I’m hoping that it’s been a great start back for everyone! The month has certainly gone by quickly. Having been out of the classroom for a year and being at a new school community, it was definitely all nerves on the first day. I always try to keep in mind that students might be feeling the same way walking into the new school year. While many of my students have been in the same school together since kindergarten, I have a few students who are new to our school this year and have been thinking of ways to make sure that they feel right at home in our classroom. 

Building a positive classroom community is important starting from day one. As a part of building our classroom community, I often ask students to consider who they are as individuals and what they bring to our classroom space. One activity that I have enjoyed over the years is creating I Am From poems. In the past I’ve jumped right into creating We Are From poems where students work with a partner to find commonalities and differences and share them to the larger group. Once they have created a joint poem, we combine different parts of each poem to create one large classroom poem where everyone is reflected.  This year, instead of creating We Are From poems, we started off instead by creating our own individual poems to share with each other. 

You might be wondering what I Am From Poems are. For years, educators have used George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From poem to inspire students to consider their own narratives. While there are different templates that can be used, I use this template to help guide my students in creating their own. 

On the second day of school, the students in my class were tasked with thinking about who they are and where they are from, learning that our experiences shape who we are as individuals, along with other factors in our lives. By the end of the week, rough copies of amazing poems were complete and students were thinking about the symbols they would use to represent their identities. Just in time for our Curriculum Night, good copies of our poems went up and we had the chance to create continuous line portraits to accompany them. 

Identity work is so important for building a safe and caring classroom community. What ideas do you have for this year? How are students showing who they are and bringing their experiences to the classroom and their learning? If you have great ideas, please share them here!


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