Taking Ownership

Our ongoing theme this year is Sustainability and one of the things we started with is to try to re-use materials and learn about what kinds of things can be recycled and what gets thrown in the garbage. We took the city posters and the kids, in teams, drew pictures of the kinds of things that go in each according to the city of Seattle. It was rather cute.

What goes where?

I also had an idea that we weren’t going to have a jobs board this year and that when the kids saw that things needed to be done, they would just do it. What was great about this experiment is that the kids themselves decided that they wanted a job board and as a result we came up with an activity where they had to come up with the jobs themselves and write job descriptions for each.

We also did an activity with the faculty where, being in a new campus, there are a lot of wrinkles to iron out. We listed what we thought worked and what we thought needed improvement or clarification. I decided to try this with my kids and to my surprise, there were a lot of similarities, but better yet, there were definitely more positives (what is working for them), than things that can be better.

Finally, our play areas are slightly different than before and thus need some rules clarified. Discussing what the teachers came up with, and then giving them a chance to add to those or discuss those gives them ownership of those rules.

Making children part of the decision making process in a classroom is something that will enable them to take ownership and work hard to live up to those expectations. Practicing bottom-up decision making, where the teacher is only one voice of many in a classroom allows students to move closer to respect, responsibility, and resourcefulness.

With our new school garden, we will enact a compost program. It’s great to see the fifth graders take ownership in collecting and managing that system. Of course, in a progressive city like Seattle, meat, dairy and eggs can be put in the city’s yard waste as they have high temperature compost facilities. If we want children to begin sorting their compost and behaving that way at home, we need to model it in schools. Keeping a recycle bin, a garbage can, an in-school compost bin, and a city compost bin, may be a bit tricky to organize, but I’m confident that the students can figure this out.

Here’s a great interactive game for kids in Seattle to help them determine where things go that I may try as a review next week. Click Here.

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