What Feels Right?

As I am transitioning into the working world as a substitute educator I feel a renewed sense of coming back to what I love again. That being said, I still have this worrisome feeling of finding out that I don’t fit where I used to. There is only one way to find out if that is true or not, and that is to go and see what happens and how it feels. I have worked one day and have three more days upcoming on the schedule.

A substitute teacher needs a thing…is it puppets, a rock collection, a love for insects?!? A thing they love to share and sparks their interest, and therefore motivates and interests the children too. What is it? I am not sure. Books and stories definitely but that’s not quite it. I have been thinking about it a lot. What can I bring with me that I will love sharing with the children. As a guest, as a newcomer in their classroom. What motivates me to step into the classroom? What can I share with them that will contribute something positive to their day? What feels right? So many questions.

As I go through this transition of returning to the classroom… discovering…adapting…changing…rediscovering…building…rebuilding…Creating….recreating…noticing…it’s right there! Building, creating. As I step into the classroom I have a wonderful opportunity to build/create a good day with the students, together. To work hard, be productive, cooperate and feel joyful about what we all can do. I think my thing is building together, and learning to notice that we always have the opportunity to keep building and creating. Imagine if we are always willing to try and build and create!! The hope, the possibility of what we can do opens up!! There are so many different and amazing ways to do that.

Next week as I step into a first grade classroom I will be bringing a deconstructed snowman with me. The snowballs and all his fun pieces all fit in a little case. We will be reusing some cardboard and transforming it into something fun. We will use materials in different ways. Coffee filters become snowballs!

At the end of the day we can notice: Together we built a snowman. Each one of us added something. We endeavored to build a good day together and this snowman represents our day. What a fun creation!! What a joyful, productive day!! We did it!!

I did a similar activity with a class of 3rd graders right before the holiday break. We built a candy cane. I learned a lot that day about how to implement this idea better. For one, make sure that the items are going to stick well and that they are very easy to attach!! Adding to what we are building should be able to happen fairly quickly and easily. We have classroom work to do that requires our attention, this is work on the side!

The great news is that I did feel a positive impact from it. The students were very motivated to add to the building of the candy cane. At the end of the day when we stopped to take a final look at it and see what we had created together and they were very interested.

When I said, “Look at what we designed and built together today!” there was a feeling of joy and excitement! When I pointed out that each one of them contributed to making the candy cane the way it is there was a sense of community, which was a wonderful way to end the day. 

As mentioned, one of our challenges was getting the pieces to stick. When one student said, “Turn it upside down and see if anything falls off!” We did. It was silent, we turned it over slowly, all eyes carefully watching and we held our breath.  When not a single piece fell off I looked at them with raised eyebrows and we all cheered! We were all rooting for the candy cane we built to hold together! Hooray! My heart was happy.

Finished piece.

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