The hum! The sound of engaged students. I have to say I love nothing more than standing in the middle of out Grade 5 space and just observing. It is messy, it is noisy, lots of people doing lots of different things. The hum of action and engagement.
Our students have worked together to build a community that respects each other and works together. They run Cafe5 every Monday; it is like a class meeting; it is time to have a conversation about issues, ideas and action. As teachers we sit outside and listen. We join the conversation when invited; as a team we believe strongly in the concepts of student agency, autonomy and independence and this is time for us to really action these beliefs. Yes it can be hard not to step in and try to 'fix' somethings.
Cafe5 is a springboard for students they take different responsibilities and look for different perspectives from within the group. They are not afraid to call each other out but they are also quick to give positive feedback as well.
No it isn't always 'peaceful'; yes they disagree; they have to agree to give each other time and space. They have learnt that sometimes saying nothing is actually more powerful than being the loud one in the crowd. The minutes they take make them accountable for their words and actions. Negotiating the time allocation is interesting! They discuss budgets, action, supporting school initiatives and basically they make the class flow; having the time to engage in meaningful conversations means that they can develop the environment that provides a safe place for them to be agents of their learning.
The hardest part for us is to sit on the side; not waiting for our turn, but sitting and listening, observing and just being witness to a group of 44 eleven year olds have robust and thoughtful conversations.
The power of having a conversation and committing to what you say is a life skill, sometimes working through conflict or having an opposing point of view; it is not just for a unit, or a grade or a 'report card'; it will impact the way you choose to interact with others in life regardless of how old you are.
Skills for life that are authentic will develop over time, creating time opportunities is where the teachers step in; we need to be creative in the way we plan and structure as many opportunities for students to lead, discover and follow curiosities.
Teaching in an IBPYP school; interests: student agency, technology integration, growth mindset & the continuous cycle of improvement that is the world of education, learning and being!