We start our day with a personal greeting. A small moment to connect with each child. We look at each other and say hello. The children now come in and make this connection by themselves. These are intentional acts to develop personal bonds built on mutual respect and trust. We give time to this because we value these connections. The children realize this is part of our classroom culture and copy it.
Children quickly realize what a school and teacher value. We intentionally and explicitly create our learning culture. We give time to what we value An example would be the morning meeting. A child often runs the meeting and the teacher sits on the floor with the children. At first the teacher modeled the format and now the children listen and navigate the “no hands up” class.
This sometimes means children putting fingers on their shoulder every time that have an idea. They also have a symbol if their idea is the same as someone else. This gets everyone thinking and not just the same people holding up their hands. Their is an expectation everyone will be trying to think of something.
Children are encouraged to add their name to the agenda and share any ideas or concerns. Today’s items included Miu telling us that children were not looking after pens and tops neede to be looked after. Sohee who shared her picture that had a mistake on it and so she turned it into a “beautiful mistake”. The children decided to use this picture as a front cover for a book about the value of making mistakes and learning from them. Finally Greyson had further questions about Fresh Fruit Friday, a grade 5 initiative to feed the homeless of Yokohama. He wanted to know who set this up and what made them do it. The children offered suggestions, but the teacher remand silent.
How we negotiate coming together as a group
The children sit in an informal group for morning meeting. The children have negotiated 7 different ways of being in this group. Some children sit on their bottoms, some stand, some hold a squishy toy in their hands and some kneel. We want the children to be in control of themselves and find the best way for them to concentrate. It is an expectation that children think about how they learn best.
These are just two examples of intentional acts designed to build a classroom culture based on trust and mutual respect. We wonder if this is seen outside the classroom at home?