Each week we will touch upon the 6 foundational roots of the Empathetic Educators tree of life
Growth, Relationships, Accountability, Challenge, Systems and Perspectives.
Starting this week with the focus of Growth.
This blog series will be called #NavigatingNaomi as I think it sums up perfectly what I'm hoping to share.
Navigate: To sail or travel over (a stretch of water or terrain), especially carefully or with difficulty
I aim to share how I have been navigating the rollercoaster of life, sometimes carefully, sometimes with difficulty. Touching on three areas of process, perserverance and possibilities.
We will be reflecting on what appreciating the “process” can give - accepting where we are at and being open to the journey taking us places we didn’t even know existed.
We will be looking at the importance of “perseverance” reflecting on when to keeping struggling through the noise and when to adapt or change our thinking.
And finally we will be reflecting on “possibilities” how can we create environments for ourselves and others that expose us to experiences, opportunities and connection.
So, let me take you back in time to 2011, 10years ago. It was coming close to me getting my A level results that would tell me if I was going to get into University or not.
I think nostalgia had already started to kick in at this stage - I would be leaving my friends and my family for the first time and starting a life unknown.
Growing up in Ireland I had the privilege of endless summers running free on our caravan holidays around the country or at my Granny’s holiday home in Portstewart/ Portrush.
I think this is where my love for world wandering started. I would be let loose in the afternoon, going to play in the park or in the pool room and not come back until dinner time when my belly was calling.
Freedom and trust were a big part of early years. I was allowed to go exploring and make new friends in the safety of the camp site and the door was always open for me to bring back my new recruits for dinner.
I think this created the foundations that allowed me to grow into the person I am today and for me it really links to the environments I try to create for the learners I have the privilege of working with - be it adults or children.
I believe environments can foster or inhibit growth. Just like a gardener creates gardens where flowers and plants flourish. We need to try to create spaces where people flourish and grow too.
During my time at Stonefields School, Auckland. I started to become much more interested in the importance of environments and what is possible.
A colleague, Nadia Turner actually exposed me to the work of Professor David Thornburg. Where I became aware of the different spaces we can create for the different types of learning experiences we want our learners to have.
Going back to the idea of Freedom, Trust and Safety. When I was wandering the campsites in Ireland, playing and exploring. I was able to practice taking a bit of ownership of my day while building trust with my parents, sometimes pushing boundaries and learning about consequences. All the while feeling a sense of safety because I knew I could go back to “home base” if something happened to me.
Below you can see some visuals that I have been using with my learners in our learning ecosystem. We talked about what the different areas were and we have been refining what we think the expectations could be for the different areas.
This year I have been so curious to see how the thinking behind successful Innovative Learning Environments can be transferred into “silo” classrooms and vice versa.
Learning environments and school systems have been a source of controversy over the years but I am so grateful to have experiences in both types of approaches and this year I have been inquiring into how I can weave both together.
I’m going to share with you now three different stages I have gone through this year for the learning design of my classroom and the reasoning behind where we have got to today. And most importantly how much I believe “the learning environment can be the third teacher”
As you can see in all three versions there is the same furniture but it is how the furniture is arranged that has changed and what experiences happened because of it.
Our learning ecosystem went from having just tables and desks to having different areas purpose built for different activities.
We are still developing the areas and what they could be used for but I hope you enjoyed exploring what learning environments have meant for me and my learners this year so far.
For the next 12 weeks as part of this 'Navigating Naomi' Blog series. I plan to share some resources that may support planning. There will be a variety of takeaways so hopefully at least one of them will be useful for you and your space.
This week I am sharing my visuals which maybe you could adapt and use in your evironment with your learners or use for provocations during planning meetings with your peers :)
I plan to release some videos about this so you can see our areas in real life - watch this space!
I would love to hear how you have been setting up your learning environments that allow for growth physically and/or digitally.
Trust, Freedom, Safety and Discipline I believe are all vital ingredients that we need to foster in our environments and relationships. I’m so grateful to have had these growing up on my Emerald Isle tours with my family and friends.
As a little additional message - I am so excited to share a new segment of #Empathetic_Educators coming out this week!
The Empathetic Educators E-magazine!!
Woohoo - From Podcasts to Twitter chats, from teaching resources to live Q and As - Empathetic Educators is trying to bring you a range of experiences throughout the week.
So, I have decided to add all these into one place in our new E- magazine that will be released every two weeks - the first issue coming out 30th April (JST).
As you can see every issue will have a different guest blogger and in the first issue we are very lucky to have some amazing takeaways about Growth and Relationships coming from the fabulous Stephanie Rothstein.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about anything in this blog or would like to get involved with #Empathetic_Educators let me know @naomi_toland or comment below.
Remember our choices have an impact - what impact are you going to have?