Have you figured out what that picture is up top?
September and October are the months where I spend a lot of my time writing for my students. We’re just beginning to review (or learn!) the letters of the alphabet, but don’t always feel confident or capable to write their thoughts to accompany their pictures. In September and October, what is most important to me is that my students understand that their thoughts and their voices matter. Their captions for the beautiful pictures that they draw are important. Their explanations matter.
In September, their captions and commentary are important because I can’t always “see” what they’re drawing. Sometimes, I’ll look at pictures and think, Wow, what an interesting picture of this, and it turns out to be a totally different photo of “that”.
This gives me the opportunity to really get to know the kids and how their brains work, and what their thought process is. It gives me the chance to get to know these kids on a much deeper and intellectual level, and I love doing that. I love what conferencing, one on one, with students allows me to do with them – it allows us a few special minutes to get to know each other. They learn, during those few minutes, that they are important to me. They know that I value their deep thinking. They know that we can talk things through, and I will try to deepen that thinking so that they can continue building on their work.
Did you see that brain picture? Take a good look at it. For weeks, we’ve been talking about whole body listening, using your imagination, closing your eyes to see the pictures in your brain and mindfulness. We’ve been discussing how your brain just cannot think properly when it’s full of anger, or sadness, and that stops you from being your best you. There’s so much going on in that picture, I didn’t even know where to start. So when I spoke to that student, I simply said, “How interesting! Tell me about it!” And it all spilled out immediately: they drew a picture of all of the things that we’ve been talking about in class, bringing it all together, because it had been on their mind all day and they wanted to express it. And what a way to express it! This is what your brain looks like when it’s cloudy; that’s what your brain feels like when things are a little messy. The student is absolutely right!
This is what the scribbles are. It means something to them. And if we stop projecting and start listening to what it means and really work hard to ask interesting and thoughtful questions to get there, they begin to mimic your modelling and deepen their thinking independently.