Saturday, September 15, 2012

An extraordinarily beautiful idea

Somewhere in the midst of my Back to School night rap with families, I bored myself.
This year (like all years?),
I felt as if I had no time to prepare...

moving into our space just five days before the start of school,
lost/caught up in a whirlwind of unpacking boxes and preparing the room,
welcoming new students and families,
busy at home with my youngest entering his senior year of high school,
my husband away, traveling for work,
my aging parents whose care I am coordinating from afar,
a personal goal to contain my "working at home on classroom stuff" to more respectful, family-friendly levels...

all this whirlwind of life
left me insistent that I would make no big deal of this year's Back to School night, but, instead,
corral my preparations to small moments of time allotted beforehand, and
draw on my years of practice and expertise in these events.

In the midst of this, I was handed a list of
"don't forget to mention"
by my principal, and, somehow,
these small extras became the gist of my talk with families.

I had not located any of my Back to School files from yesteryear...

Where were the handouts on
how children learn best?
how to help your child transition to preschool?
the power of friends?
the value of social-emotional learning?
the value of play?
how the brain develops?

So there it was,
Back to School night,
and my agenda was basically the list of reminders from my principal.

What I had was information on:
drop off and pick up,
nutrition guidelines,
clothing guidelines,
our specials schedule,
the school calendar.


Yes, somewhere in the midst of my Back to School night rap with families, I bored myself.
And I went off script.

I had the families share about their child and themselves,
we played a get-to-know-each-other game, and
each family made an acrostic poem about their child,
which I am turning into a beautiful paper quilt on one wall of our classroom.

The evening served it's main purpose - helping families feel connected.  It was not my most polished effort ever.  However, it is a good start.  There is lots of time ahead for more sharing with one another.

Let me add some "wonder and magic" from my new colleague next door, Aisha Bhatty, a Reggio-inspired teacher -
she had each of her preschoolers paint a picture for their families.
At Back to School night,
she provided the families the same paint and materials as the preschoolers and
asked the families to recreate their child's painting.

This is such an extraordinarily beautiful idea for Back to School.

It sends the powerful message of
slowing down and observing,
being present with your child,
trying to truly "be" with your  child,
seeing and understanding how you child works, focuses, learns.

Is there a more important message for families?

And for teachers.
Slow down.
Be present.

1 comment:

  1. I was out most of yesterday & missed this, Maureen. Your post is like a narrative poem itself! There is so-o much to do at the beginning of the year, & your moving in so late had to impact that as well. I do love your colleague's painting idea, but I like your acrostic too, & the idea of making a quilt wall of them, showing off all the students is terrific. I do think there are announcements that must be made too, however boring, so the parents probably were not surprised. I like that you reflected, and came to a conclusion of goals for next time. That's what good teachers do, isn't it? Thank you for the thoughts!