I often feel as though I see our classroom/school experience through my iPad. I’m constantly trying to document student learning, and when I put down the iPad, I’m always afraid that I’m going to miss something “great.” This afternoon, I took my iPad with me to the forest, and while we were there, a student came up to me and asked if he could record what was happening in the trees. I really struggled with letting go of the iPad.
- Should he be exploring nature instead of recording a video?
- What experiences might I miss if I don’t have the iPad with me to capture them?
At this moment, I realized that when it comes to relinquishing control of my iPad, I call into question if anyone is trustworthy enough. But what message would I be sending to this child if I said, “No?” So, as hard as it was to do so, I gave this child my device.
While my actions might have conveyed “trust,” I feel guilty to say that I questioned how much useful footage I would get from a child’s recording. Would he jump around too much? Would he really listen to the conversation? Would he remember to press, “Record?” Tonight though, I shrieked in delight when I watched what he recorded … and I apologize profusely for doubting that this would work.
While there may be a few shaky moments, the same is true when I record, but this child did a few things that I rarely manage to do.
- He knew how to stay quiet. A few times, he started to contribute ideas, but when the other children in the group continued with their play discussion, he stopped talking, and listened.
- He didn’t interfere when small problems occurred. As adults, we tend to want to solve problems, and sometimes, I wonder if we get involved too quickly. The students had a few disagreements, but they worked things out among themselves.
- He captured way more than me. Children know when adults get in their spaces, and while many students are happy to answer my questions or continue their discussions, they often don’t share everything when an adult is there. This child is a peer, and others saw him that way. This led to a very authentic conversation that gave me a great understanding of what the students know and what they think.
As hard as it was to hand over the iPad, I’m glad that I did. This experience today makes me wonder about other “student documenting” opportunities. Thanks Justin and Jo-Ann for unknowingly inspiring me to give up some control and watch a student shine. Have others done this before? What are your experiences with doing so? As our Kindergarten Program Document reminds us, children really are “competent and capable.” Now our challenge is to always remember to believe in them.