Saturday morning: The laundry baskets of clean laundry have piled up and so no more excuses- time to put the laundry away. My almost 5 year old son Alex and my 2 year old Megan are playing Hide and Go Seek as I start putting away Alex's clothes. Until he stops me and asks if HE can put away the laundry.
"Mommy really wants to just get it done," I say as he grabs the neatly folded shirts, immediately unfolding them and making my blood pressure rise a notch or two.
"I want to help. Where does this one go?" he asks.
I sigh. There are so many tasks I need to get done and it would be nice to just complete this one so I could tackle the next thing on the list. I take a deep breath and tell him shirts go in the second drawer. He opens up the drawer and stuffs it in, not very neatly but with a lot of pride.
"What's next?" he asks and I show him where the shorts go. We continue like this, putting away underwear, bathing suits, pajamas. I could have been done much faster and the drawers would have been much neater, but Alex is taking ownership of his clothes and knowing where things go. I have a revelation.
This is like me in the classroom. I do everything. It is easier and faster to do many jobs myself, or so I think. But the one who does the work does the learning and I think I've been doing too much. I get the tissues from the locker when we run out. I choose the quote of the day and write it down. I put up the calendar date. I remind them of all the things they need to take home. I am exhausted, remembering all that I do for my third graders and I've decided to release control back to them. It won't be as neat or precise as when I do it myself, but it will give the students more ownership of the classroom and the community.
Here is a link to the class jobs I created, with a QR code underneath that has my voice explaining what each job will entail. https://docs.google.com/document/d/12H-ZWkf_jh3h1PyD-H_CAeq5ibbHVAdByHaCw6qxskg/edit?usp=sharing I was inspired by Learn Like a Pirate, by Paul Solarz, and his vision and description of the students taking ownership of many classroom jobs. I can't wait until the Secretary of Supplies takes over sharpening the pencils and restocking the tissues! How nice when the Class Tweeter composes a tweet of what we learned that day (although I will still officially tweet it out.) How much more meaningful will it be for the Chief Inspiration Officer to have the chance to select the quote we read each day?
As a mom and as a teacher, I can do most tasks quicker and better than my kids and my students. But the thing is, I'm not the one who needs to learn how to do these jobs- they are. I can coach, facilitate, model, but then I need to get out of the way and let them have a go. Here's to empowering my children and my students to take on challenges instead of doing it all for them. Here's to embracing the mess and understanding that learning is often beautifully, deliciously, utterly untidy.