I think a lot about my responsibility as a teacher to really and genuinely SEE my students...
Not just as who I think they are, or who they seemed to be yesterday or last week (or in our case, last year) but the actual shifts and changes - setbacks - challenges - victories - growth that they each are every different day.
As a classroom teacher in the role of facilitating learning in a room full of a whole lot of different needs, this can feel next to impossible at times.
Throughout my career thus far, I have often looked to the REGGIO EMILIA approach to early childhood education as a guidepost, regardless of what age/grade I am teaching. A particular quote by Loris Malaguzzi (one of the original founders of this philosophy) has been running through my head often over these past two weeks;
According to Reggio Emilia, the teacher is trying to learn about each child, not just what is typical of a 3- or 4 or 8-year-old. The teacher is the researcher, the data gatherer, the learner, and the strategic facilitator. Responsibility for providing a genuine context for that learning is given to a whole community of educators and often also to members of the broader municipal community.
One of my main goals during the time that I have with my students this year is to help each one learn to recognize, understand and self-advocate for the things that they most need personally to continue to thrive as students in the education system as it generally exists in North America today throughout their remaining school years... An education system that is not currently built to either encourage or support a whole-child and whole community approach to learning. My hope with this ALL THE STARS initiative is that we can work together this year to begin re-making some of that space around learning. Perhaps by the end of June 2015, they will have each found more of the words that they need to demand these standards for themselves, as well as the personal affirmation necessary to know that they deserve it.
To conclude; another quote from Loris Malaguzzi regarding the raising of bars and such...
" I have no interest in a classroom full of children who simply accept everything I say. I want them to doubt, question and challenge, which is the better half of learning, not to mention the proper role of a citizen in democracy. If I can't demonstrate or prove the validity of the things that I say, then maybe I have no business saying them. And that goes for all of the other authority figures out there. It's a high bar sometimes, but the bar should be high." - Loris Malaguzzi