This year was a year that is hard to describe in one word. Last year my word was growth – understandably given I was a first year teacher. This year I have a hard time describing my year to friends and family, let alone to my admin or coworkers.
I moved to a new school and a new town. Personally I went through a lot of missing home but professionally, I never looked back other than to when someone asked if I regretted moving to a new school. Fortunately, that answer has always been no. As I prepared for a new year, I decided to avoid reading cumulative files and confidential files until after I met the kids and instead took a more vague approach – who had an IPP for academic or behaviour or who was an ELL student. I am glad I did because it allowed me to build a relationship with my students without any prejudice.
As the year went on, it was clear to anyone who was in the classroom that it was OUR class, my students’ class, not MY classroom. The classroom was always flexible and changing to suit their needs. What went up on the walls was up to them and it was always their work. They created a culture in our classroom that was one of agreement, collaboration/community and honouring the learning that was happening in our classroom.
My students accomplished things that left other teachers wondering what was happening in grade 5. A grade 4 teacher saw my marking some of the assignments that my students were working on and I talked about the co-created criteria. Her answer was “I think our students are in for a shock next year”. During my formal evaluation lesson, my students showed that they were capable of exceeding the expectations normally places on a group of 10 year olds. They showed that they can to all sorts of things if given the tools and proper scaffolding to reach those expectations.
As I write this reflection, I realize that this year was one of exceeding expectations of others and showing that things don’t need to be set in stone. My friend bought me a pillow that says “Today I will make magic happen” explaining that each day is a new and wonderful learning experience in my class. While I wouldn’t call it magic, I do feel that the learning taking place in my classroom is a shift in current mindsets and that we are changing those mindsets each day that something new happens.