Instead of hurrying outside to play, one child paused to watch beautifully slow drips of water dance down the window. I couldn’t help but join in the wonder. I claim to teach children, in truth I have finally shed my blinders enough to see my teachers are in front of me.
I battled the copier, for more than four hours. I tweaked settings and sources, called the help line and pleaded with colleagues for assistance. It was only when I surrendered the idea of instant results, that this machine began to release a few copies at a time. In the end my project was complete and I learned that letting go of instant results allows space for completion in its own time.
My four year old hopped up on my lap as I was previewing a documentary on autism for a graduate course I am teaching in the fall. The conversation went something like this:
Daughter: “What’s this about?”
Me: “Oh, it is a movie about autism.”
Daughter: “Great, I’ll watch the baptism movie with you. I know all about kids and God.”
Me: “This is about autism, not baptism.”
Daughter: “Yeah, I know. Kids and God.”
Me: Hmmm, O.K.”
Perhaps autism really is just about people and understanding the unknown. At this moment, I am pretty certain my preschooler can teach this course in my stead.
Someone recently shared the story of a parent who asked, “Did you ask any good questions today?” in place of the typical, “How was school?”. We live in a society where we are expected to be good students, teachers and family members by following the rules, giving the right answers and doing our work. The irony it that what makes us grow the most as students, teachers and family members is asking thought provoking questions that create a bit of discomfort as well as new thinking. To overtly encourage questioning is to value the unlimited opportunity to grow. What more could we hope for for our children, teachers and family?
So…did you ask any good questions today?
Instead of hours of teacher/ parent speculation, the fifth grade team spent the past two afternoons hosting student lead conferences. Students shared work samples and written reflections on topics such as “digital citizenship” and “upholding behavioral norms” as well as their work studying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, math and science.
Most importantly, the highest stake holder led the conference, invariably guiding the conversation to what mattered most, be it the need for homework help or support in the social realm. Instead of speculation, all members of the student’s team had a opportunity to brainstorm the next actionable steps as a unit.
How can we continue to foster growth through thoughtful leadership and self reflection?
Our school district is big into PLCs (professional learning communities). In theory, this is an exciting way to connect with other professionals and analyze student work in order to improve teaching and learning. In reality, these extra meetings seem to always feel like “one more thing”. Today we had the opportunity to share the fruits of our labor. My opinion? This process is totally worth it. Nobody reinvented what it means to teach and learn. However, everyone had a new insight that added to our collective brain.
How can we continue to find ways to contribute to the collective brain?
I have been biking down a veritable death trap during my daily commute. Today the creators, cracks and swells were hidden under a blanket of fresh pavement. On my way up that buttery smooth hill, I thanked the workers with a kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for Super Bowl victories or something of the sort. I shared my glee, because like this road crew, most of us leave behind the good work we have done, rarely knowing the impact. From sending students off to a new class or adding coins to an anonymous parking meter, we live our lives hoping to create good whether or not we see the fruit of our labors.
While those construction workers may never drive down that steep back street again, hopefully they will remember the good they left behind.