It's Friday! We would be jumping up and down except we are much too tired because it is Friday of the first week of school! Our first week of routines, and early mornings and packing (gulp) nut free lunches. So, let me first say, congratulations on your child's first successful week in Opal 2! I am so appreciative of your patience as I learn names and faces. It is a genuine pleasure to join this community and I am grateful for your warm welcome.
"So what did you learn today?" How many of you asked that question this week? Even my 5-year-old knows to greet my 4-year-old with this age-old back to school question. As I reflect on this question for myself, I am struck by my own learning curve, or re-learning curve I suppose, of how truly wonderful it is to be in the company of young children. Watching young children it becomes quickly evident that it is "being together" that undergirds the learning and growing we experience each day. Our way of holding space for each voice, of protecting new ideas and cherishing our stories. Our way of moving independently but in concert with the bodies, ideas and energy around us. Our way of being in nature, collecting its treasures and appreciating its gifts. I am reminded as I reflect on the week that it is in crafting of a way of "being together" that learning magic happens.
We introduced story workshop this week with options for being together. Now to the untrained eye this looks an awful lot like "playing together" as children looked for their stories in clay, black line pen, dramatic play, blocks and paint. Even to a trained eye like mine, it can feel risky to to see children have such a good time in the classroom.
Many children chose to work with each other as one child's story connected with another. Children charged with "waking up a story" spread throughout the room. "Do I trust them to really be working?" Went through my mind more than once as I surveyed the scene and it's cheerful hum. Laughter in the blocks, heads peeking in and out of the tree in dramatic play, the gentle thump of a new block of clay being worked in little hands. Really, are you finding a story? Trust them, trust them, trust them… and then comes a polite "We need a small book. We're ready to write our story down," from all four boys who moments before were deeply involved in kapla block contructions. I hand one over, amazed as they settle in to write the stories they've discovered. Then again, "I've found my story," from a student working for two days in clay with purposeful glee. I hand over a small book and she retreats to the studio to write in the company of her clay creations. As I lean in to listen to stories being born, several collage artists turned poets tap my arm to request poetry books to feed their insiration, "especially about gardens." Trust them,trust them, trust them…there are stories happening and yes indeed, they ARE that much fun!
In all of this internal jubilation, I was suddenly reminded how central trust is to this way of being together. I was suddenly reminded, that more than anything else, our being together must be characterized by trust and the time to reach an authentic voice. I was suddently reminded that above all else, our time together this week was about listening and connecting so we can learn to trust each other and the potential for inspiration that lives in every moment. This is where deep engagement lies. Real learning leads to pleasurable emotions– including glee. This is why we teach and why I continue to be passionate about this work. So while we certainly did lots of playing and reading and writing in Opal 2 these first few days– if you asked me what I've learned in school this week I'd say…a few new songs, lots of new names and the value and power of trust.