I am more than thankful for my almost 2 years of managing my own place and life in India as I learned that what I own, I am responsible for. I am thankful for the previous years of working hard to fix and “beautify” the classroom as I learned that having a beautiful classroom prepared by the teacher is neither a sign of preparedness nor high quality of teaching. I am thankful for my coordinator who gave me the opportunity to think, despite my lack of confidence, and gave me the freedom in the classroom, for I learned from my mistakes, and how to be independent, self-reliant, curious, hungry and creative. I am thankful for the years of struggles and confusion with teaching as I learned that with adversity, time, perseverance, resilience and prayers I will figure things out.
I am thankful for all these learnings because they all led me to my first rule of teaching for this year: let go.
For the first time in my 5 years of teaching, I have decided not to fix the classroom and left it as how it was before I went home for the summer break. I figured that it is time for me to let the students take ownership of their classroom and most importantly, their learning. Little things, like letting them decide how the classroom should look like, what corners should we have, where they should be and how our routines are, already made an impact to my students and to me as well. It’s not only that I felt effortless fixing the classroom or thinking about our routine and all. It was more than that. For the first time in my 5 years of teaching, I felt that I was teaching. I felt I was giving them the little lessons that matter. For the first time, I feel that we all started the year right.
It WASN’T THAT EASY watching them do the classroom magic. Along the way, I felt the tensions within me as there were things that I didn’t really agree with or things that I found ‘wrong’ with their decisions. However, I continuously reminded myself to let go and just let them create their own learning and fun space. After all, it is not my class alone, it is all ours. I believe that one big aspect that supports inquiry in the classroom is having a ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ environment, where the members show trust, respect, tolerance and empathy toward each other. This is not just a professional goal that I have, but a goal that I share with my students. I realize that when we share the same goals and aspirations with our class, we get to have a more meaningful relationship and learning. We learn how to dream big together. We learn how to work as a unit.
Letting go doesn’t only mean letting them be. Letting go means putting aside your own intentions and sharing the space, time, emotion and learning that you haven’t shared before. And most of all, letting go means accepting each other, sharing the same freedom and responsibilities….both with the little things and the big things.