Monday, October 17, 2016

Purpose: Sometimes It's Not What You Think

My word for 2016 is PURPOSE. This year I've been exploring what my purpose is and how I can work with purpose.

When I chose this word at the beginning of the year, I looked at my purpose statement as an early childhood educator. I looked at my philosophy of children and learning and how I could advocate and teach with that philosophy in mind.

However, when you focus on a particular word, interesting things happen. You may not seek out things related to that word, but things do come show up that are connected to it. I had become more attuned to the idea of purpose so many things seemed related to it.

I thought that I would look for ways to implement my purpose in a classroom. But I didn't teach regularly in a classroom. But I still had to think about purpose in my work - both in writing and in just being. I wanted to make intentional choices and think about how what I do connects with my philosophy and purpose.

So I created a purpose statement, a short statement that would encompass what I do: To glorify God and help boys and girls learn and grow. This statement helps guide what I writing, in teaching, in working with others. Writing curriculum can help boys and girls learn and grow by helping teachers know how to teach. Reading about play and teaching develops my understanding and helps boys and girls learn. I can see how all the different things I do as a freelance writer and teacher is supported by one or both parts of this short statement.

And I think about the children in my church classroom. As they explore and work, sometimes the goal isn't what I think it is. They are just discovering the world. I think they may be exploring words or numbers. But they are doing something else entirely. I often impose my own thinking over what I see.

Just this week I watched a boy drawing. "Are you drawing a picture of something or just drawing?" I asked. "Just drawing," he said.

Then a pause. He smiled. "I can't wait to see if this is a Santa bag." (And I admit, the drawing did look like one.)

"You can't wait to see if your drawing is a Santa bag?" I asked. He nodded.

Later, when his drawing was complete, I asked, "Was it a Santa bag?"

"No," he said, "it was a pumpkin head face."

It was like the picture had a mind of its own. The child drawing had no control over the end result. And may that's what it was. He was drawing and exploring with shapes and colors and materials. And eventually something happens; something appears from the drawing and the child can name it.

I feel the same way about this year of purpose. I've been exploring and discovering. I see some images emerging through the process. But it continues to change and adjust as the year goes on.

I can't wait to see how it comes out in the end.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pouring Not Building

I put out materials regularly with ideas of what I think will happen. Or what I think would stimulate thinking or exploring.

One day we put out the small cube blocks with our regular blocks. I added a couple of bowls to go with the activity.

One of our girls went over to the center and placed one cube in each bowl. She centered the cube in the bowl. Then she went away - off to explore elsewhere.

Later she came back to the center. (The other children were occupied elsewhere and left the blocks center alone.)

She poured all of the cubes into one of the bowls. The lone cube in the other bowl joined the rest.

Then she poured the cubes into the other bowl. She poured back and forth a couple of times.

Then she was off again to explore elsewhere.

No one else used the blocks. No one built anything. No one used the regular blocks.

But one girl explored what she needed to explore. Pouring not building. (The sound of the cubes falling into the bowl was pretty cool, too.)

That's what I enjoy about teaching young children. Their ideas are always evolving. They often surprise me about how they use materials.

They teach me what I need to know about learning.