Getting organized for next year…

…. And it’s still June. πŸ˜‰
The last week of classes for us was June 22/26.  On the night of June 22 our city experienced a brutal storm, with crazy winds, intense rain, and the longest lightning storm I have ever witnessed. 
And our school flooded. 
Specifically, the roof flooded, which overwhelmed the downspouts and weeping tiles, backing up roof-water through our sinks and into our rooms – 4 others and mine which are in the basement. The custodians did a great job of a quick clean up, and we were back inbound rooms by the afternoon if the 23rd, but it left us all nervous while packing up on the 26th. 
I used the flood as an excuse to purge — hard. I tossed, recycled, and gave away anything I hadn’t used in one calendar year. Then I made a second pass and purged anything I hadn’t really enjoyed using in the past year. If it was a chore to use or store, it got tossed in the pile. 
Everything that might not survive another flood well was also tossed. I decided it just wasn’t worth it to go to the effort of sorting and storing if I’d just be tossing a moldy mess later. 
The result? Permission to reevaluate my room. And discovery of Reggio. 
Now since I adore the ECEs at my school (Jeanette, Jenise, and Callie are amazing!), and share a lot I excitement for what they do in FDK (even though I live in 7/8 land), it wasn’t the first time I thought of Reggio. But it may have been the most impactful. I realized prepping my room was stressful, and it was really just a container for ‘stuff.’  I figured out that my room should be a living thing, and it should bring a sense of peace and confort, not stress about whether or not to build and ark. 

Or put water wings on the supply list for September. 
Ahem. πŸ˜‰

I have borrowed from the Reggio teaching model when planning inquiry tasks, in terms of favouring student choice and voice. And I have switched away from a lot of bright colours to more natural elements punctuated with lots of black (teen friendly), and some white (to soften the ‘goth’).  But I never throughly about digging deeper. The idea was… Snerk…. Provocative
I apologize for the inside joke, but provocation is a key Reggio concept. Provide a collection of supplies and tools to provoke a natural exploration of learning. Hmmm. Sounds like that could work in 7-8 land….
So to Pinterest I went – fueled by the belief that 7/8s still like to play, and definitely want to be more in control  of their learning. What I’ve come up with so far is this:

1. Collaboration Cafe: convert the back area by my sink into a cafe of sorts, with comfy seating and an emphasis on natural interaction and authentic communication between teens. It can be a social place, where they can refuel, chat, and regroup. 

2. More lamps, less fluorescent lights. Add to the 4 table lamps I got last year and maybe, over the cafe, to mimic pendant lights in a naturally bright area I’ll hang up some lanterns

3.  More room for kids’ work in progress and finished pieces they’re proud of. I’ll get every kid a clip board on the wall where they can share what they’re most proud of — right now — and they can be in charge of maintaining it.  I’ll get a few large art clip boards for them to use during collaborative tasks to keep everything together. Instead of my putting up the whole class’s work at once (which invites comparison and stress) I’ll let the kids celebrate what’s going well for them.  

4. More plants! But easy care ones the kids can help with.  With a few of my Pitcher plants and carnivorous terrariums thrown in for fun πŸ˜‰

5. Seating: classroom chairs are awful. I have a few stability cushions for wiggly kids, but would really like a few bean bag chairs or poufs for casual groupings. Time to yank out the sewing machine πŸ˜‰
6. Make one of the SOLE stations a media provocation centre. Use the black board behind it for kids to post media stories on topics of interest, and focus that SOLE station on exploring those issues. Push ideas such as social justice and diversity etc. provoke thought and dissension and discussion. 

And maybe…. Just maybe…. 

Something living. A critter. We had a goldfish this past year who spent 2 months in a sealed ecosystem for science, and was rewarded with a big open bowl of his own when ecosystems were over. But I arrived on that last day to find WhiteCheddar floating in existential bliss. (Seriously? He couldn’t have waited one day?). Maybe a proper aquarium, or a vivarium with a few frogs. Maybe a hedgehog! Oh! I know, we could adopt an African snail…. Or raise mantises again… Or…
Well, so much for relaxing this summer. It looks as if I have a LOT to plan πŸ˜‰
Mpj

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