It is most important in my teaching for my students to have freedom to think, freedom of movement, and the freedom to be responsible for themselves, their work and their relationships. I want this to happen each day in my classroom as we work through the curriculum, snack, specials, lunch and recess.
To achieve this goal I need to be very structured. I am structured in my thinking and in my plans for the children’s days.
The daily schedule is written new each morning and discussed with the group at the first meeting of the day. It includes times and plans for large chunks of learning called Literacy or Math. These are broken into lessons and workshops. Within these workshops the children have mandatory and optional work and often have the choice of sequence. We have time where students listen to their friends share stories and learn to ask good questions of each other.
Each day ends in Planning. Planning is a focused choice time when children write, read, build, create, and play. They play games and write books. They read with each other, they build cities with blocks, and clay and explore with water and science materials. It is a rich learning time. The children love planning. Everyone is engaged and happy. It is a great end to the day and a great time to practice my “freedom within structure” goals.
There are no assigned seats or desks, just tables and chairs and meeting areas. The children have cubbies for their coats and books. All other areas are public and shared. Children need to move around to get where they are going and to get the materials they need to work. They need quiet places and times. They need gathering places and times to collaborate and experiment. The physical structure of the classroom must support these activities.
Within these physical structures and routines, children have the freedom to practice the skills so important to my teaching. I want children to have freedom to think independent thoughts, the freedom to move safely through other people while working and learning and the freedom to practice their responsibilities and relationships.