It is easy at times to look at my students in their required uniforms and forget all that they face at home. However, I am quickly reminded by the seemingly inexplicable meltdown, the mention of how dad is in prison, or the child who is always falling asleep because it is too loud at home or not enough room in a bed shared by three siblings. My students come from impoverished homes and face diversity on a regular basis. They also come from Spanish speaking homes, so they do not have a foundation in English that many children come to school with.
Despite all of their challenges, my students are excited to learn and give their best to do so every day.
I love that I get the opportunity to provide them with a safe, consistent, and loving environment. While they come to me below grade level, the growth I get to see in them is all the more exciting!
Before students can learn, they need to know that they are loved and that they are safe. I believe the objects and materials in a classroom play a part in communicating those messages. When my students walk in our door, I want them to know they are welcome just as they are and that while there may be stressful situations going on at home, our classroom is a calm place.
As I did an inventory of my classroom, I realized that most of my students would not find books with characters inside that looked like them.
I knew this had to change in order to celebrate and affirm the diversity in our room. The books on my list like "I Am Enough" and "All Are Welcome" will help me build a culture of compassion and unity. The biographical books like "Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez" and "Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race" will inspire them to believe and dream and what they are capable of doing.
The wicker baskets will help organize our room, removing clutter and replacing brightly colored buckets, both of which can be overstimulating and stressful. The pebbles, sea shells, blocks, and wood slices will be loose parts for open ended creative play. All of these materials will help me create an atmosphere where students feel confident and comfortable.
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