Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Talking And Listening

"Nico's taking all of our cars!"

I asked, as I usually ask when a child comes tattling, "Oh no, what did you say to him?"

He answered, as tattling children most often answer this question, "Nothing."

"If someone is taking my stuff, I tell them I don't like it."

This was one of my older kids, a boy who's been through this drill before. The moment the words were out of my mouth, he pivoted to Nico and said, "I don't like it when you're taking all our cars."

Nico answered, "I'm putting them all over there to get fixed. They're all crashed." He pointed at a pile of Hot Wheels on the floor.

There was a pause during which some thinking took place. School is a good place for thinking. "Good idea. I'll help you." Soon there were a half dozen kids gathering up cars and tossing them on the pile.

Later in the day, there was conflict in the sandpit. As other kids took turns operating the cast iron water pump, Henry was damming off the upper level, trapping the water into a "lake." Yuri wanted the water to flow to the lower level so he punched a hole in the dam with his shovel. Henry responded by repairing it. After a couple rounds of that, they resorted to wielding shovels and pushing against one another. Henry was growing visibly frustrated and Yuri was starting to cry. 

I asked, "What's happening?"

Henry answered, "I'm trying to build a dam and he keeps breaking it."

Yuri answered, "I want to make a river."

I said, referring to the classroom rules the kids have been creating for themselves, "We all agreed that we couldn't push each other to solve problems, so what else can we do?"

There was a pause for thinking, then Henry said, "You could help me build the dam."

Yuri brightened instantly, answering, "Okay."

Not long ago, I wrote about a younger boy who fought his friends when they tried to take things from him, but who, when asked, gave them joyfully away. Every day, children at Woodland Park figure out that when they sulk, demand, threaten or tattle, their classmate is unlikely to share one of our two swings, but when they say, instead, "I want to swing next," or simply, "Next!" they usually get their turn within minutes.

The longer I teach, the more I come to believe that the main thing we're doing at school is helping the children discover the everyday magic that emerges from simply talking and listening to one another. 

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Chips and Salsa with Beans said...

This might just be my favorite blog post :)

Jessica - Growing Inch By Inch said...

Love this.