Digilit Sunday: Safe Classrooms

Digilit Sunday is hosted by Margaret Simon @Reflections on the Teche as an invitation for educators to share ideas for digital literacy and learning.  Today, Margaret  invites us to think about safe classrooms.

We begin every sixth grade school year in our classroom with a read aloud of this book:

followed by a discussion based around the question: why this book to start our school year? Sooner or later, we all arrive at the same answer-we want Room 202 to be a safe space in which we can learn and grow and BE.  

Thank You, Mr. Falker sits on the chalkboard for a bit, and then it is quietly re shelved to make way for new book talk books, and new additions to the classroom library.  Every once in a while, I’ll notice that a student will reach for it during recess or independent reading time; and every once in a while I’ll notice that a student has checked it out to read at home.  

Last Friday, to celebrate World Read Aloud Day , I discovered that one of my students had chosen this book as his choice to read aloud to his classmates.  Sam (not his real name) has had some issues in our classroom. He is bright and engaging, a sweet soul with a zany sense of humor.  BUT, he struggles to contain his high spirits and can easily zoom off target…and take the entire class with him. Our year together has been a work in progress: how to let Sam be Sam, but also how to teach Sam to rein himself in when he needs to – for his own growth as a student, and so his classmates can learn, as well.  And this has been our work as a class.  It was not always easy to be patient and understanding, and we needed sometimes to remind each other to be kind in moments of exasperation.  

It has been a challenge, but Sam has come a long way.   So, when he chose this particular book, in his particularly deliberate way, I had to take notice…we took notice.

On Friday, Sam took to the reading chair, book in hand, and read with all his irrepressible spirit.  He created voices for the characters and read with real emotion.  He finished with a flourish, bowing deeply and smiling ear to ear.  His classmates clapped and whooped and high fived Sam. As he made his way back to a spot on the reading circle, I noticed that  Thank You, Mr. Falker stayed in his hands and then on his lap.   In his spot on the reading rug, in a circle of classmates who had shown patience and kindness and helped him grow, Sam sat…content, and safe.

It takes every single soul in a classroom to create a safe learning space for one and for all.  



6 thoughts on “Digilit Sunday: Safe Classrooms

  1. I love this story. I also love that you used the name Sam. I had a Sam once who was a lot like your student. You had to love him and reign him in when needed. I read Mr. Falker to my class before we read Fish in a Tree. So many similarities. My students even noticed that Mr. Falker and the teacher in FIAT wore silly ties. Books make my classroom safe as well. I wish I had included read aloud in my list. I may have to revise my post.

  2. Pingback: DigiLit Sunday: Being Safe – To Read To Write To Be

  3. We all have Sam I our room. Finding there moment to shine is important “It takes every single soul in a classroom to create a safe learning space for one and for all.” my favorite line. Especially the word “soul”

  4. This made me cry. Thank you for letting Sam be Sam while also teaching him to grow. So important! As a mom to a kid who is not easy to have as a student. . . I appreciate teachers like you so much.

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