I'm a belly on the floor, face full of spittle, "C'mon everybody!" type of teacher. I wear holes in the knees of all my jeans, go through much of life paint besmirched, and often forget to go to the bathroom. On my best days, the time I spend with the children almost doesn't exist and I'm genuinely surprised it's already time to go home. Yet, when the door closes on the last child and I take a moment to look back on the day, it feels so full and exciting, it's hard to believe we fit so much into so little time.
I think of it as my greatest strength as a teacher, this ability to enter this state of being fully present, bobbing on the ripples created by the actions, emotions, and interests of the kids, letting them lead me as much as I lead them.
As a teaching style, the downside is that it doesn't leave much room during the classroom day for observation and reflection. I sometimes remove myself from the action to check things out from the other side of our one-way mirrors or stand inside the classroom to watch the outdoor play, and I learn from those moments, but it ain't where my body and mind want to be while the children are around. I get restless and have to get back in there (or out there, as the case may be).
This explains why I never remember to take photos of the cool stuff going on in class. Not only do viewfinders make me feel a step removed from the real life going on around me, but by the time I realize something cool is happening, we're already on to something else.
Still, observation and reflection are important teaching tools. One of the reasons I started this blog was as an aid in this effort, and while I'm clearly writing here with an audience in mind (my years writing for money make it impossible for me to write otherwise), there is a journaling or diary-ing quality to the act of putting the words down in these daily posts.
Another opportunity I have for "observation" and reflection is when I'm distributing the children's art into their cubbies to take home. I sometimes feel guilty for how long it takes to move their artwork through this process -- it often stacks up for weeks before I finally get it expedited -- but I want to make sure I have the time to look at each piece before sending it home. They often reveal things I was not aware of in the moment they were being created.
Not long ago, I wrote about our glue collages. A few days ago, I finally got around to taking a reflective look at the work of our Pre-3 class.
I remember that Sena spent a lot of time at the art table that day. I could tell by how I found these pieces on the drying shelves that this was the order in which she created them. I love the progression. She started with just glue:
She had the choice of a rainbow of colors and shapes, so the three yellow triangles were definitely a conscious choice. I'm guessing that they started off in the center of the cardboard, but slid to the side as the wet glue shifted:
This next piece shows more work in the area of color and shape classification, but notice she's still using so much glue that the pieces floated on her:
The next piece in the sequence wasn't by Sena at all, but rather this one by Remick, who was the first of the children to work vertically by standing the marker caps on end:
He had clearly inspired her, because Sena's next piece looked like this, and notice how her glue use is more judicious:
This was followed by this colorful piece by Charlotte:
Sena's final exploration of the day is truly a masterpiece, bringing together all the things she had learned through her own experimentation (again, note the lighter touch with the glue) as well as her observations of the work of her friends:
And I'd be remiss if I didn't share Cora's work. She only made two pieces that day, but I love the strength and consistency of her artistic vision, not to mention her precise use of glue!