My son, who is three, has a new hobby of building elaborate "mouse houses" on our (king size) bed with all the pillows and blankets within 20 sq. feet.. These houses appear to serve as cushioned bunkers 'just in case' the Big Mouse should come along and, well, SCARE us. The Mouse House building is important stuff with speciifc technical details that I am not privvy to no matter how hard I try to understand the intricacies of Mouse House building. I am corrected repeatedly about proper Mouse House building. I adjust. I adapt. I follow my son's instructions. I get it right! Or so I think. But the rules keep changing. The carrot gets harder to reach or it disappears completely. The "rules" become more elaborate/elusive.
That's about the time I ask if the Big Mouse is coming. Should we take cover? If I ASK the question, the answer is "No, not yet.". If I declare that, in fact, the Big Mouse is coming right now, "Quick, hide!" then it becomes a reality and my son plays along. We hide in whatever lame, half-conceived Mouse House is available at the moment. Then we share a great moment of suspense and togetherness until the Big Mouse is gone (or tickles our feet or fails to materialize altogether)
As an always-reflecting Educator, I take away these nuggets from these experiences with my son:
1- How often have I as a teacher moved the carrot (or changed the rules, or had vague lessons or no clear assessment/accountability) causing frustration for my students?
2- How often have I allowed the stronger personalities in a class to rule the day despite my best plans for learning?
3- How often have I simply and explicity declared what we're doing and held fast without fail for the benefit of all (becauseI know my intentions are good and the material is rich and worth knowing).
4- Do I stay focused on the Big Mouse? In other words, how meaningful and relevant is all the learning we're doing in the first place? Can it be better? Does it have traction? Will it be remembered and retained?
Have the habits to learn new things been instilled, stimulated and nurtured so that, I, as teacher no longer cease to be required? So that learning resides with the Learner.
Finally, since we know that an emotional experience is more memorable than an "informational" experience, to what extent are feelings of 'intimate anticipation' and 'excitement' palpable in my classroom. Is it still my classroom or is it our classroom where we all construct, deconstruct, start again, change, adapt, pause, reflect, share and start again?Tweet this!