It has been a good week in Boston. On Monday Ashley and I worked at Buckingham Browne & Nichols Lower School with early childhood through second grade teachers who are documenting a common project: an exploration of identity. All of the teachers and students have approached this project in different and wonderful ways. Early this month we worked with them during a professional development day to organize a structured conversation where each teaching team could share their process, their learning, and their challenges along the journey of exploring identity and community with their students.
Each teacher or team is now in the process of writing a reflective introduction, choosing photographs to show the work in progress, choosing a format to share the student portraits and writing, learning to select common and effective fonts and font sizes for titles, student writing and quotes.
On Monday Ashley co-created with Anthony Reppucci, Lower School Assistant director, an overview plan for the whole gallery of this work that will fill the hallways and stairwells of the school building. Louise worked for several hours with Ben Goldhaber, one of the kindergarten teachers, on creating a draft display, all in the service of making the learning visible in the most respectful, effective and dynamic ways.
Yesterday Louise collaborated with teacher and director, Kristen Waters at Belmont Cooperative Nursery School to engage a small group of children age 3-5 in considering their pet guinea pigs closely...What have they noticed about them? What shape are their bodies? their ears? their feet? What color is their fur? What does their fur feel like? What do they like to eat? What do they like to do? Do they play? Are they friends? And then, using soft 8B pencils as well as harder HB pencils for the first time, the students drew guinea pig portraits. We were together for an hour and a half.
This is the kind of work that we have done for years, and it still endlessly captivating for us and for the teachers we work with. All of the teachers we have worked with are surprised by what their students are able to accomplish, how they are seeing them with new insight, how much they are all learning together.
Rolling up our sleeves and doing the work along side teachers is what we do best and what seems to work best. It is somewhat like the apprenticeship model. We are all in it together, not only showing it, talking about it, and imagining it, but actually doing it. And this seems to be fun, enlightening, practical, sensible and just plain necessary.
Side by side, we are putting inquiry and a strong image of the child at the center of our work. Side by side, we are making creative materials as well as literacy essential and irresistible and we are making learning visible for the children and the community.