The other day I referenced the book Reinventing Project-Based Learning by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss in my post Why Should Students Care What You Are Teaching? Today I was reading a small section entitled “Build Tradition and Identity: We are the school where kids get to…” and I began to think about what traditions and identity does my classroom have. In past years, I had certain projects that would be showcased in the elementary school that I taught at that upcoming students would want to participate in. But I don’t know if that would be a tradition. My classroom has the identity of being the Gifted Classroom, where students can do cool projects. But is that enough? I don’t know.
When I think of traditions, I think of things that are done at certain times of the year, or activities that are done yearly. I don’t know if I have any traditions, because I like to change things up every year, or every other year. So that the units I do don’t become stale to me or to the students. Traditions can be more than just activities. It could be expectations. (Mind Blown!) The authors tell us,
Imagine laying the groundwork for a tradition of exemplary projects at your school. Once you have established a tradition of excellence, students will feel it’s a privilege to honor the tradition with their hard work.
I have to be honest, I never really thought of traditions in such an abstract way. I had the mindset that traditions follow a calendar. Traditions can also be set as expectations. I never really focused on that, but that is something that I think I will in the near future.
The other side to this is identity. What is your classroom’s identity? I would have to think that my classroom’s identity is the classroom that does the cool projects. My students do get to do some cool projects. I try to incorporate some technology into thier projects that their regular classrooms don’t get to use often such as Skype, Google Hangouts, wikis, blogs, and websites. I think this identity gets spread by students sharing their experiences with other students. I don’t do a good job of sharing my students work with others. It is an area that I need to work on.
After reflecting on what my classroom’s traditions and identity are, I see there is a lot of room to improve. I think traditions and identities are made when work is shared with a school or community audience. So I am thinking that I need to have a project fair of some kind, or a Parent Night where students can share their work and learning with others. I will have to keep you posted on the developments of it.
So, let me ask you, what are your traditions of your classroom? What is your classroom identity? Does it relate to your school or does it standout like a beacon? Are your traditions and Identity solidified? If so, how did you do it? If you need to work on those aspects like me, what are you planning to do to improve you traditions and identity?