It has become a tradition of sorts, that on the first day of school each classroom has a giant sunflower to explore. The sunflower is a thing of amazement – a sensory wonderland – the hugeness of it, the sunflowery smell of summer, the ability to pick out and investigate the seeds, the leaves, and the stalk. The magnifying glasses come out and little hands go to work.
This year, all of that happened, but then something unexpected happened as well. MG, a boy in our class who on that first day upon seeing the sunflower table proclaimed, "I'm a really big scientist," noticed something. He noticed that when he picked seeds out of one particular flower, his fingers turned purple. He asked if we could put the seeds in water to see if it would dye the water.
I was excited by his energy, as were other children in the class, but I was also a little wary. I didn't think anything was going to happen with the seeds in the water and I wondered what impact that might have. Other things went through my brain in the moment I needed to make that decision… water was not part of our first day plan, it might be messy, who knew where it would lead… but really, what did we have to lose? Maybe there would be something to explore and discover that none of us had conceived of yet.
Listening with ears, of course, but also with our hearts, intuition and a sense of the moment allows room for multiple leaders, for unimagined possibilities, and the excitement of learning for ALL of us.
As a teacher or parent, when was the last time you felt that excitement of discovering someting new – not about your child, but with them? Their eyes and brains are so fresh and open – they often have the ability to experience and imagine things we can no longer have access to…except side by side with them (or even sometimes one step behind.)
An unimagined possibility of sunflower investigation in pictures…