On Sunday, my husband and I spent most of the day cleaning and purging unwanted “stuff”.
It’s amazing how much you can accumulate over time. I was going to say “junk”, but it wasn’t junk when we acquired a lot of these things. It was what we needed or thought we needed at the time. Now, we don’t need or want these items anymore. We’ve made several donations to Goodwill and there are more to come.
We’ve been on this house cleaning/organizing project for the last couple of months. It was slow going at first, but then we picked up momentum and did a little bit every day or every few days. Some days we were discouraged at how much there was to do. Other days, it felt good to declutter and reorganize even a small section of our house.
This has gotten me thinking that when you open up physical spaces, it can also open up your mental and emotional spaces. Not so that you can fill these up with more stuff, but so that you can make room for what’s essential, meaningful and useful in your life.
As I think about the coming school year, I will be focusing on ways to eliminate what’s not valuable in order to make room for what is.
So, what does that mean exactly?
I plan to focus on meaningful learning goals rather than the bits and pieces we often agonize over in the classroom and later realize that it’s the big ideas that matter. Embedding the bits and pieces within the bigger ideas of a subject area make the learning more meaningful and longer lasting.
I plan to emphasize connections with students through meaningful formative assessment practices, such as conversations, one-on-one conferring, personalized interviews, and observations/kidwatching.
I will offer students many more choices for writing, reading and presenting their work. I want students to learn about topics and issues that are relevant to them. That inspire them to want to learn more and to share their learning in ways that make sense to them. That means that straight writing as a way of sharing will give way to make room for memes, comics, info graphics, images, and more.
I also want to be flexible and listen to what my students are telling me they need. Sometimes, we substitute expediency for the essence of things because we feel pressure to “cover” the curriculum. In our quest to make sure students aren’t “falling behind” we forget to listen and really see our students for who they are and what they are telling us they need in order to learn better.
So, making mental and physical spaces more open and less cluttered will allow room for new ideas to take root in our hearts and minds. Alternatively, we can mindfully dig deeper into the ideas that are already occupying these spaces so that we can experience joy and peace in our lives.
That is my hope for my students as well.
Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge.