SOL #26 Re-Reading ‘Space and Respect’

I’m having a good teaching day. It’s one where my plans pan out, my students manage tasks that show me how far they’ve come in the year so far. While I was observing one group this morning I was reminded of a recent blog post I wrote. Re-reading while watching them in action told me a couple of things:

  • What I have seen and described before remains true.
  • I can write well
  • Given the time and opportunity I can make connections to other sources of learning that are meaningful and uncommon.

The post I’m thinking of is titled: Space and Respect. In it I talk about how space is used and not used in the gym and how this concept figures differently for me and my students:

I ask kids to make groups for stretching, or long jump rope, or some other activity and they huddle up near the white board or by the wall, nearly on top of each other while the middle of the gym remains empty. A circle of movers tends to shrink very quickly. Space evaporates between kids at alarming rates as they end up side by side and giggling.

Re-reading this during my class today, I thought, ‘Yup, that’s true.’ When I explain why this might be the case, I acknowledge their deep need to be social, to connect with their classmates in as many ways as possible.

Given a choice, most of my students choose to gather with other students even when each child has a ball, or a rope to jump in. They need to show off for each other – to see and be seen. They need to gab and catch up. They have social agendas that are complex, multifaceted and at times, uncompromising.

I see them. I mean, really see them. And recognize their priorities do not necessarily align with mine. Then I go on to quote a Design Anthropologist about whom I read and she describes her task as “design[ing] the conditions of possibility.” And claim that same ambition as my own  in the gym. I notice how I make space for students’ need to be social with each other. There are questions I can pose:

How do I stand as a designer of learning in my gym? And to what degree is my stance expressive of respect for my students and our time together? These are questions I can hold onto and explore again and again, every time my students enter the gym as I ask them to “find a space.”

Sometimes I think it’s good and important to look back and what we’ve done and thought, how we’ve described and considered, how we’ve learned and grown. Re-reading this post today gave me an essential boost. I know what I’m doing. There’s a method in my madness. And there’s space.


8 thoughts on “SOL #26 Re-Reading ‘Space and Respect’

  1. I am glad you had a good teaching day. Isn’t it great that you have recorded your thoughts to look back at? Without writing we forget easily where we were, what we did and what we thought, and we might miss out on the growth and change and in finding what is the constant in our life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was struck, as you were, by that paragraph that shows how well you see the students. The social agendas are a very legitimate element of our learning spaces; although unless we orchestrate them the social agendas at considered “behaviours.” I love that you took an old piece and publicly analysed it. That is great and generous writing practice. Also, I need to go read that piece on space again because it is just hitting me how helpful it will be to think about space.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a really thoughtful slice. I went back and read the first one and noticed your thoughtful observations and links. And I made my own links. (Am I really respecting my students’ social needs in my classroom? I don’t think I am right now. Hmm.) Next I noticed how generous and respectful you were with yourself in this slice. You didn’t nitpick or find your weaknesses; instead, you looked for and highlighted your strengths. And then you encouraged us to do the same thing by using “we” in your final paragraph. There is, indeed, method in your madness and I deeply appreciate it. Thanks for showing how we can find strength and purpose in our own words – and in yours.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for digging in, Amanda. I felt a genuine need to toot my own horn for a bit yesterday. In retrospect I’m very glad I did and it’s encouraging to look back and see writing and thinking that still resonates. I’m learning slowly how to be more generous with myself which I believe allows me to be a bit more generous with others.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amanda’s comment is so important. So often we go back and criticize ourselves rather than take the time to admire and see the strengths. I love that you did that, and I love that you celebrate the work that you are doing with and for your students.

    Liked by 2 people

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