One of the things I quickly noticed at my new school was the lack of posted rules. There were no lists of rules, guidelines, or expectations, either teacher generated or child generated, in any of the classrooms. It was one of the things that I liked most about the school. To me, the lack of posted rules shows a powerful respect for the children and the community they build with each other and the teachers. This doesn't mean there is chaos and that everything goes; on the contrary, the classrooms are among the calmest and most productive I've ever seen. Conflicts are thoughtfully dealt with as they arise and teachers spend a large amount of time building relationships with children.
And yet I've begun to look beneath the surface and although there are no posted rules, there are unwritten rules that permeate our space. Rules that I am starting to think the teachers don't always know why they have them. Rules that have just been the "way things are" for so long that no body questions them.
And yet... I break so many of them all the time.
Children are told that they can't climb up the slides on the playground and yet the JK kids I teach in enrichment gleefully climb up the slides when with me.
Children are told that they can't bring the toys or materials on the climbing structures on the playground and yet those same JK kids bring the snow shovels to the very top while I watch.
Families are told that children shouldn't bring toys from home and yet many of my 2 year olds have small tokens that sneak out of their pockets or a security blanket tucked under their arms.
Families are told that they must drop their children off at the carpool line and yet my co-teacher and I have all of our 2 year old families walking their children all the way in to the classroom to say goodbye each day.
Teachers hover anxiously as the children jump on the trampoline and yet I sat back on Monday and watched the children jump dangerously and quite recklessly, sometimes landing on each other at their dismount.
Children are told to all walk the same direction, one at a time, over the little wooden bridge and yet I enjoy watching two 2 year olds meet in the middle, going opposite directions, and negotiate how to get down.
Children are told they shouldn't build with the blocks above their waist and yet I let my 2 year olds build with abandon and am their to provide cuddles if their epic towers crash on to them.
I enjoy breaking the rules. I think it's sometimes how we learn the most.