Let’s move forward a couple of years from last week’s blog post. We are now in 2013, when I put myself out of my comfort zone and got my traveling boots back on.
This time heading to “Camp Chipinaw” near the Catskill Mountains just north of New York City.
This was my first big world voyage. America has been referred to as the “land of opportunity” so I was very much ready to see what it had to offer.
One of my first memories of this trip is meeting my soon to be best friend at camp, Gemma, at the airport after connecting through the camp’s website, we had arranged to meet to get the plane together.
We were bright eyed and bushy tailed, absolutely no clue about the real world and oooozing with naivety - what a great way to start. completely open to what the adventure would throw at us!
I think this stands out as one of my biggest takeaways when it comes to relationships. How are we being open to possibilities? How are we being knowers and growers?
Allowing ourselves to be lead but also growing in confidence to be the one leading.
When I look back at my experience at Camp and then traveling across California, I remember a different Naomi. Not in a bad way or a good way but different.
I was completely unaware of what the “real world” was. Going back to last week’s post. Freedom and openness were traits oozing from my core.
Sometimes when I get myself into a “grown up” way of thinking I look back at this photo. I was completely focused on the present with not a care in the world.
I think this routine has played a part for me in creating relationships over the years.
When life gets too big or “adulting” gets a bit too much I try now to take a step back and either be grateful for what I have or try to take perspective on the situation and accept our current reality in the present vs what I expect it to be in the future.
When I was in teacher training the phrase “high expectations” got mentioned a lot. And don’t get me wrong I have very high expectations for the learners I work with - adults or children.
But over the years I have been thinking about what does “high expectations” do to our mindset when coming into the learning relationship?
For me, I used to think constantly “I have to get you here” “I need to get you to the next level” “you are working below so I need to get you up lots of levels”
Again, I always aim to get my learners to reach their highest potential and strive for success in all they do but it is about how I am entering into the learning relationship I am referring to.
Meeting them where they are at rather than where I expect them to be.
I actually met my partner in crime, Rob on this trip to America. In this photo I think neither of us knew what adventures lay ahead of us together or independently.
But I love this photo because it also reflects a foundational ingredient I think is vital for a relationship recipe for me - and that ingredient is laughter.
“The average adult laughs 17 times a day while a child laughs 300 times a day.”
I don’t know how true this data is but what I do know is when children are in their most natural environment 9/10 times all I see them do is laugh or smile. Like wee minions giggling through the day.
Now this is of course not all learners but in my experiences over the years it is a very high majority.
And this brings me to the next planning / reflecting resource I want to share with you this week.
I loved talking with George Couros about creating opportunities for learners to take ownership of the classroom and what it looks like and about how we can build relationships. (See more of the conversation here.)
So at the start of this school year, instead of having all my displays set up I gave the learners 6 different areas that our learning environment would have and then I allowed them to get creative.
They chose which area they wanted to be responsible for and then decorated their area during the first week in our classroom.
I believe this boosted my relationships with the learners two fold. It got the learners to take ownership of the environments, designing, creating, laughing, imagining and it also allowed me to see what they learners enjoyed, were interested in, the types of learning that they gravitated to and how they reacted in group projects.
So this in turn helped me plan for what opportunities they needed moving forward academically and socially.
Each of these areas relate to the reading comprehension strategies that the learners would be focusing on in upcoming weeks so now that we had buy in to the space we could scaffold from there.
I have included a free resource that you may want to use online or in person. It is a Bitmoji classroom based on the 6 pillars of Empathetic Educators:
(Growth. Relationships. Accountability. Systems. Challenge. Perspectives)
You can adapt and use as you like :) It helped me get the learners to enter into an imagination station as to what our classroom could be.
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. I believe these can be at the heart of all success.
I am so grateful for the relationships and memories I created in America and when the gates to the world start to open up I would encourage all who can to take part in Camp America - it changed my world for the better!
That's all for this week's Navigating Naomi - so far it has been a bit sunshine and rainbows but next week we will be looking at a few challenges I started to face and how my 'life turned upside down' in my first year of teaching while visiting Norway and other parts of Europe :)
I'm excited to continue sharing my journey with you.
Remember our choices have an impact - what impact are you going to have?