I've been reading What You Know by Heart by Katie Wood Ray lately. The book is about teaching writing from our own writing experiences. She talks a lot about how, as teachers, we go through life differently and are always thinking about possibilities for our teaching. I find myself thinking in this way often. Ray gives an example of a first grade teacher who, while driving home from a lunch with friends, stops mid-conversation to pick up a large cardboard box she sees on the side of the road. When her friends ask what it was for she says, "I'll take it to school. The kids will figure out something interesting to do with it." Ray goes on to explain, "Mara drives through the world like a first-grade teacher. She is constantly on the lookout for things that have potential. Often, she doesn't even know what that potential might be exactly, but she knows her students well enough and she understands what she wants for them deeply enough to recognize potential when she sees it. So she stops whatever she is doing and gathers it and then can't wait for the day she can take it into her classroom and see what her students will make of it."
I've been thinking like a teacher a lot lately...
A few weekends ago my boyfriend and I took a trip to New Hampshire to go camping and hiking. We went to this great place for dinner one night called Flatbread Company. The restaurant uses local and organic ingredients and is supported by the community. Kids from the local schools made artwork for the menus and local artwork is displayed throughout the lodge-looking building. Hanging from the exposed wooden beams of the ceiling were flags designed by children and community members. I saw this and immediately thought of using this idea in my classroom. I took out my small notebook I keep with me and jotted down this idea:
I think it would be neat to have my students decorate a flag on the first day of school to express what they would like for our classroom community (fairness, friendship, respect, fun, sharing ideas, etc). We'd hang these around the classroom on a string as a reminder of our wishes and goals for our classroom community, almost like a pledge.
This is one of those things I look forward to trying someday. All I have to do is see what my students will make of it!
Here are a few photos of the flags and other artwork seen in Flatbread Co.