"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality." ~Jonas Salk
This is what I know...
My hope for a bright future lies in the dreams, imaginations and courageous acts of my learners. At the beginning of this year, my hope began fleeting fast. This cluster of gifted and high-achieving fifth graders cried, doubted, whined, doubted complained, doubted, argued, doubted, cried, doubted, and whined some more. Feeling emotions with intensity and magnification... beginning days ended with wondering what disruption thenext day would hold. Imagining the fertile soil of a classroom community of growing learners seemed impossible.
Determined to disallow persistent doubt to harden this soil of learners, I dug deep for the long haul. Knowing that a caring and empathetic classroom were imperative for optimal learning, I realized this year would be one of my toughest challenges. Despite my daily sunny smiles and warm welcomes, I was met with slumping shoulders, grumpy grunts, and "rain on my day" attitudes. Every now and then I glimpsed signs hope: a returned smile or a tiny "Morning." My hope soared... imagining a classroom environment growing with compassion consumed me.
Determined to cultivate a cohesive and respectful learning environment, I pulled community building strategies from files, scoured the internet for new ideas regarding respect, studied anti-bullying lessons with heart-felt themes, and planned experiences to understand the value of empathy. We read and discussed literature about diverse communities, we wrote our thoughts about the characters' lives, and how their decisions and choices impacted others. We attempted to resolve classroom snippiness, snarky comments, rudeness through sharing and problem-solving. We read, we discussed, we role-played, we wrote... nothing seemed penetrate this tough outer covering. My hope for a caring garden of learners began to wane. In my dreaming, I realized more patience woven with less frustration was necessary for this crop.
Determined to persevere or just "make it through the next day" by putting one foot in front of the other...
I trudged through my classroom: bookshleves filled with books, sounds of jazzy Pandora, Tower Garden complete with water falling, round tables encouraging rich conversation, a classroom with Zen-like ambiance. Taking a deep breath, I summoned every ounce of courage I could muster. My expectations were still there, laying just beneath the surface. Testing, assessing, and checklists all showed little growth in areas of academics... reality of early retirement loomed.
Then all of a sudden, out of no where, I am beginning to witness emotional and social seedlings break this hard surface...sheepish smiles and sweet greetings meet me most mornings, kids speaking to one another with genuine kindness, where spiteful and ugly words were once spewed, their tone is becoming respectful in their disagreements. A love for learning is evident, the buzz of meaningful learning crowds the sound of peaceful falling water within the Tower Garden. Authentic questions and wonderings inspiring each other to read closer and write deeper. Dreams for this group of drought-stricken intelligent souls are becoming a reality.
Learners in 5A continue to experience disappointments, doubts, and dailly struggles, now with finese. The struggles these learners experience are extending their roots for optimal growth . Courageous acts of spirited individuals has transformed this, once-believed, hopeless field to a fertile soil; one that encourages care, empathy, respect. Eager learners becoming the reality I hoped existed. My hope for a bright future EXISTS in the dreams, imagination and courage of this year's fifth grade learners.
This is what I believe...