How do I begin? It seems to be a large question in my world these days. The bizarre way that school started had me standing in a room of chaos less than 2 weeks ago wondering where to start prepping for a new class. I’ve looked at my house and wondered where to start the “de-picket line” process of ironing decent outfits, making lunches and writing a shopping list with treats I can once again afford. There are no more excuses. I have to focus and decide what it is I actually want to explore in this Masters journey I am on.
But how? I have a mind of clutter. Something shiny comes along, and my interest is piqued in a new direction. A conversation occurs, and I am ready to learn all about a new way of eating, teaching, organizing, and then Doctor Who comes on, and I lose all focus again. I hear my cohort mates talk about these PLANS and IDEAS and I get panicky, thinking my thoughts are too big, too wide, too chaotic. And then I get distracted by the new episode of Big Bang Theory. “FOCUS,” I hear my mom’s voice say. I need a plan. Which then leads me to thinking about Calvin and Hobbes and how he managed to create all those snowmen in his front yard……..
I brought home a big piece of roll paper from school. Pretty and green, I hung it in my front hallway. I thought maybe I could map out what I want to learn and explore. It stayed there for days with nothing on it. I knew though, deep down in my soul, I knew what I wanted to do, but the fear of actually writing it down and publishing it made me a coward. I spent a year talking about my plan, thinking about my plan and I even made alerts on Google Scholar to help me read more about my ideas. But even there, something shiny lurked. Emergent curriculum, inquiry based learning, Hawkins, Reggio articles, all tempted me with their fabulous ideas and intriguing purpose. I wavered. I faltered. I stood at that scary fork in the road that is horribly overused in pop culture, and I knew. Decision time.
I took a pen today, and I wrote 3 words. Their sizing grows from short to long: play, nature, technology. It is big, and it is wide, and it is vast. But there is my focus. I look at my students past and present and I see my simple truths:
- Kids need to play. They need to move, laugh, talk, cry and experience through the basic form of play. Maria Montessori said, “Play is the work of the child”. I see it every day in my class.
- Kids need to be connected to the natural world. The feel of grass under a cheek, wind in the hair, the crispness of a fall morning, and the understanding we are connected to this world is lacking in the cement covered playgrounds of my school community.
- Kids need to understand that technology is not a babysitter. It is a part of our world. We have to understand the part it plays in the world of a child, but not let it control a child’s world. Technology needs to be seen as a tool in the hands of a student and not as a virtual worksheet or quiet time activity.
There it is. Path chosen and recorded. Engage.