Community is a place where the connection felt in our hearts make themselves known in the bonds between people, and where the tuggings and pullings of those bonds keep opening our hearts.Parker J. Palmer
Without question, relationships are integral components in all schools; a fundamental cornerstone of school culture. A simple Google search reveals blog posts, research inquiries, and qualitative observations and lived experiences from tens of thousands of educators practicing in hundreds of different learning environments, social and political landscapes. From the micro: teacher-student and teacher-teacher. To the macro: staff-administration and school-families. And ours school culture is no different in the need to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships.
The work of Thomas Guskey highlights the link between professional learning and student learning.
But do these relationships come about from shared learning experiences or are they born of a common purpose or predetermined role-playing in our schools? What has become evident has been the recognition for balance and the ongoing work it takes to cultivate and maintain these relationships. After working with a learner and developing a relationship with their over consecutive years has afford something needed to fuel relationships: time to connect.
Balance is not a passive resting place–it takes work, balancing the giving and the taking, the raking out and the putting in.Robin Wall Kimmerer
Community is hard work; more importantly, we continue to strive and struggle to support the child to be fully who they are within community. Community is a process and it is always in the present. Working to foster, adapt, and evolve relationships with learners as they grow has been a challenge to my long held pedagogical believes. I now pause when I hear myself utter ‘shouldas’ and ‘wouldas’ when interacting with students.
Liz Tanner, the founder and first teacher of our school, serves as a beacon in the belief that “[t]he importance [sic] of mixed ages is very important to the premise that they [learners] are all intelligent beings with lots to offer [our classroom community]. [And] they are progressing as they should in their own time.” The arrangement of a multi-age classroom continues to reinforce the fact that age and readiness to learn are varied even within our class that spans three to four years in age.
In only my third year, most importantly, communities take time to build; healthy communities that is.