I learned to step into change a long time ago, but this school year was a bit different. This year, change came at me like a pitching machine in a batting cage set at high speed. And I'm sure there were times I missed a few swings.
This school year came with a bit extra. Well, more like… a lot extra. Some of the extra included a new curriculum, a new teaching partner, a newly renovated classroom, the work of moving hundreds of books back into the classroom, and the first time to speak the words, “if someone breaks into the classroom, we must be ready to fight back…” to a group of 9 year old kids.
Change can be good, but sometimes too much all at once might require time to stop and intentionally adjust… just a bit more.
On Monday, I stood at the entrance of the classroom and stared out into the environment. After scanning the room carefully in front of all of my students, I took a deep breath and announced, “I don’t like this… We need to change things.”
I stopped everything and everyone. We gathered in the center of the room and talked. We talked about all the changes that happened in our school without us, about the classroom, the feel of it, and how to make it better. I needed them to know that they hold the power to make decisions and help change things.
The changes in our school and renovations were beautiful, but we had nothing to with it. We had nothing to do with the colors, the furniture, or the lighting, among many other things. Our classroom didn’t feel right, and we needed to do something about it.
For the next few minutes, we worked. We changed the classroom, the placement of tables, chairs, and other furniture. Students spread throughout the room like a team of builders, calling out directions like, “not here... we need to move it over there” or “this isn’t working… move it there.” They argued thoughtfully, problem solved, and worked together. We talked about walking space, sitting space, and gathering space. We discussed new places for writing tools, anchor charts, and Fluffy, our classroom pet.
It was beautiful to see my young students taking charge and making decisions about the space they will spend time learning and growing. Together, we began to create the classroom we wanted, finally. It was the start of something really good.
There are times when change requires us to stop and intentionally adjust. Sometimes, it may takes us a few weeks into the school year to notice, but when we do stop, take a few steps back, and plant our feet, we can steer change in the right direction.
Change really can be good. I learned early this year how important it is for us to be a part of making change happen. Our classroom remains a “change” in progress and I can’t wait to see what will come next.