This week, we moved into fall by celebrating the autumnal equinox. Fall is the time of the school year where I guide students to understand their own identities and what inspires them. I take a holistic approach to identity work, examining both their identities as learners and as people. To inspire students, I encourage them to become curious about the things they identify with. Fall is a balance between clearing out habits or thought patterns that are not serving our highest, best, selves, and storing up or nourishing things in our lives that we want to keep long term. This can be done both in academic learning and in social emotional learning.
The fall is the beginning of the school year and it is important to help students discover their own learning styles and how to learn. Everyone learns differently and it is a misconception that students innately know how to seek and process information, and then apply it. In the fall, lessons need to be scaffolded for students to learn how to take notes, listen actively, and read for comprehension depending on their grade level. With the uptick in ADHD and processing disorders diagnoses, it is even more crucial to spend time understanding the skill of learning in the fall. Some students learn best through reading, others by listening, and most learn best by doing. In the beginning of the year, all students need to have the opportunities to try the different modalities to form their learning identity. Once students understand their identity as a learner, they can start the process of getting inspired by the year’s content. Curious students are engaged students.
On the social emotional learning side, helping students think about their personal identities creates a learning environment that feels safe. This week, I had students bring an item from home that was meaningful to them. They had the opportunity to share a small part of themselves with the group. This helps to build empathy within the learning community and is a safe way to show vulnerability in the beginning of the year.
Another way for students to learn about their personal identities is by creating space to be introspective. Going back to the first day of fall, the equinox is a balance between light and dark. Daytime and nighttime are equal. During introspective time this week, in honor of the equinox, I posted two journaling questions for our students to consider on a personal level.
- What part of your past self do you want to let go of during the fall season?
- What parts of your future self do you want to feed during the fall season?
As an educator and coach, fueling the whole person is my goal. The purpose of this reflection prompt in the fall is for students to discover their personal balance between growing and sustaining themselves. While we always want our students to have a learner’s mindset, I also want them to know that they are enough, just as they are. This foundation helps build their confidence as learners and people. When students have an understanding of who they are and what inspires them, they are able to lead, in the classroom and beyond.