A few years ago, a Huffington Post article by David Allyn started with the headline ‘Can students love school? Yes, if schools love students.’ From my experience, while this is absolutely true, we must also provide opportunities for students to create their own reasons for ‘loving’ their school.
Many students at my school who are athletic and enjoy sport, love coming to school for the opportunity to participate in AFL, rugby, hockey, NRL or other team sports. Some of them form their own training teams supported by our staff. I enjoy the banter I have with students who follow the different codes, as I wear my team scarfs proudly around the school playground (particularly after a winning weekend!)
However, not all students enjoy activities like sport or the arts, and find sanctuaries around the school for other pursuits they love.
Recently I supervised a group of year 7 students who were not participating in NAPLAN. I asked them to decide amongst themselves what they wanted to do with this time. They started reading in the library but quickly voted to watch a movie in my classroom.
After deciding on a film, we went up and I put on Finding Nemo. Many of the students had not been to my classroom before and were excited to see and read my comic book collection (thanks for the help Impact). When the bell rang, some of them asked if they could do this again sometime with their other friends who love comics.
I thought this was a great opportunity for them to work on a little project. I asked the students to think about doing this as a regular activity, getting a group of other students together and watching films once a week.
A few days later a small group of ten year 7’s approached me and asked if it would be ok to have ‘Comic Club’ every Thursday lunchtime, and watch some of the latest Marvel movies or read comics. I wrote them up a note for their parents to sign letting them watch the films and with the notes returned, the club was formed.
So this week they had their first ‘Comic Club’, planning what movies to see during the year and spending the rest of the time watching ‘Star Wars Rebels’. They decided they would watch Guardians of the Galaxy first, and then Captain America. I’m hoping to persuade them to watch some of the classics too.
As a new educator who loves superheroes, I was excited to see a group of year 7 students joining together to organise a safe place for them to enjoy something they love. Some of them said it was nice to be able to escape the playground with their friends, others simply enjoyed the fact they were doing something they loved.
On Friday, many of the students said to me they had ‘the most awesomest time’ and it was ‘the best day ever’. They genuinely appreciated the opportunity to share in something they all love together at school, asking if this could continue until they finish in Year 10. Apparently I’m now not allowed to leave.
Allowing students to have the opportunity to lead and create their own group meant they were able to take ownership of a school activity as their own. While creating safe and supportive classrooms is important, providing extra curricular opportunities for students to meet together and do things they love helps to create a more positive school environment.
I hope I get more opportunities to help my students love our school.