building a classroom community of learners

Last week I posted about kindergarten readiness.

My wishlist of skills my brand-new-in-the-door kindergarten  kids will excel at.

My blogging friend, Mary Catherine of Fun-A-Day did the same.

Mary Catherine's post, and a comment from Faige Meller of The Road Travelled got me thinking.

I need to accept my students with whatever skills or lack of skills they come in the door with.  I have no control over what they know or don't know.  What they can do or can't do.

But I do have control over the classroom.

Not only am I responsible for the physical set up of the classroom - where to put tables, and dress ups and bookshelves and everything else in order to create a functional and pleasing learning environment, I am also responsible for the emotional make up of the room.

What do I want my room to say to my kidlets' souls.  What is held high and honoured.

I need to be intentional about it.  (Debbie Miller's book Teaching with Intention is brilliant).

After letting it rattle around in my brain for a few days, there are four C words that I want  to rest all that we do in the classroom on. 

curiosity - the thinking beyond ...

Why is it like this?  What will happen if we do this? 

The drive to explore.  The need to investigate.  The willingness to observe with the senses.  

Figuring it out.  

The delight in learning. 

I need to have things in my classroom for the kidlets to touch, manipulate, change. I need to have non-fiction books readily available to look for more information and answers to questions. I need to plan activities in response to my students interests and questions.  

I need to ask questions that I don't know the answer to. I need to show my delight  in learning new things.  I need to learn with my students. 

confidence - a willingness to risk failure and success ...

One of our classroom mantras is that it is okay to make mistakes.  'Cause that is one of the ways that we learn. 

Our classroom needs to be a safe place to make mistakes.  

Our classroom needs to be a place where everyone can experience success.  (thinking about the proximal zone of development).  But that does not make success always easy.  Reasonable struggle makes success truly meaningful.

Success needs to have as many definitions and children in the room and the experiences that they have.

Confidence is not always loud.  Confidence does not always have the "right" answer.  

Confidence is born of acceptance of who each child is,  belief in their abilities, coupled with necessary support and room to grow. 

The same is true for teachers. 

(the above classroom C words inspired by Fun-A-Day - thanks Mary Catherine)

creativity - shaking up our thinking ...

Last week this graphic came through my Facebook newsfeed. 

I agree.  

In fact, I cannot teach creativity.  It's not math.  There is no formula, or rules.  

What I can do is prepare a classroom environment that has child accessible materials that are used for creating.  Loose parts that can be given meaning, and arranged and re-arranged.   Paint, paper, glue, tape, scissor, more tape. 

And ensure that there is time for child initiated use of those materials.

I can make sure that the classroom isn't so full of "my" stuff that there is no room for the kids' creativity.

I can embrace new ways of seeing things and doing things. 

I can show my kidlets the results of others' creativity.  We can learn about artists whose work changed how we look at creativity. 

We can read books that stretch our thinking.  Or turn our thinking on its side, or inside out. 

Last year's kidlets loved this reading of The Dot.  

compassion - bringing humanity to all that we do ...

The cornerstone of the classroom is compassion - an understanding of, empathy for, the needs of others. 

Compassion wraps up caring, community, cindness (kindness spelled with a c to fit in with the other c words) all together. 

I need to bring compassion into the room.  

For my students.

For their families.

For my colleagues.

For myself. 

When I live life with compassion (often fueled by lunchtime lattes and chocolate), it becomes how we operate in the classroom.  

A classroom built on curiosity, confidence, creativity and compassion.  

(and fueled by chocolate - it's a c word!)



  1. Thanks for this lovely read at the end of my day. I value what you had to write about confidence...just beautiful and oh so true. My Little Learners absolutely loved the book, Press Here...okay I did too!
    Julie :-)
    Mrs Stowe's Kinder Cottage

    1. Thanks Julie. I think we all (adults and children) are so much more ready to learn when we feel confident in our abilities. And that does not mean that it will not be hard work. But hard work that we can do. I love Press Here. True creativity.


  2. Sandi, this is an amazing post and I hope tons of early childhood educators read it! We need to take the kids how they are and build upon what they already have. You are spot-on with commenting that we, as teachers, are responsible for creating a meaningful environment for the kiddos. I don't think I can say enough about how wonderful this post is! And thanks for referencing me! :)

    1. Thanks so much, Mary Catherine.

      It was your kindergarten readiness post that inspired the thinking behind this post.

      So, thanks for being inspiring :)


  3. A beautiful post and as usual you've given me something to think about. Thanks, Sandi!

  4. What a great blog post! The 4C's of learning - love it!! I also enjoyed the photos and videos you embedded to illustrate your text. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

  5. That's a whole lot of thinking packed into this post. You gave me food for thought. Now I want to post those words in my classroom so that I am reminded to be intentional all year. Thank you as usual for your excellent brain.

    First in Maine

    1. Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller has changed my mental process about what goes on in my classroom so much. I can't say enough good things about it.


  6. Love the four Cs . I plan to build on them. great values for all of us to embrace. I am proud that the comments made in my post inspired your thinking; as I hope you know this post has me all in a twirl of ideas.

    1. I hope it is a good twirl of ideas, Faige. Hope that I will read about them soon :)


  7. Replies
    1. Thanks Laurie. For stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      I have added another C - competence. I also want to make space for my students to show me, and the world, how competent they are.


  8. What a wonderful post for any teacher as well as any parent!! We all need to strive for this in our homes as well. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!


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