Marie Clay, one of my reading heroes, once said that in order to teach effectively you have to look at and reflect upon every teaching/learning encounter not through your own eyes, but through the eyes of the child or children that you are presently working with. The three pictures above remind me of that quote. The first is a picture of my sweet Ariana. If we ignore the fact that it looks like she is flipping me off upside down, what she is doing in this picture is staring at the old dingy light in the lobby of my condo.
Ironically, in preparation for Ariana, I redid all of the lights in my condo and they are quite beautiful if I say so myself (much nicer than the lobby light) I would have thought she would have liked the lights in our home better. She likes them but her favorite light is the one in the lobby.
She noticed that light after we had gone for a walk around the block. I thought the adventure was the walk around the block. After all, I had pointed out all of the things during our walk that were interesting to me. When we got back into the lobby I thought the adventure was over and I was already anticipating what we would do once we were upstairs. I was about to get into the elevator when I noticed her focused gaze on the light in my lobby.
Thank goodness I stopped because it was in this moment that she discovered her first hobby of light watching. 🙂
If I keep Marie’s Clay quote in mind when I parent. it will help me slow down and let Ariana enjoy her hobby of light watching and keep in mind that the light that she likes is the one in the lobby.
Yes, not a hobby I have or a light I would have chosen. but it’s what Ariana is passionate about and whatever she is passionate about will surely nurture her development.
The next picture is a hilarious picture of a child’s response to a homework assignment…we can laugh at his response, but in reality it makes a lot of sense.
This child, more than likely, has been taught the correct words for the different body parts and simply followed the directions by writing the correct word by the arrow. Through our eyes it’s funny or perhaps mischievous, but more than likely it’s just an honest response to an adult question.
The last picture is Ariana having her first play time. I was so excited that she was starting to play with one of the million toys I have for her that I started to grab other ones for her to play with next.
I had dreams of her playing with these toys for hours. But alas after about ten minutes of being focused on the toy, she got fussy and needed to be held.
Pat, my baby nurse, reminded me that a newborn’s awake time is usually between ten and twenty minutes.
Now, that I am looking at playtime through her eyes and not my eyes it goes a lot better. She plays for ten minutes and then I hold her and she is fine.
Again, another reminder of Marie Clay’s quote that for every encounter, we need to look at it not through our eyes and what would be nice or fun or interesting for us, the teacher or the parent, but through the eyes of the learner/child that we are working with.
I also need to bring up Ariana’s fussiness, which is during certain moments of the day causing me considerable anxiety. At times, not matter how hard I try I can not seem to soothe her and this feels awful to me.
I have a secret stash of chocolate and sweettarts in my desk and I have been known to go eat a ton of these after one of her fussy spells.
Beside eating bad foods I try to In those moments look at the fussiness through her eyes and understand that her body is new to this world and things like easting, sleeping burping and pooping are all big deals and can cause distress.
As she gets older and gets used to this it won’t be nearly as hard.
In other words, THIS WILL PASS!
I try to remind myself all of this everyday and I also quietly explain this to Ariana. I hope it helps both of us.
Once again, it’s been helpful for me to look at this fussiness through her eyes not mine.
In my eyes I would just say what’s the big deal…Just eat, sleep, burp and poop!
All of these things are routine for me but not for her.
How does this apply to teaching?
I can remember about a year ago being in a 5th grade classroom working with a more fragile student on his persuasive letter. He was just about to come out of his writers’ notebook and was using his notebook at the time to ensure that he had enough arguments and details to support his arguments. When I talked with him about the idea he was most passionate about it was about students designing their own schedules at school.
It’s so easy in the rush of the day or in the assumption that we know best not to ask this student more questions or assume that the topic is a superficial one and that if we questioned him he would talk about a schedule that included goofing off all day long.
When I questioned him I was able to see this topic through his eyes and what a brilliant and unique pair of eyes he had.
He said that different students have different strengths and weaknesses and therefore should have more ‘decision power’ in what their day/schedule should look like.
He was better at math he said and not so good at reading so he felt, for at least a short period of time, his schedule should include more reading time so that he could improve as a reader. He also felt that at other times in the year rather than focusing on his weakness he should spend more time in his daily schedule on his strengths.
He felt that if all students designed their own schedule they would be more engaged in learning.
The rest of his arguments for this topic were sensational and so were his details to support these arguments.
Once again looking at topic choice through his eyes made my teaching so much stronger and made me realize that this was not a silly topic but actually one that would revolutionize education if we could somehow put it to use in schools. :).
I would love to know your thought on teaching or parenting or both through the eyes of your learners/students.
Until next time,