Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What about play?

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.


In many ways, it was a release, a letting up of the brakes. 

A new gift from a family,
a bin of cloths,
large fabric pieces,
varied colors, textures, sizes.

Four boys wanted to dress up. Make me a hat! Can I have a cape? I need this part on my body! Can you tie this here? I am ninja! I am fast! I am superhero!

Let's forget that I am
one small part of  an elementary and middle school,
primed and ready for surprise observations from district officials and other supervisors, looking for rigor and visible learning,
providing family conferences about student progress, with families craving insight about pre-literacy, early mathematics, academic skills, their child's future success,
readying for the Learning Showcase evening event, documenting all the children's work for families and community, with children owning their work and detailing it for families, all work labelled with clear objectives, 
supporting a resident teacher, immersed in graduate school details of early reading, collecting data, leveled readers, guided reading, reading progress,
adhering to specific and separate times for art, music, Spanish, physical education, recess,
keeping unit plans updated, lesson plans current and detailed,
making sure I am following the posted schedule with impunity,
consumed by data tracking, writing trimester summaries and report cards

Let's forget the tension of
specify, specify, specify,
faster, faster, faster,
more, more, more

Four boys wanted to dress up.
And I began to play, too.
And then they began to run, 
in the classroom,
their excitement impossible to contain,
to which I led them outdoors,
to the field,
where we ran and ran and ran
on a rainy day.

I wonder
are we making time for make-believe?
are we preserving possibility for the unexpected?
are we remembering what it is to be a child?
are we along for their ride?
are we losing sight of the three year old?
the preschooler?
the child?
are we losing our minds or their minds?
what is really needed?

Children need play and its infinite possibilities,
surrounded by adults who nourish the fun.

And so,
we played.


  1. Someone just asked me this morning, "how could we change school to make it the joyful place you remember?" I agree. We need to slow down. There really is no rush to get this done. It's called life. We can only do it one hour at a time.

  2. I've been thinking a lot about the elaborate lesson and unit plans some of the teachers I know construct. I just don't have the energy or time to do that anymore. Such best laid plans often constrict us, interrupt the spontaneity of learning. Teaching and learning are more enjoyable when I trust my instincts and my years of study and simply let go. I heard Carol Jago talk about her loosening the reigns on planning years ago and gave myself permission to to that, too.

  3. I'm now having my four year old granddaughter on Wednesdays after her school, a nice Montessori where she is very happy. But she is pre-K, & the pressure is on, not at school, but from outside people asking, will she be ready for Kindergarten, does she know all her letters, numbers, on & on. I hear you, I believe in what you do that you share. Let them play! Love seeing your picture, Maureen-such joy!

  4. Thank you for taking those children outside to run in the rain.