I recently had an encounter with a grade one student that was my favorite conversation. It was student initiated and inspirational that, for me, affirmed the big picture work we’ve been doing at our school. Walking out onto the playground during our morning recess I happened to join Robert (fictitious name) on his way to play. After saying hello, and asking how his morning had begun, he started with, “I’m having a great day. First, I was doing 1 and 1 to find two and, and then 2 and 3 ants made five.”
Bending low to listen more carefully, Robert knelt down with me on one knee on the courtyard to illustrate his calculations with his finger on the floor. “I used to give up on the hard questions, but I’m learning to keep trying and I worked a long time finding all the numbers.”
Scanning through my titter account @AdamADodge, blog reader, or Linkedin posts, I’m provided with the depth of inspirational leadership articles about education. Whether your PLN is highlighting the top ten apps in education or qualities of effective leadership, the foundational focus is always on improving student learning. Here I was enthralled, as I listened to just the proof that solidifies our educational endeavors.
Robert didn’t stop with the explanation of what he did. He followed me along, walking and talking, explaining how he had persevered through the problem solving, and shared how he was extending his thinking. “We have ‘brain challenges.’ I have to do them quickly, and it helps get my brain thinking. I was using it to figure out how many ants.”
Within my own thoughts, I was having a thrilling dialogue about this child’s ability to reflect on his own thinking and learning. His was full of pride and confidence. I happened to know that this is a student who is not your typical “high flyer,” and yet this had no bearing on the joy he expressed about his abilities and experience that morning. He was excited, and motivated. He knew that things were difficult for him before, but that he was capable and he was getting better.
My conversation with Robert left me deducting what must have been the teacher’s methods, and lesson design that promoted his learning, and metacognition. What were his daily experiences that promoted this thinking and expression.
Without delay, I went as quickly as I could to his teacher, and share the account, applaud her efforts and hopefully leaving her as inspired about her work, as Robert was about his learning, and how I was feeling about the evidence of progress that our school was demonstrating through this delightful conversation with a grade one student. For me, it was the epitome of a young child whom certainly has internalized the experience that led towards being a life-long learner!
What do your student conversations tell you about your school?