when we’re finished.  I’m really pretty excited about it.  And they are, too.  I love how many kiddos said to me how much they appreciated that they have a say in this.  I’m glad I gave them a say, too.  Because they are saying some pretty great things.

How do you make decisions about your room/environment?  When have you had to be brave?  What ideas do you have for us as we work on the environment of numeracy (and literacy and so on…) in our classroom?

Spread Love, Not Hate

Spread Love, Not Hate

So today is the day! Thanks for joining the bloghop as we speak out against bullying!

I called the last post Perfect Timing, meaning that it was great that I had found the link for this idea at the same time our school was celebrating No-Name Calling Week.  But maybe I should have used that same name again today, as we had another great conversation about what’s been going on with bullies in our classroom.

First, though, a reminder of what happened a few weeks ago.

After that conversation, we made these for our school’s KROB news broadcast to promote No-Name Calling Week:


Dominic tells about a time when he was picked on for his size.


Doniya says she’s sorry for what she’s done.


Kelsey comes clean and apologizes.


Taylor speaks her mind about bullying.


Lauren and Molli talk about the changes that can happen when friends talk and problem solve together.

So, today, as we have for the last few weeks during our class meetings, we came back to the topic of respect and bullying and how we’ve been doing with this.  It seems that all is not perfect in our 5th grade world.  While many in our class wanted to believe that one meeting could change things forever, today we had more concerns bubble up related to how some of us have been speaking to each other in a less than respectful way.

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with this topic lately–I love that they are willing to continue to come back to the table (er, carpet) to talk about it, but I hate that they have to.  I, like many friends in my room, wish it was as easy as saying once that we’ll all change our ways and be friends forever.   Obviously, though, it’s not that simple, and it’s something we’ll continue to work on all year together.

Our meeting was pretty intense at times today, with questions and concerns coming up about some of the same things we dealt with at our first big meeting.  In the end, there were several one-on-one conversations that sparked from it, and we had to just agree to change some pretty big things in the way we deal with our classmates.

As our closing circle, I asked the class to tell me what they would take away from our class meeting today.  I was glad they said what they said; I think they’re reflective like me: at the moment it may not seem like they’ve “gotten” it, but after they have some alone time to process, they come up with some pretty great stuff!  Here’s what they said they learned from our conversation today:

  • I learned we dwell on the past. (Many people mentioned things that had been done to them weeks ago, rather than today or this week.  They were holding on to things that had already been apologized for or that were no longer being done to them.  Many of us were holding grudges and not believing that certain people were changing.)
  • I learned that we should assume positive intent. (I taught them this phrase last week, as a way to work together in a more positive way.  It’s a norm that the teachers in our school work under, and is based on the idea that if we assume that our friends have positive intentions–even if they look or sound like they’re being mean or ugly–we can often avoid problems or confrontations.  We can, after all, only control our own actions, not the actions of others.  We should give our friends the benefit of the doubt, not always assuming that they’re trying to be mean.  Maybe they’re just having a bad day.)
  • I learned that we should say something when someone does something we don’t like, instead of just ignoring it. (Today lots of kids mentioned that they were fed up that others continued to annoy them or do mean things, and they admitted that rather than tell that person to stop, they had continued to let it happen, or responded in an equally mean way.  Eventually, when they were really mad, they’d tell the teacher or bring it up in a class meeting, rather than dealing with it immediately.)
  • I learned that just because someone’s saying my name doesn’t mean they’re saying bad things about me–it might even be a compliment. (Maybe–just maybe–they’re laughing about something completely unrelated to you.)
  • I learned that if someone comes to me and tells me that my friend said something about me, I should go to my friend and find out about it instead of just being mad or doing something mean back.  (Getting the truth out and finding out what really happens helps to clear up misunderstandings.  This is soo much better than being mad at your best friend for what ends up being no reason.)

I can’t decide if I like that class meetings are on Fridays or not.  Sometimes I wish that they could come back the very next day and start working again on getting along and fixing the problems we discussed at our meeting.  But at the same time, I appreciate the space that is afforded us by the weekend.  Being allowed to talk about issues and work through them together, and then have some time (and space away from each other) to continue to think about it on our own before we come back together helps us to be ready to act differently once we see each other again.   Kind of like the “time heals all wounds” idea, a topic that was really hot on Friday can simmer down a little by Monday so we can better respond–rather than react–the very next day.

I love this group of kids I work with this year.  They have their struggles (but what group of people who spends 8 hours everyday closely together doesn’t?), but they are still so willing to work through them.  Deep down they really just want to get along, and they try so hard to figure out how to make that happen.  Even though it’s hard and messy, and sometimes it seems like we’ll never get there, so far we’ve come to some better understandings of each other.  I hope that the lessons we’re learning about relationships this year are ones that will stick with them long after they leave the safety of our Rm. 201 community.

So now it’s your turn:  tell us what you think about our life lessons.  Or tell us about a life lesson you’ve learned lately.  Do you have any advice for us about how to work together or how to work through a conflict?  What advice do you have for us as we tackle bullying head-on?  We’ve love to hear from you!