Monday, September 22, 2014

What Kind of a Mary are You?

In our kindergarten class, there are three teachers including myself and we are all named Mary. This can be either comforting or disconcerting for our students. One day I was asked by one of the Kindergartners, 

"What kind of a Mary are you?".  

As I sat with this question I began to see its many dimensions. 

I ask myself a version of this questions each night. What kind of a Mary was I today?  Did I listen? Was I present? Did I react with compassion? What choices did I make today, how will it effect my decisions for tomorrow and  did I positively contribute to the communities that I exist in? Each night I reflect.

Applying past knowledge to new situations and thinking about thinking are two of the Habits of Mind that children adopt in Sabot's classrooms as they question and approach problems they encounter. These habits demand reflective thinking.  Each day students consider the ideas, concepts and learning generated in their work , their actions and their mistakes. 

John Dewey, a powerful thinker and educator reformer writes the following:

"Reflective thinking, in short, means judgment suspended during further inquiry; and suspense is likely to be somewhat painful… To maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry — these are the essentials of thinking."

The Kindergartners , even in small steps, exist in a "state of doubt" each day as they ask questions of their peers, collaborate and look for answers.

Telling a story about a loose tooth started with a conversation about their own experiences with wiggly teeth. What will it feel like to loose a tooth? Storytelling is a playful accessible process of reflection.

Strategic thinking begins with reflection---What do I need to do differently from my last game and what are my options for my next move?

"Getting to the root of the matter" involves focus and reflection

"One man’s thought is profound while another’s is superficial; one goes to the roots of the matter, and another touches lightly its most external aspects. This phase of thinking is perhaps the most untaught of all, and the least amenable to external influence whether for improvement or harm." 

                             John Dewey

Expressing a sketch in collage means diving deeper into the expression of ideas

The children reflect on their prior experiences riding buses and offer some predictions regarding the approaching bus ride into Richmond for our umbrella project.
C: I have been on a bus, you don't wear seat belts.
G: They are so bumpy. I hit my face.
M: My dad rides one to work.
N: We got on a bus in New York City.
E: We went on a bus to the Greek festival. A taxi driver got on the bus and hooked his taxi up to the bus.

Their reflections conjure up images of bus riding for their classmates. 

This process of daily reflection and problem solving occurs during our Project Circle.
"I didn't think I could do it but then I did", L. said after observing others climb trees in the forest until her own curiosity propelled her up the limb.

"Curiosity rises above the organic and the social planes and becomes intellectual in the degree in which it is transformed into interest in problems provoked by the observation of things and the accumulation of material. When the question is not discharged by being asked of another, when the child continues to entertain it in his own mind and to be alert for whatever will help answer it, curiosity has become a positive intellectual force. To the open mind, nature and social experience are full of varied and subtle challenges to look further." 
                                                                    John Dewey

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful reflection of the process-with recognition along the way that others have had similar experiences prior to now and that it is a process of building knowledge. Thank you "Mary" for your attention to the children-what a remarkable gift for all of us!