I really loved “Building a Safe Community for Learning” by Mara Sapon-Shevin. Community is something that I have thought a lot about. During my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer, community was in the forefront. Getting to know my community and how to successfully and respectfully be a member of it occupied a lot of my thoughts .
Although, its not such a prominent issue for me now, I still think about community in my current role as a preschool teacher. I want my center to have a community feel, for families to feel that they belong. In class a few weeks ago and again the other day the importance of rituals was brought up. Rituals can be a great way to build community. Recently, my center held our annual Parent Work Day. I think this is a great example of a ritual that benefits the center by not only getting much needed maintenance performed, but also gives the parents a different type of role and time to work together and get to know each other better. This single event is one of the most important community buildings events in the year.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of community I want to foster in my future classroom. I especially love Sapon-Shevin’s quote about safety:
“the safety to learn and fail; the safety to show oneself fully and be appreciated or at supported; the safety to be imperfect; the safety from humiliation, stigmatization, alienation from the group. This is the essence of community. A community is a safe place to grow, a space that welcomes you fully, that sees you for who you are, that invites your participation , and that holds you gently while you explore.”
I love this quote, it applies to children and adults. These ideas should guide the way that we treat each other. This article really reaffirmed my desire to be the type of teacher that builds a positive classroom community where children feel safe enough to take risks. I want my students to try new things, where failing at something is okay because it means you tried. I also need to learn this for myself, that its okay if I fail as long as I am learning from it.