Sounds simple: the phrase Stand Strong. At the core of strength lies confidence, passion, optimism, and goals. How simple is it to be confident? It's not. How simple is it to know your passion? It's not. How simple is it to be optimistic? It's not. How simple is it to be centered on change-making goals? It's not. Each one of these aspects of strength has a foundation and if this foundation has not been laid, strength will not be found. Both trees have a foundation that allows them to reach for the sky. With over a 100 mile root system, these two distinctive trees stand strong.
Why is a foundation necessary for strength?Without their foundation, these trees would not live to be thousands of years old. Their bark would not be valuable and they would blend in with every other tree in America.
No matter the shape, size, or type of a foundation, strength occurs. All foundations are different, and we never know what type of foundation our students are walking through the door with. From a foundation of steel to a foundation of sand. From a foundation of a square to a foundation of a circle. I am sure you can guess what story I am thinking of... The Three Little Pigs. If so, you are right. Family income, parental education, and the structure of families... all of these factors create the foundation a child walks into our rooms with. Who cares? I know that seems heartless, but my expectations do not change from child to child based on their foundation. I know that a strong foundation is necessary for strength. Every child has their own ways, quirks, pet peeves, way of learning... and I will adapt to that... EVERY child deserves to have the same expectations as their peer.
How do we help to lay a foundation? We don't. We expand.
Just like the trees... a foundation is already laid, but the trees must work hard to grow by creating their own rain by trapping in the moisture from the fog; making them one of the fastest growing trees.
Obviously parents are the most influential factor to laying a foundation in their child's life, but we do play a part and have a chance to grow the foundation of every child. But how? Opportunity and Choice. With opportunities lies experiences, with experiences lies growth, and with growth, choices are made. Within my classroom, opportunity is present. The opportunity to learn or not. The opportunity to be a leader or not. The opportunity to be challenged or not. I provide these opportunities for one reason: experience. Within my classroom, experiences are found. Every child will take a different experience away from an instructional activity, if planned carefully, due to their schema. I intentionally plan for students to have various experiences while interacting with the content. Why? Growth. Growth is not something that is visible every day from every child. However, I know growth is occurring by their faces, their comments, their self-confidence, and their motivation of learning. Once growth, not just academically, but personally, is happening... wiser choices will be made. They will want to learn. They will want to be the best leader possible. They will want to be challenged. To me, wise choices are reassurance that their foundation is expanding.
How do we nurture strength?The offspring of the Redwood trees often form at the base of their parents... feeding off of their parents' nutrients.
- Give them an environment that is conducive to grow.
- Give them a culture in which it is safe for them to speak.
- Give them encouragement to try new things.
- Give them a push to get out of their comfort zone.
- Give them reassurance that we are there for them: to celebrate, to reflect, to cry on.
- Give them a chance to explore their likes and dislikes.
- Give them guidance to create achievable goals.