I wasn’t sure if anyone would comment, resonate with, or even ‘get’ my “Just Say Yes” chart. So much so, that I never shared it in a classroom until this week. I have written some Just Say Yes blog posts, and I have challenged myself daily to hold myself to those standards, though I often struggle to do so.
But I never thought to share it with my families and co-teachers.
Part of why, I think, is because it doesn’t fit the idea of classroom documentation I have always had. It isn’t directly about a child, project, learning schema, or development. It is more about my own personal approach and my goals as a teacher.
Which I realize now, is also just as important to share with families.
I posted the chart in my classroom along with a hand-written example of a time I “Just Said Yes”. It is screen-free week at my school, where we don’t take photos, type documentation, write emails, etc. So rather than print out my beautiful coggle version of the Just Say Yes flow chart, I hand drew it on large piece of paper.
Some of the feedback I got from parents and co-teachers was encouraging, and enlightening:
“I have been thinking a lot about that, and I tried over the break to challenge myself and question why I am saying ‘No’.”
“E was playing with a tea kettle and I was about to say ‘No, that isn’t a toy.’, but instead I stopped and thought, who is to say what is or isn’t a toy? What’s the worst thing that could happen if he plays with it? Maybe it could break and I would have to replace it. That wouldn’t be that big of a deal.'”
“I love everything about that! It gives me a lot to ponder.”
“Thank you for sharing that with us, for giving us a way to see what you guys are thinking about.”
I never considered the value in documenting my own development as a teacher in my classroom but I have learned that doing so helps with the bond I have with my families. As I share my struggles, they feel more comfortable sharing theirs. When I am open with the fact that we teachers also struggle, question, ponder, and reflect on what the best approaches are, they feel comfortable reflecting and collaborating with us.
I once had a parent tell me, “You probably know how to do that already (in regards to solving conflicts), you guys know everything it amazes me.” I very quickly reminded the father that I have had the chance to teach the same age group over and over again year after year and in doing so I have learned techniques that do and do not work, I have made mistakes and learned from them, and I will continue to do. Parents don’t have that same privilege!
Sharing our struggles helps keep us “human”. We aren’t all knowing – at all. I always question my approach and work to perfect it and it transforms bit by bit every year.
Sharing documentation on our own teaching, is a way to not only hold ourselves accountable but a way to display our never-ending development as intentional educators.