Why would I be surprised about learning something each day I am in a classroom? The kids do – we educators work quite diligently to ensure that learning takes place, whether in big chunks or in subtleties.

Yesterday’s assignment for them required creativity. They were given a drawing and instructed to make it into anything they wanted. It’s practice in thinking without limits and with no possibility of making a mistake in interpretation.

What’s the lesson? Allow for self-expression minus self-criticism. Write or sing or dance or draw without conditions or judgments, internal or external. It’s the process of creation that is paramount. What happens thereafter is secondary.

Next segment was about trust. When I told students to get their computers and do whatever they wanted, they all went to educational sites. There’s a message there about assuming integrity. Of course, if these had been eighth graders instead of second, we might have had other directives. You could easily make the case that I’m in a second grade classroom by intent, just as I am not in an eighth grade environment.

Later I get an opportunity to direct kids through a fifteen-minute writing event. To one young man, fifteen minutes was an eternity. To another, it was an invitation to display every written page he created since October. And to a third, it was hardly enough time to describe his thoughts and dreams.

Clearly, the good writers wrote while the others found numerous methods to avoid or postpone. Lesson learned – those tasks that appear simple or enjoyable to some are torture to others. The lesson included an illustration, after the writing was completed. Not surprisingly, one girl went directly to the picture with not a word on her page.

The last notion I learned was during the math segment. While a few students breezed through four pages of math problems, some required my assistance for each effort. What was the lesson learned? Once again, it is imperative that we educate one student at a time, with each one advancing at his or her own pace. Maybe it’s a life lesson. We move through our tasks, required or optional, at the pace consistent with our abilities and tastes.  Don’t ask me to sit in front of a sci-fi movie when writing a blog will be a much greater gratification. Shalom.

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