I love thematic learning, and I do as much lesson planning around themes as my time allows. This month I’ve been participating in Tim Needles’ The Everyday Renaissance Project. Each day there is a challenge to create something based on a theme. Participation in this project has allowed me to get back in touch with the art of creation and more recently the value of getting lost in your work. I don’t mean being overwhelmed by work and work isn’t the right term. When you do what you love it never feels like work. I mean to get so involved in what you are doing that you become oblivious to what is going on around you yet you are ultra focused on the task at hand.
This reflection isn’t a scholarly analysis of the pros and cons of student daydreaming at school. Instead, I’m drawn to the power of our words when we respond to something we don’t immediately understand. Since I’ve been placed in the role of the student during the art challenge and as I complete a graduate course, it has been a great reminder about what it’s like to hear comments about my creations from other people. I’ve heard comments ranging from “That’s neat. Did I tell you about…” to “What is it?” As an adult, I can move on from comments such as these because they tell me more about who I am conversing with rather than anything related to my creation. If you don’t immerse yourself around people or things that cause you to see the world in new ways, then it simply doesn’t happen.
So, that brings me back to the classroom. How do we respond to getting lost in thought or how do we respond to what our students create whether it is art, writing, or a presentation of some kind? More importantly, what do we say when we don’t get it? I think we make mistakes more than we think since we have to watch the clock to keep pace with all that we have to cover in a day. However, we know from personal experience that when another person doesn’t see what we see we want to be understood. Every teacher has their own way of interacting with their students. I don’t have an easy answer, but I do know that I want to be more mindful about making time to understand what is right in front of my eyes- even if it has nothing to do with my lesson. You never know when you might learn something new through someone else’s eyes.