How do we know if it has stuck?
The driving force behind each decision made for our students is the hope that beyond a surface understanding, that students find value and meaning in what they are learning, and that the lessons learned nurture the whole child. The current shift in education, moving away from content specific learning, towards ‘big ideas’, is an intentional stepping stone that supports the development of life skills, and relevant, meaningful, and applicable learning opportunities that address individual student needs.
But, how do we know if what we are doing is sticking?
As some of you may know, a significant focus in my practice this year has been to better support my students in developing self awareness, self regulation strategies, and self advocacy. As the year has unfolded I have seen growth in my students, but there is always fear that this behaviour is contextually specific. Our classroom atmosphere facilitates the development of self regulations strategies; our living motto of ‘no stress’ is strong and present, we consistently reference and model strategies, encourage class discussions, brain breaks and fidget tables, and offer alternative environments and student choice.
Next year my students will be returning to their home schools, or will be moving on to high school. These environments may not facilitate self regulation in the same way. Will my students take what they are learning and apply it in the REAL WORLD? Have they connected and found value in any of it?
Well, it is sticking…
My story…the scene unfolded as such…
My EA and myself were puttering away in the classroom over the lunch hour, and overhear one of ours students outside the classroom door, as his anger is escalating (This student in particular is one we have been working with to develop strategies to manage his anger). As I slowly walk towards the door to do a check in after hearing some colourful vocabulary spout out of this young boy’s mouth, I hear his fellow classmate say – well, slightly yell – “MINDFUL BREATHING, MINDFUL BREATHING”.
All went quiet outside.
As I stood, ear pressed against the door, hidden and uninvolved, I could sense the de-escalation. Moments later the bell rang, the students walk in, and the energy was calm.
I started laughing as my eyes watered with tears of pride and happiness.
It’s sticking. My kids flew solo, they practiced self regulation, they supported one another.
The social and emotional growth of my students this year has been profound in my eyes. Although they still struggle with their academics, they are becoming aware of who they are as a learner, and what they need to be successful. Our conversations have shifted away from individual awareness and success, toward developing a strong sense of collective success. Success of a class and community is rooted in understanding self and others, and supporting diversity.
I cannot wait to find out what else has stuck…