On Tuesday, while I was waiting for my Pre-K boys to reassemble on the blue rug for a run-down on what I'd planned for us to do next, I started tapping out a drum solo on one of our wooden boxes, while vocalizing a sort of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom style nonsense jazz scat. Within seconds there were 8 of us around that box, beating on it, all 16 hands together, making noise, making music. We were looking into one another's faces, not smiling exactly, but some how joyful, together, one. I've been part of adult drum circles and it usually takes a good half hour to reach that state.
I suppose it really didn't last more than 60 seconds, but when I locked the doors behind me at the end of the day, that was the moment where I felt proudest of myself as a teacher, the one that carried me home, and this was the same day during which we'd successfully mixed and poured our own concrete.
I tend to be an on-the-fly type of planner (if that can be called planning), but by the time the kids arrive each day, I've always set up a variety of activities, stations, around the room that I think will engage the kids. Whether I like it or not, I usually have some idea of how I expect that to happen, but the better part of teaching preschool is giving all that up the moment children arrive on the scene.
For instance, maybe an activity is better if done on the floor, rather than a table top.
Or how about this guy, who, while driving a truck, discovered the pair of scissors I've chained to the tape machine so that there is always at least one pair around for cutting tape.
First he tried it out on the truck . . .
. . . then stretched it out to the box that the bigger boys would later use as an impromptu drum. He poked them here and there . . .
. . . before finally discovering that they would stay in place if he stuck them in the handle slot.
Now he had a kind of bridge for his truck.
It made a cool buzzing, vibrating sound when he drove on it. It took technique to drive on it without knocking it down.
This girl was working all her muscles on a paper she held in her hand. It had recently been a picture she'd drawn in pencil. She said, "I'm twisting it." Later I discovered 3 "twisted" drawings in her cubby, all meaningful creations worthy of being taken home.
We were making "fall leaves" by squirting red, orange, and yellow liquid water color onto coffee filter leaves . . .
. . . but when these girls discovered that hanging them on our drying racks made a terrific leaf house, that's where they put their energies.
I could have never planned this "beaver house."
Nor could any teacher have anticipated this pirate ship complete with plenty of wood destined for some distant island where they would one day build their "pirate house."
And I have no idea about the who, how or why of this.
But there it is and somehow I taught it.