Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tuesday SOL: What have we done?

This is a Tuesday
Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day. 
Check out the Two Writing Teachers website for many more reflections on teaching.

We step forward into something new, and then we take a few steps back.

For the first many days, there was a open sensory table filled with sand and gems.
happy children.
Then it changed.
In a split second, a chaotic moment, a flash.
Children crowded together, struggling to share;
sand spewed, onto the floor, into eyes, into hair;
children were pushing, hurting, crying.

I closed the table and put a big red stop sign on the table.

Immediately, children dispersed, moved away, played elsewhere. It struck me that the children were use to 'losing privileges'. This was no big deal. Simply, move onto the next thing. This is daily life in an adult-run world.

Here's the reality - there is tremendous efficiency in an adult-run world.
I could take the sand out of the table, deciding that these children are too young and irresponsible to use it.
I could limit the table to just one or two kids, and make clean up much easier.
I could make a list of students, and assign them specific times to use the table.
I could make rules for the kids.
I could decide that I know best.

How deep is the learning if you simply have to turn to an adult to find out what to do?

The next morning, the table remained closed and the big red stop sign was firmly in place.

Children noticed.

One child tried to tear off the sign and lift the table top, to get to the sand again.
I moved over to him, crouching down, helping him to notice. "Oh my, look - a stop sign. What does this mean? What happened? Why would the table be closed?"

He made the connection. He said, "I threw sand."

The table remained closed and he helped me add more tape to the big red stop sign.

At morning meeting, I invited the whole class to recall what had happened at the sand table the day before -

"I got sand in my eyes."
"I got sand in my hair."
"She put sand on her."
"He took all the sand."
"I was being nice."
"You shouldn't throw sand!"
"Sand went on the floor."
"We had to sweep it up."

Yes, they had noticed.

I wrote the children's thoughts down on our white board in the front of the class. I shared their words with families. I told the children that we should hold on to these thoughts for another day or so, and to be thinking,

How can we play with sand?
How can we be together at the table?
What must we do?

Stay tuned!

I hope, through this noticing, we are moving towards real learning.

I am seeing that learning is many, many small and observant steps.


  1. I love how you handled this. And I love that they knew/remembered what happened. Half the time I ask "what happened?" and I get the shoulder shrug. Lol

  2. I'm thrilled to be back in your preschool classroom. A young colleague visited me this afternoon about her English class (She teaches only one this trimester.). Apparently, the kids have been problematic. She moved the desks out of pods and into rows. A student aide proclaimed, "Do you want to have to take this class again? I had to and it's no fun. Stop acting like five year olds." My apologies to the five-year-olds of the world. Apparently for now the kids have gotten the message!

  3. Brilliant. I think those of you who work with those very young learners are saints.

  4. This "there is tremendous efficiency in an adult-run world" plays out during quite a few ages, and I wish adults-teachers and parents-could read your post, Maureen. Tara just shared on FB about a group of parents who showed up at school to decorate their "middle-school" children's lockers. So interesting that they consider it their "fun" instead of allowing it to happen by their kids. Thanks for a good piece of learning today.