I am a special education teacher in a kindergarten co-taught classroom. Every September, our school is flooded with children who are meeting new teachers, making new friends, and acquainting themselves with the new rules and routines of their new learning spaces. Our students arrive on the first day eager to discover and understand their role in the classroom, and they look to their teachers to help them do exactly that.
It's often said that learning is an exercise in vulnerability; even on the first day of school, we ask our children to attempt new things, accept new norms, and try their best no matter what the task may be.
If we want our students to open themselves to our teaching and our care, we need to make sure that they feel safe and welcome in their classrooms. We need to pay careful attention to their various needs: the need for quiet space, the need for play, the need for "me time," the need to socialize with others, the need to collaborate, the need for ownership over the space that will become their "second home" for the next ten months.
If a classroom is truly going to become a second home, each child needs to have some ownership over the space. This is especially important at the start of the school year, when a classroom is totally new and unfamiliar! Before we're able to build our classroom community and invite their personalities into the learning space, our students will need a space that they can call their own, where they feel like their belongings are protected.
There is little that compares with watching a child's expression transform from apprehension to joy when they see their name on a cubby carved out especially for them.
I am requesting some classroom coat lockers and cubbies that will give my students a space to call their own. We'll be able to use these as classroom dividers (to provide those smaller, quieter spaces for "me time" moments) and as surfaces to hold anchor charts and dry erase boards. Most importantly, these will be a place for each child to put coats and bags, already labeled with their names, as one of the first things they see when we begin our learning journey in the fall. We would be so grateful if you could help us provide our children with this welcoming experience!
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