I have been blessed to work at an amazing middle school with some pretty fantastic educators and students for the past seven months (I got my contract part way through the year). I will probably cry several times this week as the realization sinks in: I’m likely not coming back. However, sad things aside, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you all one of my favourite things about my “this year” school: The Walls.
In our school we have a large, open space called “The Gathering Space” (How great is that name? The space totally lives up to its name because students, parents AND teachers do gather there). The Gathering Space has many uses: obviously gathering is number one, practicing dances (when we run out of space in the studio), practicing ukelele or other instruments (when they run out of space in the music room), filming class project movies, rehearsing Shakespeare, serving hot lunches…it’s pretty cool to see all the diversified learning and connecting that happens in The Gathering Space. Despite all this awesomeness, my favourite part of The Gathering Space is the walls. The walls have been decorated with student created posters that speak to acceptance, love and equality, which are all key values in our school community. I think they are the perfect pieces of artwork for walls of The Gathering Space.
Aren’t these beautiful? Something else that is beautiful is that these posters have remained untouched by vandalism (sad to think of happening, but definitely a possibility in any school).
One of my core teaching beliefs is that I am responsible for creating and fostering a safe space for students. When I teach yoga to my yoga students I call this “holding space” at the front of the studio. As a school teacher I believe it is my responsibility to “hold space” everywhere I go (as you can imagine, this CAN get exhausting!) These posters are a daily gentle reminder to me that I need to “hold space” for my students. Thanks to the lovely educators who initiated this project and to the students for wholeheartedly creating these pieces of art. These posters make our school and our Gathering Space a better place to be!
I got the inspiration for this post from one of my favourite blogs, 71 Toes. Shawni, mother of five, writes about the importance of what’s on the walls in her family’s home here.
What are your favourite spaces in your school?
What do you have on your walls at your school?
What’s on the walls in my room depends on the year. Some walls content just needs to change, or else it creates a stagnant environment.
For a few years, I had pictures of our class on the wall from that year with a few mixed in from previous years. It was a discussion and comfort magnet. It spoke volumes about our class.
Of course something that rarely changes are the Baldrige posters. Well, the data changes, but the posters are there. Gotta track data, no?
A Little PS- As a fellow yoga and school teacher, “holding space” I’ve found to be quite easier in school. By explaining on Day 1 and subsequent points of the year (the first week, month, etc.) what our class goals are, who I am, what my focus is for the class, and engaging the students on if they agree/disagree, I find that they hold the space naturally.
Sure, there are times when reminders are needed. There are times when I might not be 100%. Yet, the “holding space” becomes a class reality by and of the class. They know what to do, how to do it, and they want to do it.
A lot of is based just on class meetings, friendly reminders, teaching great concepts in an student-friendly manner, and being humble and creative.
Hope this helps a bit! Best of Luck,
Thanks for sharing your excellent ideas. It’s great to know that there are other school/yoga teachers out there! I did my YTT last fall and I was the only “teacher” in a group of 20 lovely individuals. The whole time I felt like I was commenting on how I’d use yoga practices (ie. holding space) in my school teaching practice. I am already looking forward to next school year and implementing some of the ideas you have mentioned! How long have you been teaching yoga for?