At today's morning meeting, we began to tackle this question. Ms. Lauren led the entire Eagle class up the church stairwell to the large chapel room, where we all sat in a large circle on the ground. She explained to the Eagles that we were starting to split up into two groups and think about, or "design", two new classroom spaces: one in a new building, and one in our current building. Following this meeting, we separated into our two groups for the morning. Mr. Jake and Ms. Jill led one group to the new space down Queens Boulevard, while Ms. Sonia and I started a second meeting with the other group on the Blue Rug downstairs.
Back in the classroom, I posed the question, "What rooms do we have at our school?" Responses included the Block Area, the Blue Rug, the Red Tile, the Red Rug, and in Riley's words, "the White Classroom". I then invited students to take turns responding to a clue about what we do in each room (such as "the room where the Penguins have their meetings") by waving to us from that space. Finally, we stood up from the Blue Rug, walked through the classroom and the Art Studio, and entered the new room together.
I invited the students to spend some time in this space and tell us, “What can we do in here?” Zoe quickly responded, "Activities!" I asked, "What shows you that?" She responded, "Toys and games!" Several students appeared drawn to a tub full of Moon Sand, as well as large plastic bottles filled with various colors and viscosities of liquids. Riley and Carlos found two mirrors in this room, and Rayden pointed out a large hanging mobile.
Sonia and I next invited the class to draw ideas for the new room on notecards. Zoe drew "the Heart Room", where "we just play and look up at the hearts". Rayden explained, "My daddy and me are drawing, and the grass is getting longer and longer". Carlos said, "the dragon rolls on the ground with fire. If people go in there, they'll be dead. You have to go in the dark cave and then: open, and then: close".
Eli drew two very different rooms. The first was "the Fire Room", "a hole where dragons and monsters and werewolves live! We need scary stuff--costumes to help us." Eli's second drawing was described as, "the Rain Window", "another classroom that's not spiky. The windows are made of glass. It's happening all day--it's dark and there's a lot of rain".
Riley drew an "Outer Space Room", where "we just build rockets and just blast off in there! That's all". Finally, Riley and Sonya together produced two drawings of a place called "Candy Land" or "Candy City". Riley explained, "She was walking to the seesaw made of coal. The little balls are made of candy. The candy comes from Christmas and everyone in Candy City eats it." Sonya explained, "the girls are on a seesaw and they realized they were in a different town!"
Upon reflection, a pattern emerges from today's work: some students' ideas relate to a calm and pleasant space, whereas other students' ideas point to a dark and dangerous place. In general, it seems clear that these students want more than anything to use their time and space to be imaginative together. We will come back to these specific ideas together in the days to come and continue to give shape and meaning to them in our brand new space.
There is no doubt that the changes the Eagles are about to go through can feel large, sudden, and confusing. But these changes are also opportunities to start something brand new, and today's work began to show us that the Eagles are more than capable of doing just that.
Thank you for reading,