Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tell me more......

In the work that I do, I get to spend spontaneous moments watching the art of teaching unfold, and then, I write about these moments. As with the previous posting, this visit wasn’t planned. It caught me by surprise when visiting a school seeing Karen doing what she does best: working alongside teachers. I am in awe every time I have the opportunity to observe her teaching. I think it has to do with her attention to intention; I think it has to do with the fact that she knows the right time to step back and quietly wait, then, at the right moment she is able to provide renewed direction; and finally, I think it has to do with the fact that she is a learner herself and in her demonstrations of what is possible allows others to “try it on” before they, too, pay it forward.

Gathering the children on the floor in front of her she quietly waits until all are sitting on the carpet. When she leans forward in her chair slightly, I believe it is intentional because Karen has learned that this seemingly simple gesture lets them know that what they have to say is important.

Today they will be problem solvers: those independent thinkers puzzling through on their own, a word problem that is displayed on the poster board. From the onset, Karen creates a space where thinking is at the core of her teaching. Instead of feeding them the answers, she nurtures the soul by posing questions that will let them discover for themselves the path that needs to be taken. The language Karen uses defines her as a teacher. She is one who seeks to understand: “Tell me more.” “What are we trying to find out?” or “If you don’t know, turn to your neighbor and ask.”

These questions are intentional and based on what the children tell her. Through the lens that Karen views the world, the destination reached isn’t the most important part of the journey. It is in the steps taken along the way that allows for possibility.

Using her internal road map, Karen scaffolds her teaching around every bend in the road. This is based on the social aspect of learning that she values, creating frames of action that permit children to interact with their neighbor, to share with the group questions and surprises, or, if necessary, one-by-one, to stay behind on the carpet for a little while for further clarification.

And when the moment ends, I slowly move out the door, and turning one last time I whisper……tell me more-until next time…..Teach.