I have just read: What Happened to Our Students and What Can We Do About It? https://www.ascd.org/blogs/what-happened-to-our-students-and-what-can-we-do-about-it via @ASCD
I find it interesting that the last point made in the article, is the first point we need to act upon. We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Definitely a conundrum if one is a teacher, because the others are the children in our classes and they arrive to school to be with us every day. Coincidentally, these children can’t wait until we get ourselves sorted out before we can be a guide and a perhaps a light for them.
So, how do we do this work, for us, and for them, simultaneously?
Do it simultaneously.
With increasing time in classrooms, it becomes more and more obvious, and in literal and figurative ways, the teacher’s work environment IS the child’s learning environment – inextricably linked, which means anything that occurs in the structure and routine of the classroom affects both learners and teachers. (Side note: I consider buildings and the land, the inside and the outside, formal and informal settings in the efforts of learning and teaching to be ‘classrooms’.) Set up an environment where you are part of the social-emotional learning (SEL), part of the routine, a collaborator, and a softly and gently contributor. Children do not need to hear our details, but they can know we are also walking that path with them.
I am not Indigenous, but I am fortunate to live on First nations land, and currently to teach in a First Nations school; I have learned, do things in a good way. When you leave, leave it as you found it, if not better than it was when you arrived.
When I first heard this, the example was a physical space story (from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer), leave a campsite in the same if not better condition from when you arrived. Literally this means take your garbage with you and tidy the space if you moved things around. But it also means leaving a stash of kindling and firewood for the next person coming in, who might be cold, tired, wet, for which your little effort is a potentially life-giving and affirming gift to them.
I have also realized ‘leaving’ is also an emotional and intellectual consideration, behaviour, and action – for both me, and the children in my classroom. How do I leave myself at the end of the school day when I go home, how do I set myself up for a little better tomorrow than the today I woke up to? How do I leave the learners from my class when they go home at the end of the school day? How do they leave the classroom and school environment at the end of each day?
My leaving from the classroom is also their leaving from the classroom, and so, inextricably linked. How did I belong in that classroom and school, how do I belong, strengthen attachment to the people, place, and land, and promote self-regulation and regulation for the learners? For me, and at the risk of now sounding sappy, I will reflect upon and think through the points made by Melissa Sadin, because I too have these experiences, and I too need to find a path into a healthy future. I imagine that this path won’t be one or the other first, but both at the same time. I have some tools to help me, like a rubric for professional practice, colleagues to have pedagogical conversations with, counsellors I can talk with. And I have some tools to help my learners, a Learning Skills rubric, SEL opportunities, collaborative and problem solving pedagogical practices (such as Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Project-based Learning (PjBL), and interdisciplinarity thinking) in which the learner can increasingly see themselves in the learning, and in their sense of belonging, and attachment, to and in their path of educational improvement.