The other day I was enjoying a wonderful opportunity while on supervision at one of our nearby schools. There was an abundance of fresh snow – and the children were THRILLED. The snow muffled the sound, so there was a calming, quiet hush through which squeals of joy and laughter emerged. Snow angels were appearing all over the playground, a variety of forts, other kinds of structures, and snowpeople began to rise toward the sky. Games were being invented – and children were completely engaged. Some played on their own, others played in groups. Aside from the odd smuggled snowball – it was a perfect morning. And then, through the hush of the day came a voice, “Hey Supervisor! Watch This!”
The point of telling this story isn’t really about the snow activities. It is more about my belief that many processes of learning are natural to children. I wondered how many children were making their first snow angels that day – and I watched as several compared their technique. Of interest to many was how to get up off the ground without wrecking the imprint in the snow. Conversations ensued with ernest – and ultimately the ideal technique was developed. Other groups of children worked together to solve the mysteries of building up and reinforcing their forts. Some were engaged learning the social skills of sharing – and discussing who had ownership of the various creations on the playground. I didn’t have the heart to remind them most of the structures would be melted by rain and sun over the next days.
I am reminded of the work of Thomas Armstrong through which he determined that we all have genius within us – and encouraged teachers to awaken the genius within our learners. He also wrote about the importance of using our strengths to assist in the areas where we find we are weaker. He also wrote about the importance of receiving the trusted support of caring people who are engaged with each learner.
And so, when we work with learners, I wonder how skilled we are (in general) at observing children so we can determine their strengths, and help them to use those strengths to support them in their challenges? As I watched the children on the playground, I wondered if the day ahead of them would be filled with just as much joy, laughter, and concentrated effort. In essence – would the day planned for them be like a fresh snowfall – full of unfettered opportunity to create, experiment, practice, learn – and opportunity to show their efforts, and celebrate with someone who cares about them.
I get just as much joy from the opportunities I have to visit learning environments throughout our District, when I hear a teacher say, “Watch this! These children are doing something incredible” as I did when I heard the joyful child who asked me to watch him execute the perfect slide down the hill. Thank you to our wonderful teachers who do, indeed, make each day like a new beginning, full of wonder and opportunity for our children.