Friday, August 19, 2011

What's Yours....

My son has hit the stage where everything is now, "Mines!" He is out to claim every object like some explorer on a quest through a new land. This got me to thinking about the way we deal with possessions here in America. Ownership is one of the underlying themes of the "American Dream."
In February 2010, my wife and I went to Ethiopia to pick up our son. One of the best parts about the people of Ethiopia is their willingness to share. When there is an abundance of goods, everyone stakes claim and makes it theirs. When there is a shortage of goods, everyone shares the goods.
What does this mean for us in the classroom? It means that we like to label everything, assign seats, designate lockers, and stamp names upon objects. The problem I am finding in this is that it runs counter to our desire as teachers to create a cooperative community of learners. Why share with my neighbor when we are all self-sufficient? We have so much abundance that we have killed the notion of borrowing a cup of sugar from our neighbor.
In my classroom this year I am hoping to make sharing a normal day routine for my students. That means there are no designated hooks and storage for their belongings. They keep a minimal amount of things in their desk, because I could have them move at any time. We also have a huge cart in the room that is on wheels. The cart is full of supplies the kids can share.
So far into the school year everything is running smoothly. Kids are not fitting over their own space.
What are you doing in your class to help build a better community? Share your idea.


  1. I really enjoyed this post! You have a great perspective here and I think you are on to something great! I am an Instructional Technology Trainer for my district so I don't have a class, but I am trying to be as patient as possible helping teachers use technology this year. Sometimes a gentle nudge is all they need, a supporting person in the back of the room. And if that is all it takes for them to infuse tech in their room than I am game.

  2. This is a very interesting post and has me thinking as I get set to meet my students for the first time this year. I like the idea of no labeled place for coats. I worry about my autistic students though as they require routine, but I'm sure i can find a way to make it work for them. I have many items in my classroom that are communal. I also refuse to assign class jobs as I feel we all need to be responsible for keeping the class in order. We all need to take pride in where we learn. Children will help one another and the room always looks good at the end of the day. I don't buy that the same students do the work all the time, because I've seen it with my own eyes. Yes, they all have jobs they'd prefer to do over others but in the end everyone is contributing which is what I want most. Karen

  3. Thank you, Ian, for being a Versatile blogger.