Celebrating little things in the classroom

“Little joy needs an audience big-things are big anyways.” – anonymous

It happens many times as an SEL(Social Emotional Learning) facilitators, when we are facilitating, lesson planning, or observing the classroom, that a warm feeling arises suddenly about little things. This influences us to take a pause and celebrate those little things. You might be wondering what those little things are? In this blog we will

  • Unpack little things in the context of the classroom.
  • Explore the need of celebrating those little things in the classroom.  

When we enter the classroom we often think about inclusion, participation, delivering curriculum, time management that occupies our mind. However, the little things we will mention in this blog are mindful and careful actions, gestures or views which are planned or unplanned. Little things are thoughts, actions, gestures or views that come from deep inside our heart, knowingly or unknowingly. ometimes, these little things play a bigger role in understanding and building rapport  with students. 

For example,, shared by Mansi Gohil, Apni Shala Fellow alumnus, shares, “In one of our classrooms, I was facilitating a session with 5th graders around Empathy.When the session ended, everyone was returning to their benches with their belongings from the circle we formed during session, a student came joyfully and said:

“Didi, aapka favourite dish Kaunsa hai (Didi, what’s your favorite dish?)”?

Mansi responded, “Umm… Panipuri!i love pani puri.”

“Didi, I thought that when I get some money, I will feed you something good, I have 10 rupees now, I have saved it for you, let me bring pani puri for you today!”

““Oh wow!”

“Will you come with me for Paani Puri  for sure? Please didi, eating together helps to increase friendship.”

As we  learn about such conversations, we may wander how can we explore such skills, knowledge and relationship expertise young people are bringing in the classroom conversations? And why these little things matter?

One way we do it at Apni Shala is through Rich Story Development. Apni Shala’s work is informed by Narrative practices’, which helps us to put light on stories or conversations happening in our classroom . ‘Rich Story Development’ is a concept/practice offered in Narrative. This helps to build such conversations into the classroom and brings attention to the powerful story. To explain more where richer accounts of individual stories are built through various lenses such as  stories of celebration, practice of remembering people who are close to us,creating support systems, looking at a story through ones and different perspectives or finding alternative stories. These practices help us to build a stronger self-agency. These are  little things that we are talking about which contributes to the ‘Rich Story Development’ of the student.

We, at times, may forget that even a tree grew on a little seed. If no one would have thought of planting a little seed and celebrating it every day with water, how would the tree have grown? Little Things in the classrooms create a foundation for larger growth and celebrating it is like watering it with our love and compassion. Recognising and Celebrating the thoughts, actions, and gestures of a student in the classroom feels like watering a seed.

In one of the sessions, when Akash asked, “Do you think managing emotions is important ?

Nisha* responded, “yes! If we don’t  share our emotions  then we don’t do our work or homework with full focus. When we share we become free.”

Akash Gaikwad(Programme facilitator at Apni Shala) asked,“What else happens when you share your emotions and with whom do you share?

“I share my emotions with my friends and when we share that means our friends may share it too.”

We notice here that, while this conversation may have been fleeting, if not taken note of,, it offers an insight into students’ learning about the facilitated topic.These Little Things are also a data point for us to assess students’ growth. And these reflective responses create a lot of joy in the classroom. 

In both, the above example students are not only learning but bring their learning into action. when recognizing these Little Things, it supports student learning stories to get richer.  students feel more confident and put their learning into action.

Celebrating little things in the classroom also helps to build a good relationship with each other. It also helps to create a safe space to make learning fun and inclusive. We witnessed this in one of the sessions after reading the book, All are Welcomed, by Alexander Penfold.

Shahbaan Shah( Programme facilitator at Apni shala ) asked, “how do you feel when you hear this title or have seen some images of this book?”

One student said, “I feel like there is a festival going on here.”

“Can you say a little more about why it feels like a festival to you?”

“When everyone comes together as you can see there is a kid on wheelchair or people from different religions are there that means they are going to celebrate a big festival here”

In this conversation we can see how that student is including other people from different backgrounds and creating a space. Such relational understanding creates a healthy and inclusive development environment for young people.

How can we, as facilitators and teachers,create space for these Little Things in the classroom?

In Apni shala, we begin our session with check-in where the facilitator asks students how they feel and what support they need for today’s session. During some sessions, after check-in, the student starts showing curiosity/asking to know how the facilitator is feeling at that moment, which reflects upon how this learning & growth process is collective. Planning time for such organic inputs from the students is important. Another way is to bring in diverse modalities such as stories, art, poem, roleplay, video, and small group discussion. We have noticed how that expands students’ possibilities to express their thoughts, feelings and views. 

Gratitude notes, and circles of appreciation are some more ways in which we can create spaces to bring students’ voices and stories into classroom spaces. During our facilitation in our classrooms, Students and  we have sensed celebration in very small things such as appreciating each other, showing gratitude toward each other, listening to their  peers, and making each other feel safe, taking care of each other, stepping up and stepping back when required, sharing  stories and moments with each other.

Asking follow-up questions, for example, “how were you able to do this”, when students show-up with such skills also helps in expanding their thinking about their own skills and build rich stories of their lives. 

In one of my 4th-grade sessions, Riya was not in a good mood. Her friend Rehan identified that she is upset or angry because of some reason. He came to me and requested kindly not to ask Riya any questions and give her some space and time to calm down her anger. It really struck me how a 4th grader empathizes with his friend, knows what she may need, can advocate for that with his teacher/facilitator as an ally and seek support in building care in the classroom. Take a moment to think, how can we build upon Rehan’s abilities here? What are some such Rehan-like moments from your classrooms?

Do share with us in the comments. We would love to hear!

About the author: 

Pooja Gate: She studied B.com from Mumbai University and has completed her internship with the Antarang Foundation for 2 years. Currently, she is working with the Apni Shala Foundation as a Programme Fellow. When Pooja is not facilitating sessions or working in the office you will find her dancing or spending time with friends.

Priyanka Tiwari is a fellow at Apni shala for the year 2021-22. She has completed her graduation with B.sc.(Mathematics), and is currently pursuing M.sc from Mumbai University. When Priyanka is not working she is either reading books  or cooking.


Rich story development 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Prince mani says:

    Kya baat hai ……read krke maja aa gaya🙏😊👍

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s