As I’ve written about before, there are many different reasons that I choose to blog regularly. One of the biggest reasons is to reflect. This is true for my professional blog, but it’s also true for our Class Documentation Blog, which my teaching partner, Paula, and I post on each day. While our blog posts themselves are not necessarily highly reflective, it’s the Instagram and Twitter posts that we embed within, that are. While we attempt to make sense of the learning that we’re seeing in the classroom at the time, sometimes our understanding is further developed when we explore this learning over the course of a week. This is what I noticed this week, even if it was a shorter one (by two days) due to a snowstorm.
In a comment that I left on a recent blog post by Doug Peterson, I mentioned that we had a wonderful week back at school, and sometimes our fears can be worse than reality. I hope that this is the case here, and that the cathartic nature of blogging, helped make things better … even if only in my head.
While there were different things that Paula and I noticed each day, one element that we’ve continued to reflect on day after day is the social nature of learning, both in the classroom and outside. Even though our students were socializing with each other before as they built with blocks and LEGO, now almost everything they do is social. They’re starting to notice and comment more on what others are creating. Even options in the past that were largely independent, such as beading with Perler Beads, are becoming far more social. Below are just some (okay, many) of the posts that encapsulate these observations from the past three days: the Instagram posts are almost like mini-blog posts of their own. 🙂
While Paula and I tried to prioritize socializing, even in our virtual classroom, I have to wonder if being back in-person drives kids to want to connect. I’ve never seen so many happy children coming through the kindergarten pen each morning on their way to school. They are absolutely beaming. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. This doesn’t end in kindergarten. I just came back from a haircut, and the hairdresser mentioned that his son (in high school) was smiling from ear-to-ear after this first day returning in-person. “All it took was one day,” he said.
I know that we’re in the report card/Communication of Learning writing crunch time, and it’s hard not to want to focus on academics right now. Trying to observe and capture learning online is definitely different than in-person, and probably every educator out there (me included), is aware of this impending deadline. That said, I keep returning to this unexpected, but wonderful, reading experience from yesterday, and the social nature of even decoding signs on a bathroom door.
Are kids trying to tell us about what they need most of all, and if so, what does this look like in our classrooms and schools? Some of the protocols do not always make socializing easy, but do we need to creatively and safely find ways to make these moments happen? I would love to hear what others have done and are considering doing — across grade levels — for the connections in the past week tell me that this is what children are craving. And I think that we need to listen to kids.