For the past couple of years, I’ve joined other educators across Ontario with setting a one word goal for the new year. Last year, I chose the word “hearing” — related to active listening — which I further clarified in my July reflection post. Throughout the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve done at meeting this goal of mine.
Sometimes I feel really successful. I realize that I’m talking less than I did before, and taking more time to listen before asking a question or making a suggestion. Sometimes I don’t say anything at all. As hard as that may be, I’m getting better at listening to the students talk and hearing how the conversation evolves. Sometimes the questions they ask each other and the suggestions that they make to each other seem to be far better than mine.
And sometimes I feel really unsuccessful. I listen back to video recordings of discussions and realize …
- that I didn’t give enough wait time.
- that I missed an idea that another student contributed because I was focused on a different child.
- that I intervened with a solution to a problem before letting the child try to solve the problem on his/her own.
- that I tried to encourage a literacy or math follow-up to an activity before a child was ready to go in this direction.
- that I was so focused on what the child was saying that I missed what the child was doing … and what this non-verbal communication was telling me.
It was as I was “feeling unsuccessful” the other day that I had an epiphany: it was actually my active listening (thanks to technology) that made me realize what I didn’t hear the first time.
I’ve been recording videos for years, but I used to just keep these videos as documentation of learning. I rarely listened back to them, and never in their entirety. But this year, my teaching partner and I spend a lot of time watching and listening to these videos. Some of them we watch more than once. I definitely use my observations from this listening to help with future planning … and that is a positive thing.
We have 33 students in our class, and our room is attached to another Kindergarten classroom with no full wall in between. The other room has 33 children in it as well. That’s 66, three-, four-, and five-year-olds in a small space. There’s always noise. We have all learned ways to deal with this noise and maximize the quiet space, but sometimes the hum in the background and multiple requests for help, split our attention. And sometimes “time” is at a premium, and as much as I may want to slow down and watch, I feel the pressure to question, to interrupt, and/or to push things along faster than they need to be. Is this the right thing to do? Probably not … but my epiphany from the other day helped me realize that while I still may have room to grow in one respect (listening at the time), I’ve improved tremendously in another respect (listening and learning from recordings).
This leads me to my one word goal for 2017: perspective. My recent experience reminded me about the importance of seeing things from a different point of view.
- Maybe it’s that “misbehaviour” that’s really “stress behaviour.”
- Maybe it’s that problem that really isn’t such a big problem after all.
- Maybe it’s a “failure” that has elements of “success.”
- Maybe it’s a “mess” that is actually “learning.”
During an inservice I attended in the summer, our Kindergarten consultants reminded us about the importance of perspective, looking closely, and seeing learning in different ways. About six weeks ago, I was reminded of this when I went to clean up some bead work that students left behind for another day.
This bead work was a reminder for me to look closely and with a new perspective. I was about to tidy up this work from yesterday, and then I stopped and looked again. Can you see what I see? Look at the patterns. Look at the art. Look at the symmetry. Kids amaze us when we stop and look closely! #ctinquiry #fdk #earlyyears #art
I’m drawn to the final sentence in the caption of this Instagram post: “Kids amaze us when we stop and look closely!” I want to continue to be amazed, and I think that a little “perspective” might help with this. What do you think? What is your one word goal for 2017? I’m excited to read the many different goals for the year ahead.