One of the greatest things I can do to support, engage and promote the importance of caring is to engage my students, family and community through projects that offer opportunities to work together to solve a common problem or need.
Through collaborating around a common need of interest, the community becomes engaged in an almost seamless way because the passion and interest around caring is “there.” This year, I began my school year with an opportunity presented to me through a former intern of mine who is now in graduate school pursuing a masters in technology.
As we began our project of caring and making a difference, I asked my students to think about a problem that might need to be solved. I asked them to think about a time when they needed something and how it felt if they didn’t get it. My students started thinking about the emotions behind what can happen when you have a need that is not met.
Then we thought about problems in the world that might need to be solved. I was really inspired, proud and amazed at what my students came up with. Their ideas: hunger, making the world pretty with plants and taking care of the environment by recycling and composting.
Our project began to develop. We had a conversation about our ideas and then voted on one. We decided later that we would try to do all of our ideas if we could because they are all important.
We started by building an awareness and then created a plan of action based on what we learned. We began by inviting community people to come into kindergarten to share how they help support people in the community who are hungry.
We had these essential questions in mind as our project began to develop:
- What is the problem that needs to be solved?
- How can we create learning opportunities so we can help find solutions?
- What tools can we use to help us develop an awareness of this problem?
- What actions can be taken to help find solutions to this problem?
Later, we created goals that we wanted to develop as well, which were important because they helped us develop a plan of action for our problem.
- Develop an awareness of a need of a community and then explore actions of kindness to help solve problems.
- Collaborate with others inside/outside of classroom to make a difference.
- Use digital tools to share our learning.
- Use digital tools in a safe, kind and responsible way.
- Use digital tools to connect with others in regards to our learning goal, actions and awareness.
After my students saw their photo on Twitter that another class was watching the video we created, the impact was huge! My students immediately realized that others were learning from their actions. Very powerful!
Through our use of social media, Kidblog, blogging and our class wiki, we have collected food which we will deliver to our local food shelf. We have inspired others who follow us on Twitter to collect food where they live, and we have created a video and a padlet where we have asked for global ideas about how to get food to hungry people.
As an educator of young children, I have a unique opportunity to model alongside my students and their families. I can demonstrate with them how to care using a project that encourages collaboration and engagement. Through this type of experience, I am inviting parents and others to work alongside me and my students to make a difference. We are all able to make a difference for others if we have empathy and perseverance. J
Just through noticing what matters to my students and their families gives me opportunities to interact and create a positive culture of learning. Through this type of experience ,I am modeling how to be responsive and flexible in making changes that support my students’ interests and needs.
Collaboration is vital when trying to make a difference for others in the communities you teach. Through your modeling of caring, your students and their families will become engaged.
Sharon E. Davison teaches kindergarten at Allen Brook School in Williston, Vt. She recently was recognized as a VT IGNITED Teacher, an award given to teachers who are transformative and innovative. Read her blog and follow her on Twitter @kkidsinvt.
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