The Velveteen Rabbit… Harry the Dirty Dog… Go Dog. Go! These were some of my favourite books growing up. I looked forward to bedtime because of the stories I knew came with it. And yes, perhaps my love affair with words began young. But now, dear and faithful readers, I want your input. What book did you want read over and over in childhood? Which book was your favourite to flip through? Are there lines of a book you can still remember and recite?
Together let’s generate a list of beloved books! Include your kids’ current favourites if you prefer.
Last week I visited a beautiful new school. So beautiful in fact that I took pictures of the space and the furniture. And yet, after talking to two staff members from that school, I heard descriptions wildly opposed to the physical space. Toxic. Isolated. Negative.
And then I think of my own school building. From the outside, boxy and plain. Certainly nothing special. And yet, the energy in our school is positive, electric and exciting.
I know where I’d rather work! More proof that the people make the place.
What a week! Leadership Day, Open House, Violence Threat Assessment Training. The gamut of experiences was noticeable: some highs, some lows, some moments of joy and some reminders of the sadness in our world.
The power of language strung these experiences together. Language to connect: our students speaking to hundreds of guests about the 7 Habits. Language to inspire: our Kindergarten students hosting Open House for next years’ students. Language to deceive: troubled youth posing threats, ultimately crying out for help. Language to reveal: skilled investigators digging for truth.
I have no doubt that words have power. Are we flippant with the words we choose or do we choose them carefully and deliberately?
I was recently reunited with Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks: the use of games to reinforce basic math facts and place value. As I watched our teachers engage in play, I listened to the laughter in the room and the language they were using. I also watched a TED talk entitled “The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life” by Jane McGonigal.
Both of these experiences, reminded me that effective learning is tied to emotion. If I am excited about what I am learning, I will expend more energy and effort. If I am having fun, I am more likely to take ownership of my tasks. If I know that my teacher believes in me, I will have confidence in my own abilities. If I am encouraged to use my strengths (and shown what my strengths are), I will compensate for my challenges.
Recently I read Leadership: 50 Points of Wisdom for Today’s Leaders by General Hillier and Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability and Discovery by Rachel Adams. Though vastly different in general topics, both books shared a focus on human relationships. When we relate with others – empathize, show compassion and take time to understand their circumstances – we become emotionally connected to those around us. We build relationships rooted in respect and all else naturally follows.
Let emotion find its way into your classroom. The laughter and the tears, the games and the humour, will add much to the learning environment.