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Thursday, June 11, 2015

What Does "Children First" Look Like?

As I read over my son's college paper about a sad political conflict, I was reminded of the role that purpose plays in conflict. Why do we do what we do?

Then I was reminded of a conflict we had at school recently when two groups were debating whether a teaching model represented children first mindset/actions or not?

So often our conflicts begin with purpose, and even if our purpose may be named the same, our definitions of that purpose may be different.

What does it mean to be children first? What does that look like in our schools, homes, and classrooms?  Is a children first purpose the primary purpose of schools, and if so how do we define that in ways that matter?

Common purpose resolves conflict when that purpose is well defined. Definition requires discussion, debate, and useful, accurate, regular communication.

Too often, we skimp when it comes to the accuracy and regularity of communication. We rush to make decisions and answer questions without giving topics the time they deserve, and this hasty action results in even greater conflict and less common purpose.

To me, at this time, a children's first attitude and action responds to the following questions:
  • What do children need for success and happiness?
  • What structures, attitudes, and care serve children well?
  • What processes do we have in place to revisit, review, and revise our children first environment and activity?
  • How do we work together to continually create, nurture, sustain, and develop a children first environment?
My purpose in teaching well is to create and contribute to a children first environment. I find that it's easier to meet this mark if you work collaboratively with colleagues, students, families, and leaders to review and reflect upon the program regularly. I don't always hit the mark myself, but when I veer, I make the time to think it through and make changes.

With a somewhat new model of teaching at the grade level upon us, this is a good opportunity for the team to revisit what it means to be children first, and then to set our collective teaching ship in that direction. I'm excited to chart the course ahead with students, families, colleagues, leaders, and community members. Onward.