Learning To Let Go!

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?

This is when I thought back to a tweet that I read this morning from my good friend, Jo-Ann. Jo-Ann retweeted a message yesterday from Dr. Justin Tarte


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. 


2 thoughts on “Learning To Let Go!

  1. It’s great that you gave this student an opportunity to do some recording! If he really enjoyed it, you could probably take that learning further and talk about what worked well and how he could get an even better video next time. It could also prompt discussions with other students who might want to learn more. My mind is coming up with a million spin off opportunities at once right now…

    My question for you to consider is this: when you let go of the iPad, what new things did you get to observe/notice when you weren’t distracted with trying to record it all? Sometimes when we are so busy trying to get things on camera, we miss living and experiencing real life. I have noticed this myself at times. How can we maybe find a balance between the two?

    • Thanks for your comment, Melanie! These are some great spin-off opportunities, and he really did enjoy taking the video footage, so these would be great options in the coming weeks. I bet others would love to learn more about videotaping too.

      Your question is a great one. I’m always conflicted here. I do find that at various times throughout the day, I put down the iPad to just “watch more closely,” but then I see things that I wish that I documented. Sometimes I try to go back and recreate the situation in order to capture it, but it never works the same this way. I think part of my problem is that I really do document things so much better on a device than on paper. When I don’t capture it, I need to make a conscious effort to go back and write down my observations and thoughts, and sometimes I struggle with doing so. Often I try to, but then I can’t remember all of the details to make my recount accurate. I know that I’ll have opportunities to capture other learning instead, but for certain students that may not have demonstrated a particular skill before, I often wish that I had a device in my hands when I don’t. What do others think? Thanks for making me think more about this.


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