In case you were wondering.
Since Dinovember began, the students have been obsessed with the dinosaurs and the magic that they bring along with them. Every little change that occurs in the classroom is credited to “The Dinosaurs”. A Wordle was put into a frame that has all of our names, and that frame was hung near our classroom sink: the Dinos did it. The soft fruits and vegetables toys in a grocery basket that were found on the puppet show theatre: the Dinos did it. The leaf matching game that has been at our science table for nearly a month, but that nobody has touched, and magically, the Dinosaurs were playing there this morning: the Dinos did it.
My favourite part of Dinovember, minus the imagination it sparks, is the opportunity that it gives students to to try new things.
Students, especially our first year kindergarten students, aren’t always very adventurous when the year starts off. In my experience, students enjoy playing in things that are familiar to them, and rediscovering them in a new context … at least, for the first little bit. As a result, for September and October, the classroom is a mix-melange of amazing buildings, and beautiful pictures. In November, deeper thinking and discoveries are starting to come up, although sometimes, our newer students need a little direction to help them get there.
That is my job as a facilitator in this classroom.
Prior to teaching kindergarten, I always had a very clear definition of what a teacher was, and while it had some similar elements to what I now do on a daily bases, it wasn’t exactly the same. It has made me realize that back when I began teaching, I probably talked a little too much, and a little too often. And I probably did too much “talking to” my students, more than I did “talking with” my students. My first few years of teaching a blur, because I was so concentrated on teaching eight lessons a day, five days a week. Now that I only formally teach three-ten minute lessons a day, I find that I’m really paying attention to content. Those minutes on the carpet are precious to me, and I work my hardest to make sure that they all count. Then I make sure that that content is available to the students in the various centers and activities that we have available to us.
The rest of my day is spent taking in the interest of the students, and facilitating learning inspired from those interests. The kids are learning already, because their curious minds naturally lend to it – my job is to ask the right questions, to encourage at the right times and to give them the materials that they need to continue on in the learning. They do the rest.
Right now, I’m speaking through the dinosaurs. I’m paying particular attention to the things that they like, and the discussions that they’re having with one another, then I’m setting up centers to help them make new discoveries. The dinosaurs magically end up at those centers, and their sense of wonder takes over. I’m helping them take the steps that they may be too nervous to take on their own, and giving them the comfort of the dinosaurs to help facilitate their learning. I’m inspiring new learning, new discoveries and new thoughts, because the dinosaurs are sparking their imagination and their thoughts. They look at all of that “cool stuff”, and they run with it. They take it places that I never dreamed of it going. They play, and they touch, and they move things, and they change those play areas to reflect their mind. Those centers become as alive as the children are.
This is what kids do at school. And I love being the facilitator to their learning. I love taking the stuff that they’re into, and directing their curious minds into finding more. And if that means that “the Dinosaurs” are doing all of the heavy lifting when I’m at work, then I’m okay with that.